Monday, October 26, 2015

31 Days, 31 Horror Movies: The Screaming Skull

The Screaming Skull
You know, I thought this movie was based on the F. Marion Crawford short story. That story creeped the hell out of me when I was a kid. I think I read it in one of the Alfred Hitchcock  short story collections. It's in public domain now and you can read it on Project Gutenberg. (  Instead, it's a low-budget film that seems to take most of its inspiration from Rebecca, the Alfred Hitchock movie.

Eric and Jennie, newly married, move in to Eric's old estate, where his previous wife, Marion, died. They meet the local pastor and his wife and the caretaker, a mentally limited man named Mickey. Mickey was enamored with Marion, and seems to resent Jennie's presence.

At night Jennie hears screaming, but Eric insists it's only the peacocks that roam the estate. Jennie has had mental issues in the past, and is concerned that they might be re-occurring. Eric comforts her. The next night, while Eric is on town on business, Jennie hears the screaming again and finds a skull. She becomes convinced the either she's going mad - or Marian is haunting her.

"This is the worst Easter Egg hunt I've ever seen."
The plot is one we've seen a million times - husband tries to drive rich wife crazy or to suicide so he can gain control over her wealth. It's handled well enough, for the time and budget. The actor who plays the husband (John Hudson) really acts like a concerned husband for much of the film. If the synopsis of the film didn't immediately give it away I wouldn't have necessarily suspected him of anything. I like the twist that the supernatural elements turn out to be real, where the reverse was often true in films like this (The House on Haunted Hill for instance).

There's a great little bit at the beginning of the film where a narrator lets you know that your funeral bill is paid for if you die of fright during the movie.

Not a great film, but effective given its limitations.

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