Curse of the Crimson Altar

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Curse of the Crimson Altar
Curse of the crimson altar poster.jpg
Curse of the Crimson Altar
Directed by Vernon Sewell
Produced by Louis M. Heyward
executive
Tony Tenser
Written by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln (screenplay)
Starring Christopher Lee
Boris Karloff
Mark Eden
Cinematography John Coquillon
Edited by Howard Lanning
Production
  company
Tigon Films
Distributed by AIP
Release date(s) 1968 (UK)
April 15, 1970 (USA)
Running time 89 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Curse of the Crimson Altar is a 1968 British horror film directed by Vernon Sewell and starring Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, Barbara Steele and Mark Eden. The film was produced by Louis M. Heyward for Tigon British Film Productions. The film was cut and released as The Crimson Cult in the United States. It is based (uncredited) on the short story "The Dreams in the Witch House" by H. P. Lovecraft. This film also featured the final appearance of horror heavyweight Karloff.[1][2]

Plot synopsis[edit]

Robert Manning (Mark Eden) goes in search of his brother, who was last known to have visited the remote house of Craxted Lodge at Greymarsh. Arriving at night, he finds a party is in progress, and he is invited to stay by Eve (Virginia Wetherell), the niece of the owner of the house. His sleep is restless and strange dreams of ritual sacrifice disturb him. Enquiring about his brother, he is assured by the house owner Morley (Christopher Lee) that the man is not here. But Manning’s suspicions are aroused further by his nightmarish hallucinations. When occult expert Professor Marshe (Boris Karloff) informs Manning about a witchcraft cult based around the ancestral Lavinia Morley (Barbara Steele), the cult is uncovered. Craxted Lodge is burned to the ground, and the head of the cult is consumed in the flames.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The house used for Craxted Lodge is Grim's Dyke, the allegedly haunted former home of William S. Gilbert, located in Redding, Harrow Weald, Middlesex, London. The building, which is now a hotel, was used for both exterior and interior shots.

Critical reception[edit]

The New York Times said "Karloff himself, cadaverous and almost wholly crippled, acts with a quiet lucidity of such great beauty that it is a refreshment merely to hear him speak old claptrap. Nothing else in The Crimson Cult comes close to him—though there is Barbara Steele in greenface playing Lavinia, a glamorous 300-year-old and a monumental cast that lists no fewer than seven-party girls, plus several sacrificial virgins."[3]

Trivia[edit]

One of Dübreq's late 1970s Horror Top Trumps decks contained a card called "High Priestess of Zoltan" that was clearly modelled (unlicensed) on Barbara Steele's Lavinia Morley.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 497-501
  2. ^ John Hamilton, Beasts in the Cellar: The Exploitation Film Career of Tony Tenser, Fab Press, 2005 p 136-138
  3. ^ Greenspun, Roger (1970-11-12). "Movie Review - Count Yorga Vampire - Screen:'Count Yorga, Vampire' and 'The Crimson Cult' Bow at Local Theaters". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 

External links[edit]