Saturday 14 July 2018

Shudder Saturday: Funeral Home (1980)

AKA Cries In The Night.

The only feature script written by Ida Nelson, with good reason, Funeral Home is an enjoyably crude horror film that barely manages to qualify as a slasher movie (thanks to the lack of decent murder and mayhem). And when I say crude I am referring to the acting and the technical side of things.

Lesleh Donaldson plays the young woman, Heather, who arrives in town to stay with her grandmother (Maude Chalmers, played by Kay Hawtrey, billed here as Kay Hawtry). The home that her grandmother lives in used to be a funeral home but has now been recently converted into a bed & breakfast. Because nothing says cosy b & b like an ex-funeral home.

Directed by William Fruet, who has a number of much better movies and TV shows under his belt, Funeral Home has a basic level of competence throughout, but it's easy to overlook the positives when the negatives start to pile up. There's not even the sense that this is getting things right in relation to the most basic slasher movie tropes. The infrequent deaths don't feel all that inventive, there aren't any serious red herrings, and it even omits that last possible easy bonus, gratuitous nudity.

Donaldson is no good in her role, sadly lacking a bright enough personality to fight back against the material that she's saddled with. Hawtrey doesn't fare much better, although she's given a few moments in which to wring her hands and amuse viewers with some overacting. Dean Garbett is on a par with his co-stars, playing the young man who ends up getting closer to Donaldson's character, and the rest of the cast don't really warrant a mention.

Aside from the acting, you also get the well-worn "cat scare", a poor score from Jerry Fielding (one of his last, sadly), and a final reel that clumsily puts everything together in a way that references a much, MUCH better movie, that I cannot mention here as it would spoil any surprise for first time viewers.

Yet, despite the general lack of standard slasher movie elements, I still found just enough to enjoy here. Thats more to do with my love for this particular subgenre than it is to do with the contents of the film, I know that, but even if this doesn't make it to the level of "good", I've seen far worse examples as I've mined my way through these movies throughout the past few decades.


There's A disc available here.

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