Thursday, 19 February 2015
The Screaming Skull (1958)
This film begins with a warning that it is so terrifying, the producers felt compelled to promise to pay the funeral expenses of anyone who died of fright while watching it.
I suspect this promise never cost them a single cent.
A couple of newlyweds arrive at their home. Husband Eric lived on the estate with his first wife (now deceased), but has not visited in the two years since her death. Wife Jenni meanwhile has never seen the place before, and instantly finds its almost abandoned atmosphere - it is largely empty of furniture, though the grounds are immaculate - to be quite unsettling.
Jenni is somewhat highly strung it seems, and she has good reason for that: her parents drowned in front of her eyes, despite her efforts to save them, and her new husband expects her to live in a home where his last wife also drowned, the few furnishings of which all remind her of the dead woman.
So she can be forgiven for not exactly loving the place, even before a floating, screaming skulls starts tormenting her at night. That's the kind of thing that would have you looking for new accommodation I think. But Eric persuades her it is just nerves and encourages her to face her fears and conquer them.
Of course, since Eric is the architect of all these skully shenanigans, his encouragement isn't all that sincere. You see - as revealed in a 'blink and you'll miss it' plot point halfway through - Jenni has a considerable fortune to her name, and if she were dead or insane, her husband would control it. If you read this blog regularly, that plan may sound familiar, probably because it's much the same as the one Dr Arrowsmith had in Nightmare Castle.
Eric's plan will be thwarted by two things: Jenni being more resilient than he expects, and a real ghost which ultimately intervenes, pursuing him to his death in one of those comical screen struggles where a man pretends to wrestle with a supposedly-animate inanimate object.
You're more at risk of dying of boredom than of fright while watching this film.