Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)

I’ll be perfectly honest. This could have been the worst movie ever made and you put Barbara Steele in green body paint and I’ll watch it anyway. Luckily, it’s a pretty great movie.

Director by Vernon Sewell (The Blood Beast Terror) and written by Mervyn Haisman (Dr. WhoJane and the Lost City) and Henry Lincoln (who wrote The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which Dan Brown completely ripped off to make The DaVinci Code, as well as one of the main researchers into Rennes-le-Château and an honorary Militi Templi Scotia knight in recognition of his work in the fields of sacred geometry and Templar history), this movie piles on the occult and I couldn’t love it anymore for that fact. Or that it was based on “The Dreams in the Witch House” by H. P. Lovecraft.

Antiques dealer Robert Manning is looking for his brother, who has gone missing after visiting their family’s ancestral home in Graymarsh. He arrives in the middle of a party — people are painted like they are on Laugh-In and there’s a catfight tournament seemingly being held — and by the first evening’s rest, his dreams are filled with images of ritual sacrifice. That’s when he joins up with occult expert Professor Marsh (Boris Karloff!) to battle the forces of Satan himself.

Making this all the better, Morley, the owner of the Craxted Lodge*, is played by Christopher Lee.

Also — Michael Gough appears as a sinister butler!

When this was released by American-International Pictures in the U.S., all of the nudity in the virgin sacrifice scenes were, well, sacrificed.

Honestly, no one is going to blame you if you just watch the scenes with Steele leading wild orgies of death and psychedelic mayhem. They even distort her voice and toss all kinds of different colors all over these scenes, which make them more than worthy of the time it takes to watch this movie.

*It’s actually Grim’s Dyke, an allegedly haunted house that also was the setting for Zeta One, several episodes of the Avengers and Cry of the Banshee. It was also the home of W.S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan.

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