Craze DVD Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Nucleus Films
Directed by Freddie Francis
Written by Herman Cohen, Aben Kandel
1974, 91 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 4th April 2016
Jack Palance as Neal Mottram
Diana Dors as Dolly Newman
Julie Ege as Helena
Edith Evans as Aunt Louise Nash
Hugh Griffith as Solicitor
Trevor Howard as Supt. Bellamy
Intense antiques dealer Neal Mottram (Jack Palance) hopes to make himself rich and powerful by sacrificing pretty young ladies to his African fetish statue on a nightly basis. This he does wearing a black cape and rollneck jumper and occasionally surrounded by his weird mates. Does he really believe in god Chuku though, or is he just in it for the kicks?
Freddie Francis’s exploitation feature Craze is a British answer to the likes of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Blood Feast, complete with an unhinged antagonist and variously inventive methods of bloody murder. Beyond its central plot of Mottram going on dates and murdering people, there’s not much else to see. But then, what else do you need? Palance is beautifully hammy as Mottram, sweaty, bare-chested and rolling women up in carpets every ten minutes. By the time he rams a wooden stake through an old lady’s heart while wearing a Leatherface style skin mask, you’ll either be really sold on Craze or really not.
Hipster-bearded fans of ‘bad’ movies should find plenty to enjoy in Craze, then, which at least manages to be enjoyable in its utter trashiness. Outside of Palance’s mad mugging, there’s Diana Dors as a horny B&B owner (“one would have to be pretty desperate to sail into that port”), his ex-male prostitute flatmate, and the half-baked story of two policemen trying to bring the man to heel for his crimes. The latter shouldn’t be too difficult, given how utterly sinister his behaviour is in the face of police interrogation. Blatantly evil moustache too.
Beyond such limited amusement, however, Craze gets very old very fast. Mottram’s murders feel relatively few and far between, with the police procedural elements taking up far too much of the film’s time. Maybe if they were an interesting pair of coppers themselves, but these two are sorely lacking in both brains and charisma. Although, in fairness, it is difficult for anyone to get a look-in next to Palance’s salacious snarling and whatever it is Diana Dors is doing.
As it stands in horror history, Craze is disposable, often incompetent trash. It doesn’t have much to offer – not even as the pop culture curiosity it so obviously craves to be. The talented Francis – director of some genuine cult gems in The Skull and Dr. Terror’s House of Horror – is dragged down to the level of his imitators, no doubt eased into the position by trash-merchant producer and writer Herman Cohen. Admittedly, as a daft old oddity, there is enjoyment to be had, and at least Craze is far from forgettable. For all the film’s faults, star Jack Palance and the film’s gusto in depicting his crimes at least ensure its place in history.
Video and Audio:
It doesn’t look good, but the sloppiness of the print only serves to heighten the lurid atmosphere. Similarly, it sounds cheap and grubby, but it serves the film just fine.
Jonathan Rigby gives an engaging talk on the making of the film and its adaptation from the original novel in Crazy Days. Trailers and a gallery are also included. Crazy Days makes up for the lack of material elsewhere, although it would have been nice to see a little more on producer Cohen.