The Crimson Cult a.k.a Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)
When his brother disappears, Robert Manning pays a visit to the remote country house he was last heard from. While his host is outwardly welcoming - and his niece more demonstrably so - Manning detects a feeling of menace in the air with the legend of Lavinia Morley, Black Witch of Greymarsh, hanging over everything.
Boris Karloff ... Prof. John Marshe
Christopher Lee ... Morley
Mark Eden ... Robert Manning
Barbara Steele ... Lavinia Morley
Michael Gough ... Elder
Virginia Wetherell ... Eve Morley
Rosemarie Reede ... Esther
Derek Tansley ... Judge
Michael Warren ... Chauffeur
Director: Vernon Sewell
Codecs: DivX 5 / MP3
This routine horror film has something of a maligned reputation (Christopher Lee himself refers to it as being "dreadful" in the accompanying interview), but the remarkable credits involved - stars Boris Karloff, Lee, Barbara Steele, Michael Gough and Rupert Davies, director Sewell and cameraman John Coquillon - and the familiar plot elements involving witchcraft make the concoction quite irresistible.
As it happens, Curse of the Crimson Altar is actually an OK film. It was critically mauled and failed to impress at the box office, but it has some enjoyable moments if you're prepared to forgive its rather dated feel. The story is unoriginal and bland, with a young antiques dealer visiting a spooky looking house in search of his missing brother, only to uncover a witchcraft cult. But there are still plenty of moments to savour, such as some deliciously over-the-top sacrificial rituals, plus expertly acted scenes between Karloff and Lee.
The lead character played by Mark Eden (eagle-eyed viewers may remember him as nasty Alan Bradley in the British soap Coronation Street) is a crashing bore, and is nowhere near as handsome as he clearly thinks he is. However, some of the more bizarre characters in this film are really well delineated and make the film worth watching at least once.
# The house used in the film is Grim's Dyke House (now a hotel) in Harrow Weald, Middlesex. The house was formerly the home of "William S. Gilbert" (aka WS Gilbert) of Gilbert & Sullivan fame.
# In its U.S. laser disc edition from the 1990s, the music track of the film was totally modified in favor of a more modern tone score.