Tag Archives: Barbara Steele

CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR (1968)

* This is the third installment in the series “Karloff’s Bizarre and Final Six Pack.”

Although Cauldron of Blood (1970), Isle of the Snake People (1971) and Alien Terror were all released later, Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968) was actually ‘s last completed film. At 82, he caught pneumonia (reportedly as a result of his work in the damp manor scenes) and succumbed to it a few weeks after filming.

Alas, Karloff’s swan song is not an ideal exit, even if he is the most redeemable element of Curse. That assessment is completely without nostalgic sentiment. Karloff heads a genre dream cast: and Michael Gough. Stills from the film suggest a potential weird movie lover’s delight, but that potential is squandered through direction and writing that is too pedestrian to even be unintentionally bizarre.

Still from Curse of the Crimson AltarThe overall failure of the film can be attributed primarily to the unimaginative direction of Vernon Sewell. Sewell made a spattering of genre films, none of which rose above or fell below the level of mediocre. The plot, inspired by Lovecraft, is well-worn. Robert Manning (Mark Eden) is searching for his missing brother, Peter. This search leads Manning to Craxton Lodge. There, Manning encounters resistance and denial from J.D. Morley (Lee). Lee is overly familiar here in the type of sinister, square mustachioed role he played repeatedly. Although his acting is by no means unprofessional, the way his role is written, coupled with lackluster direction, leaves no opportunity for surprise.

Feigning guilt for his lack of information regarding Peter, Morley hospitably invites Manning to stay at Craxton Lodge. Manning does, partly because of amorous ambitions for Manning’s Continue reading CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR (1968)

CAPSULE: THE SILENT SCREAM [AKA SILENT SCREAM] (1980)

DIRECTED BY: Denny Harris

FEATURING, Rebecca Balding, , Yvonne De Carlo, Brad Reardon, Avery Schreiber

PLOT: College students rent rooms in a mysterious mansion by the beach only to find that the landlords are a tad invasive.

Still from Silent Sc4ream (1980)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: The Silent Scream is not a particularly weird movie.  Instead, it is a  dated relic of the “Unusual ’80’s” horror movie phenomenon.  The 1980’s produced a glut of highly conventional, large-draw slasher flicks such as Friday The 13th and the Halloween sequels.  The decade also produced a couple of dozen unusual and distinctive efforts such as Fade To Black, My Bloody Valentine, Grandma’s House, and Motel Hell.  Odd films like these dwell on a darker, more rarefied level, one that hasn’t been visited much in the intervening years.  Newly released on DVD after 29 years, The Silent Scream is a noteworthy entry in this later category of period horror.  Until last year it had been lost in the mysterious, silvery mists of screen-scream antiquity.

COMMENTS:  Barbara Steele stars as the villain in this dated ’80’s American-made shocker.  Good character development, strong performances, and relatively little gore distinguish this effort from the usual slasher fare.

Here’s the setup: Cute and saucy Scotty Parker (Balding) transferred to her university a couple of weeks late and missed out on the fun of bunking with a bunch of freaks she doesn’t know in the dorms.  Challenged to find accommodations, she gravitates toward the old Engels house, a foreboding, sea-side edifice.

The creepy Engels place is run—on behalf of his very reclusive MOTHER! (De Carlo)—by a wrapped-awfully-tight, real-life Milhouse Van Houten character named Brad (Reardon).  Brad harbors a wide variety of deeply seated personal issues.  (Hey, who’s that looking through my air vent?)  Three more hormonally bloated students sign rental agreements and the school year is off to a beer and bodily fluid saturated start.  For most of them, that is.  The fratboy/ Continue reading CAPSULE: THE SILENT SCREAM [AKA SILENT SCREAM] (1980)