Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Jorge in Sao Paulo, Martin in Derry & Colin, and Donal.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sexplosion !

"Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange - how a generation of pop rebels broke all the taboos" - this fascinating tome by Robert Hofler is an easy read, particularly for those of us who lived through those heady years. Let's see: "Rich, funny, and comprehensive SEXPLOSION takes you inside the tumultous, energizing years of 1968 to 1973, when artists, film-makers, and writers defied authority and challenged every taboo to create a sexual revolution that reverbates to this day. This is a superb evocation of an era" Patricia Bosworth says. or "Hofler pays tribute to the trailblazing artists who paved the way for the freedom on screen that we take for granted today", according to Jeffrey Schwarz.

It is a different world now looking back to those late 60s when censorship was still in full force - how much society can change over 40 years! Gay liberation and Women's Lib were still in their infancy - equality seemed a long way off then. Homosexuals were routinely called 'fags' or 'faggots' even by the likes of liberals like Billy Wilder or John Huston (and in films like VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, THE LOVE MACHINE) - lots of straight men hated women whom they saw as castrating, dominating tyrants. 
Philip Roth certainly felt so - he refused to complete his manuscript for PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT as his hated ex-wife was getting half of what he earned, after tricking him into marriage with a fake pregnancy, as she had bought the urine sample from a pregnant woman, so he was not going to hand her another fortune - then, conveniently for him, not so for her, she was killed in a car crash, so heigh ho, and off to the printers !!! and that very funny book became one of the defining texts of the era, along with John Updike's COUPLES and Gore Vidal's MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, which we loved with a passion. Even the trash-but-fun movie did not dent our affection for it. How we howled at Mae West's line as she arrived at her office crowded with studs: "one of those guys will have to go..!"and poor Rusty gets it in the end, we had seen nothing like it !
Hofler goes into the genesis of all these, and in the theatre the problems with getting Mart Crowley's BOYS IN THE BAND, Tynan's OH! CALCUTTA! and Rado & Ragni's HAIR on stage with their nudity and depiction of gay life and those new freedoms. It seems critic Kenneth Tynan was more an unmitigated shit than one had relealised. We knew about his S&M fetishes and caning women, but he was also rabidly anti-fag, and wanted nothing gay in his revue show, and even wanted to hire only heterosexual actors! 

Also in the cinema, John Schlesinger was pushing boundaries with MIDNIGHT COWBOY, which featured some of the Warhol crowd, like Viva, also busy in Warhol products like LONESOME COWBOYS. Warol's own films, as created by Paul Morrisey - FLESH, HEAT, TRASH - also raked in the money, though they would not pay for Holly Woodlawn to get bail from prison to attend her film opening!  Ken Russell meanwhile was getting the British film censor John Trevelyan (who was a regular on tv and in discussions on censorship I attended at the BFI), to pass his WOMEN IN LOVE (Olly and Alan had their own problems with that nude wrestling scene...) and the even more notorious THE DEVILS, while Visconti ran into problems with Warner Bros over his Nazi orgy in THE DAMNED and DEATH IN VENICE .....  which to the Warner Bros executives was about a middle-aged man chasing but never quite getting his hands on a knowing thirteen year old boy who seems to be leading him on. No wonder they wanted Tadzio changed to a girl called Tadzia !
Hofler though does not mention Fellini's SATYRICON or Antonioni's ZABRISKIE POINT, two other hits of the counterculture era, as we zoon on to BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE (which earned Natalie Wood more than any other film she made, as she had a percentage deal) and CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, DEEP THROAT and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (right). Amusing story about that - arch-manipulator Kubrick stayed at home in England but persuased Malcolm McDowell and Anthony Burgess, the book's author, to go to America and handle the interviews for ORANGE. Then Burgess realised he was not making anything from the film's success as he had earlier sold the rights for a few hundred dollars ....

Schlesinger ran into more trouble with his next one, SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY, but was now an Oscar-winning director, so got his way, having to replace his initial choices Ian Bannen and Hiram Keller which was not working out, with the more laid back Peter Finch and Murray Head. Princess Margaret though hated the film with its depiction of "men in bed kissing" - perhaps a little too close for comfort for her. The kinky sex and violence of PERFORMANCE (left) also frazzled Warner Brothers who did not know what to do with it. STRAW DOGS with its brutal rape was also causing lots of problems. Then there was the notorious making of LAST TANGO IN PARIS ....

