I recently watched and reviewed the British supernatural thriller Crucible of Terror (1971) for the Movie Morlocks Blog. The film stars Mike Raven; an underrated British actor who resembled Christopher Lee and appeared in only four horror films during his lifetime. I didn’t know much about Raven before writing my review so I did some research about his background and I was fascinated to learn about his interest in the occult. It seems that Mike Raven enjoyed dabbling in magic (or magick) for awhile and was associated with a witch’s coven in Cornwall, England where he retired from acting in 1972 to focus on sculpting. Raven liked to wear black and apparently his country house was also painted black and contained black furniture, black rugs, etc.
Late in life Mike Raven reportedly converted to Christianity and started using his birth name (Austin Churton Fairman). His sculptures often reflected his personal religious explorations and deep fascination with spiritual themes. I’ve seen three of the four films that Mike Raven appeared in; Lust for a Vampire (1971), I, Monster (1971) and Crucible of Terror (1971), and I’ve enjoyed them all. Finding out that Raven was actually practicing witchcraft while he was making these movies was an interesting surprise and has added some intrigue and allure to his performances. He’ll probably always be remembered as a second-rate Christopher Lee, but with more training and experience I think Mike Raven could have become a more disciplined actor and gotten better roles. His best performance can be found in Crucible of Terror, which was just released on DVD by Severin Films. I recently watched the film and wrote about it for TCM.
– My review of Crucible of Terror (1971) starring Mike Raven
– My Crucible of Terror Flickr Galler
– An online exhibition of work by Austin Churton Fairman (Mike Raven) 1924-1997
– Radio Rewind: Mike Raven (a look at Raven’s career as a DJ)
– The official site of Severin Films