THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE
Some of Edward L. Cahns B movies are rather entertaining. Such alas cannot be said for The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake. The film has an effective opening where we see Paul Wexlers native Indian with his lips sewn shut appearing to Paul Cavanaugh, touching the stiletto to his neck and Cavanaugh collapsing; then a few minutes later, the funeral being held and Cavanaughs brother Eduard Franz opening the coffin to find that the head has been removed from the body, followed by Franz taking daughter Valerie French to the mausoleum to see the collection of shrunken skulls. We also get a detailed scene where we see the head taken from the body and being shrunken. As the Indian, Paul Wexler has an unusual presence with tall height, long-boned face and sewn-up lips, he looking for all the world like a young Christopher Lee.
However, after such a promising beginning, Edward L. Cahns direction turns flat and prosaic. Despite the various killings and head shrinkings, the film mostly consists of static and talky scenes. Cahns pace is pedestrian throughout. Indeed, despite The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake having a better budget than many of Edward L. Cahns films at American International Pictures The She-Creature, Voodoo Woman they have a much more lurid spirit and imaginative verve than anything here.
What it feels like we have here is where someone had ordered Cahn and the writer to make a film about shrunken heads. The issue of shrunken heads and the real-life Jivaro Indians (who live in the Amazonian rainforest areas of Ecuador and Peru) had just come into popular fascination in the 1950s after several books were published about their head-shrinking practices. It seems more than likely that The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake came about after some studio head decided it would make for a good sensationalistic novelty topic of the moment to exploit.
Full film available online here:-