A fascinating era in all, as the new freedoms slowly became commonplace- as covered by "Films & Filming" and other magazines.  Another discussion I attended in 1970, when 24, at the BFI was on the topic of 'Actors & Nudity' - a hot topic then with more and more actresses and actors too, having to get their kit off. 
I remember Billie Whitelaw being vocal at this, and Zeffirelli's naked Romeo, Leonard Whiting, in a crushed velvet blue suit. He was standing next to us afterwards in the gents, waiting his turn ... 
Censorship still raged in Ireland then, a look at WOMEN IN LOVE at the local cinema I grew up in, in 1970 or so reduced us to helpless laughter - the wrestling scene had been reduced to a few shots of them panting on the carpet, making it even more suggestive. They were running MIDNIGHT COWBOY the following week - I wondered how much of that was left ...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Roman empire falls again ....

Easter week and the big guns are being wheeled out once again. Nice to catch up with Anthony Mann's 1964 epic THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE once again (BEN HUR and SPARTACUS will be coming along too and the very lush CLEOPATRA). EMPIRE just looks better year after year (as does Mann's EL CID), and a nice movie to spend a couple of hours with as one copes with a head cold. First of all, it still looks great, with those real sets and its perfectly cast with that first hour or so focusing on those frozen wastes in the German forests in the snow at that outpost of the Roman Empire as Marcus Aurelius mediates on his impending mortality (aided by a poisoned apple) as his son Commodus plots to take over the Empire. Alec Guinness is perfect here as the ailing emperor with his friend Timonides who is James Mason. The two of them bring such depth and dignity to their roles.  

Sophia Loren as the emperor's daughter Lucilla - framed by Mann in lots of fascinating shots swathed in furs and against imposing backgrounds. Stephen Boyd fills out the hero role (it wouldn't have been quite right for Heston) and Christopher Plummer makes for a devious rather insane imposter to the throne, as it turns out he is not the son of Aurelius at all! Mel Ferrer, John Ireland, Omar Sharif and Anthony Quayle fill out the other leading roles as the empire is lost as Rome is conquered from within. 
It is interestingly done and is probably the last of the big epics of the early '60s, following SPARTACUS and CLEOPATRA. Anthony Mann also directed EL CID and this is more of the same, also from producer Samuel Bronston. Further "epics" like 55 DAYS AT PEKING or the rather tatty GENGHIS KHAN were just not in the same league. 
So, the last of the big ones then - and the starting point for the later GLADIATOR, though CGI spectacles are just not the same (see TROY for instance!). It must have been an important movie for Loren - she had started off 14 years earlier as an extra in QUO VADIS in 1950, and now here she was headlining her own roadshow epic! Alec Guinness is very interesting in his autobiography on taking Loren out to dinner during the shoot - 20 years earlier she may well have been one of the hungry children in Naples whom he was giving food to when in the English army during WWII!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Handy for the Heath ?

SCENES OF A SEXUAL NATURE, 2006. How could a sunny  afternoon on Hampstead Heath (in North London) be so crushingly dull? I used to be up there during the 70s and 80s, and it seemed a lot more fun than shown here. I also had this recorded on my Sky hard drive for about a year or so, before finally deciding to view it – despite that interesting cast. We drop in and out of observing 7 couples in various stages of relationship issues. 

Old-timers Eileen Atkins and Benjanim Whitrow get talking on a park bench and discover they have an unusual connection – as they were prospective dates about 50 years ago but went off and married other people instead (sounds like the start of hit series LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX). Catherine Tate and Adrian Lester are a divorcing couple, Tom Hardy fools around with Sophie Okonedo and drops his trousers – that makes the audience sit up!, Mark Strong and  Polly Walker  are another couple, while Hugh Bonneville and Gina McKee have an uneasy picnic. The only gay couple we listen in on (gays are usually plentiful on the Heath) are Ewan McGregor and Douglas Hodge (who was brilliant in LE CAGE AU FOLLES a few years ago) and Andrew Lincoln (forever Egg in THIS LIFE) is caught gazing at an attractive girl’s underwear …. Ewan has an eye for passing trade but wants to have children as well, while partner Douglas is not so keen, as Ewan heads into the bushes with a new friend …. 

