Wicked Wednesday: The House on Skull Mountain

People in a potentially-haunted mansion wanting money is one of my favourite horror movie tropes. The Haunting and The House on Haunted Hill both immediately spring to mind. So take that, add some voodoo and a skull-shaped mountain, and I’m completely sold.

Just before matriarch Pauline Christophe dies, she asks her priest to deliver four letters to her family. She soon dies after opening a box containing some voodoo items.

After receiving their letters, members of the Cristophe family begin to arrive at Pauline’s home. First to meet are Lorena and the sex pest Phillipe.

Phillipe is a piece of work. He nearly runs Lorena off the mountainous road. He hits on Louette, the butler’s very-much wife. When he learns that the reading of Pauline’s will must be delayed until the fourth member of the guests arrives, he behaves like a child.

As well as being joined by their cousin Harriet, the family is eventually joined by anthropologist Dr Andrew Cunningham, a white man. Phillipe is, unsurprisingly, hostile towards Andrew.

Later that night, Phillipe is put under a spell as the butler Thomas begins to perform voodoo on the young man. Phillipe falls to his death in the elevator shaft. As his death is suspicious, the remaining family must stay until Phillipe’s death is resolved. Only they soon find out that none of them is safe. The voodoo objects around the home are seemingly targeting them. It will take voodoo magic, tricks and the spirit of Henri Christophe, the first king of Haiti to save the family.

The House on Skull Mountain is a pretty enjoyable magical house horror film (I can’t really use haunted here, so this new subgenre will just have to do). Janee Michelle as Lorena is stunning, a very cool Black final girl. It’s a shame that she couldn’t be the one to save the day.

There are, of course, issues with this movie. Namely that the script chooses to make the white man the master of voodoo and a true embodiment of Henri Cristophe, a real-life hero of Haiti. It’s a pretty bad choice. But Black actors doing cool things on screen? It’s a pretty fun Blaxploitation horror, though one that I would actually love to see a remake of.

Shout out to Zena’s Real Queen of Horror channel on YouTube, where I first learned about this film. She seriously makes some excellent content and lists!

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