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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crucible of Horror (1970)


I enjoy psychological thrillers as they can be more suspenseful and creepier than most slasher films.

Edith and Jane Eastwood are tired of their mistreatment at the hands of the abusive patriarch of the family, Walter.  The two concoct a plan to murder him and make it look like an accident.  Too bad something goes wrong when the body disappears...

The premise is one that's been done in many thrillers... and even in real life.  It's not wholly original, but there is potential for some great psychological unease.  Unfortunately, it doesn't really fulfill that potential, despite a couple of really nice twists.  I would have to say the biggest flaw is the pace.  The build up is really slow before you get to the actual murder- at which point, there really isn't enough time to give us the creeps properly.  Shortly after the body disappears, I was able to figure out how it was going to end after two shots clued me in.  This, unfortunately, took away from the ending's impact.

Another flaw was the characters.  I could sympathize with the wife and daughter, but I didn't necessarily like them either.  I liked the mother more than the daughter though.  The daughter struck me as being almost as twisted and potentially sadistic as the father.  The father was a right bastard- which he was supposed to be.  The son was unlikeable too... and didn't really serve any purpose from what I could tell.  Although he was a cruel person, the father was the most interesting of the bunch.

The acting was average- though Michael Gough as Walter was really quite good.  He portrayed his character beautifully.  Really expressed the strictness, cruelty, domineering nature of the father excellently while also bringing that typical British public appearance of self control and dignity to the character.  Yvonne Mitchell was also good as the wife, Edith.  You could tell that the character had reached the end of her emotional tether.  Very expressive with her face.  I'm ambivalent about Sharon Gurney's performance as Jane, the daughter.  I liked the aura of creepy dementedness she brought to the character, but wasn't sure it was really right for the character, either.  I really can't say much about Simon Gough's performance, since he wasn't on screen much.

There is some decent camera work in this movie- though the majority of it is average.  Some nice angles.  The editing felt a little sloppy in some parts, unfortunately.

As much as I enjoy watching Michael Gough on film, I really couldn't get into this one.  While the ending was interesting, and a nice twist- I saw it coming fairly early.  Because of this, I'm going to have to put "Crucible of Horror" in "The Bad"

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