The House on Skull Mountain – USA, 1974 – reviews

‘Every room is a living tomb in’

The House on Skull Mountain is a 1974 American horror film directed by Ron Honthaner (whose only other horror screen credit is as an uncredited policeman in The Hideous Sun Demon) from a screenplay by Mildred Pares. It was distributed by 20th Century Fox.

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Main cast:

Victor French, Janee Michelle, Jean Durand, Mike Evans, Xernona Clayton, Lloyd Nelson, Ella Woods, Mary J. Todd McKenzie, Don Devendorf,  Jo Marie, Leroy Johnson

Skull-Mountain

Plot:

After Pauline Christophe, the sole heir for the house/mansion on Skull Mountain dies, four of her family members are called to hear her will. Upon arrival, each of the guests is stalked by a skeleton in a robe, and begin to meet their deaths. Now, it’s up to the few left to figure out who or what is killing them off, and how they can escape from The House on Skull Mountain

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Reviews:

“… Skull Mountain is terribly quaint and old-fashioned, thus thoroughly forgettable. Populated by cardboard characters, the confusing mess of a script has no idea what do with them. Simply casting black actors (like Mike Evans from The Jeffersons and character actor Jean Durand) isn’t anything special; the filmmakers should have done something with this new movement in film spotlighting black talent and the desire within the community for films that spoke to them.” DVD Drive-In

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“Despite a largely static camera, one-time director Honthaner does give us a couple of nice transitions based on skull imagery, including a rather effective overlay of a death’s head on a living (?) character’s face near the end. And late in the proceedings there’s a voodoo ceremony/human sacrifice that is actually well filmed and choreographed, a few suggestive snake scenes (sometimes a bulging python is just a bulging python, but not here), and a double-astral projection for no reason that nonetheless made me smile.” Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies

” … despite the promise, the film is merely good, never great, and never as weird or as haunting as one would hope. The simple dialogue, middling acting, and scarcity of gore give everything the feeling of a TV movie. It feels like everyone was playing it safe.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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“The film is dull, and padded with nonsense like two characters who just met going off into the city to look at antique clocks (set to a weepy ballad no less) – but I could forgive that if any of it was the least bit suspenseful. It’s basically one of those 30s/40s horror style movies where a bunch of distant relatives join up at a big ol’ house to hear about their inheritance, and then they start getting knocked off (or just out) one by one…” Brian W Collins, Horror Movie a Day

Skull Mountain

“There’s some spells, some snakes, some undead; typical voodoo stuff–all of it perfectly fine, but it’s all presented so boringly that it was really hard for me to stay interested. This is one of those instances where the poster promises a lot more than the movie can deliver.” Rob Kelly

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“Unfortunately, the climax of the film dips into your standard ooga-booga voodoo nonsense, with religious rituals and snakes and “Haitian dancing” being used as horror elements (see … black people really ARE scary!) … It’s a shame, because up to that point the movie had used the more pat voodoo elements sparingly and to clever effect. But the rather casual way that half of the characters are reduced to bug-eyed, murderous, crazy-dancing tribespeople that the outwardly white guy has to trounce at the end comes across as a bit careless.” Buzz, Camp Blood

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“The danger posed by voodoo is not the supernatural threat common to horror films — it is instead the horror posed by the discovery of blackness represented by voodoo as the sweaty, rhythmic, superstitious primitive: beneath the superficial fantasy of a dissolution and banishment of racism lies, instead, a fundamentally racist conception of both white and black, one where the “Haitian” serves to represent the dangerous, threatening, and irrational other to American (white) rationality.” Michael Betancort, Bright Lights Film Journal

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“Very atmospheric, with a disturbing climax featuring the dead old woman plodding her way towards the house.” Dr. Arnold T Blumberg, Andrew Hershberger, Zombiemania: 80 Movies To Die For

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Cast and characters:

  • Victor French as Dr. Andrew Cunnigham
  • Janee Michelle as Lorena Christophe
  • Jean Durand as Thomas Pettitone
  • Mike Evans as Phillipe Wilette
  • Ella Woods as Louette
  • Xernona Clayton as Harriet Johnson
  • Lloyd Nelson as The Sheriff
  • Mary J. Todd McKenzie as Pauline
  • Jo Marie as Doctor
  • Don Devendorf as Priest
  • O.J. Harris as Dancer

Wikipedia | IMDb | Image credits: Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies

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