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]!

Nightmare Beach

With a motorcycle madman who retrofits his ride with an electrified trident to zap unlucky spring breakers, Nightmare Beach is indeed quite a nightmare — even if few of the kills take place amidst the sun and sand for budgetary reasons.

College students are going missing in fictional Manatee Beach, a city that’s also dealing with the scourge of the Demons biker gang, who wear patches identical to the yellow font used in the Lamberto Bava film of the same name.

The gang terrorizes the local hang-out, Nick’s bar, but this is in no way a call out to It’s a Wonderful Life. What is wonderful though, is this movie, a giallo / slasher pastiche that squeezes out silliness like sunscreen.

There’s a wet blanket college football star, Skip, who distinguished himself in the Rose Bowl by flinging interceptions like a blindfolded Baker Mayfield (or hell, a sighted one). Despite the surfeit of 80s beach babes, cheap booze and pelvic thrusting, Skip simply can’t get into the Spring Break spirit. His buddy Ronny does, chasing skirts like there’s no tomorrow, and eventually falling prey to the masked motorbike killer, who also garrotes his vics when his ride is double-parked.

Unfortunately for Manatee Beach, the only thing standing in the way of both the bikers and the antagonist, is the glowering toupeed presence of law enforcement, John Saxon in a role not dissimilar from his part in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Suffice it to say, it’s up to the non-star quarterback to see what’s up and find out how to stop the worst thing to happen to the state of Florida since Ted Bendy (or maybe Ariana Grande).

There’s so much to like here. There’s the set piece nuttiness of Umberto Lenzi efforts like Nightmare City, a cochlea-pricking soundtrack of knock-off Sunset Strip metal, and naturally, a bevy of babes.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[check out the Really Awful Movies Podcast discussion of Nightmare Beach!]