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William C. McGann
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Jonathan Drake, while attending his brother's funeral, is shocked to find the head of the deceased is missing. When his brother's skull shows up later in a locked cabinet, Drake realizes an ancient curse placed upon his grandfather by a tribe of South American Jivaro Indians is still in effect and that he himself is the probable next victim. That night he is awakened by the approach of an Indian, his lips sewed together with string, and wielding a curare-tipped bamboo knife. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
When Kenneth Drake is walking to the window to investigate the shrunken head hanging outside, there is a poorly placed splice (film "jumps") with the background (curtains suddenly appear) and lighting drastically changing. See more »
Wow! For a relatively obscure late fifties programmer, this minor little film has gotten a lot of rave reviews in this forum. Thankfully, this film was not (apparently) ripped on an episode of MST3K. If that were the case, I'm sure this site would be filled with negative and mostly silly, smart-alecky comments by persons who would rather come across as sounding clever than providing informed opinions and interesting comments. I'll beat them to it; how about "The Four Numb Skulls of Jonathan Drake"?
Having seen this film for the first time since the early seventies, I can only say that most of the raves about this film are influenced by nostalgia. I should know, there are many unremarkable films that bring back fond memories to me as well. Its not an unsung classic, but it has it moments. The Jivaro witchdoctor with his mouth sewn shut because he doesn't have to breath or eat (apparently, he doesn't have to talk either) was rather creepy. Although a bit slow at times, the film is not cluttered with any extraneous material. Every scene in the film has to do with the supernatural goings on. There is a hint of romance between the police detective and Drakes daughter, but it is kept to a minimum. The writers seemed to have done their homework on shrunken heads, the process described in the film is correct, although it takes a lot longer than shown here.
The films direction is rather poor. Edward L. Cahn seemed only interested in getting the film done quickly. The cast looks as if they were on their own. Now, this doesn't matter to much for seasoned professionals like Henry Daniel or Ed Franz, but rest of the cast looks lost. The film is shot on only a handful of sets. Everyone wanders in and out of the house through out the film. Overall, THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE is a not bad programmer horror film, despite Cahn's direction. This film was paired with the Cahn helmed INVISIBLE INVADERS when it first came out. I would say FSKOJD was clearly the superior of the pair.
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