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The Skull (1965)

Not Rated | | Horror , Thriller | 25 August 1965 (USA)
A collector comes into possession of the skull of the Marquis de Sade and learns it is possessed by an evil spirit.

Director:

Freddie Francis

Writers:

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Cushing ... Christopher Maitland
Patrick Wymark ... Anthony Marco
Jill Bennett ... Jane Maitland
Nigel Green ... Inspector Wilson
Patrick Magee ... Police Surgeon
Peter Woodthorpe ... Bert Travers
Michael Gough ... Auctioneer
George Coulouris ... Dr. Londe
April Olrich April Olrich ... French Girl
Maurice Good ... Pierre, Phrenologist
Anna Palk ... Maid
Frank Forsyth ... Judge
Paul Stockman Paul Stockman ... First Guard
Geoffrey Cheshire Geoffrey Cheshire ... Second Guard
George Hilsdon 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

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 August 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Caveira See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Amicus Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Patrick Magee (Police Surgeon) played the Marquis de Sade in Marat/Sade (1967) . See more »

Goofs

In the first minute, the gate to the graveyard is swinging wildly, but the trees and bushes all around are still. (One random twig is plying about...) The phrenologist shuts the gate firmly. In the next shot, the gate is still and ajar, but the trees and bushes are moving about as if 'blown'. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Inside the Tower (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

 
All bone and no brains
2 May 2014 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

"The Skull" definitely isn't on par with the other contemporary Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee pairings, from Hammer or Amicus or whatever other production studios, but it nevertheless remains an interesting and worthwhile slice of 60's Brit-horror. Freddie Francis was always one of the most gifted horror directors in Britain and provides the film with a continuously gloomy and sinister atmosphere. Moreover, he was an even more gifted cinematographer and assures a large number of inventive shots (like, for example, a point of view from inside the skull), while the always reliable Peter Cushing gives away a marvelous lead performance. However, the film specifically struggles with two major shortcomings, namely a) the fact that the script is based on a short story (by Robert Bloch) and it's not exactly fit for a long-feature film and b) the absence of an actual evil villain/monster of flesh and blood. Cushing depicts an avid collector of occult objects who obtains – illegally – the skull of the one and only Marquis de Sade. Fellow collector and former owner of the skull Christopher Lee attempts to warn his colleague about the mysterious and psychedelic forces homing inside the Marquis' skull, but naturally he doesn't listen. During the first two nights of the next new moon, however, he dramatically learns that the skull turns its owner into a helpless murder-committing marionette. I haven't read Bloch's short story, but I presume something went wrong during the processing into a movie screenplay, as there a few too many dull moments and a lack of clarity regarding the skull's incredible powers. The intro, a certain dream sequence and a few flashbacks are extraordinary (what is it with the English and foggy cemeteries). The climax is rather silly instead of frightening, with the skull floating around with the help of clearly noticeable strings as well as grotesque camera gestures and color patterns. Cushing and Lee obviously steal the show, but keep also an eye open for two genuine British cult heroes in minuscule roles: Michael Gough ("Horror Hospital") and Patrick Magee ("A Clockwork Orange").


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