September 20th, 2015

Bad Luck Bosch

Blue Witch, You Saw Me Chanting Alone

It's nice for a Frankenstein's monster to know he has a younger Frankenstein's monster to care for him in old age. Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff appeared together in 1968's Curse of the Crimson Altar, one of Karloff's final films and you can tell he's in a wheelchair not just because the story calls for it. There's an unexpected playful quality to this film which of course doesn't centre on either Karloff or Lee but a cocky, almost James Bondish antiques dealer who comes to town looking for his missing brother.

Robert (Mark Eden), while flirting with his beautiful secretary and pretending to stab her with a collapsible blade dagger, learns of the town his brother disappeared to, a place which has a peculiar tradition of celebrating a particular witch who was burnt there centuries ago. Barbara Steele, painted blue, appears as this witch in a few acid hallucination BDSM scenes.

Robert makes his way to Craxted Lodge where he finds the master of the house, Morley (Lee), has a beautiful niece named Eve (Virginia Wetherell) who's throwing a party where half naked women joust each other on men's shoulders using paint brushes for lances.

Karloff plays Professor Marshe, a local expert in witchcraft who turns his nose up at Robert for not appreciating his favourite brandy.

The movie also features Michael Gough playing a butler decades before he played Alfred in Tim Burton's Batman. He brings a lot of the menace to the film, his half mute character desperately trying to choke out words of warning to Robert.

This is an endlessly fun film, every scene seeming to pull something new and weird out of its hat. Supposedly it's based on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dreams in the Witch House"--it's not as good as that story but it also bears absolutely no resemblance to it.

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