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Night of the Skull 
Written by: on January 14th, 2006

Theatrical Release Date: Spain, November 8th, 1976
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Jesus Franco, Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Wallace
Cast: Alberto Dalbés, Evelyne Scott, William Berger, Maribel Hidalgo, Lina Romay

DVD released: January 10th, 2006
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Spanish with English Subtitles
DVD Release: Image Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Lord Archibald Percival Marion dies one evening under mysterious circumstances. The next morning his wife’s corpse is found strapped down on rocks that lay near the ocean. The rest of the family still proceed with the reading of Lord Archibald in which he leaves everything to his daughter Rita. To complicate matters worse a second will is found where everyone else in the family are left something and Rita is left nothing. With family members pitted against the body count starts to rise with all the evidence pointing towards a masked skull killer who kills his victims’ at night.

When speaking about the films of Jess Franco they are generally two kinds of people “Those who love just about everything Franco has done” and “Those who think he is a talent less hack”. I would put myself in the first group of those who love just about everything he has done. I have seen about fifty of his films to date and I would say that I have enjoyed something about every one of them. While watching Night of the Skull I tried my best to find something redeeming about the films. Even though it is only about eighty two minutes in length some scenes felt like they would go on forever. In the past I have seen Franco work with less structure/plot then this film has and yet this film just drags along and most of the performances in the film are lifeless and uninspired.

There were a few minor moments when the cinema photography almost looked the style I have come to expect while watching a Franco film. For a film that has a masked killer on the loose there is little to if any tension in the film. If you are looking for a more experimental Jess Franco then look elsewhere. Overall Night of the Skull is a film that really never goes anywhere and I can’t imagine anyone liking this film outside of Jess Franco completists.

The DVD:

Image Entertainment presents Night of the Skull in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Image’s DVD release also marks the North American debut of Night of the Skull on home video. The image looks sharp through out with colors looking muted at times and some of the darker scenes looking a tad too dark. There is noticeable print damage through out and this DVD is interlaced instead of being flagged for progressive scan. Overall despite its flaws this DVD release is the best this film has looked in many years.

This DVD comes with only one audio option the films original Spanish language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The audio is clean and dialog is easy to follow. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.

This DVD is strictly a bare bones affair as you get nothing besides the movie. The menu is pretty basic as you can either select play movie or access chapter stops.

Image Entertainment puts together another good audio/video presentation that will sit nicely with their other Jess Franco releases.

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