The Hearse (1980)

the hearse 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Haunted by a hearse.

Jane (Trish Van Devere) is recuperating from a nervous breakdown and decides to move away from the bustle of big city life into a home left to her from her recently deceased aunt, which is situated in a small town. Unfortunately things do not go smoothly. The townspeople are reticent to Jane’s presence and weird things begin to occur including a mysterious big, black hearse that appears late at night and seemingly intent on running Jane over.

I remember I first heard of this film when it was shown on Showtime during the early 80’s as part of their ‘After Hours’ films, which typically amounted to soft core sex flicks and gory horror. However, this film was only rate PG, which always made me wonder how ‘adult’ or scary could it really be.

To some degree this fares slightly better than the usual low budget horror flick at least at the beginning. There are some nice on-location shots of the San Francisco bay area and the main character is likable enough. The production values are decent and the story, as thin as it is, has a certain intriguing quality to it.

Van Devere makes for a strong female protagonist as she is quite practical and doesn’t allow herself to scare easily and seeing a female character that is confident and poised and not used simply as a sex object especially in these types of films is a refreshing change. After a while though I started to think that the character became a little too stubborn as there were so many bad things that started to occur that I think I would have left and not come back and the fact that she stays past when most other people wouldn’t makes her seem a bit irrational.

The atmosphere is minimal and the scares are almost non-existent and depend almost completely on a few doors slamming and windows bursting open for no reason. Moments of intruders breaking into the home and shots of their feet silently creeping up the stairs starts to become redundant and dull. A dream-like funeral sequence can’t save what is otherwise a slow moving plot. The ‘secret’ behind the hearse’s presence isn’t very imaginative and the film borrows too many elements from other cheesy haunted house films without adding anything unique or distinctive in the process.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: June 5, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated PG

Director: George Bowers

Studio: Crown International Pictures

Available: DVD (Drive-In Cult Classics Vol. 2)

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