director Edward L. Cahn
The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake is a lesser 1950’s horror film, predicated almost entirely around the eerieness of shrunken heads. Like perhaps many a horror enthusiast child, I was quite intrigued by shrunken heads. Maybe if I’d seen this as a kid, it may have made some sort of impact on my psyche.
The titular Jonathan Drake (Eduard Franz) is suffering a family curse that has killed all males at age sixty, brought down upon his grandfather for wiping out a tribe of South American natives some 100 years before. Deathless beings hunt them down, chop off their heads, extract the skulls, and shrink their flesh. Really, why wait til age 60? It’s kind of like “We curse you, but overall, we’ll let you live a reasonable life.”
The most interesting aspects are the film’s FX around the head-shrinking process, detailed with boiling and hot sand and sewn lips. And the very, very odd reveal at the end of a white man’s head attached to an indigenous persons body. Weird.
This comes from Edward L. Cahn who made a number of entertaining B-pictures in many genres over several decades, but spent the 1950’s in the horror and science fiction arenas quite a bit, with flicks like Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), The She-Creature (1956), Voodoo Woman (1957), Zombies of Mora Tau (1957), Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957), Curse of the Faceless Man (1958), It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) and Invisible Invaders (1959), several of which are quite entertaining, particularly It! The Terror from Beyond Space.
Though not particularly exciting, I can easily imagine liking The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake when I was a kid, so I’ll give it a little credit.