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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, February 24, 2023

Craze (1974)

Friendly antique dealer Neal Mottram has a secret in his basement. A statue to the great God Chuku, whom he and his coven worship. We see a ceremony with some dancing and a bit of bloodletting to appease Chuku. Afterwards a former member of the coven shows up and tries to take the statue back but gets killed in the process. Mottram prays to Chuku and gives her soul over to him in exchange for favors. Wouldn’t you know it the very next day a fortuitous hidden drawer and some gold fixes all his financial woes.

This leads Mottram down the wormhole of killing ladies in the name of Chuku in exchange for more and more favors. One by one he plans his crimes and then dumps the bodies. But soon the police are onto him and start to follow his movements. He is eventually seen by a victim’s roommate and cornered in the basement where there is one final sacrifice to Chuku. Of course it wasn’t going to end well for him!

Craze is a lot of fun. The story is a bit goofy and the statue of Chuku must be seen to be believed. But despite all this there are also some mean spirited bits as well. We get some fun murders with faces being burnt off, necks stabbed, old ladies scared to death and a non-fatal belly slashing that is the most in your face. None of these are overly gross or gory but it does give us enough to support the story. The pacing is brisk for the most part with us jumping right into the action with a bit of a lull in the middle before picking back up for the finale. This is the sort of movie where something is always happening to keep a viewer’s interest. I had a lot of fun with it.

The Great God Chuku
When I saw this sitting in stack of movies that I hadn’t watched yet two things jumped out to me. First was the star. Jack Palance plays our lead character, Mottram. He chews up the scenery in that very special way only he could. Not ever overacting but getting close to it. Some of my favorite parts of his performance are the times he is working his romantic magic on the ladies. Apparently, all the groovy ladies of London were unable to resist his smooth game. Between that and his vigorous praying to Chuku every scene he is in has something going for it. And he is in most of them!

The other item of note was the director, Freddie Francis, who is best known for movies like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, The Skull, The Deadly Bees, and Tales from the Crypt. The guy worked with both Amicus as well as Hammer and made some killer movies. Way more than I just listed. Here every shot, scene, and setup move the story along or give us some bloody payoff. He normally is always good for an entertaining flick and Craze is no different.

I’ve been digging into old horror movies that I’ve not seen before. That has led me down a lot of horrible paths… I’m talking to you Ghosts That Still Walk! Though discovering a movie like Craze makes sitting thru the bad worth it. I had a blast and think you will too. It is worth checking out for just Palance’s performance. I highly recommend it.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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