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|Starring:||Patrick Magee, Geoffrey Cheshire, Michael Gough, Nigel Green, George Coulouris, Jill Bennett, Patrick Wymark|
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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.
Andy Sandfoss 17 May 2013
I'm really rather disappointed with "The Skull". Peter Cushing turns in a good performance as usual, but to what purpose? Ultimately, the movie seems to be content with arather reactionary message of "don't go asking questions about stuff". That, and its rather pedestrian attempt to shoe-horn DeSade into a conventional religious interpretation. He was far more complex and interesting than that. A nice thing about the film is the large sections that have no dialogue, with the film's visual elements taking precedence. This is something I always admire in a film, if it can pull it off. But in the end, I can't recommend it. Thefilm goes much too far into the human psyche on the flimsiest of pretexts only to come back empty-handed at the end. A regrettable failure.
Scott LeBrun 17 May 2013
"The Skull" is good if not great Amicus horror, based on a story byRobert Bloch. Cushing plays Christopher Maitland, a collector of itemsrelated to the occult who is presented with a skull that he learns justmay belong to the infamous Marquis de Sade. His good friend Sir MatthewPhillips (Sir Christopher Lee) informs him that not only is the skullgenuine, but it was stolen from Matthew himself...and that Matthew isonly too happy to be rid of it. Christopher does not heed Matthew'swarnings to dispose of the thing, and pays a big price for hisobsession with it, as there is apparently some sort of evil spiritresiding within that wields a powerful influence over him. Notedcinematographer and director Freddie Francis is at the helm of a moviethat admittedly gets padded out a bit much with sequences where one hasto wonder if the events are real or imagined. Nevertheless, they dohave a creepy quality, especially when Christopher is made to playRussian roulette by a strange "judge" (Frank Forsyth). The specialeffects aren't terribly convincing, as we are able to see the wirespulling the skull along, but clearly Francis wants to go more for moodand atmosphere, and succeeds when focusing on the terror of thecharacters. We do see a little blood but not much else in terms ofphysical violence. The final segment, practically a one man show with aterrified Cushing struggling to withstand the evil influence of theskull, isn't bad if somewhat protracted. The actor does a solid job inthe lead, with able support from frequent co-star Lee and PatrickWymark as the shady Marco; Peter Woodthorpe is amusing as thesuspicious landlord. However, much of the rest of the cast is underutilized, including Michael Gough as an auctioneer, Patrick Magee as apolice surgeon, Jill Bennett as Maitland's wife, and Nigel Green as theinspector. Still, "The Skull" is a reasonably fun, eerie film, thatdoes have its moments, beginning and ending fairly well andentertaining enough to watch. Seven out of 10.
MARIO GAUCI 17 May 2013
This was among the first vintage horror films I recall watching, but ittook me this long to re-acquaint myself with it (after I had foolishlyabandoned the prospect of a second viewing as part of a late-nightItalian TV program hosted by two amiable ghouls Â the same thing wouldalso happen with Hammer's FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, which I then had to wait some 13 years to catch up with!).Anyay, though the film's premise, in itself, is rather daft Â that of ahost of antiquarians being 'possessed' by the skull of the Marquis DeSade Â the result is very stylish and altogether one of Hammer rivalAmicus' most satisfying outings. Apart from director Francis, the menbehind Amicus Â Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky (the latter alsoscripted, from a story by Robert Bloch of PSYCHO  fame) Â againrecruited Hammer's two most popular stars, Peter Cushing andChristopher Lee, for this production. As ever, they play extremely welloff each other Â even if Lee, ostensibly, is only a "Guest Star" Âdelivering typically committed performances: Cushing has fun actingcrazy Â under the influence of the skull Â towards the end (and alsoduring a surreal nightmare sequence in which he's forcefully takenbefore a judge who promptly hands him a gun to play at RussianRoulette!), whereas Lee gives surprising poignancy to his role.Supporting them is a splendid cast indeed Â led by Patrick Wymark, whoactually matches the stars with his seedy supplier of generally weirdartifacts, and the brief (albeit equally welcome) presence of the likesof 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 setdesign (the film starts off as a period piece but then reverts to amodern-day setting for the central plot line), I do feel that thepossibilities presented by the nonetheless intriguing theme areregrettably constrained by censorship and budgetary restrictions Â sothat the Marquis De Sade's legacy seems somehow to have been mixed upwith that of Jack The Ripper! In any case, THE SKULL is generallyconsidered nowadays as Francis' best directorial effort Â though Ipersonally feel NIGHTMARE (1964), THE PSYCHOPATH (1966) and THECREEPING FLESH (1973) to be superior to itÂ
17 May 2013
This review is from: The Skull (DVD) I have just received my copy of The Skull and had to send it back. The DVD won't play in any of my players or the laptop. I am getting a replacement to see if it was a one time event, but I have a funny feeling this is a print run flaw. I don't know what they did wrong, but none of my players will accept it as a DVD. At first I thought they packaged a Region 2 in a Region 1 box, but my laptop plays all regions and it didn't even acknowledge there was a disc in the drive. I'd be curious to know if anyone else had this problem.
