The Skull (1965)
Written By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Freddie Francis
Producer: Max Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky
Writer: Milton Subotsky, Robert Bloch
Based on: “The Skull of the Marquis de Sade” by Robert Bloch
Date Released: August 25, 1965
Peter Cushing as Dr. Christopher Maitland
Patrick Wymark as Anthony Marco
Christopher Lee as Sir Matthew Phillips
Jill Bennett as Jane Maitland
Nigel Green as Inspector Wilson
Patrick Magee as Police Surgeon
Peter Woodthorpe as Bert Travers, Marco’s Landlord
Rating = 3.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
When researcher and art collector Dr. Maitland (Peter Cushing), is given the chance to buy a skull that is said to be the skull of Marquis de Sade, he soon becomes aware that the skull is in fact possessed by an evil spirit. The skull, in turn, possesses all that encounter it and causes those people to commit murder and horrific acts. Dr. Maitland is soon forewarned of the evils the skull contains from his colleague, Sir Matthew Phillips (Christopher Lee) but believes the advice to be overly superstitious and ignores the warning only to lose his sanity in the process.
The Skull incorporates many classic horror environments and decor such as graveyards, organ music and candle lights. The environments were a nice reminder of the fun and original horror movies that led to what the horror genre is today. The special effects overall were comical but portrayed the intended purpose. For example, in one scene, the film emphasizes that the skull is possessed by showing it floating in the air. In another scene, the skull is seen with a light shining on it and flashing. Oddly enough, there is one disturbing Russian roulette scene involving Dr. Maitland which was unexpected.
The Grave Review
The ability to tell a cinematic story with very little dialogue is a dying art. However, The Skull (1965) is one of those films that does a good job at telling the story simply by showing scenery and portraying feelings through bodily and facial movement. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have two classically trained actors, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to be the front men of this film. Their benign, undemonstrative demeanor add to the eeriness of the film. In totality, The Skull (1965) was entertaining and captivating.
The one negative about this film is that it was slow-paced. Most films from the 1960s felt this way so this aspect of the film isn’t anything detrimental. Nevertheless, if your looking for something more gruesome or scary, this film may not be for you. However, from a storytelling ability, The Skull (1965) excelled in this way.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives The Skull (1965) three and one-half graves out of five graves.
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