MAUSOLEUM (1981)

MAUSOLEUM (1983)

Director: Michael Dugan

Starring: Bobbie Bresee, Marjoe Gortner, Norman Burton, Maurice Sherbanee, Julie Christy Murray

DVD

Mausoleum

Dear Readers, please do not confuse this with the the other Mausoleum (aka One Dark Night (1982)) starring Meg Tilly. I made that error, and I’m here to help and warn you. Learn well from the mistakes of others. This Mausoleum is a turd: slow, dull, and dumb.

Starts off with a young broken hearted Susan (Julie Christy Murray) at her mother’s funeral. She’s also  angry about having to go and live with her aunt, so she decides to tearfully jog (not run, but jog) over to a mausoleum near by, and as she trots across the cemetery, her aunt (Laura Hippe, The Swinging Barmaids) stands by the waiting limo and wails, “Not Susan, too!” setting us up for some big reveal later in the film.

Susan enters the film’s namesake, and some drunk guy follows her in, babbling some nonsense, and the shadow of a demon appears on the wall pointing a clawed hand at the drunk, who begins to shake his head, murmuring something unintelligible. But you don’t care because when the demon points that gnarled claw the way that drunk starts shaking his head around is so comical you’re too in awe of it to even hear what he’s saying. He could have revealed how to easily become a millionaire, but who would care when there’s laughs to be had? Young Susan’s eyes glow green, á la Cathy’s Curse, and the wind blows.

Fast forward ten years later, to adult Susan (Bobbie Bresee), who is now married to Oliver Farrell (Marjoe Gortner, Earthquake), and living in a really drab mansion. It looks like the interior of a Best Western. They go off to some nightclub to dance, and while showcasing dance moves similar to a Charlie Brown cartoon, he’s called away from setting the dance floor ablaze to answer business call. While he’s on the phone, there’s a Grizzly Adams clone (Gene Edwards, who’s role is Drunk In Nightclub) who has noticed Susan, and decides he can woo her with his drunken asshole behavior. But first, he gets the best line of the entire film during an exchange with his girlfriend (Di Ann Monaco, who’s role is Girl In Nightclub) who catches him leering like a Warner Bros. cartoon wolf. When she sarcastically asks what is it that he’s looking at, he glances over at her and barks, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, but you’re always bitching about some old shit!” To which she replies, “That’s because it’s always the same old shit with you!” He steps out onto the dance floor and gropes at Susan in a ham fisted manner that she fends off, and they both leave in opposite directions. Of course, he meets his fiery end in the parking lot when Cathy’s, er, I mean, Susan’s eyes glow green.

The movie starts to slow down after the excitement of the nightclub when she’s back at the Best Western, er, I mean, her home and taking up space doing something. Her gardener (Maurice Sherbanee) is lurking about being a mild pest. We get to see him eating his lunch, sharpening an axe, mowing the grounds, and taking a nap next to the pond, and this montage of his day seems to go on and on and on. Maybe it’s character development in effort for us to sympathize with him? Maybe it’s a Marxist comment on the drudgery of the proletariat? Susan’s eyes glow green again, and she flirts with him in a clichéd porno film plot device. To want to fuck this guy she must have been incredibly bored. He meets his demise, and the movie slows down even more.

Eventually, in a conversation with Susan’s psychiatrist (Norman Burton), Oliver discovers she is, are you ready for this? Brace yourself, maybe you should be sitting down for this: Susan is actually a demon! Whoa! This surprise discovery finally gets us briefly back to the mausoleum, and things happen, but who cares, the movie is finally coming to an end.

There’s some gore and nudity, but not enough to save this dog. This feels more like an endurance contest than a movie. You keep hoping it gets better, as there are movies that are a slog, but then the final 20 minutes are spectacular. Not the case here. Even when the action does pick up it’s still a crummy film. Even LaWanda Page (Aunt Esther) can’t save it. (MA)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Matt Average: MA

THE GATE (1986)

THE GATE

1987, Canada

Director: Tibor Takács

Starring: Stephen Dorff (Glen), Louis Tripp (Terry), Christa Denton (Al)

Viewed: Streaming

Transfer Quality: Excellent

The Gate

Terry: I got something to show ya…They’re called Sacrifyx and my Dad brought it from Europe…and it’s got all this stuff in it! See, these guys were like really serious about demonology and it’s like they’re trying to warn you!

Terry shows Glen record album

…See, these guys knew. They wrote their own music. They got their lyrics from this thing called the Dark Book…that’s like the Bible for Demons!

Glen shakes his head incredulously

This was surprisingly great. After watching just the opening dream sequence I was certain The Gate would stay high on my current list of must-sees. I remember this movie kicking around when it came out, but somehow never got around to watching it. I suppose by 1987 I’d already graduated to Nightmare on Elm StreetTexas Chainsaw, etc. and the classic “parent’s go out of town so it’s up to the kids to save the world from supernatural monsters” didn’t hold much appeal. Anyway, seeing it now as an adult I absolutely loved it. Think Evil Dead meets Adventures in Babysitting.

The basic premise is that a tree removal unearths a passage to an underground realm of demons. Parents go out of town leaving the kids alone. Then, through a series of random events the kids inadvertently release the demons into the real world.

A big part of the allure of this film for me is that it captures what it was like to be a suburban middle school kid in the 80s in a surprisingly nuanced way. From awkward kid trying to be cool Glen’s (Stephen Dorff from Blade, Cecil B. DeMented, Leatherface, etc.) obsession with model rockets, to Terry’s (Louis Tripp) innocent fascination with metal, to their shared disgust for Glen’s sister Al’s (Christa Denton) new wave friends…I don’t know, even though the film is silly by nature, there’s just something honest in the way the characters interact that make them totally believable and really brought me back to the heights of excitement and depths of anxiety of my middle school experience.

There is nothing not to love about this film: the lighting, camerawork, effects, and animation, and acting are top-notch. But it’s director Tibor Takács’ (I, MadmanMetal Messiah) pacing that is absolutely masterful. Every time you think the rollercoaster ride is coming to an end and all will end well, The Gate ratchets your cart back up the hump for another plunge. (DC)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Matt Average: MA