inspectors71 14 May 2013
I first saw this tasty little horror flick while working nights atMcDonald's in 1979. I couldn't ever get used to sleeping during theday, so by mid-afternoon, I was up and rarin' to go! With all thisuseless information under your belt, accept that I was essentially wideawake in the middle of the night. I turn on the tube--cable in itsearly years--and watch The Skull on KSTW out of Seattle.And it scared the Big Mac sauce right out of me! I watched it again tonight and got the same chills as before. Now, inthe grand scheme of horror things, The Skull is going to land rightaround the TV movie based on Stephen King's Salem's Lot--good fun, nonutritional value, but Freddie Francis crafted a nice, fast,mildly-moralistic movie out of a work by Robert Bloch(?), the author ofPsycho. There are lots of familiar, comfort-food faces here--Cushingand Lee and the pudgy bad guy from Where Eagles Dare, plus a small armyof British actors we've all seen in a bazillion other movies. It's likehaving a bunch of regular customers come in for a snack at MickeyDee's--you know you got them and they have you.The Skull is the snack. Cushing plays the academician researching devilstuff, and gets the chance to own the skull of the Marquis de Sade(sp???). He, of course, is arrogant enough not to heed the warnings ofLee about all the negative vibes coming off the noggin, so, to make ashort story even shorter, (sorry for the following, folks) all hellbreaks loose.By the end of the 83 minutes, the body count is surprisingly low, theMarquis has punished Cushing for not following his orders (an actuallypassionate and suspenseful moment when Cushing goes to kill Mrs.Cushing and just can't do it; don't worry about the spoiler factorhere--you just know he's not going to kill her), the cops are clueless(check the last line of the movie), and viewers from 1965 through 2005have gotten a tidy little thrill.Who knew horror movies could be so nice?
13 May 2013
A truly creepy film, THE SKULL is one of many great Peter Cushing films that has finally made its way to dvd in a great presentation. The film features one of Cushing's better performances -- not that he ever gave a bad one -- but this is one of his more subdued and thoughtful performances, until the skull of de Sade begins to take hold. Christopher Lee is credited as a "guest star", but he has three or four strong scenes with Cushing and does a stellar job not showing up the star. Patrick Wymark, Nigel Green, Jill Bennett, Michael Gough and Patrick Magee give very strong performances as well, regardless of the size of the roles in the movie.What is most noticeable about the film is the last 20-30 minutes, in which Cushing (and the rest of the cast) give nearly wordless performances leading up to the thrilling climax. The atmosphere created by Francis and the rest of the crew & actors is some of the darkest and sinister I've seen in a British film from the 60s. The themes of evil lasting beyond the living, and what lies behind evil, are explored rather well too. I would say this is my favorite Amicus film after seeing the film presented widescreen, with a very nice, complementary transfer. Francis had a skilled eye as a cinematographer, and THE SKULL might be one of his better crafted movies.Having picked up a copy of this already, I can say that Legend Films did a wondeful job with the release. The transfer captures the grain of the 1965 film well, the colors look smashing and the sound is much better than I expected. The dvd also has a trailer for the film. A real deal, as this is a well done creeper -- very highly recommended to fans of Cushing, Lee, Amicus, Hammer and all other Euro-gothic chillers. Thank you, Legend, for releasing this. Now to wait for THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH...
