Obscure Horror Cinema: Craze

by William Burns

Jack Palance had one of the strangest careers in Hollywood. Starting off as Marlon Brando’s understudy in the Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Palance would appear in many films, most notably in an Oscar nominated performance in Shane and as a maniacal film producer in Jean Luc Godard’s Contempt. Palance would win an Oscar for his role as Curly in City Slickers and would give one of the most memorable acceptance speeches by dropping down and doing one armed push-ups. In between these two career triumphs were years spent making horror films to pay the bills, including his portrayal of Dracula for Dan Curtis’s adaptation and the imprisoned narrator in Jess Franco’s DeSade adaptation Deadly Sanctuary. One of his most interesting excursions into horror was Craze, a 1974 British film directed by the extremely underrated Freddie Francis. Craze is the story of Neal Mottram, an antiques dealer who is also the leader of a cult worshiping Chuku, an African god who demands blood sacrifices. Mottram starts to connect random events with his increasingly murderous devotion to his god. Palance is known for his glorious overacting and his scene chewing prowess, and Craze doesn’t disappoint. His switch from suave business owner to wild eyed ax murder in a fetish mask is a delight to behold. Another interesting aspect of Craze is the depiction of the last gasps of Swinging London, the wilting of the Flower Children into the dead eyed, self-absorbed 70’s. With an equally compelling performance by the great Diana Dors, Craze deserves a special edition release but until then check out the wonderfully mad analysis of the devastating delirium of belief:


Leave a Comment