The Skull

Synopsis: A collector of esoterica, Dr. Maitland, buys an unusual skull from his ordinary source of artifacts. The skull is what remains of marquis De Sade. Much too soon he discovers how the skull affects him: by turning him into a frenzied killer.
83 min


What are you doing here?

Aren't you pleased to see me? Hm?

Get out!

I said get out.

And quickly!

You're usually glad to see me.

- Yes, but...

- Why else did you give me your key?

Yes, but...not now.

I've got to be alone tonight.








For 90 to Sir Matthew Phillips.

Thank you.

Hard luck, Mr Maitland.

Better luck next time.

Oh, it's all in the game, Marco.

Item number 73, four stone figures.

Mid-17th century, sculptor unknown.

Made after descriptions in the admirable

history of Father Sebastien Michaelis.

The figures represent the hierarchies of hell.

Lucifer, who commands all.

Next under Lucifer,

the Prince of the Seraphim

who tempts men with pride.


And now the demon who tempts men

with heresies

and sins repugnant under faith.


And finally, Prince of the fallen Cherubim,

who tempts men to be quarrelsome

and contentious

and to commit murder.


Now, who will open the bidding?


You'd better stop, Mr Maitland.

He's got more money than you have.


1,500. 1,500 once.

1,500 twice.

Sold to Sir Matthew Phillips.

Ladies and gentlemen,

it is now ten past one,

so I suggest we break for lunch

and resume the sale at 2.30 this afternoon

with item number 75.

Item number 74 having been withdrawn.

Matthew, those figures aren't worth

anything near how much you paid.

Even I was over-bidding.

What did you want them for?

I thought they'd go well with my collection,

for the right price.

Why did you want them so badly?

I don't know. I really don't know.

Good evening. Is Mr Maitland at home?

I'll see if he's at home, Mr Marco.

It's all right, Denise. I'll see Mr Marco.

Good evening, Mrs Maitland.

May I see your husband?

- I'm sure he will see me.

- I'm afraid he's busy.

He's never too busy to see me.

If you'll kindly tell him I'm here.


- Marco's here again.

- Ah.

- I told him you were busy.

- Has he brought anything with him?

He's carrying a bag.

I can't bear that man.

Why do you have to do business with him?

Darling, you know I need research materials.

He's the one who can get them for me.

- I'm afraid. I'm afraid for you.

- You needn't be afraid of Marco.

It's because people all through the ages

have been influenced and terrorised

by these things

that I carry out research

to find the reasons why.

It's all part of the unknown.

- The unknown's always intriguing.

- And sometimes dangerous.

My husband WILL see you, Mr Marco.

Good evening, Mr Maitland.

Good evening. Won't keep you a moment.

I'm sorry to come unannounced and so late.

- I hope I'm not intruding.

- What have you got for me?

Something choice.

- Very choice.

- Why don't you show me?

The life of the notorious Marquis de Sade,

the man whose name has become the symbol

of cruelty and savagery that is in all of us.


The Marquis de Sade was born in 1740,

of distinguished Provenale lineage.

He was a handsome young man

when he joined his cavalry regiment -

pale, delicate, looked like an angel.

With the soul of a devil.

He began to write books

filled with the pleasure of inflicting pain.

It was rumoured that he practised sorcery,

making sacrifices of blood to his master,

the Devil.

These were only rumours.

It was the facts, his offences against society,

which sent the Marquis to prison

over and over again.

He ended his days

confined as a lunatic

with an eternal hatred of all mankind.

A most interesting man.

A most interesting book.

How much do you want for it?


Look at the binding.

- What's it made of?

- Skin.

Human skin. So, you see it is very special.

Where did you get this book?

I didn't think you were so particular.

Look at these other things.

The crux ansata fashioned from a thigh bone.

That shrivelled hand of glory

stolen from a grave in Mainz.

This knife, Gilles de Rais's,

the notorious wife murderer.

Hm. Bluebeard.

You didn't enquire into THEIR pedigree.

- I needed them for my work.

- Yes, I know.

Demonology, black magic, witchcraft.

I've read your books.


200, not a penny less.

Think of it - a deeper look into your world

of fantasy and imagination.

And how useful for your research!

Ah! Cash, please.

Of course.


Oh, by the way,

I may have another item for you.

Perhaps tomorrow night.

But it will require somewhat more than this,

if you want it.

You're always welcome here,

whenever you have something interesting.

I think you'll find that what I have for you

is most interesting.

- Good night, Mr Maitland.

- Good night.

- I'll tell Mr Maitland you're...

- Mr Maitland is expecting me.

- Did you enjoy the book?

- Very much.

I hope what you've brought me tonight

is just as interesting.

A beauty, isn't it?

So small and delicate.

It would be a worthy addition

to anybody's collection.

All I'm asking for it is 1,000.


For a human skull?


Oh, Mr Maitland!

What do you take me for?

Do you think I'd bring you just an ordinary

human skull?

Do you imagine I'd ask you for 1,000

for a skull of a nobody?

1,000, Mr Maitland, and cheap at the price.

You'll pay it gladly when you know the story.

Marco, I wouldn't pay that price

for Napoleon's skull.

I think you'll find the owner of this skull

a great deal more interesting.

You see before you the skull

of Donatien Alphonse Francois.

Marquis de Sade.

What proof have you?

Do you happen to have a copy of

Havelock Ellis's Studies?

Yes, they're over there by the mask.

In the section named La Fontaine

there is something you might find

rather interesting.

A short time after the Marquis de Sade

was buried at Charenton in 1814,

his skull was stolen from his grave.

The man who stole it was a phrenologist.

Such was his interest, professionally,

in de Sade,

he wanted to see if an examination

of the skull would show

whether the Marquis was truly insane.


A few clays later, the executor of

the phrenologists estate, a friend of his,

a certain Dr Londe...

Ah! Too many things.

It'll take weeks and weeks of work.

What's this?

- Who are you?

- I am the executor of Monsieur's estate.

Oh. Well, continue. I shan't disturb you.

Yes, but excuse me. Er... Who are you?

But I asked you who you were.

Who do you think I am? His mother? Hm?

We were colleagues.

He was really devoted to his work.

Perhaps that was the trouble.

- Too devoted.

- What do you mean?

Is there perhaps something

that you should tell me?

He brought something back with him

the night he was killed.

He didn't show it to me. He took it in there.

What could it have been?

I don't know.

But whatever it was it...changed him.

Changed him? In what way?

The way he spoke to me.

He never had before.

He was always gentle, kind.

- And you think that this thing changed him?

- Yes. It made him evil!


I wonder what it could have been.

I don't know.

If you'll excuse me, I'll get my things.

I wonder what it was.

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Robert Bloch

Robert Albert Bloch was an American fiction writer, primarily of crime, horror, fantasy and science fiction, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is best known as the writer of Psycho, the basis for the film of the same name by Alfred Hitchcock. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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