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THE SKULL

Any time a pairing of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee makes its debut on DVD, it gives genre fans cause for celebrating. THE SKULL ($15) was produced by Britainís Amicus Productions, a company specialized in the kind horror films that appealed to the same audience the better know Hammer Productions. Mixing elements of the supernatural, with some psychological horror, THE SKULL is based upon the Robert Bloch story The Skull Of The Marquis De Sade and features Peter Cushing in the role Dr. Christopher Maitland, who has authored books on occult subjects and has a rather sizable collection of objects relating to his field of study. When we first meet Maitland, he is attending an auction and has just lost a bidding war to Sir Matthew Phillips (Christopher Lee) for a collection of demonic statues. Taking the loss in stride, Maitland is approached by Anthony Marco (Patrick Wymark), a less than reputable dealer, who offers to sell him the skull of the Marquis De Sade. When Maitland mentions the offer to Sir Matthew, he advises Maitland against the purchase, warning him that the skull will exert its evil influence anyone who possesses it. Freddie Francis ably directs THE SKULL, while Jill Bennett, Nigel Green, Patrick Magee, Peter Woodthorpe, Michael Gough, George Coulouris, April Olrich, Maurice Good and Anna Palk lend support in front of the camera.

Legend Films through its association with Paramount Pictures has made THE SKULL available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is the first time Iíve been fortunate to see THE SKULL in its proper aspect ration and the presentation proves to be a very good one. The image is relatively sharp and well defined for a film of its vintage and for a standard definition presentation. In a few places, one will notice some mild softness, especially in process shots, but it is nothing beyond what once should expect from a sixties horror movie. Colors have good saturation and generally appealing flesh tones. Blacks are solid, as are the whites. Contrast is good, and the level of shadow detail is acceptable. The film elements used for the transfer displays some blemishes. Film grain is noticeable, but fairly minimal. Digital compression artifacts are never bothersome.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is just fine for a 1965 release. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a very respectable sonic quality. Of course, there are the expected limitations in fidelity, but the music and sound effects are more than serviceable. As for the dialogue, it is pretty crisp and always completely understandable. No other language tracks or subtitles have been included on the DVD.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

THE SKULL is a fun Amicus horror offering that has been a fine presentation on DVD by Legend Films and Paramount. Recommended to genre fans. Hopefully, DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS is also in the works.

 

THE SKULL 


The Skull (1965)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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