Crucible of Horror (1970)   Leave a comment

crucible

Professional asshat, Walter Eastwood (Michael Gough), abuses and controls his wife and daughter. His brutality makes a compliant zombie of his wife Edith (Yvonne Mitchell) and a juvenile delinquent of his daughter, Jane (Sharon Gurney).   Conversely, Eastwood treats his snotty, arrogant son Rupert (Gough’s real-life son, Simon Gough) like gold. Eastwood’s compulsively neat patriarch demands perfection and returns only cruelty.

gough1

“What a great day to be evil.”

Eastwood dictates all aspects of the women’s lives, telling them where to go, who to see, and reading and confiscating their mail.   The two women are virtual prisoners in their own home. At one point Eastwood discovers Jane stole money from their country club. He brutally whips his sixteen-year-old daughter and chuckles when the badly bruised girl comes down to breakfast the next morning. We know from flashbacks this isn’t the first time. Edith and Jane decide they’ve had enough.

momsis

“We’ve had enough.”

When Eastwood goes to his remote hunting lodge for the weekend, the women see their chance. Their plan to rid themselves of their tormentor runs into a few snags and there are some suspenseful scenes involving a nosy neighbor, ill-timed phone calls, and a body dump. Edith and Jane return home and find problems they never counted on.

chem

“Now that’s three fingers of deadly nightshade…”

Viktors Ritelis directed CRUCIBLE OF HORROR aka THE CORPSE as a thriller along the lines of DIABOLIQUE or CAUSE FOR ALARM. He keeps the pace slow in the beginning which stresses the oppressive atmosphere of the Eastwood’s home. Later, he speeds it up as we watch Edith and Jane scramble.

I enjoyed CRUCIBLE OF HORROR. It has a late 60s British look which differentiates it from American films of the same era. Michael Gough, a veteran of nearly two-hundred films, worked with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and the whole Hammer/Amicus repertory company and he’s terrific as the nasty Walter Eastwood. He may be a sweet guy in real life, but he’s a rat in this film which makes him fun to watch. I’d recommend CRUCIBLE OF HORROR for the atmosphere, suspense, and Michael Gough’s scary performance.

Odd film fact: Sharon Gurney, who plays Rupert Eastwood’s (Simon Gough) sister Jane was married to him in real life. Kinky, eh?

clue

“I hate him soooooo much.”

 

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