The family vacation to see long lost uncle Yorke turns into an all-around crappy time when ol’ Uncle Alex turns out to be a Satanist. Yep, low and behold a human sacrifice and goat horns and everything, and it’s not even a Slayer concert.
Not that this is any normal family, mind you. By the fifteen minute mark, you’ll know that your mom’s warning about running with scissors is by far not the most dangerous thing to do with them.
The crazy uncle is portrayed by Michael Gough, who boasts a heck of a resume’. Known for his ability to camp up a pretty straight role, Hough was the doctor in Top Secret!, Alfred in Batman, and most recently a voice in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. A number of the cast made appearances on British TV, including plenty of screen time with Dr. Who. One of the uncredited monks spent more time with Benny Hill, which is probably a completely different story.
Catherine (Glendenning) was dubbed a poor man’s Jacqueline Smith and Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas-T Mobile intermittently as the movie progressed. She must deal with not only the nut job uncle but Stephen (Potter), the running-with-scissors guy as well, leaving her in between two men in a fashion that just can’t be comfortable.
As for the story, Catherine is about to turn 20 and the Satanists need her blood to revive her ancestral witch. She begins suffering flashbacks (and flash-forwards) as the deadline for her murder comes closer. These dreams usually follow the constant theme of naked, tortured women, which says something about Catherine.
When scissors don’t do the trick for your British softcore horror entertainment, how bout whips and branding and dream sequences. Somewhere along the way there’s a plot, but the focus of the movie is on neither dialogue nor character development, just gore and nudity. Thankfully, ol’ uncle Alfred isn’t among the nudists. The exchange that leads to basically telling the entire story provides some good background, and also reveals that the writer could have done a little more with Stephen.
As for gore, there’s blood to be had everywhere, and one particularly cool eye gouge (though not on par with Fulci’s Zombie) that works well. The ending isn’t bad, but it’s been overused since this film’s release, making it somewhat predictable.
The score is loud and obnoxious in areas of action, but thankfully the presence of undeniable 70’s wah pedal and bongos are enough to overcome it.
Director Norman J. Warren tries to keep the mood by locking in dark scenes and backlit bad guys, but the movie overall runs slow and dreary. The pace and acting in the movie is far too theater and very, very British. His follow up, Terror, is similar but better.
The movie was also released as “Evil Heritage”. Several versions have made their way to video distribution, including the most recent, uncut version in 2004. Written by David McGillivray (Frightmare, House of Whipcord), the film kicks the skin and blood up a few notches into exploitation mode, but lacks enough substance to make it worth many repeat views.