By Richard Winters
My Rating: 2 out of 10
4-Word Review: Overnight in a mausoleum.
Julie (Meg Tilly) is a high school student hoping to join a snotty clique called The Sisters, which is lead by Carol (Robin Evans). Carol is unhappy that Julie is dating her former boyfriend Steve (David Mason Daniels), so she decides to make things tough for her by insisting that to become a member of the clique she must spend the night in a mausoleum. Julie is hesitant at first, but eventually agrees. Carol and another member of The Sisters, Kitty (Leslie Speights), return late at night after dropping Julie off at the mausoleum entrance. The two hope to scare Julie and make her think that the place is haunted, but little do they know that the body of renowned occultist Karl Raymar is buried there and his psychic powers bring the dead bodies back to life that terrorize all three.
It’s always tough to start-out the annual Horrorween festival by watching a stinker, but unfortunately this thing really clunks, which a shame as it begins decently. I like how the paramedics come into the room to haul away the dead bodies and see all sorts of bizarre things in the room like silverware smashed into the walls, which is creepy. The tracking shot done inside the mausoleum, the interiors were done at The Abby of the Psalm Mausoleum and the exteriors shot at The Hollywood Cathedral Mausoleum, are cool and help give off an eclectic energy. Unfortunately everything inside the mausoleum is painted white, which makes the place, despite the coffins, too bright and inviting. It doesn’t help either that the only part of the place we see is the main corridor, which visually becomes boring.
Tilly, who retired from acting in 1995 to raise her kids and write novels and who now runs a YouTube channel called Meg’s Tea Time, is a wonderful actress whose performance in Agnes of God I’ll never forget and she’s quite likable here too. The problem is that the story doesn’t focus on her enough. She’s the only cast member with actual appeal and we need to see her battling the evil powers not the two snotty sorority sisters whose acting abilities are not up to Meg’s. I didn’t like how the character of Olivia (Melissa Newman), the daughter of the occultist Raymar, comes-in at the end either. Meg is the only one that we care for and therefore it should’ve been her sole responsibility to fight Raymar’s powers and no one else’s.
The thing that really bugged me though is that there just aren’t enough scares. It goes almost an hour in with virtually no frights to the point I almost started to wonder if there would even be any. Once the special effects do kick-in it’s nothing special. The corpses look like melted wax dummies connected to a track that wheels them forward. The lightning bolts coming-out of the eye sockets of the occultist are cheesy. The ending offers no interesting twist and fizzles out without any proverbial bang.
Director Tom McLoughlin and writer Michael Hawes insist that the problem was that the film was taken out of their hands and they had no control over the final cut. The original ending had Carol and Kitty getting permanently entombed in the crypt while still alive, which could’ve been cool and there was a scene where Tilly’s eyes would cast an eerie glow as she looked back at the camera in order to represent that Raymar’s spirit had been transferred to her body, but for whatever reason this got cut out and what’s left isn’t impressive.
My Rating: 2 out of 10
Released: July 9, 1982
Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes
Director: Tom McLoughlin
Studio: Liberty International Entertainment
Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Freevee, Pluto TV, Tubi, Amazon Video