Sunday, 2 March 2014

MOVIE: The House On Skull Mountain (1974)



The House On Skull Mountain

US 1974, 89m, 20th Century-Fox/Pinto/Chocolate Chip

DVD: 20th Century-Fox

Four relatives gather at the remote mansion of a voodoo priestess, and find she is recently deceased. Soon, someone starts using the craft to pick them off, one by one...

A surprisingly coy horror film, which seems to have difficulty deciding whether it wants to be an out-and-out blaxploitation horror flick or a haunted house mystery. It doesn't quite succeed on either count, but ends up being entertaining enough, mainly because of the sheer ineptitude of its plotting.

Dr. Cunningham (Victor French, better known as Michael Landon's earthly sidekick in Highway To Heaven) is the only caucasian in the group. Exactly why he's the token white guy is never quite explained - perhaps, to quote Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles, his grandmother was Dutch...

It's just one of several unexplained points in a jumbled and increasingly ridiculous scenario. We are given to understand that all four visitors are distant relatives of the priestess, but have never met her. We don't learn exactly why they haven't been in touch lately, and why they in particular have been chosen for an inheritance isn't quite explained, even at the film's damp squib of a conclusion. Nor is it entirely clear why the two servants of the house may want the group dead, as it's not clear what they actually stand to gain.

I couldn't stop giggling when the doctor apologised for being late arriving, as he had trouble finding the house. Yeah, obviously this neighbourhood must be full of foreboding looking mansions perched precariously on the top of towering rock formations with skulls carved in them. Gee, it's hard telling them all apart...

Click for a larger view

Perhaps a flashing neon sign reading "This Is The House On Skull Mountain, Stupid!" might help.

When a voodoo ritual is revealed to be taking place down below the house, it's a real "WHAT?" moment. Where did all these people come from, when there has only been a cast of a few characters so far? How did they get there? Why did this turn into a swordfight? What the hell does an earlier shopping sequence/musical interlude add to things? 

File under dumb-as-hell, but kinda fun...

5/10
 
Original Theatrical Trailer:

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