Tobe Hooper’s last US-produced film before his death in 2017 (he also worked on the film Djinn in Emirati in 2013), Mortuary tells the story of the Doyle family, who have moved to Santa Loraina, California to start over again after the death of their father. Now, his wife Leslie (Denise Crosby) and children Jonathan (Dan Byrd, who was in the remake of The Hills Have Eyes) and Jamie are trying to start over again. Leslie is to be the town’s new mortician, taking up in the antiquated Fowler Mortuary. Things, as they say, don’t work out well.
Jonathan gets a job at Rita’s Diner, where he meets Cal (Bug Hall, who was Alfalfa in the 1994 remake of The Little Rascals) and his girlfriends Tina and Sara. The trip abuse him as he works there, telling him the story of Bobby Fowler, an abused and deformed boy who once lived in the mortuary. Luckily, our hero also makes friends with Liz and Grady, who make his life a bit more bearable. Rita, the diner owner, spends most of the film telling us that she used to do a lot of drugs. Actually, a lot of this movie is about doing drugs in a small town, as that’s what Liz, Grady and Jonathan are doing when the Sherriff shows up, looking to stop more “graveyard babies” from being born.
Cal, Tina and Sara decide to spray graffiti all over the cemetery, but Bobby Fowler rises up and attacks them. He also infects the sheriff, leading everyone to have high levels of rage and throw up black goo. Even Jonathan’s mom is soon under the spell of the goo, which can make zombies, and then she serves them a dinner of it.
From then on out, our heroes are beset by the black goo and those infected by it. There are jump scares aplenty and lots of salt being thrown at zombies, which is a weakness they’ve never had until this film.
None of it really adds up. I don’t mean that in a charming way like some of the stranger movies that we cover. This just feels like a horror movie going through the motions, with CGI puddles of black goo swallowing up people and random moments of gore. I wish that it had more joy, because I really love Tobe Hooper. This was like going to see a friend’s band and then wondering the entire time what you can say to be a supportive friend without being a complete jerk about how bad they sucked.
Mortuary is available as part of the MVD Marquee Collection. The new blu ray also includes audio commentary and a behind the scenes feature with Hooper. Despite the film not being great, the quality of this release is top notch.
DISCLAIMER: We were sent this film by MVD, but that was no impact on our review.