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Incense for the Damned

Incense for the Damned – 1971
Robert Hartford-Davis (as Michael Burrowes)

Julian More
Simon Raven novel Doctors Wear Scarlet

Graham Harris producer
Peter Newbrook executive producer

Patrick Macnee – Derek Longbow
Johnny Sekka – Bob Kirby
Alexander Davion – Tony Seymore (as Alex Davion)
Peter Cushing – Dr. Walter Goodrich
Edward Woodward – Dr. Holstrom
Madeleine Hinde – Penelope
Patrick Mower – Richard Fountain
Imogen Hassall – Chriseis
William Mervyn – Marc Honeydew
David Lodge – Colonel
John Barron – Diplomat
Valerie Van Ost – Don’s wife
Theo Moreos – Mayor
Nick Pandelides – Monk Superior
Andreas Potamitis – Police Chief
Theodosia Elefthreadon – Old Woman
Christos Eleftheniades – Priest (as Christ Eleftheriades)
Françoise Pascal

Reviewed by Sven Soetemans

So much potential…yet so very incoherent.,

I’ll be a little less harsh than my fellow reviewers here, who all seem to agree that this `Incense for the Damned’ is a giant waste of time, effort and film. I can’t deny this is a failure in all viewpoints but I’m deeply convinced that the story’s potential, along with the talent of the cast, could have resulted in a much better film. Although the screenplay remains faithful to Simon Raven’s novel, the film completely lacks feeling and coherence. Small aspects, like the annoying use of voice-over, ruin the horror atmosphere and the occult-aspects are dreadfully overstressed. There’s a drug trance/ sexual ecstasy sequence near the beginning of the film and it takes WAY too long! Even Imogen `the Queen of Cleavage’ Hassall doesn’t manage to keep you fascinated during this tedious scene.

But I still stand by my idea that the messy `Bloodsuckers’ (the more appealing a.k.a of the film) contains several neat moments of clarity! Like a brief appearance by Edward Woodward, giving us a little insight on the unusual and slightly perverted sexual fantasies of humans… Or Desmond Dickinson’s brilliant camerawork on location in Greece. I might even say that the entire substance of the story is excellent horror matter! Richard, a young and respected Oxford student has disappeared in Greece and a group of friends, including his girl, go on a search for him. Richard seems to be under the influence of a beautiful, sexy vampire who even forces him to perform sado-masochism. Believing they annihilated the ravishing bloodsucker, the return to Britain. Yet, Richard’s behavior when back at Oxford remains bizarre and alarming.

The plot is promising enough, no? If `Incense for the Damned’ would have been directed by Roman Polanski, I might have enjoyed a classic status by now. Erotic morbidity is definitely more his field! Or, who knows, in the hands of Italian mastermind Mario Bava this could have been one of the greatest horror masterpieces ever. Instead Robert Hartford-Davis directed it and the only appreciation he gets is when people hear he took his name off of this project afterwards. Better luck next time.

Incense for the Damned (1970)

Review by Wayne Malin

Silly and confusing,
An Oxford don (Patrick Mower) goes to Greece to study mythology. Suddenly he disappears and nobody hears from him. A bunch of his friends and fiancée travel there to find him. They discover he is traveling all over Greece–and wherever he goes there’s a murder. He’s also under the spell of beautiful but deadly Chriseis (Imogen Hassell)…

This DOES have some good points. The initial story is intriguing and there is some beautiful location shooting in Greece and a few exciting fights here and there. Also Peter Cushing and Patrick Macnee are in it–they’re not given much to do but they’re both very good. Also Mower is pretty good and Hassall is VERY good (and beautiful).

But the plot gets increasingly confusing (and sillier) as it goes on. When they threw in the vampirism it was badly handled and just too ridiculous to take seriously. There were obvious production difficulties–quite a few scenes just have narration. Also Madeleine Hinde is just horrible playing Mowere’s fiancée.

Basically though–it’s boring! I dozed off a few times…and didn’t miss a thing. And, as a horror movie, it just doesn’t work. It plays more like an action film or a travelogue of Greece.

Not totally worthless (because of Cushing and Macnee) but not really worth seeing. I give it a 4.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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