Black Widow

The Yank in the manor house coshed immemorial whilst helping a man on the roadway follows a dream back home and into his nightmare.

The superb masterpiece on a Homeric theme threading such films as Impact (dir. Arthur Lubin) and Inferno (dir. Roy Ward Baker) and The Return of the Soldier (dir. Alan Bridges) and Random Harvest (dir. Mervyn LeRoy) and Vampyr (dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer), on the elegant and intelligent Hammer plan, in quite half the time, two-thirds anyway.

Cf. as well Obsession (dir. Edward Dmytryk), Secret Ceremony (dir. Joseph Losey), and Pinter’s The Homecoming (dir. Peter Hall), at various angles and removes.

Britmovie, “intriguingly plotted but otherwise routinely handled”. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “laborious.”



The first half ends with the robbers “capitalists”, the bank manager and his secretary locked up in the vault and precious little air. Then things start to come unglued.

“A small-time car broker”, they are, with an eye toward new showrooms. All a comedy over the bank holiday, but played straight for laughs celestial, not to say downright Homeric.

There seems little reason to doubt that critics, like Sewell’s Mr. Snape, had another evening planned entirely, pictures at the Regal with the wife. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “suspenseful second feature with gloss and pace.”


The Crimson Cult

A signature in blood, the black mass at a lordly manse, a witch ancestress burned long ago, a village festival commemorating the event, revenge upon the accuser’s descendants.

An antique dealer compares the fireworks to Guy Fawkes Night.

Thus the conundrum, enchantingly realized, that Halliwell found devoid of meaning, “wasting much time”. Time Out Film Guide mildly agreed, Roger Greenspun of the New York Times admired Karloff’s performance and “some of the cast”.

A slightly abbreviated version of Curse of the Crimson Altar for Americans.