Tag Archives: Nedra Volz

Mortuary Academy (1988)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Two brothers inherit mortuary.

Max (Christopher Atkins) and Sam (Perry Lang) are brothers who inherit a mortuary from their dead uncle. At first they’re not happy as neither one of them wanted to go into that business, but when they realize how much money they can make they change their minds, but there’s one small catch: they must pass the rigorous mortuary course. This won’t be easy as it’s taught by Mary (Mary Woronov) who’s the lover of Paul (Paul Bartel) who are both aware that they’ll lose the place should the brothers take over, so they try to make the course as hard as possible to ensure that they both fail. Meanwhile, Paul has other issues as he’s into necrophilia and wants to have sex with the latest dead body that has been sent in, Linda Hollyhead (Cheryl Starbuck), a teen who died while chocking on popcorn.

The film was clearly trying to capitalize on the earlier success of the cult hit Eating Raoulwhich also starred Bartel/Woronov and both were scripted by Bartel, but the edginess and satirical elements from that one are missing here. Probably the only surprising thing to take away from this is Atkins who proves he can actually act. He started out as a male model and then got into show business simply for his looks and starring in the hit film Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields, but his effort to broaden his resume by appearing other movies like The Pirate Movie with Kristy McNichol proved downright embarrassing and like he was just another pretty boy face in-over-his-head, but here he’s his funny facial expressions and inability to kiss women got me chuckling. I came away feeling there was no need for two leads especially since the brothers agree on everything making them seem like one person and without Lang, who’s dull, Atkins would’ve had more of a chance to play-up his goofy nervous looks even more.

The supporting cast, with exception of elderly actress Nedra Volz who’s rants about having her last period 50 years ago are a riot, is what really destroys it. One reviewer on IMDb labeled this as a Police Academy- wanna-be and that’s exactly right. The other students aren’t like real people, but instead stereotyped, benign losers saying and doing dumb things simply for a cheap laugh. The biggest travesty is the appearance of Anthony James, who because of his hawk-like facial features gets once again stuck with a role of a would-be psycho-nut and it’s no surprise that he eventually got sick of the type-casting and left the business for good in order to focus his efforts on artistic paintings some of which were quite impressive.

Bartel and Woronov help a bit playing the exact opposite of the couple they did in Eating Raoul where they killed-off those that were into kink, but here they’re the kinky ones. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work. Bartel’s attempts at sex with a dead body, particularly the scenes at a beach we he momentarily loses her via the incoming tide to a group of frat boys, are funny, but some of their other shenanigans fall flat. Woronov is amusing when she plays a nefarious person, but when she transitions to a good guy and becomes a part of the team, she gets boring.

The biggest issue is the humor, which isn’t dark enough and far too good-natured. The script is gag driven and the special effects poor and tacky. Some would say that because this was a comedy it shouldn’t be gory, but that’s the old-way of thinking as movies like Shaun of the Dead and Evil Dead have proven over-the-top effects actually make it funnier, which is what this film should’ve done. Instead it takes a middle-ground approach making its edgy premise lose all of its zing and only half as good as it could’ve been.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: May 20, 1988

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Michael Schroeder

Studio: Taurus Entertainment Company

Available: DVD

Your Three Minutes Are Up (1973)

your three minutes are up 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Road trip goes bad.

Charlie (Beau Bridges) is unhappy with his life. He is stuck in a dull job and engaged to Betty (Janet Margolin) who is constantly nagging him. He longs for a more carefree existence that is friend Mike (Ron Liebman) enjoys. Mike does not work a job and spends most of his time trying to cheat what he feels is a cold and impersonal system, but also has to deal with constant calls from bill collectors and the stress of trying to make ends meet with very little money. The two decide on a whim to take a little road trip, but during the course of their journey things begin to unravel as both men realize there are limits to everything and once you cross it you must pay the consequences.

The film like the characters spans the entire critical spectrum. The script, which was written by James Dixon who appears as the character Howard is incisive and taps into something every individual on the planet must deal with, which is learning how to balance individuals desires with societal demands. Other films have lightly touched on it, but few delve into it quite this deeply. I especially enjoyed the Charlie character who starts out as an obedient schmuck that gets ordered around by everyone, but also harbors a pent up anger that comes out slowly until it finally erupts into volcanic proportions that shocks even him.

Unfortunately the direction by Douglas Schwartz is dull and unimaginative. The budget was clearly low, which gives the movie a cheap TV-Movie look and feel. The framing and camera work is uninspired and could have used more close-ups, tighter editing and better lighting. The film also contains four generic sounding songs all sung by Mark Lindsey the former lead singer from Paul Revere and the Raiders that lack distinction and give the movie a dated quality.

I also didn’t care for the Margolin character. She is a beautiful woman physically, but the character is too much of a one-dimensional nag. Why she would continue to call Charlie and beg him to come back when he clearly lied to her while also openly telling her that she annoyed him didn’t make much sense. The scene where she walks in on him in bed with two naked women and instead of just ending the relationship immediately she stays and tries to ‘reason’ with him, which came off as pathetic and unrealistic.

This also marks the film debut of Nedra Volz a late bloomer into acting who at age 65 started a two decade career playing old lady roles in various TV-shows and movies. She can be briefly spotted at the 31-minute mark playing an old lady sitting on a bench at a bus stop and accepting a free newspaper only to become shocked and embarrassed at its provocative headline.

nedra volz

June Fairchild who appears as a woman who stuffs her face with food at a fancy restaurant thinking that she is being treated to dinner only to end up getting stiffed with the bill ironically had her real-life paralleling the lead character’s quandary in the movie. She was in a string of films during the 70’s, but when the offers dried up she became a homeless alcoholic living on skid row and the subject of a February, 2001 article in The Los Angeles Times. Friends came to her rescue and she managed to get back on her feet and now judging by some recent pics is looking happy and still quite attractive.

june fairchild 1

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: August 7, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: Douglas N. Schwartz

Studio: Cinerama Releasing Corporation

Available: YouTube