THE HOUSE ON SKULL MOUNTAIN (1974)
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Blaxploitation haunted house flick has elderly Pauline Christophe (Mary J. Todd McKenzie) on her deathbed requesting her priest mail four letters for her. Pauline dies soon after and the letters summon four distant relatives (Janee Michelle, Mike Evans, Xerona Clayton and Victor French) to her home for the funeral and will reading. But Pauline was a practitioner of voodoo and while her four relatives stay at the house, strange things begin to happen. Soon they start to mysteriously die one by one with evidence that voodoo is involved. Who or what is causing these deaths and has some evil force been awakened in The House On Skull Mountain?!
Flick is directed a bit by-the-numbers by Ron Honthaner from a script by Mildred Pares, but still can be spooky 70s fun. The voodoo element sets it apart a bit from most routine haunted house flicks and it’s too bad they didn’t use it with a bit more intensity till the last act. The film is rather tame with a PG rating and they could have had some more fun with the horror elements, which come off a bit subdued till the finale. Still there are visions of skulls, snakes and hooded figures and the house does actually sit on a mountain that looks like a skull. The SPFX are all delightfully cheesy…this was the 70s…and there is some atmospheric cinematography by Monroe Askins. The cast are all fairly wooden and while there seems to be some kind of interracial romantic interest brewing between Victor French’s Andrew and Janee Michelle’s Lorena, it fizzles out because of the fact that they, ultimately, are cousins. So why was it included at all? There is some corny dialogue to go along with the colorful costumes and charming old house and Honthaner does manage a few spooky scenes.
Overall, this is an enjoyable blaxploitation flick with some nice 70s nostalgia. It’s a bit tame and moderately paced, but there are a few spooky moments and the voodoo element adds a bit of a refreshing touch, even if it is a bit too subdued for it’s own good. The cast are all amusingly wooden and we get hints of an interracial romance between our leads that never materializes, though the tension is there for the entire film. Worth a look if you are a fan of 70s horror, blaxploitation flicks, or both.