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The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)

Approved | | Horror, Mystery | 13 November 1959 (USA)
1:40 | Trailer
Anthropologist Jonathan Drake believes that the men of his family have been cursed for generations by the native South American tribe he studies. Shortly after his brother, discovers one of the tribe's shrunken heads, he's found murdered.


Edward L. Cahn





Complete credited cast:
Eduard Franz ... Jonathan Drake
Valerie French ... Alison Drake
Grant Richards ... Police Lt. Jeff Rowan
Henry Daniell ... Dr. Emil Zurich
Lumsden Hare ... Rogers
Frank Gerstle ... Lee Coulter
Paul Wexler ... Zutai
Howard Wendell Howard Wendell ... Dr. George Bradford
Paul Cavanagh ... Kenneth Drake


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 <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Written, Produced and Directed to Scare the Daylights Out of You! See more »


Horror | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The script is based in part on the Amazonian Indian practice of removing the skulls from decapitated heads, padding them with hot sand and shrinking them to an extremely small size. See more »


After examining Drake lying motionless in his bed his doctor says there is no sign of a pulse, but in the closeup of him the pulse in his neck is clearly visible. See more »


Featured in Svengoolie: The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1995) See more »

User Reviews

Rare starring vehicle for perennial villain Henry Daniell
31 March 2019 | by kevinolzakSee all my reviews

1959's "The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake" a 1959 United Artists release from the same director as its cofeature INVISIBLE INVADERS, Edward L. Cahn. Among the fine veteran cast are Paul Cavanagh ("The Kennel Murder Case," "The Scarlet Claw," "The Strange Door," "She Devil") and perennial villain Henry Daniell, best remembered as the actual lead opposite Karloff and Lugosi in 1945's "The Body Snatcher," doing small roles in later films like "From the Earth to the Moon" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." Top billed Eduard Franz plays Jonathan Drake, descendant of an explorer cursed by a Jivaro witch doctor for annihilating his tribe, a white man's head sewed on to an Indian body, existing for 180 years to dispatch the last of the Drake line so that he can finally achieve lasting peace. Daniell's Dr. Emil Zurich is revealed early on as the culprit, posing as an archaeologist expert in shrunken heads, assisted by a silent undead Jivaro (Paul Wexler) whose mouth is sewn shut, a memorable henchman described as looking like a young Christopher Lee. Much of the film is designed as a dull police procedural, saving on costs but shortchanging the viewer (despite the plethora of stock footage, cofeature "Invisible Invaders" is more lively). There are still some delightfully queasy moments depicting the process used to shrink the heads (severed by a bamboo blade so that the soul remains intact), poison curare, and bloodied headless corpses.

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Release Date:

13 November 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Vogue Pictures See more »
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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