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Crucible of Terror
Unholy Terror

UK 1971
produced by
Tom Parkinson, Peter Newbrook (executive) for Glendale
directed by Ted Hooker
starring Mike Raven, Mary Maude, James Bolam, Ronald Lacey, Judy Matheson, Beth Morris, John Arnatt, Betty Alberge, Me Me Lai, Kenneth Keeling, Melissa Stribling
written by Ted Hooker, Tom Parkinson, music by Paris Rutherford, cinematography by Peter Newbrook

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Somehow art dealer John (James Bolam) has gotten his hands on a bronze sculpture, not knowing that the artist of the sculpture, Victor (Mike Raven), has actually covered his model Chi San (Me Me Lai) for the sculpture in bronze to immortalize her beauty (but kill her in the process).

It's not long before an art collector (Kenneth Keeling) wants to steal the sculpture, but is mysteriously killed when trying to do so ...

John meanwhile wants to get more stuff from Victor, fortunately his best friend Mike's (Ronald Lacey) father, but unfortunately a very stubborn old man who doesn't want to sell his art. To that end, John persuades Mike to take him and his girlfriend Millie (Mary Maude) to visit Victor in the country. There, he finds a truly disfunctional family:

Victor detests his mad wife Dorothy (Betty Alberge) but lusts after both his current model Marcia (Judy Matheson) and his som Mike's girlfriend Jane (Beth Morris).

Mike meanwhile is a hopeless drunk, who gets into fights with his girlfriend over pretty much everything, which is somehow playing into his father's hands.

And then there's Bill (John Arnatt), a friend of the family who lives at Victor's place for some reason and who is madly in love with Victor's mad wife Dorothy.

... but when Victor lays his eyes on John's girlfriend Millie, he becomes obsessed by her beauty and desperately tries to persuade her to model for him, but she refuses, not for a few sketches, and absolutely not for a bronze sculpture (even if she does not know the whole truth about the other bronze sculpture).

Eventually, Victor wills in to sell John a few paintings, but he wants the payment in cash up front, today even ... whcih might be a bit difficult because it's weekend and the banks are closed (and remember, this was before ATMs). So John has to go back to London, to find someone to give him the money he needs ...

With John gone, Victor seizes the opportunity to terrorize Millie into modelling for him, while at the same time, murders start to happen. First, Jane is stabbed, then Mike is squashed by a stone pillar, next Marcia gets acid thrown into her face, then Dorothy commits suicide (which might not have been suicide at all) ... but nobody seems to worry a whole lot that all these people start disappearing, instead Bill all of a sudden decides to pick up John, whose car has broken down, in the middle of the night, and leaves Millie alone with Victor, who has already started to heat up his furnace to melt the bronze. And soon enough too, he has caught himself Millie as a model, knocked her out and covered her in plaster ... when suddenly life returns to Millie, but it's not her own life, she becomes possessed by dead model Chi San to avenge her death. Only when she has killed Victor does Millie break down and presumably die too ...

... which is when John and Bill arrive, and Bill suddenly has an explanation for everything: It was Millie's kimono that was possessed, and everytime she wore it she killed someone - so yes, she has murdered all the others too. Thing is, I have not the slightest idea why Bill knows that all of a sudden and hasn#t tried to do anything beforehands. And I don't know why the spirit of Chi San saw it fit to kill all those people, since most of them had nothing to do with her death ...

 

As a whole, this film seems to have no idea of where to go. Part of it plays like a film about a disfuncional family, then there is a murder mystery thrown in (that makes not all that much sense since nobody seems to care awfully much that the corpses keep piling up) and in the end, everthing turns out to be a ghost story about a possessed kimono ... please !!!

Still, you might find the film amusing at times - if for all the wrong reasons.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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to make up ...
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD