It can be difficult finding horror films of quality, so allow me to welcome you to your salvation from frustration. “Zena’s Period Blood” is here to guide you to the horror films that will make you say, “This is a good horror. Point blank. PERIOD.”
“Zena’s Period Blood” focuses on under-appreciated and hidden horror films.
The House on Skull Mountain is bizarre. The script has plot holes. Most of the acting doesn’t hold up. Some of the effects are ineffective. And certain scenes are tiresomely long. But with all this, it still has charm. Directed by Ron Honthaner, The House on Skull Mountain has become one of my all-time favorite films. How? Well, it turns any viewer into a director. First, you see the potential in the film. Second, you see the potential in yourself to make a good film.
Truthfully, I was first attracted to this film’s title, then its poster. Walking the aisles of my local film store as a child, I spotted the massive skull carved into the side of a mountain. A mansion was erected on the skull, and a woman plunged from the top of the mountain into the deep valley. Above this sight read a statement: Every Room is a Living Tomb. And below showed five unique faces above one question: Which of these five will come down alive? How could I not beg in that aisle until my mother added the film to her basket?
The House on Skull Mountain opens to elderly Pauline Christophe (Mary J. Todd McKenzie). Before her death, she mails a letter to each of her four great-grandchildren, requesting they come to her mansion above Skull Mountain in Atlanta. All four arrive moments after her burial. Questions surface about a great-grandmother and cousins they’ve never met—and even more about the will she left behind. Vague answers come from Pauline’s longtime butler Thomas Pettione (Jean Durand) and maid Louette (Ella Woods). The two are nowhere near helpful, especially as revelations of voodoo magic within the mansion begins tormenting and murdering the cousins one by one.
Now, I can jump into the overall cast, which featured the beautiful Janee Michelle (Scream Blacula Scream) as cousin Lorena Christophe or Victor French (Little House on the Prairie) as Doctor Cunningham, but I will focus solely on the man who stole the show: Jean Durand. He was intense as Thomas Pettione, first playing a devoted butler; next playing a powerful witch doctor. He reminded me of that serious uncle that your other aunts and uncles say, “He was even serious as a kid.” You know the one. That bald, bearded uncle who glares at you at the family reunion, like you took a deuce in the potato salad and camouflaged it in the mayonnaise. Yeah. Watch this movie and tell me he’s not that uncle.
Almost as bad as deuce-filled potato salad are bad special effects. I’ve seen many reviews bashing the effects in The House on Skull Mountain, raging about how there is no excuse for this unconvincing quality when Aliens came out in the same decade. Nonetheless, as a kid, the effects convinced me. Go back to your childhood. Imagine watching a woman’s spirit rise from a bed, stop, and wait for the body to rise—only to reenter the spirit as if everything is normal. That kind of stuff ends in nightmares—then it wakes you to your twin mattress holding your urine, your mother cleaning your shame, and your sister telling your friends. I would know.
Even with its low budget, plot holes, extended dance sequences and unconvincing effects, The House on Skull Mountain will keep you watching. I’ve read reviews condemning it to the boring pile of cinema; however, I’ve also perceived the subconscious implications in many reviewers’ words. For some reason, most people can’t help but see the potential in The House on Skull Mountain. Everyone I’ve watched it with has had suggestions about how to make it better, which makes me want some pensive director to take a stab at remaking it—addressing areas that failed. Now off course, you sit in front of each film expecting your precious time to be satiated with everything done perfectly. However, with The House on Skull Mountain, you find yourself knowing how to right the wrongs and discovering that quite possibly—you have the directing chops to make a great film. And that’s why you need to watch this film. Point Blank. Period.
In addition to contributing to Dread Central, Zena Dixon has been writing about all things creepy and horrific for over six years at RealQueenofHorror.com. She has always loved horror films and will soon be known directing her own feature-length horror. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @LovelyZena.