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]!

Horror Movie Dictionary: Blood

I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” That’s from Macbeth.

Gory visuals of blood can cause a significant drop in both heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the amount of oxygenated blood flow to the brain. In a Ohio University study, more than 27% of respondents said they feared fainting before donating blood, compared with the figure of people who actually faint (4%). Blood injury and injection (BII) phobia is a really common psychiatric disorder

There’s a reason blood is so liberally deployed in horror films.

The real tragedy as far as the horror movie genre is concerned, is that scary films are seldom critically lauded except when there’s restraint when it comes to blood and gore.

Mass market sanguine-free supernatural releases are among the few times the tower gatekeepers descend from the parapets and deign it worthy to review a horror film. Occasionally, relatively bloodless slashers slip through the cracks (Halloween and Child’s Play were warmly received).

Blood doesn’t make a good movie bad, nor the reverse. And handled correctly it’s a showstopper. Handled incorrectly and it’s a CG mess, covering up sloppy film-making like a rust-bucket’s paint-job. Evil Dead, Blood Feast, and Dead Alive are a few of our favorite syrupy, bloody messes (for those interested in Blood Feast, listen to our podcast interview with maverick splatter-horror director, the late H.G. Lewis)

Oddly, many films with blood in their title aren’t all that particularly bloody (and there are a LOT of plasma-related movies: Bloody Wednesday, Blood Hook, Silent Night, Bloody Night, Blood Rage, etc, etc). But that’s probably just marketing.

Of note, two of most influential films in the entire horror canon have blood in their title, Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast, and Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood.