Dir: Iain Ross-McNamee | Cast: Neil Morrissey, Charles O’Neil, Katie Goldfinch, Angela Carter | 96′ | UK Horror, Vampire.
Crucible of the Vampire is a rather pale attempt to re-create the traditional fare made by Hammer in the 1960s and early 1970s. The plot is familiar (but required three writers, Ross-McNee, Darren Lake and John Wolskel, who penned Blonde, Busty & Keane) – a naive, young blond (Goldfinch) goes to a 17th century Manor House in rural Shropshire. This time the blond’s clever too, some kind of minor archeologist sent there by her boss to examine the remains of a broken 17th century pot whose owner, a putative sorcerer we witness being accused of all sorts of Devilry, and strung up, in the opening scene. Isabelle (Katie Goldfinch) is apparently oblivious to the goings on in the house where she is made to drink a potion on her first night with the resident couple and their coquettish daughter, who appears to be lesbian, and later has no trouble seducing Isabelle, who has so far resisted the advances of her boyfriend, wanting to remain ‘pure’ until marriage. Clearly, it was just his technique that was lacking, rather than her resolve. More dark revelations unfold with Neil Morrissey’s friendly local farmer offering his manly protection to our heroine, who is seemingly unaware of the dangers surrounding her, until it’s too late. A nice try, and quite watchable. Iain Ross-McNamee certainly succeeds to a degree. But where’s the tinkly organ music, and some of the acting is predictably as twee as the premise. But that’s the whole point, I guess. MT