This though plays like a tedious collection of hit and miss sketches, directed by one Ed Blum, and one ends up fast-forwarding some of the more boring episodes. 
Moi on the Heath in the early '70s
If this was meant to be another LOVE ACTUALLY it fails miserably, but is an interesting addition to those indie gay British movies (like LAWLESS HEART or BEDROOMS AND HALLWAYS - reviewed at Gay Interest label, both infinitely more multi-layered and entertaining than this forgettable piffle. And where was Tom Hollander ? - surely they could have squeezed him in somewhere! 
This was made in 2006 - if being filmed now, a whole new raft of performers familiar to us would have to be cast: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Nicola Walker, Elisabeth Berrington, Miranda Hart, Martin Hutson et al ... and perhaps the sculptured cheekbones of Douglas Booth and the pouting Rupert Penry-Jones (who does not like kissing blokes) as that gay couple ! 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Wild in the country / you ain't nothing but a hound dog! - more teen heart-throbs ...

HOUND DOG MAN in ’59 may not be a western at all but is an amiable, pleasing backwoods comedy drama by Don Siegel set in rural America showcasing Fox’s new talent: singer Fabian as the confused teen, Stuart Whitman as his ne’er-do-well pal who takes the kids on a weekend of hunting with their hound-dogs, Carol Lynley and Dodie Stevens are the girls - Carol wants to tame Whitman, while Dodie and Fabian seem fated to be mated, after that barn-dance. 

Arthur O’Connell and Betty Field are the nice understanding parents, and there are old timers like Jane Darwell and Royal Dano, and its all perfectly delightful. Siegel also scored next year in 1960 putting Elvis out west in the stirring FLAMING STAR. HOUND DOG MAN is the kind of thing 20th Century Fox did well, their charming version of rural Americana ... usually those Jerry Wald productions like the pretty but vapid HEMINGWAY'S ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG MAN in 1962.

Teen heart-throbs:
Fabian was the ideal idol for a while then - an Italian-American teenager discovered and made a singer, he looked the part and filled a pair of jeans nicely. Good too with comic timing in NORTH TO ALASKA (rave for this favourite 1960 western at Fabian label) and other Fox movies like HIGH TIME, FIVE WEEKS IN A BALOON, and MR HOBBS TAKES A VACATION, amother other acting roles. 
He posed (tastefully) for "Playgirl" and aged quite well.  Pat Boone and Ricky Nelson (and even Tommy Sands) all went into the movies too, scoring while Elvis was away in the army - Ricky being a delight in Hawks' RIO BRAVO - and of course Bobby Darin in COME SEPTEMBER, not to mention the Elvis films - his big hit G I BLUES after his return from Germany, and those Fox dramas WILD IN THE COUNTRY and FLAMING STAR before all those lesser-quality items ... while serious actors like Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins tried their hand at singing - successfully too ! Then came the blondes: Troy Donahue, Tab Hunter, James Franciscus, and another striking brunette: Kerwin Matthews ... as per labels. Soon: more Guy Madison ! Kerwin Matthews ! George Maharis ! and those new 60s boys Warren Beatty, Christopher Jones ("the new James Dean"), Georges Peppard and Hamilton, Jean Sorel and some French guys ...

Blue jean baby ...

BLUE DENIM (BLUE JEANS). A rarity from 1959, this drama from a play by James Leo Herlihy (ALL FALL DOWN, MIDNIGHT COWBOY) plays out in an idealised suburban American home, complete with picket fence and bench swinging on the porch as ideal teens Brandon De Wilde and Carol Lynley confront their unwanted pregnancy. They are such a vanilla couple that the idea of heavy petting seems a bit much let alone going all the way …. 

Macdonald Carey is the army father who has the family dog put to sleep while the son is at school, to spare him saying goodbye to the pet. Mother is pert and busy Marsha Hunt, busy with their daughter’s wedding. No one seems to listen to Brandon when he wants to finally tell them his problem. Carol’s father Professor Williard is that busy character actor Vaughn Taylor. 

