Thursday, June 19, 2008

Funeral Home (1980)

I recently made the single greatest purchase of my life (ok, slight exaggeration) when I picked up the "Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack" from Best Buy for a mere twenty bucks. That's 40 cents a picture, and several with the promise of tits and ass. The inclusion of Peter Jackson's Bad Taste was enough to seal the deal for me. Well, I've made my way through five of the pictures thus far. Out of these five, Bad Taste is the only good one. Although, The Demon is well worth one's time since the last twenty minutes consist of our lovely young heroine running around her house (naked!) as she eludes a killer. Lots of seventies style coifing in that one, if you know what I mean.

I also decided to check out this little movie called Funeral Home. Since it was released in 1980 and rated R, I counted on this picture for two things: boobs and gore. Zero out of two is, well, pretty fucking bad. This thing is the story of Heather (Lesleh Donaldson) who travels to a small rural community to help her granny (Kay Hawtrey) convert her old funeral home into a "tourist home" (aka bed and breakfast). Heather's a pretty young thing with what I'm sure are pretty supple breasts (unfortunately, the director forgot to film them or any, for that matter). Anyway, this is your typical small town with a library, a pub, reckless teens, and a quarry (for diving and disposing of bodies in). Granny has been in need of some help ever since her husband, Mr. Chalmers ("Chalmers the embalmer") disappeared. Guests begin arriving, Heather paints a boat, whisperings are heard in the padlocked celler, Heather falls in love with local boy, Cops investigate missing persons, and Billy (the caretaker/undertaker) acts mighty weird (i.e. retarded, hence a suspect).

The first thing I noticed is that the score is actually professionally done. With an actual orchestra. Kudos to Jerry Fielding. It's not a great score, but it wasn't completely obtrusive either. Mildly competent, I'd say. The next thing I noticed, almost an hour later, is that nothing is happening. Oh sure, Heather talks to granny about what happened to granpa ("He just up and disappeared one day"). She develops a relationship with Ricky (local boy) even though he informs her that her precious gramps was nothing but a "drunk and a cheat". The local cop investigates a missing real estate developer whose porsche is hilariously found underneath a hay bail. Upon informing his supervisor that this makes "six missing persons reports in the last two years" he's told to "quit makin like the FBI". Being from a small town, I can tell you that they captured the attitude flawlessly! Um, yeah. My favorite characters were Mr. & Mrs Browning, two guests of the Inn. Actually, we learn that Mrs. Browning is not Mrs. Browning at all, but a rampant sinner (mistress) which doesn't sit well at all with the puritanical granny Chalmers. Is it a coincidence that the Brownings wake up the next day to find themselves drowned at the bottom of the quarry?

Several scenes are shot and framed like a slasher film. I guess that's the classification, albeit a tepid slasher film, since the body count didn't even manage to exceed four. Even worse, all but one of the kills were completely bloodless and two victims were killed at once as their car was pushed into the quarry. This actually had the look and feel of a TV movie (the lack of blood and breasts didn't help deter this assumption). A black cat screeches its way through the entire picture but serves only to terrify Heather and, I'm sure, smell up the set. There's a twist at the end that's incredibly obvious. Normally, I hate when reviews even mention a twist because that, in itself, is a huge spoiler. Still, this twist is painfully obvious especially if you've ever seen Psycho. In fact, that's the main problem with this picture besides the lousy acting, lighting, lack of effective kills, lack of tension or suspense, no tits, etc, etc. Too many scenes were ripped right out of Psycho that it becomes distracting; car being extracted from the quarry, granny's sillhouette behind a curtain, epilogue explaining a certain, um, someone's (*cough* granny *cough*) mental illness. So, here's your fucking spoiler! Obviously, granny walked in on Mr. Chalmers screwing some hussy, killed them both and took on a part of his personality. Now she gets to have conversations with herself, kill a bunch of people (a pathetic 4. 5 if you count the off screen killing of the real estate developer), be institutionalized and, later, declared sane. Then she returns to the "tourist home" and takes in Meg Tilly as a boarder. They go on to develop a beautifully lesbian state approved relationship. God help Ms. Tilly if she strays.

A couple of final notes:
  • In flashbacks we learn that Mr. Chalmers was truly a drunken old coot that got off on terrifying children, over imbibing, and banging ladies that were not his wife. So, it's hilarious when granny starts bickering with him at the end. She should have kicked the old bastard to the curb long ago.
  • Also, I was relieved to learn that Mittens the cat was not injured during the filming of this picture. Afterwards, however, the poor thing walked in front of himself, was then hit by a truck, scraped up with a shovel, and tossed in the quarry.


Beepy said...

Two movies in a row with no "boobies"? You're practically turning into a monk! How are you coping? If I catch you checking out LaLeche League videos, I'm turning you in.

Beepy said...

Or you could just admit that boobs are passe and give yourself over to the magic that is "Ninja Warrior".