[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The_Screaming_Skull.JPG]]

->'''Narrator:''' ''The Screaming Skull'' is a motion picture that reaches its climax in shocking horror.
->'''[[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 Mike Nelson]]:''' But we cut that.
->'''Narrator:''' Its impact is so terrifying that it may have an unforeseen effect...it may kill you.
->'''[[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 Tom Servo]]:''' If you watch it in front of a moving bus.
->''[The camera pans over a coffin with a "Reserved For You" sign inside]''
->'''Narrator:''' Therefore, its producers feel they must assure free burial services to anyone who dies of fright while seeing ''The Screaming Skull''.
->'''[[Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000 Crow]]:''' Offer void in Utah, Florida and Arizona. Taxes and acquisition fee not included. Must take delivery of dealer's stock.
-->-- the film's OpeningNarration, more or less

Meet a lovely couple of newlyweds, Eric and Jenni. Eric is a widower who inherited his late wife Marian's palatial country home after she died in an unfortunate and mysterious accident. Jenni is a wealthy young nervous wreck fresh out of an asylum. Oh, and there's also [[CrustyCaretaker Mickey the gardener]], he of unkempt hair and [[ManChild a child's mentality]], who claims that Marian "cries in the night" and dislikes Jenni as an unwanted replacement. Now they're all going to spend a few days in a huge, empty mansion echoing with the ghosts of the past, with nothing to hide their emotional baggage. WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong

Screaming Skulls, that's what. Jenni starts to hear unexplained screeches at night, and stumbles upon skulls that disappear by the time she brings someone else to see them. Is the ghost of Marian hanging around to drive Jenni away? Is this all Mickey's doing, who underneath his mildly retarded exterior hides the shrewd mind of a psychological torturer? Is Jenni suffering another mental breakdown? Or is Eric a murderer -- dispatching Marian for the mansion and attempting to do it again to Jenni so he can inherit her fortune?

Actually, though it's [[TheUnTwist transparently obvious]] that Eric is the BigBad, he's not the only one playing with skulls. His attempts to [[DrivenToSuicide drive Jenni to suicide]] (or at least create a condition in which her ending up hanging from the ceiling won't be questioned too much) go well until Mickey swipes the skull Eric's been leaving for Jenni to find and exposes him for the murderer that he is. At the film's climax, when Eric goes looking for his missing skull, Marian's ghost really ''does'' show up, and a veritable pack of semi-translucent skulls hound Eric across the estate before one attaches itself to his neck and brings him down in a pond, drowning him.

This 1958 American horror film was directed by Alex Nicol and originally released by Creator/AmericanInternationalPictures in a double-feature package with ''Film/TerrorFromTheYear5000''. A cross between Creator/AlfredHitchcock's ''Literature/{{Rebecca}}'' and George Cukor's ''Film/{{Gaslight}}'', it would be a mere footnote were it not for its appearance (along with the {{Gumby}} short ''RobotRumpus'') in [[Recap/MysteryScienceTheater3000S09E12TheScreamingSkull episode #912]] of ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000''.
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!!Tropes used in ''The Screaming Skull'':

