Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October 21 - The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake [1959]

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)
Director: Edward L Cahn
Starring: Grant Richards, Eduard Franz, Henry Daniell
Now this is the kind of old school horror that I really dig. There's just something cool about watching a decent black and white horror movie from the 50s and 60s - the kind you can imagine introduced by some kind of television ghoul. The kind where the trailer has overly dramatic music with big words like "Shocker" or "Terror" smashing into the screen.
The plot involves a family with a "curse" involving Amazon witch doctors and head shrinking. It seems ol' great-grandad killed off some tribe back in the day, and since then adult Drake men have mysteriously died on their 60th birthdays. Even more strange, their heads mysteriously disappear. Enter Jonathan Drake, whose brother dies this way, and now he's next in line. Throw in an American cop and Drake's hot daughter, who try to solve the mystery.
One of the things that surprised me about this movie was how gory it was for the time. We get beheadings, headless corpses, and not in the turn-the-camera-away style that was popular in the day. Director Cahn does a great job of building up the mystery and suspense - this reminds me of an over-long episode of The Twilight Zone. The acting is top notch, except for the guy who plays the Amazon witch doctor with his mouth sewn shut - I can't look at that guy on screen without laughing.
Overall, this is a great piece of 1950s horror. Definitely recommended.

No comments: