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Horror mystery about the residents of a Louisiana castle who are being murdered by a masked killer. When the family arrives for the reading of Marion's will, his wife is strapped to the face of a cliff and drowned by the tide. More murders follow, and as Inspector Bore (Vicente Roca) investigates, he discovers some dark secrets in the family's past. Written by
With a repertoire of almost 190 films, Jess Franco is probably the most prolific Exploitation director of all-time. I've personally been a great fan of the Spanish Exploitation deity for years, and it has to be said that his films differ in quality immensely. While Franco was doubtlessly responsible for a vast amount of stinkers, his filmography also includes several downright brilliant films, such as "Miss Muerte", "The Awful Dr. Orloff", "Venus In Furs" or "The Nights Of Dracula". And what could be a bigger treat for a cult-cinema fan than a Franco flick inspired by none other than the great Edgar Allan Poe? While "La Noche De Los Asesinos" (aka. "Night Of The Skull"/"Night Of The Assassins"/"Suspiri", 1976) is not one of the absolute greatest films in Franco's repertoire, it is definitely one of his better ones, and a must-see for his fans. "Night Of The Skull" is a creepy and competent Gothic chiller that begins delightfully cheesy and turns out to much more convoluted and intelligent than one might think. A family has gathered in a Louisiana Castle to accept the inheritance of the British Lord Archibald Marian, who has been murdered in a horrible manner. While the family members are anxiously waiting for their inheritance, the killer, who has a weakness for bizarre murder methods, is still on the loose...
Franco accomplishes to create a creepy Gothic atmosphere, and he also borrows a lot from the Italian Giallo. This is not the only Franco film that bears many resemblances to 70s Gialli (his ultra-nasty 1981 slasher "Bloody Moon" also has many Giallo aspects), but the inspiration has never been as obvious as in this one. "Night Of The Skull" is also probably Franco's least sleaziest film. Uncommonly for Franco, the film features hardly any nudity (only Evelyne Scott shows some skin) and very little sleaze. Even Franco's future wife, Lina Romay, who is known for being naked for about 90 per cent of her film career, keeps her clothes on in this one. Apart from young Miss Romay, the film features a bunch of other Franco regulars, such as Alberto Dalbés, the creepy-looking Luis Barboo and Antonio Mayans, as well as the great William Berger. There have been greater Poe adaptations than this one, of course. Poe's work has been most brilliantly brought to screen by Roger Corman with his magnificent Poe-films starring Vincent Price, some of which ("Pit And The Pendulum", "The Haunted Palace", "The Masque Of The Red Death") rank among the greatest Horror films ever made. Sergio Martino tied in with the tradition of brilliant Poe-Inspired films with his Giallo masterpiece "Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key" (1974). In case you want to see a true masterpiece inspired by Poe's writing, check out Martino's film or any of Corman's 7 films before this one. Overall, however, "Night Of The Skull" is a more than worthwhile film that features creepiness and delightful cheese in equal measures and provides several compelling twists that cult-cinema fans should enjoy. Highly recommended, especially to Jess Franco fans!
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