13 May 2013
This review is from: The Skull (DVD) Peter Cushing is at his clinically clean best as an ambitious and "do anything" collector of Historical Horror artifacts.He finally lands on a horror collectors dream... the Skull of the "Marqui De Sade"The Skull has a life force that kills at will and floats around in the midst a green fog like cloud. Once Cushings character obtains the skull all kinds of nasty horror stuff starts happening. The dream sequence is very well done. Chistopher Lee stars as the previous owner of the "Skull" who advises Peter Cushing to get rid of it at any cost.An Amicus production. It's a very good 70's Britsh Horror Flick.Excellent Remastering.
12 May 2013
This Amicus film has haunting music by Laurie Johnson. Based on a story by Robert Bloch ,the theft of the Skull of the Marquis De Sade was a true incident. The film improves on the Bloch story and is very cleverly plotted by the screenwriter to center around two collectors of occult memorabilia (Peter Cushing as "Christopher Maitland" and Christopher Lee as "Sir Matthew Phillips") They are supplied their goods by a very shady dealer in antiques known as Mr. Marco who stumbles upon the Skull and sets up the Maitland character with an initial purchase of a book on the notorious life of the Marquis De Sade with a binding made out of human skin. It is important to remember that this book is only a prop. I say this because I have seen advertisements in antiquarian book trade magazines where the dealer states "customer is looking for a book bound in human skin" Incredible but TRUE! The initial sale is followed up by the offer of the Skull and after a short discussion based on Havelock Ellis's "Love and Pain" Maitland considers purchasing it but asks for time to think about it. He is advised against it by former owner and friend,Sir Matthew Phillips during a discussion over a game of snooker. The film has true "scare-ability" in the dream sequences and the mysticism surrounding the collections of both characters. It also has atmosphere. Some of the angles and lighting are really good, especially as Maitland is reading in his library (we have a view from within the fireplace!). When Maitland is kidnapped he enters into a new relationship with evil based on the power of the Skull and ultimately fails to realize that without protection he cannot fight the powers of darkness that are displayed so prominently in this work.If the film has a weakness, it is in the end where the "floating skull" sequences are rather ridiculous (wires can be seen). Otherwise it is an excellent adaptation of the original story and contains some memorable scenes and camera work.
12 May 2013
"The Skull" is a 1965 Amicus production that treats fans to the pairing of horror legends Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Inspired by a story by Robert Bloch [who also wrote Psycho], "The Skull" stars Cushing as Dr Maitland, an occult collector, who likes to study arcane objects. His 'frenemy' is Sir Matthew Phillips [Christopher Lee], and the pair are portrayed as rivals for the acquisition of rare occult artifacts. One night, Marco, a dealer in such objects, sells Maitland a biography of the Marquis de Sade, which is unique as it is bound in human skin. Later, Marco tempts Maitland with the promise of the skull of the infamous sadist, believed to be cursed, and to possess supernatural powers. When Phillips [Lee] comes to know that Maitland is interested in the marquis' skull, he warns Maitland against acquiring it, telling him the skull is evil and will possess it's owner. The rest of the movie centers on what Maitland does and the consequences.Though the movie is carried by Cushing, who plays the lead role, Lee's role is not insignificant, though he only appears in a few scenes. The chemistry shared by these two legends is palpable, and I loved the way they interacted, portraying a friendly rivalry that has been seen again and again in other movies. The movie is also highly atmospheric, which is one reason I love horror movies of this period. Though the actual special effects are cheesy by today's standards, the atmosphere, setting, and especially acting elevate these movies to classic status. The DVD features are quite pitiful really, but I'd still say this is a must-have for fans of period horror, and classic horror.
11 May 2013
If you are a Peter Cushing / Christopher Lee (Horror Express, The Creeping Flesh, Horror Of Dracula, etc.) fanatic, then THE SKULL is a must for your collection! This time, Cushing gets to play the obsessed, murderous character, while Lee is the voice of sanity. Both are tremendous as always, delivering effortless performances. The story (by none other than Robert Bloch) is an eerie gem w/ plenty of supernatural darkness and death. The title SKULL has a sinister personality of its own, as we are given its point of view through skull-o-vision! Classic stuff! Also, watch for Michael Gough (Horror Hospital, Batman, Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow) as an auctioneer, and Patrick Magee (Asylum, Dementia 13, A Clockwork Orange) in a 10-second role as a police investigator at the end. This Amicus production, directed by Freddie Francis, belongs in any horror vault...