These are no rebels without a cause though, but nice normal teens. Warren Berlinger is good as their friend, and Roberta Shore sings up a storm at that ideal hop. When they need a “doctor” they have to go to the “other side of town” (cue sleazy sax) …. Will they go through with the operation or will the parents come to the rescue? It is all nicely worked out, and Herlihy again captures that suburban life perfectly. Director Philip Dunne also captures small town life, as he did in HILDA CRANE (Jean Simmons label) and others. Perfectly late '50s too - another 1959 treat then. De Wilde was of course already a veteran child actor (SHANE and the others as per my profile on him - De Wilde label) and Lynley that charming new ingenue, a rival to Sandra Dee - in favourites like HOUND DOG MAN or RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE.  Her later hits included BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, De Wilde was killed in a road accident in 1972 when he was 30 - but had good roles in ALL FALL DOWN and HUD, and we like him in NIGHT PASSAGE and others. If he had lived he would be 70 this year ...

Blue ....

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR, 2013. I am still enthralled and enraptured after watching this last night. Its certainly my film of the year now. It seemed pre-ordained that Cate Blanchett would win the best actress Oscar after seeing BLUE JASMINE last summer, though my alliegiance later shifted to Dame Dench, but now Adele Exarchopoulos seems the actress of the year to me. Not since that other Adele – Isabelle Adjani as ADELE H - has a new actress stunned me so much. 
15 year old Adele feels like an average teenager, with school, friends, parents and boys taking up most of her time and thoughts. A desulatory relationship with an older boy does not satisfy her and that female schoolfriend who seemed to be coming on to her rejects her advances. Then a chance encounter with the blue-haired older Emma (Lea Seydoux) turns her world upside down, forcing her to question her desires and assert herself as a woman and as an adult. Jaw-droppingly frank in its sexual content, mesmerisingly beautiful and utterly compelling from start to finish, this is gripping engrossing cinema in its rawest, purest form whose almost three hours fly by, and is indeed one of the most celebrated and talked-about films of the year.
I can’t recall when the camera loved a performer as much as it does with Adele here, as directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. One trusts she will have a great career, and not be manipulated by directors, like say Maria Schneider. Kechiche’s vision is great too, as we watch and linger over Adele at meals with her parents, defending herself when her schoolfriends turn against her and call her lesbian, and at that first encounter with Emma in the gay bar, and how their relationship changes, as we leave the more mature Adele at the end. Whatever one’s gender or sexuality we all identify totally with that ideal first love here. It brought so much back to me, and its definitely one to revisit soon.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

'70s British gangster movies

London is such an expensive (practically unaffordable), flash metropolis now that its a real delight to re-visit that seedy city of the 1970s - which I remember from my 20s then - with its cheap rooms and jobs where spivs and various grubby lowlifes ruled - from Burton's gangster in VILLAIN - made the same year 1971 as Caine's GET CARTER, to essential thrillers like THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY. Here we look at VILLAIN, THE SQUEEZE, SITTING TARGET, HENNESSY, PERFECT FRIDAY, and a Trash 70s classic THE LEGACY - giving employment to a lot of our favoutires and stuffed with all those British character actors earning a crust here.   These are all as good as our '70s Brit favourites like Steiger and Lee Remick in the IRA drama HENNESSY or that amiable John Wayne western set in 70s London: BRANNIGAN. The seedy early 70s London is also caught in ALL COPPERS ARE - a recent discovery - all at London/Trash labels - along with GOOBYE GEMINI and cult trash classic DORIAN GRAY

