The Hearse (1980)

the hearse poster 1980 movie
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 4/10


Tries way too hard

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Hearse

Studio: Movie Studio

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): Movie Release Date

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

the hearse driver attack trish van devere

Now I have to have that horny teenage kid replace the door…

Jane Hardy (Trish Van Devere) had her life fall apart and suffered a breakdown.  Her mother died and she went through a rough divorce.  Now, the teacher is headed to the countryside to stay in the home of her deceased aunt and learns that not everyone is town was a fan of Rebecca.  Jane discovers herself haunted by a strange hearse and questions if the hearse could be someone like the realtor Walter Pritchard (Joseph Cotten) trying to drive her off or something more sinister tied to the diary of her aunt.  When Jane finds herself falling for Tom Sullivan (David Gautreaux), the horror might just be beginning!

Directed by George Bowers, The Hearse is a supernatural horror film.  The movie was released to negative reviews but gained a cult following over the years.

I’ve seen a lot of the “horror car” movies, but I never saw The Hearse.  While the movie was released in 1980, it feels like it could have been released in 1970.  A throwback, the film has that weird logic-no logic feel that a lot of the supernatural films have at the time…the film is completely random.  A ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review due to discussion about the film’s ending.

the hearse trish van devere dream sequence

I’m starting to hate the countryside

The movie has the classic horror set-up of “Is this woman insane?”  The character is recovering from a mental breakdown and her condition has allowed others to dismiss her concerns…but she doesn’t seem to be too concerned about proving her sanity.  When she arrives in Blackford, she’s immediately run off the road by the hearse and just kind of forgets to say anything about it.  She also is menace by the driver who is a random guy (played by Dominic Barto), and it is rather unexplained if the driver is her boyfriend Tom Sullivan since they replace each other at one point.  Other mysteries include a black mass at the church with a woman she sees at the church later, and the ending which has the hearse falling off a cliff…to Tom’s delight.  Is Jane doomed by “killing” the hearse and what does her aunt’s appearance at the very end mean?  Nothing is explained.

Trish Van Devere also comes off as rather unlikable as the lead.  She shows up near 11:00PM without warning Joseph Cotten’s character that she’s running late and this is mad that he doesn’t want to get up and show her the house.  While everyone is rather rude to her, she’s rude to them as well…a kind of city girl dealing with dumb country folk.  The film features an early role by Christopher McDonald, and cameo appearances Little House on the Prairie’s replacement Nellie “Nancy Oleson” played by Allison Balson and Porky himself Chuck Mitchell from Porky’s.

the hearse trish van devere car

It could be the last ride you’ll ever take!

There are some ok visuals in the movie, but the movie largely tries to get by on jump-scares…over and over again.  At one point the window flies open…she jumps…she closes the window…and the window flies open again!  The supernatural hearse (a converted 1951 Packard Funeral Coach) and its driver were kind of creepy, but there were too many extra added in to really develop them as a creepy force.

The Hearse isn’t very good.  It is slow paced and largely nonsensical in its story.  It is full of unlikable characters and you don’t really care if they end up dying horrible deaths (and the deaths aren’t that horrible since it is a PG movie…although it is a 1980s PG movie).  The Hearse is a horror movie that can be missed…there are better evil car movies.

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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