Sunday, August 26, 2012

MORTUARY (1983)


I admit, the main reason I chose to see this flick was because of Mary McDonough whom I find to be the most appealing. The ex-WALTONS star plays Christie, a rather troubled teen who’s convinced her deceased dad have been murdered. Her mom, Linda Day George of PIECES fame ("Bastaaard!"), is not that easily persuaded. That is until she meets the grim reaper himself in the form of Bill Paxton. He plays the mortuary son and he’s a little cuckoo if not heavily enamoured with McDonough. When he kidnaps the latter and plans to embalm her so they can be together forever (huh?), it’s up to McDonough’s boyfriend (David Wallace from the delectable HUMONGOUS) to save the day. But does he really?


The last time I saw MORTUARY was about 20 years ago. It played on late night TV one summer. I taped it, enjoyed it to a certain degree, and forgot about it—until it got resurrected recently on DVD via Scorpion Releasing. Of course I had to get myself a copy. This time around, the film (in a brand new 16X9 HD master from the original InterNegative) comes with an extra featurette focusing on score composer John Cacavas. It isn’t much but I’m willing to take anything regarding long lost treasures such as this one.

 

The film is far from being perfect, starting with the misleading but effective movie trailer which focuses on Michael Berryman (one of the baddies in the original THE HILLS HAVE EYES) digging a grave. Trouble is, his involvement with the project stops right there. Yes, boys and girls, his presence is nowhere to be found in the feature. What we get instead is a lot of McDonough stalking and nothing of roaring creatures living underneath the cemetery ground. Would MORTUARY have been better had it been a creature feature flick? Perhaps. But you still have to give the film credits for delivering the goods in a Z-grade way. My favorite over the top moment has got to be when just-been-stalked-in-her-home Christie goes from hysterical to happy in a blink of an eye. She even toasts with her mom to their new-found relationship. I guess cheating death doesn’t hold a candle to the love a mother and daughter share.

Moreover, the whole hidden identity of the white paint faced killer is totally ludicrous. Mr. Paxton doesn’t fool us one bit. Even though the director tries hard to hide the star’s identity with mostly long shot scenes of him in action, it doesn’t take Einstein to figure Paxton out. And when we do, all we have left is to laugh at and with the film. Because, truth be told, it is a joy to follow those onscreen kids around during the early ‘80s when roller skating and pulling pranks ruled. Of course, female nudity is required—but not too much! Just as long as it involves a body double, as star McDonough can surely attest using. And all in all, if "taken with a grain of salt" is what best describes this low-budget flick, then more power to it I say. For it has only one purpose: to hold our interest till the very end, and that’s what MORTUARY achieves doing without a doubt.

 
Until next post—Martin