Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXVII

The Skull
I couldn't sleep Friday night, so I set my alarm for 2 a.m. to watch this 1965 horror movie starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Based on a short story by Robert Bloch, the slow-paced suspense expands on the mythos surrounding the Marquis de Sade. A phrenologist digs up his grave shortly after death to claim de Sade's skull. Possession of the skull leads to the demise of almost everyone who comes in contact with it. Cushing's character, a collector of supernatural esoterica, obtains a book about de Sade's life -- bound in human skin -- and then the skull. And all heck breaks loose. The plot is relatively plodding, and the special effects unconvincing. But the idea behind the movie -- and its ending -- are quite interesting. B-movie fare straight from Shock Theatre.

The Fog
Jef and Dave were right: This movie way predates Jamie Lee Curtis's emergence as a proper movie star. The 1980 John Carpenter film is a west-coast wave at the hidden history of a small town. On the 100th anniversary of the town's founding, a sour -- and sacriligous -- secret returns to lay claim on the future of the city and its citizens. While the special effects are next to nonexistent -- and highly dissatisfying -- the characterizations are quite believable, and the story is an intriguing one. I liked the sequences in which the heroes were trying to determine the fate of the dead -- and their seafaring vessels -- and several sections caused me to jump with surprise and fear (something the Skull failed to do). I also appreciated the sultry-voiced radio announcer, who practically narrated the progress of the killer fog from her lighthouse studio. The sea, lepers, hidden treasure, heavy weather, and an independent radio station: What more could you want?

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