Saturday, April 28, 2018
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Monster Squad: "The Skull"
In “The Skull,” a criminal master-mind called The Skull (Geoffrey Lewis) sets a plan in motion to awaken and re-animate all the evil geniuses in man’s history. He decides to start with a famous Mummy, King “Toot.”
Using the bandaged villain, The Skull plans to steal the 10 million dollar Selma Diamond.
Meanwhile, it is Frankenstein’s birthday and the Monster Squad celebrates the day before tangling with the Skull.
When Frankenstein is captured by Skull and Toot, his friends must come to the rescue.
Although, like most episodes of Monster Squad (1976), “The Skull” isn’t particularly good, it is notable, perhaps because it hits so many mid-1970s Zeitgeist notes.
For instance, the episode involves an ‘energy crisis’ -- a key term in the era of OPEC embargoes and gas
Secondly, there was a resurgence of interest in King Tut in the pop culture of the 1970s, and this episode transforms him into an evil henchman.
Thirdly, there is talk of “black outs” in the episode, another perennial problem of the mid-decade span.
Besides these specific 1970s touchstones, the episode actually features some new turns in the by-now highly repetitive formula.
For example, the Skull escapes the climactic fight and flees to a graveyard, forcing the werewolf to fight him there. The graveyard set is terribly cheap looking -- you can see the grass “sheet” moving back and forth as a battle in an open grave commences – but at least the episode doesn’t rely on the frequently seen final free-for-all or melee in the villain’s HQ that is usually featured.
Also, this is a nice episode for the Frankenstein Monster, who celebrates his birthday, and is threatened with death by electrocution by the Skull. He survives, and even gets a “charge” out of his experience, but the character holds center stage well.
As Monster Squad episodes go, this is the most tolerable entry since “Ultra Witch.”
Next week: “The Weatherman.”