Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Peter Cushing, Patrick Wymark, Christopher Lee
Director: Freddie Francis
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
The Skull teams up horror legends Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in a chilling, supernatural tale of murder from beyond the grave. Based on a short story by Robert Bloch (Psycho), The Skull introduces us to Dr. Christop... more »
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Interesting idea built around the Marquis de Sade legend
Simon Davis | 11/06/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Skull" brings to life (no pun intended!) a most interesting horror tale built around the evil doings written down in history concerning the notorious Marquis de Sade. He was supposedly not insane but simply the personification of pure evil with his handsome looks and anti social/sadistic behaviour towards all he encountered. His life here serves as an ideal and indeed original basis for a horror tale about the bizzare and frightening powers he still possesses after his death in the form of his skull which is unleashed on some unsuspecting individuals in a later century.
This 1965 Amicus production stars the always terrific combination of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and explores this rather frightening premise of life, or power, after death. Adapted from a short story by the very talented horror writer Robert Bloch who was responsible for such horror classics as "Psycho" and "The House That Dripped Blood" it tells of the exhumation of the skull of the Marquis de Sade which passes from one curio collector to another and through its strange and deadly powers manages to continue the terror from beyond the grave and bring misfortune and death to all who possess it.
Peter Cushing plays Christopher Maitland an avid collector of antiques and curiosities such as a book that once belonged to the famed Marquis, the cover of which is made of human skin! Despite warnings from his fellow collector Sir Matthew Phillips (Christopher Lee) about the skulls evil powers Cushing through fair means and foul comes into possession of the skull and once it is placed among his collection it starts to take a frightening control over his mind turning him into a killer resulting in a tragic conclusion to the story.
Ably directed by veteran Hammer director Freddie Francis this film has a very spooky premise which delivers a good but not great story. The film does tend to drag at times, in particular in Cushing's dream sequence where he is abducted and taken to a mysterious court where he is almost forced to commit suicide. However "The Skull" has some very memorably scary moments.Particulary effective is the way the skull seems to take on a life of its own. Some of the action is shot from within the skull which is excellent in engendering an eerie sense that we are seeing what it is actually thinking. It's movements around rooms and its appearing in different locations is also well handled. The film also boasts one of the finest graveyard sets of any Hammer/Amicus production in the flash back sequence at the beginning when the Marquis's skull is dug up. Full of creepy old headstones, wrought iron fencing and an eerie whistling wind it is unsurpassed in creating just the right sense of doom and horror in this story. Indeed as in all these types of productions the attention to detail is excellent. Cushing and Lee work well together as always and it is good to see Peter Cushing, a highly underrated actor performing in a role that has a bit of menace thrown in for good measure.
"The Skull" is definately interesting viewing and has a theme which is original and a move away from the usual Vampire/Wolfman/Frankenstein features that predominated at this time. While not a great horror classic it is still a good film that has its share of spine chilling situations guaranteed to keep your interest.
Do not let the skull of the Marquis de Sade into your home
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You might think that since "The Skull" stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee that it is a Hammer films production, but this 1965 effort comes from Amicus Productions. Based on the Robert Bloch short story "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade," this film deals more with psychological fear, until the somewhat laughable conclusion. It seems that in the 19th-Century a phrenologist, believing there is a connection between human physiognomy and character, unearthed the body of de Sade in France to steal the skull. We then shift to "today," where Christopher Maitland (Cushing) buys the skull for his private collection, even though his friend Sir Matthew Phillips (Lee) tells how he once owned the skull, which he believes to be possessed. Maitland becomes obsessed with the skull and apparently will kill anyone and everyone to have it for his own.There are moments where this film drags, and I have trouble watching the sequence where the skull starts flying around the room, but director Freddie Francis lucked out when he decided to shoot several shots from the perspective of the skull. To do this he put a skull mockup in front of an aeroflex camera and moved around on roller skates. The happy result of this seeming absurdity is that the roaming camera serves to help involve the viewer with the developing psychological horror. The best sequence is when Maitland has a nightmare where he's kidnapped by the police and forced to play Russian Roulette. Despite what you would think to be inherent shortcomings, "The Skull" is an above average horror film carried in large part by Cushing's performance. It is nice to see him doing someone other than Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Van Helsing."
Another classic Peter Cushing film...thank you, Legend!
Benjamin Gart | Chicago, IL | 05/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A truly creepy film, THE SKULL is one of many great Peter Cushing films that has finally made its way to dvd in a great presentation. The film features one of Cushing's better performances -- not that he ever gave a bad one -- but this is one of his more subdued and thoughtful performances, until the skull of de Sade begins to take hold. Christopher Lee is credited as a "guest star", but he has three or four strong scenes with Cushing and does a stellar job not showing up the star. Patrick Wymark, Nigel Green, Jill Bennett, Michael Gough and Patrick Magee give very strong performances as well, regardless of the size of the roles in the movie.
What is most noticeable about the film is the last 20-30 minutes, in which Cushing (and the rest of the cast) give nearly wordless performances leading up to the thrilling climax. The atmosphere created by Francis and the rest of the crew & actors is some of the darkest and sinister I've seen in a British film from the 60s. The themes of evil lasting beyond the living, and what lies behind evil, are explored rather well too. I would say this is my favorite Amicus film after seeing the film presented widescreen, with a very nice, complementary transfer. Francis had a skilled eye as a cinematographer, and THE SKULL might be one of his better crafted movies.
Having picked up a copy of this already, I can say that Legend Films did a wondeful job with the release. The transfer captures the grain of the 1965 film well, the colors look smashing and the sound is much better than I expected. The dvd also has a trailer for the film. A real deal, as this is a well done creeper -- very highly recommended to fans of Cushing, Lee, Amicus, Hammer and all other Euro-gothic chillers. Thank you, Legend, for releasing this. Now to wait for THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH..."
Amicus,Cushing and Lee-a triumph
Matthias Wächter | Germany | 02/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This till today underrated Low budget horror film of
Hammers great rival Amicus has deserved to be called a
classic a long time ago!!!
With the little possibilitys he had at his dispoal director
Freddie Francis created a convincing,macabre atmosphaer of
pure supernatural evil.
The skull of the possesed Marquis De Sade seems indeed get to
live through the evil ghost of its dead "owner"!
The formal qualities of "The Skull" are excellent on every
Direction,photographie,sets and acting are on the highest
Its really its actors which give the film its greatest effect.
Peter Cushing gives a absolutely virtuoso performance as it
gives Christopher Lee in his relative small "guest star" part!!!
You can only say : With films like "The Skull" Amicus
establised themselves more and more as a potential rival for
Hammer in the horror film business!!
And as we all know,there woulb be soon films like "Torture garden",
"The house that dripped bllood" or "Tales from the Crypt".
And like these "The Skull" is a must for every horro fan-from
So,Hammer had to watch out!"