director Alex Nicol
A poor man’s low-budget Rebecca (1940) knock-off, The Screaming Skull is a ghost/horror film twisted in with mystery.
A man brings home his pretty, rich new second wife to his stately home, only for her to find it haunted by the spirit of his original bride. But unlike the young bride in Rebecca, Jenni (Peggy Webber) has been through some trauma herself, having just recovered from the sudden death of her parents. A creepy gardener, seemingly obsessed with his old mistress also haunts the place, though in corporeal form.
The Screaming Skull is in the public domain, and like many films in the public domain, is readily available in many place (including Amazon Prime), but the version of the film is quite murky. I’ve found that it’s not uncommon with low-budget films that have not been afforded restoration that sometimes the image quality somehow imbues itself into the seeming quality of the film. Would this film be particularly improved by a restoration? It surely wouldn’t hurt.
The film opens with a William Castle-esque promise for a free burial for anyone who is frightened to death by the film. Who knows? William Castle might have made something out of this.