The Screaming Skull

1958 movie that is so horrifying it could kill you

Rating: 5/20

Plot: Eric and Jenni get hitched and move into the home where Eric's first wife died. Soon, Jenni starts to be haunted by skulls--screaming skulls! Who could be doing this to her? Could it be the creepy gardener?

This movie begins with a shot of a casket, offering a free burial to anybody who dies of fright during the horrifying climax of The Screaming Skull. Here's what a close-up of the inside of the coffin reveals:

The promises of death by fright turn out to be ludicrous. Actually, anybody who did die of fright while watching this movie would then be forced to die again of embarrassment for it.

Although I did like the story and its nifty little twist, there was nothing scary about the whole thing. I mean, when the only tool in your special effects belt involves rolling skulls from somewhere off-screen, you probably don't have enough. Well, director Alec Nicol also understood the power of superimposing a skull on the screen over images of people who can't act. He had that in his special effects tool belt, too.

Speaking of Alex Nicol, he also plays that aforementioned gardener. He had appeared in a bunch of Westerns, including The Man from Laramie where he faced off with Jimmy Stewart, and wanted this project because he wasn't getting the kinds of roles he wanted. And when you see what he does with Mickey the gardener, a cross between Gump and Torgo, you just have to laugh at that. The way he talks, the way he gestures, and especially the way he runs are just so ridiculous. Even his haircut is ridiculous. I'd be surprised if gardeners didn't protest this movie.

What's especially surprising is that Nicol had been in the business for a while before making this. This wasn't a case of a guy who had neither foot in the Hollywood sandbox and just wanted to give it a go. This is a guy who should have known better, but he made this anyway.

Nicol did continue to find work after this movie, both as an actor and a director. I'm surprised that coffin shown at the beginning of the film wasn't reserved for his career. 

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