"The Skull" is a 1965 Amicus production that treats fans to the pairing of horror legends Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Inspired by a story by Robert Bloch [who also wrote Psycho], "The Skull" stars Cushing as Dr Maitland, an occult collector, who likes to study arcane objects. His 'frenemy' is Sir Matthew Phillips [Christopher Lee], and the pair are portrayed as rivals for the acquisition of rare occult artifacts. One night, Marco, a dealer in such objects, sells Maitland a biography of the Marquis de Sade, which is unique as it is bound in human skin. Later, Marco tempts Maitland with the promise of the skull of the infamous sadist, believed to be cursed, and to possess supernatural powers. When Phillips [Lee] comes to know that Maitland is interested in the marquis' skull, he warns Maitland against acquiring it, telling him the skull is evil and will possess it's owner. The rest of the movie centers on what Maitland does and the consequences.
Though the movie is carried by Cushing, who plays the lead role, Lee's role is not insignificant, though he only appears in a few scenes. The chemistry shared by these two legends is palpable, and I loved the way they interacted, portraying a friendly rivalry that has been seen again and again in other movies. The movie is also highly atmospheric, which is one reason I love horror movies of this period. Though the actual special effects are cheesy by today's standards, the atmosphere, setting, and especially acting elevate these movies to classic status. The DVD features are quite pitiful really, but I'd still say this is a must-have for fans of period horror, and classic horror.