01 May 2013
"The Skull" was, until this lovely DVD release, one of the rarely seen Amicus horror classics. Very creepy with a good atmosphere for horror and Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee made it what it is, a horror classic different to many others. Patrick Wymark was well suited in his role in this film too. In 2.35:1 widescreen and a nice transfer, another great offering from Legend Films, a top name for rare films coming to DVD!
01 May 2013
I waited a long time for the Dvd of this classic Amicus movie with my favorites actors in it (Cushing-Lee team). Thought I'm a little dissapoint, because I was hoping the video's quality was much better, with extra material and a some subtitles (I speek spanish, you now). Nevertheless, I can't wait for another of this movies at DVD such as "The Legend of the werewolf", "Nothing but the night", etc.
Kenny Radishofski 27 April 2013
Based on the Robert Bloch's story "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade", thisfilm really thrills and chills. The Skull is an unassuming title, but thislittle gem does has a lot to offer on a cold winter afternoon. PeterCushing stars as Dr. Maitland, a demonologist who comes across the skullafter it has been stolen from his friend Christopher Lee. Death orpossession has come upon the past owners but Maitland is unconcerned withsuch superstitions. He must have this occult rarity to add to his largecollection. Dr. Maitland has no idea what lies in store forhim...I feel that "The Skull" is one of the finest films Cushing and Lee haveeverdone together, and the best horror film that Freddie Francis has directed.At a glance, one would almost definitely think it is a Hammer film. It wasactually made by Amicus, but features such Hammer characteristics as afoggyopening scene portraying grave robbers, occasional bloodletting, a drearyscore, and canyons of cleavage.Even by today's standards, The Skull is exciting. Highlights include averyinventive dream sequence, a harsh game of Russian roulette, and therivetingclimax. Believe it or not, The Skull even has a few scenes where you tenseup expecting someone to jump out and scare you. You don't often see thattype of thing in the Hammer/Amicus flicks. The major thing that brings themovie down, though, are the fake-looking scenes where the skull floats inthe air to terrorize Dr. Maitland. They could have been done better usingshadows or long-distance shots. Also, the "camera inside the skull" sceneslooked juvenile and took away some of the film's integrity.Bottom line: definitely worth a viewing. Thanks nm!
27 April 2013
This review is from: The Skull (DVD) Peter Cushing only salvation in this movie. B or C class. Color/sound ok, no glitches, but had seen before. Sort of way out. Okay, but Grade /C at least. Cecy Ivie
Scott LeBrun 22 April 2013
A good if not great Amicus production, "The Skull" has the undeniableappeal of seeing frequent horror genre co-stars (and super stars of thegenre) Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee playing not adversariesbut friends. Cushing is Dr. Christopher Maitland, a writer with ahealthy interest in the occult. Perhaps too healthy, as when he'spresented with a skull that its seller (an entertainingly sleazyPatrick Wymark) claims is that of the infamous Marquis de Sade, hestarts to obsess over the thing. Even upon learning that friend SirMatthew Phillips (Lee) had the skull stolen from him and considershimself better off does not dissuade him from getting his hands on theaccursed body part. Based on a story by Robert Bloch, and directed byacclaimed cinematographer & director Freddie Francis, this film doeshave a lot of credibility going for it. It is stylish, good looking,and nicely shot in Techniscope (2.35:1 aspect ratio). It fares best asa vehicle for Cushing, and given that the film is largely told from hisperspective, it becomes a decent portrayal of spiralling madness. Infact, the final act of the film plays out without much dialogue, withthe skull exerting its evil influence over an increasingly agitatedMaitland and which allows Cushing to really act his heart out. The"skull cam" shots come off as silly at first, not to mention shots ofthe skull floating around as one can see the strings pulling it if theylook hard enough. But they do end up lending an interesting way oflooking at the action and watching Cushing at work. Elisabeth Lutyens'smusic is excellent as is the cinematography by John Wilcox and the artdirection by Bill Constable. Far and away, one of the best sequences isa nightmarish one as Maitland is taken before a "judge" and made toplay a game of Russian Roulette. A fine supporting cast includes JillBennett as Maitland's wife Jane, Nigel Green as Inspector Wilson, PeterWoodthorpe as the landlord, George Coulouris as Dr. Londe, and MichaelGough as the auctioneer. Patrick Magee, however, is sadly underutilized as the police surgeon. The film is good fun overall and asolid effort for Amicus, although their anthologies remain their bestwork.7/10
21 April 2013
Great for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I remember seeing this when I was a kid, and to this day from time to time I watch it. Frankly I think it's the greatest film Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing made together, and possibly because it wasn't touched by Hammer, made awesome magic. Obsession for the unknown leading to practices of Black Magic at any cost to get the skull of DeSade...well, there's an old saying be careful what you wish for...you may get it, and the skull of DeSade--like Black Magic itself--gets a mind of its own with bad outcomes.
