Just before dying, voodoo queen Pauline Christophe (Mary J. Todd McKenzie) instructs her butler (Jean Durand) to mail a handful of letters. The various recipients learn that they're related to Christophe and are requested to travel to Skull Mountain in Georgia for the reading of her will. No sooner do they arrive, however, than a mysterious robed creature begins killing them off one by one. Unable to leave the house, the survivors band together to fight what they fear is a voodoo curse.
Also Know As: Kauhujen talo, La casa de la calavera, A Mansão da Caveira
A really enjoyable and entertaining voodoo film
Called away to a remote house, a woman and her ancestors gathered together for a will reading find that a powerful voodoo spell has been enacted which begins to kill them off and forces the remaining family members to put a stop to its ancestor's plans.
This here was quite the enjoyable Blaxploitation offering. One of the more enjoyable elements featured here is the fact that the Blaxploitation angle makes for an incredibly fun and enjoyable introduction to the voodoo at play. That's a big part of this one, coming off almost immediately with the opening shots of the tribal ceremony featuring all the dancers in the middle of their ritual while they prepare all the different trinkets and artifacts that start this one off on a great note. The later scenes throughout the house where we get the flashes of the ghostly ancestor raised and warding off the remaining parts of the family offer up some really thrilling moments here as the frequency and unexpectedness of them work and given the inserts showing the the practitioner engaging the ceremonial practices in his room where he has the paraphernalia laid out as he sets about his rituals which offer some fun, cheesy thrills here. It manages to really explore the idea of voodooism quite nicely in really letting the supernatural take-over here, from the need for keeping the objects of power and control around to the matter of the controlled bodies engaging in dangerous activities through the voodoo spell and it really gives this one the kind of building blocks to get a lot of great atmosphere during here which carries over nicely into the finale which features some fantastic voodoo-based action here. Going from the discovery of the ceremonial chamber beneath the house where the dancers are in the middle of their rituals with the entire room lit up using black candles before the fine brawl and leading up into the atmospheric confrontation in the finale, it's got so much to like here. There wasn't much of anything wrong with this one. The main issue here is the fact that the main backstory is given a really large portion of the film which is a little weird to have. The fact that it consists of a long portion of the film is what really hurts it, since it would've been far easier had this done the simple thing and just clumped them all together in one segment without having to jump around with having so many parts in different places as it wasn't that hard to figure out anyway and didn't need the trickery into thinking it was harder to figure out than it really was. The last part here is the scene near the end where they go out on the town. Since it's so close to the end, everything has been figured out and the horror should begin to grow in intensity, as it's after the voodoo ceremony scene, yet this one doesn't do that and it's really hard to understand why it's even there in the first place, serving no purpose for the story and coming across as filler. Beyond these two problems, it's not that bad.
The House on Skull Mountain? Sounds like some 60's Hardy-Boy adventure to me. I have to say I caught glimpses of this film a couple weeks ago and it was very strange. Your typical 70's horror flick. I mean it wasn't that bad and Victor French does a good job, but it seemed like it was lacking a few things. Maybe I will have to watch it again some time. All I know is films like the infamous "ALIEN" ('79) changed the view of horror movies for ever and that may or may not be a good thing. Too many imitations these days. Take a look at this movie some time.
An 'old dark house' throwback
THE HOUSE ON SKULL MOUNTAIN is a familiar type of old-fashioned horror film with one twist: it's a blaxploitation movie too, with a cast populated almost entirely by black actors. Otherwise it's a rather slow and stately effort that delivers some rural horror inside a house haunted by voodoo and its effects.
This story seems to deliberately hark back to the 'old dark house' films of the 1930s and reminded me a lot of THE HOUSE OF SEVEN CORPSES, although the thrills are more moody and less visceral. Once again the reading of a will is the main plot point and there's a great deal of atmosphere-building in the form of wandering around creepy old locations and characters suffering from weird dreams and manifestations.
Those looking for blood will find this a slow, tame affair and will probably hate it, and it's fair to say that the voodoo ceremony climax is much like that of Hammer's THE WITCHES, merely a bunch of people dancing around in a basement, silly rather than shocking. However, I did find the film oddly appealing overall, with an atmosphere of regret and decay that works nicely in its favour.
House on Skull Mountain
Relatives are sent a letter, an invite to come to the Southern mansion, on the outskirts of Atlanta, of a voodoo priestess, who has died, expecting them to ward off an evil they do not know. Each person, the foxy attractive Lorena(Janee Michelle), smart-mouth, obnoxious Phillippe(Mike EVans of "The Jeffersons"), polite, mannered Christian Harriet(Xernona Clayton)and the unlikely "honky" of the group, an anthropology professor, who has studied voodoo, Dr. Andrew Cunningham(Victor French of "Highway to Heaven" and "Little House on the Prairie"), haven't even met their ancestor. While it appears this group is gathering for a will reading, they are instead in for a battle against the creepy butler, Tomas(Jean Durand), secretly practicing voodoo rituals in a hidden room below the mansion using his abilities to endanger their lives. It'll be up to the unlikely heroics of Cunningham, who definitely sticks out like a sore thumb in this mostly African-American cast, and his knowledge of voodoo, to stop Tomas who wishes to strengthen his powers by marrying Lorena, a mostly pure Christophe.
Voodoo horror outing even has a musical ritual performed by practitioners in that cavernous den below the mansion. There are skulls aplenty, which I admired, such as the face on the mountain where the mansion resides and on the door that greets visitors. Even Death pops up every once in a while to point towards potential victims. The climax even has Pauline Christophe(Mary J Todd McKenzie)rising from the grave, by order of Tomas which adds some fun to the proceedings. I think this kind of horror film, which gives over to the supernatural elements of the practiced religion, might make many viewers chuckle instead of fold into their seats. The cast is okay, nothing mind-blowing, but just the audacity to have a white hero is something to create interest for this kind of unusual horror effort. Not a bit violent, this was suppose to spook, not disgust. The setting, I loved a great deal.. the mansion is quite a stunning set. I thought the ending where Tomas and Cunningham square off in a sword fight was a bit hokey, though. I'm not sure whatever happened to the participants of the voodoo dance once Tomas accidentally slices a skull, ritualistically placed on a stick which holds Lorena hypnotically imprisoned. You have to gloss over flaws like that when a film allows liberties regarding the power of voodoo on innocents.
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