* AlasPoorYorick: "She ''[[IncrediblyLamePun threw]]'' him well!"
* [[StringyHairedGhostGirl Bare Skulled Ghost Girl]]: In a frilly sun dress and huge floppy hat.
* TheBluebeard: Eric.
* BreakTheCutie: Jenni comes pre-broken, for your convenience.
* CoolCar: "Yes, Shocking Horror rides in style in your 1953 Mercedes!"
* CreatorCameo: Director Alex Nicol as Mickey.
* CrustyCaretaker: Mickey.
* DemBones: Marian has a surprising number of skulls under her command.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: Mickey's intro.
-->'''Eric:''' That's where Mickey keeps his gardening things.
-->'''Jenni:''' Who's Mickey?
-->'''Eric:''' (''without a trace of annoyance'') The gardener.
-->'''Crow:''' As previously implied.
* DomesticAbuser: Murder aside, Eric "forbids" his new wife to mention disturbing issues.
* DrivenToSuicide: Jenni attempted it prior to the movie. This, or having her declared incompetent, seems to be Eric's goal.
* DullSurprise: Believe it or not, the best example doesn't come from Jenni, but Reverend Snow when he finds [[spoiler:Eric's dead body]].
* {{Fanservice}}: Gratuitous shots of Jenni stripping down to her undergarments. Unfortunately...
** Your mileage may vary. Peggy Webber has a ''phenomenal'' body. The degree of her hotness has been a subject of contentious debate in MST3K fandom.
* {{Gaslighting}}: Eric's plan to drive Jenni insane and get control of her money.
* GetOnWithItAlready: At least a third of the film is Jenni listening to someone knocking at the door without opening it.
* GoldDigger: Eric is a rare male version.
* [[HeyItsThatGuy Hey It's That Gal]]: Peggy Webber, who played the nervous, panicky Jenni, played a nervous, panicky mother in ''Film/TheSpaceChildren''.
** Peggy Webber was also one of Jack Webb's group of favored actors on ''Franchise/{{Dragnet}}''. The only woman who appeared more on that show was Virginia Gregg.
* InNameOnly: Has pretty much nothing to do with the F. Marion Crawford short story (which is worth reading-- check it out [[http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/scremskl.htm here]]).
* ISeeDeadPeople: Possibly Mickey at first, then Eric and Jenni later.
* IWishedYouWereDead: One big source of Jenni's angst.
* JumpCut: An unintentional example: Most prints, including the ''MST3K'' version, contain a really bad splice from the scene where Jenni approaches the banging window to running toward Eric's arms. In between all that was when she locked the window and became frightened by a scary-looking portrait of a woman
-->'''Servo''': Oh, the film broke and it was horrible!
* KickTheDog: Eric's treatment of Mickey - though in this case it's more "Repeatedly Bitchslap The Dog".
* LeaveTheCameraRunning: "Uh, movie? Do you need a push or something?"
* LeftHanging: The cast never learns whether Marian died in an accident or Eric killed her, though for the audience, the fact that her ghost returned to take vengeance on Eric makes the latter case pretty clear.
* ManChild: Mickey.
* MakeItLookLikeAnAccident: Eric's ''modus operandi'', assuming he actually killed Marian.
* MinimalistCast: There are exactly five on-screen characters in this film: Eric, Jenni, Reverend Snow, Mrs. Snow, and Mickey. That's it.
* MisterExposition: Eric slips into this a few times.
-->'''Eric:''' It's rather forbidding now, I suppose, empty like this. But it was usually this way. Shortly after Marian and I were married, she removed all the furniture her parents had left her. "This is our home," she used to say. "We must choose everything carefully."
-->'''Crow:''' Is he reading from a report?
-->'''Eric:''' She didn't get very far before she died. But now that you're here, everything will be lovely again.
-->'''Mike:''' And that ends my narration.
* MostDefinitelyNotAVillain: The audience spends the entire movie waiting for them to admit that Eric's the bad guy.
* MurderIsTheBestSolution: Eventually, Eric decides this. Presumably he would try and make it look like a suicide or accident, as he did with Marion.
** Before she ran in screaming he was hanging a noose from the ceiling. Choking was no problem since she'd be in the noose when found and that town really doesn't bother investigating murders. Besides, he pretty much promised the reverend that she was going to kill herself.
* PoliceAreUseless: The cast seems to think so, since they don't bother to contact any even after Eric dies.
* PosthumousCharacter: Marian.
* RealAfterAll: Choke on ''that'', Eric!
* TheReveal: After Jenni faints from terror at seeing a skull in the fire that Eric swears isn't there, he smugly retrieves the skull and hides it, giving away that he's the bad guy for the tiny handful of viewers who hadn't already guessed it.
* RedHerring: Why, the creepy, child-like gardener the movie constantly shoves into your face at every opportunity and who does not profit even slightly from driving Jenni insane or killing his childhood friend Marian is not, in fact, at all responsible for the events of this film. [[SarcasmMode Gasp!]]
** Do you need a motive if you're AxeCrazy?
** No, but Mickey is plain old, harmless crazy. He never hurts or threatens anyone.
* ReplacementGoldfish: Jenni can't help but see herself this way. Especially since Eric ''constantly'' talks about his first wife when she's around.
* ScreamingWoman: "I think the title was supposed to be 'Screaming, ''semicolon'', Skull.'"
* SoundtrackDissonance: "Yeah, when you think 'shocking horror,' you think German oomp-pah music."
** Creator/StanleyKubrick thought it was. The score is Ernest Gold's adaptation of "Dies Irae" (Day of Wrath) theme from the fifth movement (Dream of a Witches' Sabbath) of Music/HectorBerlioz's ''Symphonie Fantastique'', which was [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mzNO6MzFEg the opening theme]] to ''Film/TheShining''. For bonus points, Gold won the AcademyAward for ''Exodus'' two years later.
** The music in the earlier parts of the film isn't so bad, but the music at the supposedly shocking climax, maybe just due to technical ineptitude, ends up sounding like the music to some slapstick cartoon. It doesn't help that it accompanies scenes like Eric falling down goofily and skulls bouncing around after him. The MST3K treatment even lampshades this.
--->'''Mike:''' It's "WesternAnimation/BugsBunny sneaking up" music.
* TilMurderDoUsPart
* ThoseTwoGuys: The Reverend and Mrs. Snow basically amount to this.
* TouchOfTheMonster: Just look at that poster up there!
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