The Screaming Skull
Directed by: Alex Nicol
Produced by: John Kneubuhl,
T. Frank Woods
John Coots
Written by: Budd Schulberg
Starring: John Hudson
Peggy Webber
Russ Conway
Runtime: 68 mins.
Country: United States
Language: English
Distributed by: American International Pictures

The Screaming Skull is a 1958 science fiction film directed by Alex Nicol. This film was parodied on the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Plot summaryEdit

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Newlyweds Jenni and Eric return to the home of Eric and his now deceased first wife. At the home they meet Eric's friends, the Reverend and Mrs. Snow, as well as Mickey, the gardener.

During a visit from the local minister, Rev. Snow, and his wife, Jenni learns that Eric's late wife drowned in a lily pond behind the house. In a gesture of conciliation with Mickey, who was attached to Eric's late wife, she offers to place lilies on the grave of Eric's late wife, who is buried on the grounds.

Soon Jenni begins to believe the ghost of Eric's first wife is haunting her. She sees a skull in her dreams, and her fears become real when a skull rolls towards her on the living room carpet. She comes to believe she is being haunted by Eric's late wife's ghost. As the haunting continues Jenni begins to lose her mind, and Eric tells Rev. Snow that she may end up back in a sanatarium.

At first, Eric leads Jenni to believe it is Mickey who is tricking her into seeing the skull. But when they burn a picture of his first wife together, Jenni sees a skull in the ashes. Eric sees it, too, but tells her it's not there. Then he hides the skull in the lily pond. When he returns to retrieve it, it is gone.

Later, when Jenni is frightened again, she runs up the stairs to Eric, who tries to choke her to death. But she survives, and Eric, tormented and attacked by a screaming skull, runs screaming from the house and tumbles into the lily pond, drowning.

Jenni, who has gone insane, is rescued by Rev. Snow and his wife, who surmise that Eric may well have killed his first wife, too, and had been seeking his new wife's fortune by causing her to go insane.

Spoilers end here.


Actor Role
John Hudson Eric Whitlock
Peggy Webber Jenni Whitlock
Russ Conway Rev. Edward Snow
Tony Johnson Mrs. Snow
Alex Nicol Mickey, the gardener


  • The film opens with a promise by the studio to offer free burial services to anyone who dies of fright from watching it.
  • Mickey, the gardener, is played by the director, Alex Nicol.
  • It is believed that the film is based on Francis Marion Crawford's horror story of the same title, first published ca.1906.
  • This was the last film to be featured (and mocked) on the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Selected quoteEdit

  • ”The Screaming Skull" is a motion picture that reaches its climax in shocking horror. It's impact is so terrifying that it may have an unforeseen effect. It may *kill* you! Therefore, its producers feel they must assure free burial services to anyone who dies of fright while seeing the Screaming Skull." - The Narrator, from the opening.

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