Mortuary

You’d be forgiven for thinking Mortuary is a zombie film, what with the poster art (right) and the admonition that “before you are covered with the last shovelful of dirt…be sure you are really dead.”

However, Fulciesque pretenses aside, this one is a reasonably straight-ahead slasher film, with witch coven/witching action sprinkled about for an extra smidgen of visual and narrative interest.

Two college students are skulking about in a mortuary, which looks like a Lower Manhattan garment factory for some reason. One of them (Josh) goes missing after the other (Greg) witnesses some kind of seance in which the participants are dressed like Supreme Court Justices.

He bolts, and asks around the local roller rink as to where oh where his buddy went. With enough disco boogieing to pad the lean running time, he’s off with his girlfriend, Christie, who in the film’s outset, loses her father to a baseball-wielding assailant (with the vic being ever so gently nudged, rather than swatted like A-Rod, and bunted into a pool and left to drown).

Christie is tormented by her pop’s demise, and doesn’t buy the police explanation (along with the bulk of the viewing audience) that his death was an accident.

But this is called Mortuary for a reason, barely.

There’s an antagonist with pasty white makeup stalking her, creeping around in the bushes wielding a trocar, the implement of choice for sucking fluids out of bodies (posthumously, that is, probably. Not for lipo). So this leaves little to no doubt about who the perp is, as there are only two characters connected to the mortuary, one, a mortician and the other, the owner of the business, played by Christopher George.

There’s a stand-out performance from a young Bill Paxton (Twister/A Simple Plan) and George’s wife co-stars alongside her hubby, who sadly, shuffled off his mortal coil shortly thereafter, speaking of mortuaries.

*** (out of 5)

[Check out our Mortuary podcast]!

Murder Party

Didn’t we learn anything from Lamberto Bava’s Demons? Never accept a weird party invite (in that one, it should’ve been even easier to heed that advice too. The guy wandering around in a silver mask in a Berlin train station was one odd dude). In Murder Party, the protagonist, Christopher, is a lonely sad-sack. (How do we know this? The pet cat/single guy speaks volumes, even as he doesn’t)…So any socialization will do, even an invite that instructs him to “come alone.”

Christopher’s wandering around a New York borough when he spots said Halloween party invite on the ground, directions to a “Murder Party.”

And perhaps inspired by his hairy feline, Sir Lancelet, or the boys in Monty Python, he heads to his humble apartment and slaps together a Crusader costume from cardboard and duct tape and ventures out into the night a passable knight.

Chris makes his way to a not-yet-gentrified part of Brooklyn, wanders down an alley, and enters a sprawling warehouse space. It’s there that a group of art students take him hostage, all part of some diabolical plan to maybe turn the taciturn parking enforcement officer into some kind of hipster inspiration for a Death of Marat. The art school crew comes bedecked in Hammer Horror vampire, Warriors-related attire to name a few.

The collective, true “fauves” conspire to make Chris’ death, the life of their art, and debate how they’re going to go about doing it and which medium they’ll choose.

Murder Party shows a real flare for exterior horrors, even as the bulk of the film takes place in one space. There are some choice digs at the cloistered world of modern art, and few punches are pulled with racy banter.

The third act kind of dries up after an inspired start. Still, there’s a lot of fun and for an indie horror, it’s executed oh so well.