October 14, 2013

Horror-A-Day: Crucible of Horror

Come on, October, make up your mind. Just when you think the seasonal chill has finally arrived, the sun comes out and we get temperatures up around 70. Good thing I am a creature of an indoor habit. I can pretend the chill is outside and keep the mood dark and nasty inside with a fine selection of old school horror type stuff. Sure, not all of them are winners, but just like in life, that is going to happen. It is a good thing for me that I have done more good than bad and choosing my movies.

The latest Netflix selection to catch my eye is a 1971 dramatic horror turn from Britain called Crucible of Horror (I have also seen it called The Corpse). It is a moody tale that probably falls more in line with a thriller, but it still feels appropriate in the horror realm. What really caught my eye about it is that it stars Michael Gough. Now. That name may not be familiar to a lot of you, but more of you probably know who is than not. He was Alfred in the Tim Burton Batman films. He is instantly recognizable in that role and I have to say it is interesting seeing him as a younger, although not that young, man in a decidedly different role.

Gough plays Walter Eastwood, a controlling, nasty, even sadistic family patriarch. He keeps his wife, Edith (Yvonne Mitchell), and daughter, Jane (Sharon Gurney who also appeared in Raw Meat), under close watch and is none too shy about dishing out some beatings to keep them in line. He also has a son, Rupert (Simon Gough), who seems to be preparing to follow in his father's footsteps.

Walter really is a nasty man. Just watch as he takes a switch to his daughter and just goes off. When he isn't beating his daughter, he acts surly and argues about anything. It should come as no surprise that Edith and Jane decide to go to the next level and plot to kill Walter. Yes, the movie definitely has shades of Diabolique.

As the plot to kill Walter takes same, the movie takes a turn. It seems, the body doesn't stay on one place and our killer duo get increasingly more paranoid. What is going on with Walter? Hmmm...it is curious to try and figure out what happened to the body. It all leads to a conclusion that is definitely a head scratcher.

Crucible of Horror is a good movie, although I am not sure it earned that big twist. I am not saying what it is, but it will leave you questioning pretty much everything that went on before. I am not sure there are enough hard clues to really determine what happened, or didn't. I have an idea, but I am not sure..

The movie is a touch on the dry side, but it is pretty watchable. Michael Gough has an sadistic charisma on the screen and just exudes evil. Sharon Gurney also turns in a solid performance as she struggles living under her father's thumb. It is a movie brimming with evil and desperation. Certainly worth watching.


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