Craze (1974) Jack Palance Eerie Fest Day 3 of 5
From exploitation producer Herman Cohen comes this Freddie Francis film starring a maniacal Jack Palance as a curio shop owner in the heart of London. Palance’s rather low key subtle style will be traded in for one of his enjoyable over the top ham jobs.
No time for building up suspense here as the opening scene has our main man leading a coven of devil worshipers praying at the foot of their God Chuku. Before the film is five minutes old we have our leader Jack allowing one of his followers to strip and dance naked for Chuku’s pleasure. Not to mention Jack and the drive in crowd as well I suppose.
When an exiled member turns up to beg Jack to be allowed back into the coven he gets violently angry and due to an unforeseen shove, she winds up impaled on the statues sharp claw. A blood sacrifice that Jack believes is the reason his fortunes have turned and his business is suddenly becoming successful. This of course leads to more bloodshed and sacrifices.
Next up we see Jack the babe catcher hit the bars to net lovely Julie Ege. He knows his way around women and Ege takes the bait and the love making commences with a little weed to take the edge off. Big mistake as Chuku is about to receive another sacrifice.
Before he knows it the police are poking around as Jack’s name has come up in a couple of murders. One of which seems to be a perfectly executed killing of his aging aunt. He believes he has an air tight alibi. He was bedding Diana Dors the night of the killing. Or was he?
The police chief played by Trevor Howard puts his men onto Jack’s assistant at the store who knows more than he’s telling. When he begins to panic Jack goes over the edge once more with his aggressive acting style to calm his “Renfield” down.
With the police closing in and Chuku demanding another sacrifice what’s Jack to do? Perhaps a little more ham might help. Jack’s giving us plenty this time around. While the film isn’t memorable I do admit to savoring every raspy line delivered through Jack’s clenched teeth. Perhaps he’s an acquired taste.
This is one of the many films Jack turned out in the seventies while overseas. He covered most genres from horror and western to Italian gangland flicks. Even a softcore film titled Black Cobra.
Turning up alongside the familiar Trevor Howard is the well known face of Hugh Griffith. They add some name value to the flick but their roles are strictly of the cameo variety.
Director Francis did a number of horror themed films for Hammer and Amicus Studios among other companies. He actually worked with Palance previously in the best segment of the Amicus anthology film Torture Garden in 1967.
Craze is not for the masses but if you like your Jack sliced thick then you may find this ham agreeable.