A group of people staying at the home of a reclusive artist are killed off one-by-one by a mysterious murderer.
Even though it was made back in 1971 I didn’t know a whole lot about Crucible of Terror. I’d heard of it and knew that it existed but I had no clue what it was about or anything so I went into it pretty much blind without really knowing what to expect. While it takes a while to get going (after a pretty cool opening scene that involves a naked woman being turned into a statute) I ended up enjoying it and thought that it was a pretty decent little flick. It’s part murder mystery and part slasher flick with a little bit of giallo thrown into the mix for good measure and I have to admit that I was impressed after everything was said and done. I thought that I was an interesting and entertaining film and I regret basically ignoring it all these years as it was a lot better than I thought that it would be.
I really enjoyed the premise and thought that it was pretty cool. We have an art dealer that is desperate for money going to his weirdo father’s house to buy some of his artwork. He takes a group of friends with him and it isn’t long before someone starts knocking them off in a variety of ways. We don’t know who the killer is and why he/she is doing it but that it part of the fun. There are a lot of suspects that could be behind the grisly deaths and I had a great time trying to figure it out before everything is finally revealed in the end. Is the eccentric, creepy artist Victor (who obviously has a few screws loose) the killer? Is it his oddball wife that has reverted back to childhood somehow?
Could it be one of the guests that has some sort of deep dark secret that leads him/her to kill? I’m not telling because I don’t want to spoil anything but let me just say that once we do find out who is responsible it is more than a little surprising. I was certain I knew who the killer was (I changed my mind a couple of times as I was watching it but finally decided that one of the characters had to be the one behind the murders) but I was dead wrong. It isn’t easy to figure out and while some viewers may not like it when the killer’s identity is revealed (more on that in a moment) I thought that it worked and made sense. If you’re looking for a nice little whodunit with some fun slasher flick-like death scenes in it then Crucible of Terror will be right up your alley.
I also thought that it was pretty cool that the killer doesn’t mess around and takes out his/her victims in a number of ways. We get stabbings, suffocation with a plastic bag, head and face bludgeoning with a big rock, and my personal favorite, a little acid in someone’s face at one point. While most of the death scenes (with the exception of the acid to the face one) are pretty short and aren’t that graphic I still enjoyed them and thought that they worked. I was a little surprised by the film’s body count as well as quite a few people are killed during the course of the movie and if you ask me that is always a plus. I’ve seen some people online complain that the death scenes were too short and nothing to brag about but I have to disagree. I’ll admit that they aren’t bloody as hell and as a gore hound I was a tiny bit let down but I thought that they were all pretty effective for what they were. Yes, I do wish that some of them went on just a little bit longer but that’s okay because they still work regardless. Most of them are pretty fun despite the fact that they aren’t super bloody and I was satisfied with them.
As I said earlier I have a feeling that some viewers won’t like the ending when we find out who the killer is but I thought that it was quite awesome. We get a hell of a twist that I just didn’t see coming and I never in a million years would have figured it out but it makes sense once you think about it. It is connected to something that takes place very early in the film and brings everything full circle. I can understand why some may not like it as it does come out of nowhere (and I’ll admit does feel a little forced to an extent) but for some reason I dug it. I thought that it was cool that the people behind the film decided to try something a little different and while the big reveal at the end won’t be for everyone I thought that it was a nice touch. Love it or hate it it’s pretty different and it is quite memorable (thanks to the weirdness of it) if you ask me.
I dug Crucible of Terror and thought that it was pretty much a hidden gem. I can honestly see someone remaking it one day and I just hope that they don’t change the ending as I think that doing so would ruin the whole experience for viewers. It has a lot going for it and even though it may not be for everyone’s taste I enjoyed it myself. It has some fun death scenes, likeable characters, decent acting, and an ending that you won’t soon forget. Do yourself a favor and check it out if you get a chance, I think that you will like it as much as I did (though I have a feeling we will have different opinions on the ending).