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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Screaming Skull [Blu-ray]


(Alex Nicol, 1958)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Madera Productions

Video: Shout! Factory



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:08:06.290 

Disc Size: 23,503,455,182 bytes

Feature Size: 14,913,232,896 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.92 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 25th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1729 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1729 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, none



• Mystery Science Theatre: The Screaming Skull (1:31:17 in 480i)

This Film May Kill You - Making The Screaming Skull (12:33)

Photo Gallery (2:32)

Trailers (3:07)





Description: When widower Eric (John Hudson) bring his mentally fragile new bride Jenni home to the palatial estate of his first wife, strange things begin to happen. Jenni is certain she is being tormented by Eric’s former wife who died under mysterious circumstances. But no one else seems to hear the ominous screams or see the rolling skull that comes knocking at the front door. Much like master showman William Castle, the producers of the film promised a free burial service for anyone who died while watching the film. Of course, this never happened. Or did it?



The Film:

For reasons best known to local TV programmers, the modest shocker The Screaming Skull was telecast on what seemed to be a daily basis in the 1960s. The hero-villain is Eric (played by John Hudson), the husband of neurotic millionairess Jenni played by Peggy Webber. By strategically placing miniature skulls all over the house, Eric hopes to drive Jenni into madness so that he can take control of her fortune. The police suspect that Mickey the gardener Alex Nicol, who also directed the film, is the man behind the campaign of terror, but the truth finally surfaces in the last reel, wherein Eric gets what's coming to him-and more besides. Perhaps it's worth noting that the 10-minute abridgement of Screaming Skull, made available to the 8-mm home movie market in the 1970s, is just as entertaining as the full-length feature.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

The Whitlocks -- Jenni (Peggy Webber) and Eric (John Hudson) -- are apparently happy newlyweds that have just arrived home to Eric's house, which it is quickly revealed, originally belonged to his late first wife. However, shortly after arriving, Jenni suspects she is being victimized by the first Mrs. Whitlock's ghost – particularly her skull, which seems to be chasing her everywhere. Unfortunately for Jenni, the real culprit may not be supernatural after all, and, in fact, may be living very close indeed.

While the film as a whole is strikingly unimpressive, the horror elements used to create the setting are carefully crafted, an exercise in precision. The house is large and spacious, overwhelming the characters inside and, at night, creating a “perfect” setting for a haunting. The doors slam, the shutters crash, the shadows play against the wall (since, of course, the lights are not currently working). There's even a really creepy portrait of the late wife hanging on the foyer wall. It just doesn't get any spookier – at least in theory.

Excerpt from Classic-Horror located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Screaming Skull looks excellent on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory. It's a very clean 1080P image with excellent contrast, tight lines and frequent depth.  This is single-layered with a decent bitrate for the, little over an hour, long film. There is no damage nor flaws at all - the video is clean and produces, what appears to be, an authentic, and impressive, visual presentation.






















Audio :

A standard lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track at 1729 kbps (24-bit) supports the score by Ernest Gold (The Secret of Santa Vittoria, Cross of Iron, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, On the Beach) with some pleasing depth. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc. 


Extras :

Perhaps because The Screaming Skull is such a dog, Shout! Factory add some excellent supplements  to augment the package value including 1.5 hours of Mystery Science Theatre: The Screaming Skull doing their viewing with comments. It's fun, sarcastic with some creative comments in picking apart the goofier parts of this oddball horror. We also get 'This Film May Kill You - Making The Screaming Skull' a dozen minute video piece directed by Daniel Griffith in 2014 with Larry Blamire, Mark Martucci, Tom Weaver, Peggy Webber and others in short interviews. Shout! Factory add their usual photo gallery and two, weak, trailers for the film.



No question that The Screaming Skull is in the 'so bad it's good' category.
You might put it down to some of the performances and a less cohesive story. It more laughable than suspenseful or scary. But there is a place for fascinatingly poor productions like this as well in your collection. Times when you don't want anything but an attempt, some atmosphere and a chuckle.  The Shout! Factory Blu-ray produces a fine presentation - and the extras are the big selling point. With them, there's significant value here. 

Gary Tooze

April 21st, 2017


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze





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