Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Mark Eden, Barbara Steele, Michael Gough, Virginia Wetherell, and Rupert Davies
Mervin Haisman and Henry Lincoln
Also released as The Crimson Cult, Curse of the Crimson Altar is a 1968 production that gives us the joy of watching horror icons Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee, the former in a wheelchair and at the end of his career with this film, and the grooved out antics of director Vernon Sewell whose stylings alone practically make this a watchable film.
In the film, Robert Manning (Mark Eden) pays a visit to a remote country house where his brother, now missing, was last heard from. While Robert's host, Morley (Christopher Lee), is seemingly hospitable, and his niece (Virginia Wetherell) even more outwardly so, Manning detects a menace in the air with the legend of Lavinia Morley (Barbara Steele), Black Witch of Greymarsh, hanging over everything and everyone.
First released in 1968, Curse of the Crimson Altar has a groovy vibe about it that is enhanced by D.P. John Coquillon's rather trippy lensing. While staying at the lodge, Manning begins to experience hallucinatory dreams of S&M practices and spectators dressed up as goats and skeletons. He meets with Professor Marsh (Boris Karloff), an expert in the Occult, and this is where he begins to discover the secrets of Lavinia Morley. The film's original music is similarly psychedelic and both Karloff and Lee, in particular, ride these psychedelic vibes perfectly.
Unfortunately, Eden, the film's actual lead, is less successful and this holds the film back from being an absolute "must see" type of film for fans of late 60's/early 70's B-movie flicks.
While far from a flawless film, Curse of the Crimson Altar contains most of what you'd want from this type of flick and, with the exception of Eden, is a pretty darn good time. Having been distributed multiple times over the years, it seems appropriate that it finds a home here with Cheezy Movies.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic