The House on Skull Mountain (1974)

house on skull mountain poster 1974 movie
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Interesting race aspect

Dull story and pacing, no jumps

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The House on Skull Mountain

Studio:   20th Century Fox

Genre(s):   Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):   October 1974

MPAA Rating:   PG

house on skull mountain victor french voodoo

Good thing I happened to study voodoo in college

Pauline Christophe (Mary J. Todd McKenzie) has died but her last action was to summon the lost members of her family to her country mansion in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dr. Andrew Cunningham (Victor French) is trying to find his identity, Lorena Christophe (Janee Michelle) has come to honor the great-grandmother she never knew, Harriet Johnson (Xernona Clayton) has begun seeing visions of a hooded man, and Philipe Wilette (Mike Evans) hopes for a big inheritance.  As the group is picked off one-by-one by a voodoo houngan named Thomas (Jean Durand) who worked for Pauline, they must stop the evil before it kills them.

Directed by Ron Honhaner, The House on Skull Mountain is a supernatural thriller.  The film was released in October 1974 and is relatively low-budget.

I got The House on Skull Mountain as part of a two pack with the better known 1971 film The Mephisto Waltz.  Checking out the movie, the film has a weird blend of genres but never manages to reach a level that makes it good in any of the genres.

house on skull mountain skull face mary j todd mckenzie

Grandma Pauline, you’ve looked better

The story is rather bland.  It isn’t bad, but it also lives up to its PG rating…that’s today’s PG (not 1974 PG which is a lot scarier).  The movie is about voodoo and evil, but it never feels very evil.  The plot just meanders and even includes a “fun day out” with Lorena and Andrew.  I will say that the race issue of the story is an interesting twist that could have been explored to greater levels…but of course it also ended up being the great white hero (sort of).

The movie while casting primarily African-American actors doesn’t feel like blaxploitation which is nice considering when it was made.  It doesn’t have the over the top stereotyping of characters though the fact that they have Jean Durand and a voodoo cult does bring it back toward a blaxploitation horror film.  As mentioned, the Victor French casting was interesting and both Janee Michelle and Xernona Clayton are likable as the “good” cousins while Mike Evans plays the slimy cousin.

house on skull mountain machete fight victor french jean durand

Mr. Edwards kicks voodoo ass!

The movie even with its PG rating should have pushed harder and missed tons of opportunity.  It still is a bit unclear if the snakes were real or phantoms conjuring in most scenes, but I do like some of the skull imagery though it was too little and for the most part too late.  The movie could have been completely atmospheric, but it misses the chance.

The House on Skull Mountain embodies its generic horror title.  It should have either been a gorefest or a scarefest, but instead it is a sleepy, dull story with a few glimmers of interesting moments.  There is nothing really wrong with the movie, but there is nothing really good about it either.  You can probably pick another horror house if you want chills.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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