Film Review: The Screaming Skull (1958)

Release Date: January, 1958
Directed by: Alex Nicol
Written by: John Kneubuhl
Music by: Ernest Gold
Cast: John Hudson, Peggy Webber, Russ Conway

American International Pictures, 68 Minutes


“How could they make a movie so damn boring?” – Mike Nelson, Mystery Science Theater 3000

This is a film that has had some lasting power simply because it was riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It certainly deserves that treatment as it is a pretty awful picture all around.

Put out by American International, this film is the culmination of the type of movie that studio would make when they really didn’t seem to give a shit about the project. While American International focused mostly on low budget horror, they still made some real classics and I have always been a fan of the studio.

The Screaming Skull just feels like an afterthought by the studio. Something made cheaply and quickly to capitalize off of the marketing style of William Castle, whose films and gimmicks were popular at the time.

The film offers a free coffin for any theatergoer who may die from fright due to seeing this picture. The ‘Bots on Mystery Science Theater 3000 even poke fun at this marketing ploy and try to get one of the free coffins, even though neither of them were scared in the slightest.

The monster of the film is literally a skull… a haunted skull. It can apparently knock on doors, teleport and can dress up like an old lady and strut across a room until you throw something at it. It also has the power of growing into a gigantic specter that flies at you with its mouth agape. I don’t recall a single scream from it though.

This movie is pretty much pointless and deserves to be forgotten.

Is it worthy of being run through the Cinespiria Shitometer? Of course! So what we have here is a Type 5 stool, which is defined as “Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).”

Rating: 2/10

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