Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Crucible of Terror (1971)

Deep down, many horror fans want to act in a horror movie. I've romanticized over the idea, and I'm sure you have too. Here's the thing-many a time, people who want to be or try to be a big name in horror suck as actors. All the notable names in the genre either have experience in acting or became genre icons by sheer accident.

I bring all of this up because I want to talk about Mike Raven. He was a popular radio DJ and occult enthusiast who was also a huge horror fan. So, with Horror in Britain going through a slow decline in the 70's, some saw Raven as the next big horror star. That worked out as well as you think it would, as Raven gave bad performances in such movies as "Lust for the Vampire", "Disciple of Death" and this movie, 1971's "Crucible of Terror."

Raven stars as Victor Clare, an insane sculptor who kills a woman named Chi-San (cult actress Me Me Lai) and turns her into a sculpture. Well, James Davies (James Bolam) acquires some of Victor's work through his son Michael ("Raiders of the Lost Ark's" Ronald Lacey), who decides to set up a weekend with some folks at his dad's secluded cottage. As you can guess, people start getting knocked off.

Though it resembles a Giallo film and has some decent, bloody death scenes, "Crucible of Terror" is a bore. For one thing, the script and direction by Tom Parkinson (his sole writing and directing credit) is flat and uninvolved, with cheap sets and wooden acting dominating the proceedings. It also fails to do anything interesting with Victor's family, who are all unlikeable, obnoxious characters who lack anything resembling empathy, interest or investment, which makes their eventual fates more boring than interesting. Then there's Raven. It's been said many times that he resembles a poor man's Christopher Lee, but I disagree-that would be insulting to an actual poor man's Christopher Lee. His bug eyed, over dramatic performance can't even register on a camp level.

If you ask me, films like "Crucible of Terror" are living proof that you can't just automatically become a horror star. There's better British horror from the 70's, so why bother with this?

Rating: 2/10

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