27 July 2006 | Coventry
Murder and Mayhem in the family!
Roger Corman apparently isn't the only director who can do Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, even though he undoubtedly remains the reigning king thanks to his SEVEN masterful films during the early 60's starring Vincent Price. The least you can say about this movie is that it's a likable effort. If you compare the oeuvres of exploitation master Jess Franco and early 19th century author Edgar Allen Poe, an amalgamation of their works seems nearly impossible and ridiculous. And yet, "Night of the Skull" is a very compelling and atmospheric Gothic horror film, worthy of Poe's good reputation and a class above the majority of Franco's other movies. The screenplay is based on Poe's "The Cat and the Canary" and revolves on the despicable Marion family as they gather around to hear the will of the murdered patriarch Archibald Percival. Since his death was unnatural, the inheritors all of a sudden get to hear a completely unexpected testament that divides the family fortune differently. Then at night comes a skull-masked killer to eliminate all the family members in gruesome ways, referring to the four basic elements water, wind, earth and fire. Our good old pal Jess manages to create a wondrously sinister Goth atmosphere, complete with dark mansions near the seaside and loud thunderstorms. There's always a certain level of suspense to enjoy and the murders are impressively barbaric. Especially the first murder, that of the family patriarch, is quite creepy. This movie probably contains the smallest amount of sleaze in a Jess Franco movie ever (even Lina Romay keeps her clothes on at all times, which is truly odd), but there's constant hinting at perverted themes, such as incest, voyeurism and adultery. The decors are great, the acting is more than adequate for once and the recent DVD release looks very nice. This film isn't dubbed, which is a real pleasure. Definitely top 3 Franco material, alongside "Faceless" and "The Awful Dr. Orloff".