Horror Movie Review: Mortuary (1983)

Starring Bill Paxton, Mary Beth McDonough, David Wallace and Lynda Day George, Mortuary (also known as Embalmed and Hall of Death) was directed by Howard Avedis. A slasher horror that has some class about it while also being violent and gory.

It begins with an unknown man being hit over the head and drowning in his pool. Cut to a few weeks later and his daughter, Christie (Mary Beth McDonough) is struggling to move forward. She doesn’t believe that the death of her father was an accident at all even though her mother says otherwise.

The situation is not helped when her boyfriend, Greg (David Wallace) and his friend Josh sneak in the local mortuary to collect on unpaid wages. Inside the pair witness what appears to be an occult ritual that includes the townspeople and Christie’s mother. When they leave, Josh is killed by a cloaked person.

The same cloaked figure begins to terrorise Christie while Greg, unaware of his friend’s death, searches for him. Christie becomes convinced that her mother and her mother’s new boyfriend are responsible for her father’s death. Not only that but she believes they are trying to drive her crazy.

If all of that wasn’t enough, she is also fending off the unwanted advances of Paul (Bill Paxton), the son of her mother’s new boyfriend.

With so much mystery about it, Mortuary weaves an interesting story backed up by a solid cast, some decent tension building and lashings of startling gore. Startling because it is often in complete contrast to what the movie seems to be more focused on, a ‘whodunit murder-thriller’.

Unlike a lot of slashers, especially from this era, Mortuary’s choice of wandering cinematography and wide shots adds a classiness to proceedings. It is, at times, a very pretty looking movie. Add that to the well-paced story and throw in everything else mentioned and what we have is a good movie.

It’s not fantastic, nor is it going to be held up amongst the greats of the slasher genre, but it’s certainly a lot better then some modern efforts.

  • The Final Score - 7/10
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