VILLAIN,1971. Vic Dakin, a sadistic gang leader and a mother-obsessed homosexual modeled on real-life gangster Ronnie Kray, is worried about potential stool pigeons that may bring down his criminal empire. Vic, who enjoys playing at rough trade with his sidekick Wolfe, plans a payroll robbery and directs the blackmailing of Members of Parliament with a taste for unorthodox sex. Scotland Yard Police Inspector Matthews, playing Javert to Vic's Jean Valjean, is moving in on him and the gang. Gang-member Edgar is hospitalized for an ulcer, and Inspector Matthews might be able to make him sing. Will Edgar spill the beans to the coppers before Vic can silence him?
Richard Burton seems to be having a lot of fun here, Cathleen Nesbitt again plays his doting old mother (as in 1969's terrible STAIRCASE) whom he takes on day trips to Brighton, and there is a great gallery of supporting faces. Burton's boytoy Ian McShane also gets it on with '60s dolly bird Fiona Lewis (topless again) - though unlike the same year's SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY there are no intimate scenes between the men, Vic usually punches Wolfe, maybe thats their foreplay (below) .... Nigel Davenport and Colin Welland (a PC Plod type) are the cops closing in, Donald Sinden is ideal as the corrupt Member of Parliament, Joss Ackland and T.P. McKenna flesh out Vic's associates, as do James Cossins, Tony Welby and Del Henney - the rapist from that year's STRAW DOGS).  
VILLAIN holds its own in the violence stakes, the payroll robbery is botched and things start to go wrong for our beleagured Villain. Its a prime contender for a great 70s crime drama.  Michael Tuchner directs from a script by comedy writers Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais who later gave us their own more comic Swinging London thriller OTLEY in 1968 with Tom Courtenay and Romy Schneider and another gallery of supporting players, including yes Fiona Lewis again.  

SITTING TARGET, 1972, by contrast is nasty and brutal with no redeeming features - Oliver Reed is in his element as he snarls and seethes through this brute force crime thriller, ably directed by Douglas Hickox (ENTERTAINING MR SLOANE, THEATRE OF BLOOD). Olly is uber-thug Harry Lomart who easily breaks out of prison with his sidekick Birdy (Ian McShane again)  and they go on the run, Olly though wants to track down and kill his faithless wife (Jill St John) who has told him she wants a divorce and is pregnant by another man. 
This is all grimly realistic with authentic South London locations - those tower blocks around Battersea and Victoria (as in ALL COPPERS ARE) though St John is hilariously miscast here as the Battersea housewife, with June Brown (Dot Cotton from EASTENDERS) as her next-door neighbour. This is a role that cries out for Carol White or Billie Whitelaw who would be ideal here dishing up greasy breakfasts with a cigarette dangling from their lips. The violence and the shootups continue in this cold, drab London until the climax and the wife's secret lover is revealed .... Edward Woodward, Frank Finlay, Freddie Jones are able support.

THE SQUEEZE from 1977, long unseen here, is however the real deal. I like this one a lot, and it will be due for a rewatch. Tough and brutal yes, but stylish too as a great cast go head to head, as directed by Michael Apted (TRIPLE ECHO, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER and still directing now). This is back to 70s London with a vengance, that city of cheap clothes and cheap cars, and grubby rooming houses. Stacey Keach is terrific as Jim Naboth, the shambolic shambling alcoholic ex-cop whom we first see drunk falling down the escalator of the underground - he is as memorable as he was in Huston's FAT CITY. His sidekick who looks after him is, oddly, comedian Freddie Starr, playing it straight here.
A vicious gang kidnaps a woman and her daughter (plus dog) to extort money from her rich husband. He and her down on his luck ex-husband who's an ex cop, decide to try to deal with the kidnappers themselves.
The kidnap scene is nicely handled in the park. The seedy underworld is nicely served up by Stephen Boyd as a frightening mobster - this was Boyd's last main role, he died that year aged 45 and again when playing nasty (as in BEN HUR or GENGHIS KHAN) he ramps it up to the max. 
The main hood is oily David Hemmings, in a good late role too. Edward Fox for once is lively and the kidnapped wife is Carol White, that ill-fated one of the new British girls of the 60s who went from being a child actress (CARRY ON TEACHER) to hits like CATHY COME HOME, UP THE JUNCTION, POOR COW, a foray to Hollywood and dying aged 48 in 1991. The most difficult scene here is where the bored kidnappers force her to strip for their amusement, to a Stylistics song and we see the character's desperation and humiliation, and perhaps the actress's too, it is all brutally unerotic. Keach too is stripped and humiliated by Boyd and his henchman and has to return home stark naked, not even left his grubby underwear. 
The sleaze seems piled up here as the drama unfolds and of course all goes wrong. THE SQUEEZE remains an eye-popping revenge thriller capturing 70s London perfectly (gritty locations, a cigarette smoke-fugged London Underground, dismal pubs and Soho 'massage parlours', and a pre-gentrified Battersea and Clapham - expensive areas now) with a dynamic cast, with several of our favourites here.

