Mortuary (1983)

mortuary poster 1983 movie
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Decent looking killer, Bill Paxton

Story seems kind of directionless

Movie Info

Movie Name: Mortuary

Studio:  Hickmar Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  March 18, 1983 (Premiere)/September 2, 1983 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

mortuary ritual 1983

Perfectly normal ritual…don’t be judge-y

When Christie Parson (Mary Beth McDonough) finds her father (Danny Rogers) has drown in their pool, she believes it is murder and not a simple accident.  Now, Christie is plagued with nightmares and has taken to sleepwalking.  Her boyfriend Greg (David Wysocki) finds Christie distant and her mother (Lynda Day George) finds Christie resenting her.  When Greg’s friend Josh (Denis Mandel) disappears at the storage location of a local mortuary, Greg suspects the owner Hank Andrews (Christopher George) might be involved…and his son Paul (Bill Paxton) might know something.  Someone is stalking Christie, and everyone around her is in danger.

Directed by Howard Avedis, Mortuary is a horror slasher movie.  The film was released to mixed reviews.

Mortuary is one of those generically titled 1980s horror movies that feels more like it should be mixed in with other Italian horrors.  Instead of a gory Italian movie, you get a strange oddly paced American movie with a young faced Bill Paxton.  Due to plot aspects a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

mortuary bill paxton serial killer

Hi…I’m here to kill you

The story is all over the place.  You have weird séances which turn out to be really unrelated to the story (and mostly unexplained) which has Lynda Day George and her actor husband Christopher George summoning the spirits of the dead and doing weird pagan rituals.  You have a split lead character with much of the action following David Wallace, but Mary Beth McDonough kind of being the main character.  This all leads to the rather un-shocking revelation that completely odd and Mozart loving Bill Paxton is the killer…it feels rather anticlimactic.

Bill Paxton is the real hook here.  He is young, but he still has that Bill Paxton oddness to him that makes his character rather magnetic on the screen (and he gets a pretty crazy near the end).  Both leads in Mary Beth McDonough and David Wallace are rather flat and bland.  Though I loved her in Pieces for her over-the-top acting, Lynda Day George doesn’t get to be as crazy here.  This is also the case for Christopher George (who was also in Pieces) who died shortly after the film’s release from a heart attack.

mortuary ending bill paxton

Game Over, Man!

The movie does have a couple jumps.  The scares largely surround the killer, and it feels a bit like Scream visually and scare-technique.  The look of the killer are kind of creepy with his blue screaming face, and it feels like the filmmakers could have gotten more use out of him before revealing he was Paxton.

Mortuary is a relatively ho-hum horror movie, but a fine movie to watch if you want to see something you might have missed.  Regular horror viewers will find no surprises in the movie and might be disappointed in some of choices of the filmmakers, but lovers of ’80s horror probably will like the slasher aspects.  The movie ends in a classic horror movie “scare”, but for the most part it is also too little, too late.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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