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The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake

USA 1959
produced by
Robert E.Kent for Vogue Pictures
directed by Edward L. Cahn
starring Henry Daniell, Valerie French, Grant Richards, Eduard Franz, Lumsden Hare, Frank Gerstle, Paul Wexler, Howard Wendell, Paul Cavanaugh, Jonathan Hole
written by Orville H. Hampton, music by Paul Dunlap

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Drakes have a quaint little family tradition going on: Every male member dies a mysterious death at age 60, & his head is mysteriuosly removed after death, to be turned into a shrunken head, only the skull is eventually returned ... & all because of one of their ancestors, who has ages ago killed all the male members of the Chivarro tribe in South America ... all but the witchdoctor (bugger).

When Kenneth Drake's (Paul Cavanagh) corpse is decapitated though, police inspector Rawlins (Grant Richards) steps in, a no-nonsense cop who doesn't believe in any hocus pocus he is told by Kenneth's brother Jonathan (Eduard Franz) & Jonathan's daughter Alison (Valerie French), even though many clues he finds seem to try to persuade him otherwise.

Then though Jonathan is attacked too, by a mysterious Indian (Paul Wexler), & everybody believes that the encounter caused a heart failure ... but Rawlins finds out he was actually poisoned by Curare ... a poison which the Chivarro Indians loved to use back in the days. And Rawlins also finds some blood from the mysterious Indian, that is apparently 2 thirds Curare,  which abain baffles Rawlins ... so he visits the local authority on this line of research, Doctor Zurich (Henry Daniell), who does, to Rarwlins' ears, talk even more nonsense ... what Rawlins of course doesn't know is that Zurich is actually behind the murder of Kenneth Drake, the attack on Jonathan Drake, & that the mysterious Indian is his servant.

In the end though it's a showdown between Jonathan Drake - who has finally seen through Zurich's disguise & realized it's the witchdoctor with a white head sewed onto his body to make him immortal - & Rawlins - who's more & more at a loss for words - on one side & Zurich - who has kidnapped Alison - & his Curare powered servant on the other.

Eventually of course, the professor & the cop win & Zurich falls to dust ... all but his skull.

 

A cheap horror movie, shot in a very straightforward way ... & yet, as with many Edward L.Cahn horror films, it manages to create an atmorphere of menace & unease not necessarily found in 1950's B-horrors, & makes this one truely worthwhile, iof one is willing to accept budgetary limitations in storytelling, the occasional plothole & an essentially silly storyline.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD