The Screaming Skull (1958)

screaming skull poster 1958 movie poster
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 3/10

Story is ok, great opening

Cheap, bad visuals, overacting

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Screaming Skull

Studio: American International Pictures

Genre(s): Horror/Mystery/Suspense/B-Movie

Release Date(s): January 1958

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

screaming skull 1958 b-movie horror mst3k

Hey lady, I’m not really screaming…I’m just kind of sitting here silent-like

Jenni (Peggy Webber) and Eric Whitlock (John Hudson) return home after marriage, and Jenni quickly finds things are not right at her new home.  Jenni discovers she is beginning to see things that are not there.  The loss of her parents at an early age and the death of her husband’s first wife Marion begins to push Jenni over the edge…but is it really all in her mind?

Directed by Alex Nicol, The Screaming Skull is a low budget B-Movie now in public domain.  It has found a home of cheap movie collections and was the feature of season 9 episode 12 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K #9-12).

The Screaming Skull is really, really cheap, and it is obvious.  That being said, it isn’t the worst movie ever.  There are some genuinely interesting plot points in the story and for a while it isn’t clear if Jenni is crazy or who is behind trying to force her to be crazy.  It has a bit of a Rebecca or Gaslight and has a bit of Turn of the Screw mixed in…but cheaply.

screaming skull wife peggy webber

This skull is stalking me!

If you are familiar at all with movies in this vein, you can predict what is going on and what is going to potentially happen.  The movie unwraps in a surprise-less fashion that does not give enough credit to the story or its viewers.  It has potential as a story, but the fact that it follows much more classic presentations of similar tales kind of negates any chance of it being original.

The actors feel very much like every B-movie actor who are probably not more developed beyond stage plays and early TV.  The director of the movie also is one of the major “stars” of the film.  Alex Nicol who was behind the camera during the making of the film also stars as Mickey…the creepy gardener who may or may not have seen something involving the death of Marion.  John Hudson as Eric Whitlock actually is rather convincing as Jenni’s husband who is trying to help her (or is he).  There are also more suspects in Reverend Snow (Russ Conway) and his wife (Tony Johnson)…what do they know about Marion Witlock?

screaming skull jenni peggy webber

I’m not afraid to cry ugly…

Possibly the best part of The Screaming Skull is the opening of the movie.  The producers of the movie show a room and a coffin and promise the viewers of the movie that they will pay for the funeral if they are scared to death by The Screaming Skull.  It is unclear whether anyone was killed by The Screaming Skull (although Crow T. Robot and Max Servo tried to find out on MST3K).

The main problem with The Screaming Skull is the low budget nature of the movie.  With a little money through into it, it could have been a slightly better B-Movie…but just slightly.  The Screaming Skull borrows a ton of horror movie clichés and puts that on top of poor acting and a storyline that feels like retread.  If you like horror that is more funny than fearful, The Screaming Skull is damned to a life of laughs instead of screams.

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.

One Comment on "The Screaming Skull (1958)"

  1. cliff January 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm -

    Actually, if it wasn’t for that super hokey start – and a super hokey ending as well – this would not be a bad flick