Curse of the Crimson Altar

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Curse of the Crimson Altar
Curse of the crimson altar poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Vernon Sewell
Produced by Louis M. Heyward
Tony Tenser
Written by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln (screenplay)
Starring Christopher Lee
Boris Karloff
Mark Eden
Cinematography John Coquillon
Edited by Howard Lanning
Distributed by AIP
Release date
  • December 1968 (1968-12) (UK)
  • 15 April 1970 (1970-04-15) (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 edited and released as The Crimson Cult in the United States. The screenplay, by Doctor Who writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln,[1] was based (uncredited) on the short story "The Dreams in the Witch House" by H. P. Lovecraft. This film also featured one of the final appearances of horror heavyweight Karloff.[2][3]

Plot synopsis[edit]

Antiques dealer Robert Manning (Eden) searches for his brother, who was last known to have visited the remote house of Craxted Lodge at Greymarsh, their family's ancestral town. Arriving at night, he finds a party is in progress, and he is invited to stay by Eve (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 (Lee), that the man is not there. Manning’s suspicions are aroused by nightmarish hallucinations. Occult expert Professor Marsh (Karloff) informs Manning about a witchcraft cult led by Morley's ancestor, Lavinia (Steele). The cult is discovered to still be active. Craxted Lodge is burned to the ground, and the head of the cult is consumed in the flames.



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."[4]


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

External links[edit]