Craze – UK, 1974

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‘Where black magic explodes into murder!’

Craze is a 1974 British horror film directed by Freddie Francis (The Skull; The Vampire Happening; The Ghoul) from a screenplay co-written by producer Herman Cohen (Berserk; Trog) and Aben Kandel, based on the 1967 novel The Infernal Idol by Henry Seymour. It was also released on VHS in the USA as The Demon Master.

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Buy: Amazon.co.uk

Nucleus Films released Craze uncut and remastered (1.66:1 / 16×9) in the UK on 4th April 2016. Extras are:

• Uncut Version
• Crazy Days – new featurette with Johnathan Rigby (30 mins)
• Theatrical Trailer
• Freddie Francis Trailer Reel (47 mins)
• 1.66:1 / 16×9 / Mono 2.0 / English subtitles

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The movie stars Jack Palance (Torture Garden), Diana Dors (Nothing But the Night; Theatre of Blood; From Beyond the Grave), Julie Ege (Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires; The Mutations), Hugh Griffith (Doctor Phibes Rises Again; Legend of the Werewolf), Trevor Howard (Persecution; The Unholy), Suzy Kendall (Torso), Michael Jayston (Dominique), Martin Potter (Satan’s Slave), David Warbeck (Twins of EvilThe Beyond).

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Psychotic London-based antique dealer Neal Mottram (Palance) sacrifices women to the statue of African god Chuku in the belief that it will help his ailing finances…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

‘So what’s left when one tries to watch Craze as a horror film are scenes of Jack Palance mugging, Jack Palance killing women, some very brightly coloured blood, and Jack Palance’s bare chest. That would leave the film barely watchable in a “point and laugh” sort of way, but for me, there’s something utterly irresistible about a film so desperately trying to be part of its time, and to be pop.’ The Horror!?

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“The film comes across more like an expanded Hammer House of Horror episode, albeit with more sadism and sex. But even with it stuffed full with cameo’s from some of Britain’s better known actors at the time, and a story full of salacious details, it’s still manages to be a bit of a damp squib.” the good, the bad and the unusual

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‘ …a badly made exploitation piece with zero production values and murky camerawork, only relieved by Palance’s reliably over-the-top performance and some bizarre cameos from illuminati like Dors (although as Jayston remarks at one point: “One would have to be pretty desperate to sail into that port”) and even Trevor Howard(!) as Superintendent Bellamy.’ British Horror Films

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“The one main weakness with the entire affair is the reliance put upon Palance, though having Julie Ege and Diana Dors present helped a little as well. With the plot being as thin as it is, even though the film looked good and was engaging enough, without Palance, it would have fallen apart with a weaker actor. Still, Francis was able to hold it all together and though it might not have been his best picture, it is still entertaining.” The Telltale Mind

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” … with such a poor and perfunctory script which quickly establishes Palance as nutty as they come and reduces him to uttering every line as if it had been dragged out of him only after half-an-hour’s torture, we’re left depending upon the numerous cameo roles. At least Evans, Howard, Griffith and Dors ensure that the film is in safe hands, but ultimately their brief appearances can’t compensate for the yawning gaps elsewhere.” Chris Petit, The Time Out Film Guide

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“A typically bad Herman Cohen movie that wastes the talents of director Freddie Francis and a good cast.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook

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Buy: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

“This awful mad-stalker effort wastes a good cast on mundane material, but what else could one expect from the producer and director who gave us Trog (1970)? The Horror Film, Cinebooks

” …embarrassing farrago…” Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic, 2015

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Buy uncut German DVD with English audio: Amazon.co.uk

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Buy novel: Amazon.co.uk

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Cast and characters:

  • Jack Palance as Neal Mottram
  • Diana Dors as Dolly Newman
  • Julie Ege as Helena
  • Edith Evans as Aunt Louise
  • Hugh Griffith as Solicitor
  • Trevor Howard as Bellamy
  • Suzy Kendall as Sally
  • Michael Jayston as Wall
  • Martin Potter as Ronnie
  • Percy Herbert as Detective Russet
  • David Warbeck as Detective Wilson
  • Kathleen Byron as Muriel Sharp
  • Marianne Stone as Jane, a barmaid
  • Dean Harris as Ronnie’s friend
  • Venicia Day as exotic dancer
  • Brian McDermott as policeman following Ronnie [uncredited]

Filming locations:

Shepperton Studios, Studio Road, Shepperton, Middlesex
Thorpe House, Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe, Surrey, England (also location for The Creeping Flesh, 1972)

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Buy: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

Principal photography apparently took place in early 1973.

Craze was passed uncut by the BBFC with an ‘X’ certificate on 11th March 1974.

Image thanks to Bookgasm | VHS WastelandViaje… a lo inesperado

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