Mortuary (aKa Embalmed and Hall of Death) is a 1983 slasher film co-written, produced, and directed by Howard Avedis (They’re Playing with Fire, Scorchy, The Stepmother, Texas Detour, and The Teacher). It was co-written and produced by Marlene Schmidt (They’re Playing with Fire, Scorchy, The Stepmother, Texas Detour, and The Teacher). It was produced by Edward L. Montoro (Anthropophagus, Vigilante, Alley Cat, Beyond the Door, Pieces, Grizzly, Day of the Animals, The Dark, and Don’t Go in the House). It grossed $4.3 million at the box office.
Wealthy psychiatrist Dr. Parson (played by: Danny Rogers from Desperate Measures, Angel Town, and Talking Walls) is bludgeoned and drowned in his pool, an incident his daughter Christie (played by: Mary McDonough from Snowballing, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Funland) believes was murder, but which her mother Eve (played by: Lynda Day George from Pieces, Beyond Evil, Day of the Animals, and Mission: Impossible) insists was an accident. Several weeks later, Josh (played by: Denis Mandel from Happy Days), an ex-employee at a local mortuary, sneaks into the mortuary warehouse with Christie’s boyfriend Greg (played by: David Wysocki from Humongous, Money to Burn, Days of Our Lives, and General Hospital), planning to steal tires as compensation for unpaid wages from his boss Hank Andrews (played by: Christopher George from Pieces, Enter the Ninja, City of the Living Dead, Graduation Day, Grizzly, Day of the Animals, and The Exterminator). Inside, the two men observe an occult sabbath. Josh goes missing soon after. Greg confesses to Christie that he saw Eve in attendance at the sabbath he witnessed at the mortuary. Christie suspects her mother and Hank, whom Eve began dating weeks after her husband’s death are behind the strange things happening in their town. Paul (played by: Bill Paxton from Weird Science, Near Dark, Aliens, Predator 2, Fraility, The Terminator, Commando, and Streets of Fire), Hank’s son and an embalmer at the mortuary, vies for Christie’s attention. He is a little weird but he’s been dealing with his mother’s (played by: Donna Garrett from The Puppet Masters, Midnight Madness, and Drum) suicide so they think nothing of his bizarre behavior. People start getting killed off one by one, who is behind this madness? Is it the cult or someone else????
Mortuary won’t make many top slasher or 80’s horror lists but it’s a very solid entry for the slasher sub-genre. I thought the killer here looked cool. This one is not tame or anything but the body count is a little low here. It’s not loaded with gore or nudity like some others from that same time but it actually shines in other departments to make up for that. The script is better than typical slasher and it has some interesting subplots. For a lower budget 80’s horror feature, this one has more than a few familiar faces in it and the acting is really good in this. Christopher George and Lynda Day George always increased the quality of independent horror back in the day and this was no different. They were married in real life so they had great chemistry together on their cinematic collaborations. Bill Paxton was the best thing about Mortuary and he’s the main reason to check this out. It’s one of his best performances and you could see early on that he was going to be classic character actor one day. It had some good suspense and thrills with it’s twists. The finale is batshit crazy and it makes Mortuary better than what you expect. This one definitely deserves more attention, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from MVD Rewind! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer is a little different from the 2014 Scorpion Releasing blu ray when I compared the two home video releases. If you never upgraded that previous out of print version, this one is a solid upgrade compared to the older DVD and VHS home video releases from the past. The English: LPCM 2.0 Mono track sounds great here, this is a major improvement compared to the original releases. All of the dialogue is very clean, all the madness is elevated here, and the music has a killer boost to it. It also has English SDH subtitles.
Let;s discuss the special features from MVD Rewind! It has a little over 15 minute chat with the man behind the music here “Interview with Composer John Cacavas” moderated by Nathaniel Thompson. He doesn’t remember much from the production. He mainly chats about his career and other work in this. This archive interview is from the original Scorpion Releasing DVD from back in the day. It has a “Trailer” for the film. It has various MVD related “Trailers” such as House On Sorority Row, Dahmer, Mikey, One Dark Night and the 2005’s Mortuary on it. It comes with a really cool retro slipcover and a collectible mini poster. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!!