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In 19th century France, a phrenologist (Maurice Good) acquires the skull of the Marquis de Sade, giving it a bath of acid to remove any skin or remains. Believing the skull might answer some questions about de Sade s madness, the phrenologist is soon brutally murdered, with the same fate brought upon anyone who comes across the evil object. In present day (1965) England, researcher and collector Christopher Maitland (Peter Cushing) is sold a human skin-bound autobiography of de Sade by a shady dealer Marco (Patrick Wymark). When Marco returns the following day claiming that the skull he is trying to peddle is that of de Sade, Maitland is reluctant of its authenticity. Friend and fellow collector Sir Matthew Phillips (Christopher Lee) assures him that it is the real deal, as it was actually stolen from him, and he warns Maitland not to make the purchase. Maitland becomes more and more obsessed with the skull, and it eventually comes into his possession, but the warnings of his friend reign true; it is pure evil, bringing on a nightmare world of violence and cruelty.
Although Amicus would be best known for their series of anthologies (this was the next production they made after Dr. Terror s House of Horrors), The Skull remains one of their finest single story outings and an exemplary 1960s genre work. Co-producer/screenwriter Milton Subotsky adapted Robert Bloch s eight-page story The Skull of the Marquis de Sade effectively, and although some feel the film drags in spots, the very capable direction of Freddie Francis shines through. Francis experience as a cinematographer allows his imagination to flow here, with perspective shots through the skull s head. [...]
As the determined collector of the unique and unusual, Peter Cushing is great as Maitland, and the film is one of his best vehicles of the 1960s, as he really is the star of the show and the story evolves around his character. Receiving guest star billing, Cushing s cinematic mate Christopher Lee has a much smaller role, but thankfully he shares most of his screen time with Peter. The chemistry is undeniable, and the duo have a nice bit where they are relaxing over a game of billiards, discussing the Marquis de Sade s deadly cranium. [...]
The only previous home video release of The Skull came in the 1990s when Paramount released it on VHS in a full screen edition in the EP mode. Legend Films DVD release looks terrific, presenting the film in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. It s a pleasure to finally see the compositions the way they were meant to be seen, and colors look excellent, with good fleshtones, and there is plenty of detail to the image. The print source is also very clean, with only some printed-on dirt on scenes with opticals. The mono English audio track is also impressive, with clear dialog and music. An original theatrical trailer (in 1.85:1 anamorphic) is a pleasant surprise, as there s no mention of it on the back cover. --George R. Reis of DVDDrive-In.com
Top Customer Reviews
This 1965 Amicus production stars the always terrific combination of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and explores this rather frightening premise of life, or power, after death. Adapted from a short story by the very talented horror writer Robert Bloch who was responsible for such horror classics as "Psycho" and "The House That Dripped Blood" it tells of the exhumation of the skull of the Marquis de Sade which passes from one curio collector to another and through its strange and deadly powers manages to continue the terror from beyond the grave and bring misfortune and death to all who possess it.
Peter Cushing plays Christopher Maitland an avid collector of antiques and curiosities such as a book that once belonged to the famed Marquis, the cover of which is made of human skin! Despite warnings from his fellow collector Sir Matthew Phillips (Christopher Lee) about the skulls evil powers Cushing through fair means and foul comes into possession of the skull and once it is placed among his collection it starts to take a frightening control over his mind turning him into a killer resulting in a tragic conclusion to the story.Read more ›
There are moments where this film drags, and I have trouble watching the sequence where the skull starts flying around the room, but director Freddie Francis lucked out when he decided to shoot several shots from the perspective of the skull. To do this he put a skull mockup in front of an aeroflex camera and moved around on roller skates. The happy result of this seeming absurdity is that the roaming camera serves to help involve the viewer with the developing psychological horror. The best sequence is when Maitland has a nightmare where he's kidnapped by the police and forced to play Russian Roulette. Despite what you would think to be inherent shortcomings, "The Skull" is an above average horror film carried in large part by Cushing's performance. It is nice to see him doing someone other than Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Van Helsing.
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...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
not a bad movie, and the color and production of the dvd was excellent.Published 12 days ago by Herb Salisbury
The BEST!!!! "Non-HAMMMER Fi!m!, EVER made!!!!!!!!!!!!.
... MEANS NOTHING!}. But IF YOUR a "Classic HORROR Fan*??>
TREAT *YOURSELF*!.... Read more
Pretty Creepy movie, but pretty good. Slow moving at first but it picks up.Published 4 months ago by Estee
This is one of the best of the Cushing and Lee films. I think it is because you don't expect it. Patrick Wymark and Jill Bennett are great too. Read morePublished 9 months ago by MimiMcg