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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
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.
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.