THE CORPSE aka CRUCIBLE OF HORROR (1969) Reviews and overview

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‘Terror ends with murder! But nightmares begin with the…’

The Corpse – aka Crucible of Horror – is a 1969 British horror feature film directed by Viktors Ritelis from a screenplay written by Olaf Pooley (The Godsend; Lifeforce) for London-Cannon Films. Michael Gough, Yvonne Mitchell and Sharon Gurney star.


A mother and daughter hatch a scheme to murder their family’s domineering and sadistic patriarch…

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“If the first half-hour of Crucible of Horror is tedious but suspenseful, the last half hour is still tedious but also a jumbled mess. It seems that once the film gets rid of Walter, it doesn’t know what to do with itself. Now there’s no one to comment on the stocks at breakfast, or make snide remarks about wigs and poor people!” The Moon is a Dead World



“For most of its running time, it’s a nice little gothic thriller that’s a bit slow in the uptake and prone to abandon plot threats almost as soon as they are introduced, but it’s a fairly solid film until the final 10-15 minutes. Then it all goes to crap.” Terror Titans

” … this slow-moving shocker boasts adequate performances and solid production values, as well as imaginative cinematography, but the piece is undercut by a muddled storyline.” Every ’70s Movie

” … nicely atmospheric in portraying the English suburbs and countryside, although for most of the film one gets the impression that one is watching a suspense thriller rather than a horror film. Gough provides the standout performance as the father. Especially chilling (and funny, in an extremely dark sense) is his serenity before and after his savage beatings.” Communist Vampires

“The picture is expertly acted by Michael Gough, Yvonne Mitchell and Sharon Gurney […] thanks to its muffed ending, mainly qualifies as a horror film by virtue of its excoriating view of upper middle-class family life. And when family life is this unpleasant, that’s quite horrific enough.” Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema

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While the script was nothing to write home about, the performances from Gough, Sharon Gurney, and Yvonne Mitchell are all strong, and the director shows some imagination in the handling of the subject, with good use of unusual angles.” Andy Boot, Fragments of Fear: An Illustrated History of British Horror Films

” … the picture would have been a knockout if not for a last-reel sag […] But for tight, merciless tension and venom, the movie is uncommonly effective and engrossing.” New York Times

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 22.46.43



Cast and characters:

  • Michael Gough … Walter Eastwood
  • Yvonne Mitchell … Edith Eastwood
  • Sharon Gurney … Jane Eastwood
  • Simon Gough … Rupert Eastwood
  • David Butler … Gregson
  • Olaf Pooley … Reid
  • Nicholas Jones … Benjy Smith
  • Mary Hignett … Servant
  • Howard Goorney … Petrol Pump Attendant

Choice dialogue:

Walter Eastwood [Michael Gough]: “Who touched my guns?”

Filming locations:

Shooting began on 17th March 1969 at Merton Park Studios, London, England


The Corpse remained unreleased in the UK until 1972 when Grand National Film Distributors double-billed it with US import Psycho Killer.

In the US, The Corpse was released in 1971 by May Films as Crucible of Horror. Not to be confused with Crucible of Terror (1971).

The film was featured in Season Two of the late-night TV show Elvira’s Movie Macabre.

On April 10, 2018, Scream Factory released the film on Blu-ray.

Fun facts:

The shooting title was Velvet House.

Not to be confused with Crucible of Terror (1971).


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