HENNESSEY, 1975. A fascinating view now. This thriller was barely seen back in the ‘70s and not at all here since, dealing as it does with the IRA and 'the Troubles' in Northern Ireland. I imagine it was too close for comfort then, and the preposterous plot about blowing up the Houses of Parliament during The Queen’s State Opening ceremony, would hardly have been met with approval. This American-International title though keeps one engrossed, they certainly cast it well, from the opening riot in Belfast – scenes we were familiar with at the time, hardly “entertainment” though. 
The story – by actor Richard Johnson, playing a hard-boiled detective here – features Niall Hennessy, whom Rod Steiger plays in regular scenery-chomping mode, like where he sees his wife and daughter (young Patsy Kensit) killed accidentally in that riot as he falls on his knees in the street and howls like an animal. His revenge involves blowing up The Royal Family and the Houses of Parliament, as the IRA, led by diehard Eric Porter, begin to realise and have to follow him to London to stop him, as the consequences if he succeeds would be unimaginable. 
Enter Lee Remick in a thankless role as the Irish widow of a friend, who puts him up without realising what he is up to. Trevor Howard enjoys himself as the chief of Scotland Yard, and others involved include Peter Egan, Margery Mason. Don Sharp’s direction keeps it tight and engrossing as we watch Steiger preparing for his mission, as he impersonates a Member of Parliament. The State Opening is from an actual documentary cleverly intercut with the film, which almost convinces one it is the real thing. It is odd seeing a younger Royal Family here and real political figures like Ted Heath and Mrs Thatcher. It is all quite fascinating now and amusing too, apart from seeing Remick wasted in a thankless role - she and Steiger were a lot more fun in NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY in 1968..

PERFECT FRIDAY in 1970 seems tame and genteel by comparison, one of (Sir) Peter Hall's cinema forays at the time. A bank robbery caper, it captures the flavour of the era - particularly as Ursula Andress and Stanley Baker get out of their clothes. He is the timid deputy under manager of the bank where Lady Britt Dorset and her aristocrat husband David Warner require loans to prop up their lifestyle. Our deputy bank manager though has a plot of it his own and needs the impoverished toffs to carry it out, so who is going to doublec-cross who? Baker, Warner and Andress are all highly watchable - in our out of clothes - and it is an amusing forgettable trifle but pales in comparison with those brutal thrillers that came along later in the Seventies .... amusing now too to see that pre-"computer says no" world of banking with real managers who know their clients! 

and now for a 70s Trash classic: THE LEGACY. This schlock horror film from 1978 has it all - Katharine Ross (sort of reprising her STEPFORD WIVES role) and her real-lifre husband Sam Elliott as the Americans in England and being forced to stay at a spooky country pile, stuffed with odd characters: Margaret Tyzack as that creepy nurse, The Who's Roger Daltry as a rock star, Charles Gray and John Standing, Lee Montague, Hildegarde Neil and more .... what power is keeping them there?
SPOILERS AHEAD: (It turns out they are the descendents of a 17th century witch who was burnt at the stake and who are gathered at an English country house in the hope of receiving part of the family legacy, but why is Katharine included? We wonder until she sees that portrait of the witch from centuries before and she realises she is the chosen one... Then all those nasty deaths - one consumed by flames, another chokes on a chicken bone, a mirror shatters and the fragments impale another, and theres that fatal tumble down the stairs ... to say any more would be too much ! 
Sam too takes a naked walk to the shower where the water suddenly gets too hot to handle and he has to break the glass to get out, more blood ... This kind of thing (from a Jimmy Sangster story) was lapped up by audiences back in the 70s, usually as part of double bills, dabbling with the supernatural, or in this case a version of Agatha Christie and who gets killed next? 
(Pop star Fabian too choked to death in that 1965 version of Christie's TEN LITTLE INDIANS, a camp favouirite of ours, so Roger should have known where his part was going ...). Ross's unique glamour and all that hair are agan well used here, if only the material had been better, still its quite entertaining of its type. Still, I dare say they had a lot of fun making it. Directed by Richard Marquand.