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Booth's Blog: The Last Film Of Boris Karloff…?
By Emily Booth, Friday 20th May 2016

Emily Booth Green Top Image 12016 has certainly been an odd year so far, in terms of the uncanny amount of music and screen legends popping off this mortal coil. From David Bowie to Alan Rickman to Prince and a few more in between it seems true legends are now hard to come by and indeed may never be cultivated again in the saturated culture we now live in. With this in mind I turn to three icons of classic horror, Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee and Barbara Steele who, in a rare moment in history share the silver screen in tomorrow’s network premiere Curse of the Crimson Alter. It’s not often you get to witness such wonderful horror legends rolled into one movie, and to watch this slice of celluloid is to watch horror history itself.

Most of us know that the incomparable Christopher Lee died last June aged 93, while Karloff, his health failing was still making horror till the very end, the aforementioned Curse of the Crimson Alter in 1968 being the last year he filmed anything. While Barbara Steele, nicknamed ‘The Queen of all Scream Queens” is still working in film today. Three staggered eras represented by these key players, Karloff born way back in 1887 (as William Henry Pratt) is the first real horror movie star making his name of course in Universal’s Frankenstein back in 1931. His acting was always mesmerizing and memorable, famously giving the Frankenstein ‘monster’ a more tragic face.

Curse of the Crimson Alter, from Hammer rival Tigon is a decadent technicolor filled slice of psychadellic 60s horror based on the short story The Dreams in the Witch House by H P Lovecraft. A man follows the trail of his missing brother to a grand English manor where he finds evidence his brother was there but met a grizzly demise. Meanwhile he’s plagued by dreams of occult ritual, virgin sacrifice and drug fuelled orgies… Well, it was the 60s. Barbara Steele is the cause of all the naughtiness being a centuries old witch burned at the stake and back to seek revenge against her killer’s ancestors.

Not to be taken too seriously you can revel in the glorious green skinned Witch Lavinia (Barbara Steele) complete with goat horns surrounded by male slaves in leather pants as she seduces all in her path. It has been said that really it is Karloff who comes off best here, even though 82, wheelchair bound and in poor health – his quiet menace here shines on. This movie possibly spelt the end for the great man, apparently catching pneumonia while filming in the draughty mansion, the real life Grims Dyke reputedly haunted house of W. S Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan.

So, let’s celebrate some real horror history and this one and only man of menace, Boris Karloff in the network premiere of Curse of the Crimson Alter Saturday 21st May at 10.50pm


Related show tags: CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTER
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