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Home | Film Reviews | Film Review: Mortuary (1983)

Film Review: Mortuary (1983)

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Convinced that her father’s death was not accidental, a beautiful girl decides to investigate to find out the truth, aided by her boyfriend. Her sleuthing draws her to a local mortuary, where many secrets will be revealed.


Director – Howard Avedis
Starring – Mary Beth McDonough, David Wallace, Bill Paxton, Lynda Day George

From low-budget producer and director Howard Avedis comes this serviceable if not somewhat strange horror movie from the early eighties. Notable also for being one of the early films of Bill Paxton, who just happened to get his start with none other than Roger Corman. Wait, hasn’t everyone in Hollywood got their start with Roger Corman? Seriously, forget six degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon, you’d end up with maybe two degrees if you played with Roger Corman.

But all that aside, Mortuary isn’t that bad of a movie. Sure it can be cheesy and very dated in parts (it has a scene with a roller rink that has a large disco ball in the middle) but overall a decent entry for the horror of the time. Which basically means you get young people being stalked by a masked killer, some gratuitous nudity and a synthesizer score. Gotta love the eighties!

Poor Christie has some problems. Her dad died by somewhat mysterious circumstances in the pool. Her mom says it was a suicide but Christie and we the audience know better. He was murdered. We even get to see it happen in the opening scene. Two whacks with a baseball bat in slow motion and into the pool he goes. Christie sees her dad lying in the pool and runs in slow motion to help him. Obviously it ends up being an unintentionally funny scene.

Five months later and Christie is still haunted by her father’s death. Not only is she sleepwalking but is also terrorized by a mysterious man in a black robe and mask. But that’s not all. Her mother seems to be up to no good with the local mortician, who likes to conduct bizarre séances with Christie’s mom and five other women.

And on top of all that she has to deal with Paul (played by the always fun Bill Paxton), son of the mortician and someone who is somewhat disturbed himself. His mother tried to commit suicide and it has left him in an awful state. But he copes by having his eye on Christie whom he wants to marry one day, despite the fact that she is currently going out with Greg.

For the most part Christie handles all of this pretty well. She enjoys time spent with her friends and always tries to sneak in a little bit of groping with Greg. But the good times never last and it isn’t long before she finds out just what is going down at the mortuary.

Mortuary moves along at a pretty good pace and only lags a little towards the end, but not enough to do any real damage. While not scary per se it did have one moment that made me jump, which honestly is always welcome and fun. The blood spills in small amounts and the kills are decent but unfortunately not really varied.

The acting is slightly above standard for low budget horror with Bill Paxton being the obvious standout. That said, Mary Beth McDonough as Christie, David Wallace as Greg, and Lynda Day George as Christie’s mother all turn in strong performances.

Don’t pay too close attention to the plot because some of the things really don’t end up being explained. It’s mildly frustrating but not the end of the world. Horror movies don’t always wrap up their subplots like they should.

And I guess in the end that is what Mortuary ends up being: a mindless, fun horror movie from the early eighties. Trust me when I say there have been far better horror movies made and far worse as well. It looks like the cast had fun making this picture and that counts for something. Rent it if you are a fan of either early eighties horror or love Bill Paxton so much you just have to see all of his movies. For everyone else there probably isn’t enough value here to justify an hour and a half of your time.

Mortuary (1983) is now available on blu ray

One comment

  1. SteelScissorsInYourSkull

    A disco ball adds flare to any movie.


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