* 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 Boris Karloff‘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: Christopher Lee, Barbara Steele 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.
The 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)