A collector comes into possession of the skull of the Marquis de Sade and learns it is possessed by an evil spirit.

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(from the story "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade" by), (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Christopher Maitland
Patrick Wymark ...
Marco
Jill Bennett ...
Jane Maitland
...
Inspector Wilson
...
Police Surgeon
...
Travers
...
Auctioneer
...
Dr. Londe
April Olrich ...
French Girl
Maurice Good ...
Pierre, Phrenologist
Anna Palk ...
Maid
Frank Forsyth ...
Judge
Paul Stockman ...
First Guard
Geoffrey Cheshire ...
Second Guard
George Hilsdon ...
Policeman
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Storyline

A collector of esoterica, Dr. Maitland, buys an unusual skull from his ordinary source of artifacts. The skull is what remains of marquis De Sade. Much too soon he discovers how the skull affects him: by turning him into a frenzied killer. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When the Skull strikes you'll Scream!

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

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Details

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Release Date:

25 August 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Caveira  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The heirs of Donatien Alphonse François de Sade pressed charges to prevent any use of his name on the advertising material. The changes on posters and lobby-cards were made at the very last minute by sticking the new title "Le Crâne Maléfique" (meaning "The Evil Skull") on top of the former, "Les forfaits du Marquis de Sade" (meaning "the Infamies of Marquis de Sade"). Only on that condition the film could finally be released in the French territory. See more »

Goofs

When Dr. Christopher Maitland goes to murder his wife, the table in his study is shown again, but the book and statue are missing, showing only the skull of the Marquis De Sade. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Pierre: What are you doing here?
French Girl: Aren't you pleased to see me?
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User Reviews

 
THE SKULL (Freddie Francis, 1965) ***
19 October 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This was among the first vintage horror films I recall watching, but it took me this long to re-acquaint myself with it (after I had foolishly abandoned the prospect of a second viewing as part of a late-night Italian TV program hosted by two amiable ghouls – the same thing would also happen with Hammer's FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL [1974], which I then had to wait some 13 years to catch up with!).

Anyay, though the film's premise, in itself, is rather daft – that of a host of antiquarians being 'possessed' by the skull of the Marquis De Sade – the result is very stylish and altogether one of Hammer rival Amicus' most satisfying outings. Apart from director Francis, the men behind Amicus – Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky (the latter also scripted, from a story by Robert Bloch of PSYCHO [1960] fame) – again recruited Hammer's two most popular stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, for this production. As ever, they play extremely well off each other – even if Lee, ostensibly, is only a "Guest Star" – delivering typically committed performances: Cushing has fun acting crazy – under the influence of the skull – towards the end (and also during a surreal nightmare sequence in which he's forcefully taken before a judge who promptly hands him a gun to play at Russian Roulette!), whereas Lee gives surprising poignancy to his role. Supporting them is a splendid cast indeed – led by Patrick Wymark, who actually matches the stars with his seedy supplier of generally weird artifacts, and the brief (albeit equally welcome) presence of the likes of George Coulouris, Michael Gough, Nigel Green and Patrick Magee!

While Francis creates wonderful atmosphere via the cinematography (particularly when shooting through the skull's eyehole) and the set design (the film starts off as a period piece but then reverts to a modern-day setting for the central plot line), I do feel that the possibilities presented by the nonetheless intriguing theme are regrettably constrained by censorship and budgetary restrictions – so that the Marquis De Sade's legacy seems somehow to have been mixed up with that of Jack The Ripper! In any case, THE SKULL is generally considered nowadays as Francis' best directorial effort – though I personally feel NIGHTMARE (1964), THE PSYCHOPATH (1966) and THE CREEPING FLESH (1973) to be superior to it…


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