Cinema: Stiff Competitors

The lid of the coffin rises. Inside are five words: THIS IS RESERVED FOR YOU. The sound track takes over. "Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to see a motion picture that may kill you. We guarantee free burial service to anyone who dies of fright."

So begins the prologue to American International Pictures' The Screaming Skull—a sample of just the sort of thoughtful, steam-heated promotion that sucks the bloodthirsty into U.S. movie houses. Pushers of cinemonsters know that one ghoul is about as good as another, and so the proceeds of horror films must depend on eerie drumbeating.

The most attractive promotion...

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