20 April 2013
This review is from: The Skull (DVD) First of all, I am glad this Amicus classic is out on DVD. The actual release offers a very good widescreen, analog to digital transfer with the trailer as the only extra here. English subtitles are provided only. The movie clearly fits into the early 1960s' more gothic style of British horror. I am giving four stars to this film because the character played by Christopher Lee (sadly) does not do much on the script, and the ending is flat and a bit out of imagination. That said, I would never miss getting a copy of this atmospheric film, with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing together once more. Hopefully two more Freddie Francis (director) titles will be produced on DVD soon, including "Tales that witness madness", and "Legend of the werewolf".
20 April 2013
The Marquis De Sade was not insane - he was possessed by an evil spirit. Even after his death, this spirit continued to inhabit his body. The grave of the Marquis De Sade is violated and his skull removed. The spirit inhabiting the skull possesses those who come in contact with it. They are killed and/or forced to kill. In "The Skull," Peter Cushing is Christopher Maitland, a collector of occult paraphernalia who, after a series of mysterious deaths, finally comes into possession of the skull of the Marquis De Sade. Naturally, there are deadly consequences. This Amicus Production of gothic horror is beautifully filmed; it reminded me of some of Mario Bava's earlier works, namely "Kill, Baby . . . Kill." It has an appropriately creepy score. The acting is superb from a top notch cast that included Christopher Lee and Patrick MaGee. Unfortunately, the plot never gained any real momentum. It was very stagnant. Only one scene really grabbed my attention: when the blackmailing landlord falls over the stairwell balustrade and crashes through several panes of stained glass. A similar scene was done in Dario Argento's masterpiece "Suspiria." "The Skull" does make good late night viewing, especially for fans of Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Amicus Productions. I recommend watching it alone with the lights out and candles burning.
14 April 2013
I watched this movie first on "The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting" with Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1971.Have you ever fallen asleep with a horror movie going on the TV? You half-hear some of the dialog and wake up occasionally to check out what is going on. Being half-asleep, your defenses are not up to par. There is a free-floating feeling of foreboding.This happened to me with "The Skull". Once when I woke up, this skull was apparently levitating and moving toward the professor. Under these circumstances, it was pretty scary!Like most Hammer productions, this one is well mounted and written. I have seen it again since 1971. I like the slower pacing movies of this period have---it lets the story build.If this sounds like your kind of movie, check it out!
BaronBl00d 14 April 2013
Peter Cushing plays a demonologist who collects any items pertaining to theoccult, witchcraft, devil worship, etc... This desire for the bizarre leadsto his encounter with the skull of none other than the Marquis de Sadehimself. This film produced by Amicus has a lot going for it. It has agood story by Robert Bloch as the basis for the script, some fine actingfrom Peter Cushing in the lead and Patrick Wymark as a disreputablesalesman, good character roles by George Coulouris, Patrick Magee, NigelGreen, Michael Gough, and particularly Christopher Lee, some imaginativedirection from Freddie Francis, and some very stylish set pieces andcostumes. Francis has limited special effects at his disposal, and this isa minor distraction as in one scene you can clearly see wires carrying theskull and a book in the air. Francis also gives in too long I think to somedream sequences and other "are they real or not real" happenings with hiscamera predominating over long periods of silence. It works well at first,but it does grow stale with repeated use. The story and acting, however,greatly enhance the film and make me give it an easy recommendation.