Traumatized by her mother’s death, young Susan is becoming possessed by the same demon that possessed her mother before she died. More and more her husband and psychiatrist are noticing the strange changes
I used to be fascinated with mausoleums when I was a kid. I lived about a block from a cemetery, and when I started going to high school I would cut through it as a shortcut. There’s an older part of the graveyard that always seemed sectioned off from the new expansions; the light never quite filtered through all of the trees that shaded the area, and it was a foreboding place to walk if you didn’t have a grave to visit back there.
The mausoleum was always a stop on my way to school, and in my freshman years at school there was normally a group of people smoking cigarettes or pot before and after class. The mausoleum became synonymous with danger; I wasn’t a fighter, and I didn’t want to get mugged, but there was an allure about it that kept me crossing its path. I never did have any problems, but still, the mausoleum was a place that connected life and death, at least at my age then.
Unfortunately, Mausoleum, the 1983 horror film from director Michael Dugan, doesn’t capture the essence of the afterlife like real mausoleums tend to do. Mausoleums are meant as monuments to the dead, a house for a soul’s eternal rest, but there’s nothing about the film that anyone would want to remember. Instead, the film simply feels eternal, a fitful movie with bad pacing and a lack of focus on the mausoleum aspect the title suggests.
The film follows Susan (Bobbie Bresee), a young woman who, at a young age, lost her mother and then messed with a cursed mausoleum. Later, she gets married to Oliver (Marjoe Gortner), a budding accountant? bookkeeper? – something along those lines – and has a glamorous life staying home with her gardener and maid. For some reason, the demon possession from the Nomed mausoleum decides to strike all at once after years of dormancy, and now Susan becomes a green-eyed monster with monstrous boobs (literally, in her transformations she has demons for boobs).
The film is as cheesy as it sounds, and right from the start, it’s obvious that Mausoleum is going to be one of those films that’s so bad it’s hilarious. In the opening scene, little Susan is draped over her mother’s coffin before she’s lowered into the ground. In an inexplicable instant, she races away to the mausoleum, her aunt screaming “No!” as if the demon’s curse is not only acknowledged but preventable. Thus begins the film’s confusing, helter-skelter plot about a demon named Nomed, because, you know, backwards names for “demon” are creative or something.
Probably the biggest draw for Mausoleum is that Playboy bunny Bobbie Bresee stars. And yes, the film is more focused on showing Bresee in various forms of undress, including full-frontal, than it is crafting good makeup for her face during her demonic phase. But Bresee isn’t a good enough actress to front the film, and all of the times where she’s forced to pant and growl (when she’s a demon, not during sex, I mean – she’s pretty good at that) look pretty foolish.
But the worst thing about Mausoleum is that a lot of doesn’t make sense. Why is the demon making so many moves now? Why does Susan need to kill people? What does the demon actually want? None of it is explained, and yet the film is so slow in parts that the viewer’s left hoping that Dr. Simon (Norman Burton) will figure things out a lot sooner than he does.
If you’re looking for a really bad B-movie, though, Mausoleum excels. There are a lot of laughs to be had, most of them at the filmmakers’ expense. The demon makeup reminds of some of the better monster movies of the ‘80s, and there are gory moments that almost make sitting through 90 minutes of stiff acting worth it.
But if you’re interested in actually watching a good movie, Mausoleum isn’t it. If Bobbie Bresee naked is what you’re looking for, I’m sure you can track down her Playboy shoot and save yourself an hour.