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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Teens > School > The Skulls Trilogy (Universal DVD)

The Skulls Trilogy (Universal DVD)


Picture Average: C     Sound Average: C-     Extras: C-



The Skulls: C

The Skulls II: C-

The Skulls III: C-



Milking a cow takes a few minutes and doesn’t cost a thing.  Milking a crappy franchise apparently takes three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The first Skulls movie, based around the real-life Skull and Bones secret society, spawned two direct-to-video sequels each more disappointing than the last.  Why, five years after the third movie, Universal decided they should release a trilogy set on DVD may be an even bigger mystery than the Skulls themselves.  These are not movies that invoke nostalgia or fond memories.  These are movies that make you wonder what else you might have spent that $7 on nine years ago.


Each movie follows some promising young college student who gets “tapped” to join The Skulls, the super secret society that everyone knows about.  Each is lured in with promises of money, power, and a really neat-o watch.  But inevitably someone get killed and our protagonists figure out that the secret, powerful, super-elite shadow organization are in fact the bad guys.


The first movie at least had good production values, took the time to show off its almost-too-picturesque sets, and boasted an impressive cast.  Starring Joshua Jackson (The Mighty Ducks, Dawson’s Creek) and Paul Walker (The Fast and The Furious franchise) the film also featured Craig T. Nelson (Coach, Poltergeist), and William Peterson (CSI, To Live & Die In L.A., Manhunter).  The second film had no big names to speak of, and the best the third could manage was Barry Bostwick, though fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer might recognize Season Five’s Clare Kramer.


Though undoubtedly the first movie started with better picture and sound quality than the two sequels, the scourge of a poorly authored DVD has put all three on an equal plane of mediocrity.  All three films are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and anamorphic widescreen, the first two with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the third with 1.75:1.


Only the first film has any extras and they’re on about the same scale as the film. There’s a making-of, a commentary track, cast biographies, and deleted scenes with or without director commentary.  The most informative extra is the production notes, but requires reading long blocks of on-screen text which honestly is the most annoying form that extra features come in.


The first movie was bad and the sequels only get worse.  The straight-to-video releases are so derivative that they repeat certain plot points and tropes faithfully from movie to movie.  The reasoning seems to be that if you liked the first, then you must like the next two so long as they’re exactly the same.  But it seems Universal hasn’t realized yet that they’re still milking a cow that went dry years ago.



-   Matthew Carrick


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