Skip to main content

Film Review: The Screaming Skull (1958)

A lot can be said about The Screaming Skull. Is it over the top? Yes. Is it a great film? No, not really. Is it fun to watch? Definitely. The concept of the movie is fairly simple: a second wife is a victim of gaslighting by her new husband who is guilty of murdering his first wife, who haunts everyone she can. This low-budget gothic horror film from 1958 was directed by Alex Nicol, who up to this point in his career was known for his work as Broadway actor. Peggy Webber, the star of the film whose performance is nothing short of brilliant, loathed the movie stating it made it her want to throw up after viewing it (because of the quality, not because of any gore). Yet, Webber is a power house in her role. Her considerable acting skills are demonstrated in scene after scene as her character Jenni Whitlock is convinced by those around her (including by herself) that her sanity is slipping. Playing the scheming, homicidal husband, John Hudson gives an equally impressive performance. Adapted from a story by Francis Marion Crawford (who was inspired by folklore about the legend of a screaming skull), screenwriter John Kneubuhl infuses the script with empathy for Jenni, allowing the audience to fear for her safety, as well as root for her escape. I was fortunate enough to watch the Blu-ray version of the film, which Shout Factory released a few years ago. The picture quality and the packaging were fantastic. 

David-Matthew Barnes



Popular posts from this blog

Film Review: The Menu (2022)

I hope you bring your appetite to this deliciously devilish film. The Menu , a dark horror comedy film directed by Mark Mylod, delivers every course it serves. Stylistic and aesthetically exquisite, this movie will be celebrated not only for its mesmerizing visuals but for it's clever script, expert direction, and nuanced performances from a cast of ultra talented actors, including a wonderful Judith Light (will someone please put this wonderful woman in more films?). The creepy premise feels simple: a group of self-obsessed strangers find themselves sharing a terrifying experience. They're the guest at a posh, elite private restaurant located on a secluded island in the middle of nowhere (or, so it seems). The first half of the film is a slow move, keeping the audience (and the characters) in one location: the dining room and adjacent kitchen of the restaurant. Mylod takes a chance by keeping us here for so long, but it's a risk that works because, as an audience member, I

Film Review: The Adam Project (2022)

Watching Shawn Levy's sci-fi action comedy The Adam Project is a fun, thrilling experience. The concept of the film is clever: a fighter pilot travels back to a specific point in his life, only to meet (and bond with) his younger self. The always-charming Ryan Reynolds is our leading man, playing the grown-up version of Adam Reed. Reynolds continues to prove he knows a thing or two about being funny. Here, his comedic timing is sharper than ever, evident each time he delivers hilarious lines of dialogue. The pairing of Reynolds with young actor Walker Scobell (who plays a 12-year old version of Adam Reed) creates a fantastic comedic duo. Their dynamic is very enjoyable to watch. They are surrounded by an all-star cast, appearing mostly in supporting roles, including Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner (both should've been given more screen time), and a devilish performance by Catherine Keener as an ultra-villain who you will love to hate. At the heart of the film, this is a good

Film Review: Empire of Light (2022)

From start to finish, Empire of Light is an exquisite film. Set in the early 1980's in a beautiful, vintage cinema in a quaint English seaside town, the film explores the complexities of the lives of those who work at the movie theater. While it's certainly an ensemble film, Olivia Colman's brilliant performance coupled with Micheal Ward's nuanced portrayal of her unexpected leading man allows both to shine in extraordinary ways rarely seen in contemporary films. Their performances are masterful individually, yet equally powerful as a poetic duet of two seemingly different people impacted by the collision of lives. Featuring a sensational supporting cast that includes standout performances by Toby Jones, Hannah Onslow, and Tom Brooke, Mendes creates a bittersweet extended family out of his characters all connected by place, something anyone who has worked in a similar public-serving job can relate to.  At it's core, Empire of Light is a fascinating and sometime bru