The Screaming Skull

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The Screaming Skull poster

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Taglines

  • FREE!! We guarantee to bury you without charge if you die of fright during SCREAMING SKULL!
  • The tortured ghost who claims vengeance in the bride's bedroom!

Main Details

  • Released in 1958
  • B & W
  • Running Time: 68 Min.
  • Production Co: American International Pictures (AIP) | Madera Productions
  • Distribution Co: American International Pictures (AIP) (1958) (USA) (theatrical)

Cast and Crew

  • Directed by Alex Nicol
  • Written by John Kneubuhl
  • Starring John Hudson, Peggy Webber, Russ Conway, Tony Johnson, Alex Nicol
  • Produced by John Coots, John Kneubuhl, Thomas F. Woods
  • Original Music by Ernest Gold
  • Cinematography by Floyd Crosby
  • Film Editing by Betty J. Lane

Film Review

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After Eric Whitlock's (John Hudson) wife passed away in a tragic accident that left the base of her skull smashed in, Eric never thought he would find someone else to love. After three years away from the home he and his wife had made together, Eric finally did find someone to love in the form of former mental patient Jenni (Peggy Webber). Jenni was a mental patient because she witnessed her parents drown before her eyes, but over the ensuing years, she found a way to deal with what she had experienced and Eric hopes that the secluded home he used to live in will keep her happy and not thinking about her past. Unfortunately, it seems that Eric's deceased wife was actually murdered and her spirit decides to come back to haunt Eric's happy little home and dredge up those old memories that first caused Jenni to be sent away.

Producer Samuel Z. Arkoff's The Screaming Skull actually turns out be to a fairly entertaining film. Though the outcome of its plot is evident once you discover that Eric's wife died from a massive fracture to the base of her skull, the film is still relatively well made and contains a few interesting elements. Several of these elements have to do with the use of peacock screeches to cause unrest (as peacocks live all over the grounds of Eric's home), which do assist in the unsettling nature of the film.

One of the most fascinating elements of the film, though, it the way it opens. Instead of starting of with the usual credits, the film opens with a disclaimer warning all those who watch the film that they will get a free burial if they die during the frightening climax of the film. This is accompanied by the visuals of a lavish coffin with a placard inside designating that it is "Reserved for You". In the best tradition of William Castle gimmicks, this particularly morbid one is by far one of the best I have ever seen.

Film/DVD Review Courtesy of Pockets of Sanity

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