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The House on Skull Mountain (1974)

Director: Ron Honthaner
Starring: Victor French, Janee Michelle, Mike Evans, Jean Durand
Rated PG Running time: 95 minutes
Released by 20th Century Fox

Bankrolled by Atlanta-area businessmen ("Chocolate Chip and Pinto Productions") and released theatrically by Twentieth Century Fox, House on Skull Mountain is one of the more mediocre releases in Fox's "Midnite Movies" series. When a wealthy black lady named Pauline Christophe (Mary J. Todd McKenzie) passes away, her heirs are summoned to the deceased's home, perched atop ominous Skull Mountain. Vying for the inheritance are friendly church lady Christian Harriet (Xernona Clayton), the attractive and sophisticated Lorena (Janee Michelle), jive-talking Phillippe (Mike Evans - "Lionel" from The Jeffersons), and Pauline's white great-grandson, Dr. Andrew Cunningham (Victor French of Highway to Heaven and Little House on the Prairie). Before the will can be read, the heirs start getting killed in mysterious circumstances. Could it be the angry ghost of the voodoo-practicing Pauline? Or maybe the obnoxious Phillippe? How about the shifty-eyed butler, Tomas (Jean Durand), who secretly holds voodoo rituals in the mansion's cellar?

You'd have to be an idiot not to realize who the killer is very early in the film (hint - it's the character whose eyes dart around suspiciously following a murder), so Skull Mountain fails to generate even Scooby-Doo levels of suspense. It looks and feels like a TV-movie, not surprising since director Ron Honthaner was a producer for the show Gunsmoke, and features no gore, nudity, or bad language. It's competently made, but dull beyond all belief. Only recommended if you are dying to hear Lionel Jefferson use the word "honky".

2 out of 5.

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