Saturday, February 9, 2008


On a lazy Saturday morning, I turned on the Sci-Fi Channel and was presented with exactly the sort of terrible movie you expect to see on the Sci-Fi Channel on a lazy Saturday morning. In this case, it was 2005's Mortuary, which is about as bad as you'd expect.

I should mention that Mortuary was directed by Tobe Hooper. If you ask me, Tobe Hooper does not qualify as a "Master of Horror", even if he got to direct an episode of the Showtime anthology series by that name. Actually, he got to direct two episodes, which seems excessive. My point is that Tobe Hooper has exactly two impressive credits to his name: the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist. The first one is not, if you ask me, a good movie. Sure, it's influential and even disquieting. But much of its power comes from the shoddy and amateurish way that it's shot. It feels more like a documentary than a "movie". And I personally doubt that Hooper did much directing on the set of Poltergeist, given that the screenwriter and producer Steven Spielberg was on the set every day, telling the actors what to do and placing the camera. Don't kid yourself.

Anyway, Mortuary is supposed to be about this family (mother, son, daughter) that takes over an abandoned funeral home in a small town. Oh, and the mortuary is haunted. The weird thing is that they don't know anything about running a funeral home; there's a scene where the mother (Denise Crosby, whom you might recognize as Tasha Yar) is trying to embalm a body while reading the instructions in a large illustrated book, and the embalming fluid goes everywhere, and it looked to me like a Three Stooges routine except without the sophisticated social commentary. They never explain why this clearly unqualified woman thinks she can run a funeral home, but it's possible that scene was supposed to be funny.

In fact, there's a post on the IMDb message boards where someone who claims to have worked on the movie says the whole movie is supposed to be a comedy. I don't think that can be right. As a horror movie, Mortuary a failure, but as a comedy, it doesn't even make sense.

The plot progresses on pretty typical lines: there's a tomb, and a curse, and an inscription copped from H.P. Lovecraft for no reason, and everybody starts to find themselves turning into zombies while the house gets overrun with cheap CGI effects. The movie ends when everyone's dead, which should have been about a half hour earlier.

I should mention that the only good acting came from Stephanie Patton, who plays the little sister. I normally hate the scene where the little kid comes in screaming about seeing something in her closet, but she nails it. Seriously, she's really good at a pretty thankless role. Everyone else is terrible, even if they're good actors in other things. I blame the director.

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