The Skull (1965) | The eerie Amicus curio weaves its hypnotic power on Blu-ray

The Skull (1965)Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee unite in the doom-laden 1965 British supernatural shocker, The Skull, which gets a first-time HD restoration in the UK.

Director Freddie Francis endows the Amicus-produced frightener, originally penned by Psycho writer Robert Bloch, with a chilly sense of menace and provides an eerily effective dream sequence, seen through the eyes of the skull of the infamous Marquis de Sade that Cushing’s collector of occult objects procures…

‘The unknown is always intriguing’
Peter Cushing gives an excellent study in bewildered terror as the skull slowly exerts it’s malign influence on his obsessive collector, Christopher Maitland, resulting in murder and madness; and gets solid support from ‘guest star’ Christopher Lee as the skull’s previous owner and Patrick Wymark as the sleazy dealer who steals it from him. Other familiar faces popping up are Michael Gough, Patrick Magee and Nigel Green (sporting a dodgy moustache), while poor Jill Bennett, playing Cushing’s socialite wife, gets to do little more than lounge about in lovely evening gowns.

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The film’s almost wordless final 25-minutes, set to a stirring score by acclaimed avant-garde composer Elisabeth Lutyens, is a surreal waking dream that still has the power to unnerve. Sumptuously shot with a baroque and gothic sensibility, though set in 1960s London, this curio is certainly one to covet – especially now that it has been given a gorgeous restoration on Blu-ray.

And it’s the look and the feel of this menacing chiller that wins through, and makes up for the lack of action (and obvious wire effects) which continue to divide audiences (including my own horror friends). The heavily dressed sets, meanwhile, are like an antique collector’s wet dream.

The Skull (1965)DID YOU KNOW?
The Marquis de Sade’s name was taken off all theatrical advertising material following legal action by the family’s estate.

In France, it was changed from Les Forfaits Du Marquis De Sade (The Infamies of Marquis de Sade) to Le Crâne Maléfique (The Evil Skull) at the last minute in order to get a release.

THE EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE
The 2015 Dual Format release features a restored 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray with a linear PCM 2.0 mono audio and optional English subtitle. Plus, the following extras…
• Interview with film scholar Jonathan Rigby (24:14)
• Interview with film critic and author Kim Newman (27:18)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and new artwork
• Collector’s booklet, featuring an essay by BFI archivist Vic Pratt
• DVD of the feature

THE VERDICT
This handsome dual format HD release from Eureka! Entertainment finally gives this underrated Amicus horror a chance to shine.

 

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About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on October 20, 2015, in Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Horror, Might See, Might-See and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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