31 August 2008


(No matter how bad a movie is, that shouldn't give some scissor-happy jerk the right to chop up the video box.)

1974 – United Kingdom
Director – Freddie Francis
Paragon Video Productions, 19??, VHS

I’ve learned to be wary of films starring Jack Palance, films about witches, and films made in the UK. Rarely do any of these categories deliver on their own but this is the first time I’ve seen them all boldly thrown together. In a basement somewhere Palance leads a black magic ceremony centered on a googly eyed African idol. After some spooky talk, a woman does a little topless hustle in front of the Chuko idol and unconvincingly cuts her stomach open.

After the best part of the movie is over, an older woman shows up to argue about her prior membership in the coven and during a scuffle with Palance is impaled on the idols pitchfork.
Besieged by unpaid bills and debt Palance is at his wits end and at the point of having to close his little failing antique/import business. Just as his pasty British fop of an assistant finds out about the murder and starts spiraling into a whine-fest, Palnce throttles him into silence, and discovers a secret drawer full of gold coins hidden in his favorite desk.

So sweet, this means the sacrifice worked, or at least that’s what Palance thinks. Wasting no time, Palance heads to a local bar, er, Pub and picks up a waxy looking Italian woman, takes her home, gets high, gets laid and when she won’t do a striptease for Chuko he gets chokey.

Rather soonish after that several Oriental chaps show up at his little storefront and eagerly purchase some authentic Ming vases which a previous conversation established as unsellable. Hey the bucks, er, Pounds are just rolling in now! Sweet old Chuko is paying in dividends, and despite his assistants reckless suggestion of a party, Palance decides to invest his newfound wealth in a bottle of cherry brandy which he uses to get a big pasty fat chick in leopard print drunk.

Finally killing his own aunt as a sacrifice, Palance has gone perhaps too far and has to identify her corpse for the police, his grief about as convincing as his intermittent shoddy English accent. A clever fade effect using Chuko’s eyes is used to show how evil he has become while he grins with gluttonous delight as his aunt’s will is read, and then read again thanks to an editing mistake in the film. His assistant starts whining like a pussy again and Palance visits a BDSM call-girl while the assistant visits three double scotches to get his dander up before returning to the shop to confront his boss who, surrounded by angry pale British, finally breaks.

Jack Palance tries to make it through Craze.
This PG yawn fest was pretty much exactly what I expected from any of the aforementioned three film-sinking elements. I had hoped that the combination of the three might result in some fantastic plumbing of the sloppy depths of terrible, but no, it failed even at that. It didn’t help that Palance had a thin little mustache which remided me of Charles Bronson. I love Charles Bronson, I hate Jack Palance.

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