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THE HEARSE

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: A new 11-movie collection of 1980s horror/sci-fi titles, most of them schlock, has been released by Mill Creek Entertainment at a very low price under the title ‘The Deadly Beyond Movie Collection.’ Of the 11 titles only four played in Salt Lake theaters during their theatrical debuts 30-something years ago, and my Deseret News reviews of two ran here last week. Another, ‘The Hearse,’ is below and the fourth will run next week. Click on the links provided here to read about all 11 titles. My review of ‘The Hearse’ was published in the Deseret News on May 7, 1980.

If you are not a fan of horror movies don’t bother to read this. “The Hearse” offers nothing new and its lead character is played by the film’s weakest actor, Trish Van Devere.

But if you do like horror films, “The Hearse” is for you. On the whole, it’s a cut above most of this genre.

Miss Van Devere also appears in the current horror flick “The Changeling.” In that movie her real-life husband, George C. Scott, plays a widower who settles down in a remote Seattle haunted house and finds himself beset by the ghostly tenant.

     

In “The Hearse,” Miss Van Devere is a widow who settles down in a remote California haunted house and finds herself beset by its ghostly tenant — and several other weird characters. Of course, weird characters are more common in California than Seattle, Washington.

What this film has going for it, though, is stylish direction, great cinematography, an appropriately haunting score and a number of excellent supporting performances, particularly young Perry Lang as a local boy who helps fix up the house.

Miss Van Devere is not a very good actress. She always seems awkward and uncomfortable but it didn’t show up as much in “The Changeling” because Scott dominated the film. That movie, which is superior horror fare, also had the advantage of Melvyn Douglas in a key role and a plot twist that took us away from the odd in-house occurrences that too often dominate films of this type.

“The Hearse” also has a twist or two, such as a strange black hearse that roams the local roads after dark, a particularly malevolent driver, an odd priest who may or may not be involved with a local witches coven, and townsfolk who very much do not want Miss Van Devere around.

     

As chills go, this one offers a few, especially one scene where the driver chases Miss Van Devere through her house, popping up at a number of unexpected turns.

But in the end it’s not much more than the same old story — an innocent (perhaps even dumb) woman who won’t leave the house, no matter what happens to her, who doesn’t’ seem to know how to lock her doors, and who seems to almost enjoy purposely walking into dangerous situations that everyone in the audience has already anticipated.

Other horror films so far this year (except “The Fog” and “The Changeling”) have been generally awful — “The Godsend,” “Silent Scream,” “Saturn 3.” …

And as summer is coming upon us we can expect a number of additional Hollywood attempts to chill the warm evenings.

So, if you have to have a bevy of horror films, you might as well pick up on the better ones — and “The Hearse” fills that category quite well.