Mausoleum

Color, 1983, 96 mins. 58 secs.
Directed by Michael Dugan
Starring Marjoe Gortner, Bobbie Bresee, Norman Burton, Maurice Sherbanee, LaWanda Page, Laura Hippe
Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), BCI/Eclipse (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Dark Vision, Cornerstone (DVD) (UK R0 PAL), CMV Laservision (DVD) (Germany R2 PAL


MausoleumGiven an enthusiastic Mausoleumavalanche of coverage in Famous Monsters magazine, Mausoleum was one of those mystery films (a la Night Warning and Demon Rage) for a lot of horror-loving kids who wondered where the actual movie wound up going. The press coverage played up the (excellent) monster effects and tried to make a new scream queen out of star Bobbie Bresee, a Playboy Bunny who had turned up on a handful of TV series like The Love Boat and Wonder Woman. The film ended up hitting a very small number of screens (predominantly drive-ins) in 1983, with its evocative poster art getting only a bit of traction amid a glut of slasher films. However, Bresee did end up being cast in future films like Ghoulies and Star Slammer, and the film did go on to find an audience on home video and airings on the USA Network.

After the death of her wealthy mother, young Susan is so distraught about going off to live with her aunt Cora (Hippe) that she runs away through the cemtery to the Nomed family mausoleum where mom's body is being kept. Unfortunately that puts her in the line of fire of a clawed demon that's been lurking inside her family members for generations, and now it's MausoleumSusan's turn. Flash Mausoleumforward a couple of decades as a now adult Susan (Bresee) has inherited her mother's estate and now lives with her husband, Oliver (Gortner). Those latent demonic powers finally start to emerge obviously enough to tip off Cora, especially when Susan's eyes tend to turn green at moments of heightened emotion and kill anyone who's gotten on her bad side. Her therapist, Dr. Andrews (Burton), finds he's dealing with something far more dangerous than a broken psyche as people around Susan keep dying off, with an increasingly distraught Oliver also trying to get to the bottom of his wife's supernatural behavior.

A sex-crazed creature feature that felt out oddly out of step in a year crowded with everything from Christine to Sleepaway Camp to Psycho II, this feels far more like something that would be at home on cable TV where its gaudy colorful lighting and hit and miss filmmaking prowess would be more appealing. The film definitely delivers on the outrageous highlights with a cavalcade of death scenes (including a great falling gag in a shopping mall) and grotesque monster effects including one involving carnivorous breasts that has to be seen to be believed. These concoctions are the early handiwork of John Carl Buechler, who would work on tons of Empire Pictures favorites and direct Friday the 13th MausoleumPart VII: The New Blood, Cellar Dweller, and Troll. Mausoleum

After its VHS release (most prominently from Embassy in the U.S.), Mausoleum laid low for many years until it turned up in 2008 from BCI Eclipse as part of its Exploitation Cinema line, paired up with the Frankie Avalon horror oddity, Blood Song. Initially slated to come out from Code Red, the film can also be played with a "Grindhouse Experience" option tacking on assorted goodies including bonus trailers for Final Exam, Nightmare, The Babysitter, Savage Streets, Beyond the Door, and Killer Fish. Unfortunately that transfer is taken from a very, very battered film print of the R-rated U.S. version, which uses a little editorial finesse to omit a brief but graphic exploding head effect in the opening sequence. That same version made the rounds on every other DVD out there around the time except for the full frame German one. On the positive side the film can be played with an exclusive extra, a fun audio commentary with Bresee and Lee Christian that zips through her career leading up to this film, the challenges of Mausoleumsitting for hours going through the elaborate latex appliance process, the scrappy nature of the production mainly led by newbies to the industry, and more.

In 2018, MausoleumVinegar Syndrome bowed the title on Blu-ray and DVD for its worldwide HD debut in a Black Friday dual-format slipcase edition. Despite claims that ratty theatrical prints were the only game out there, this release proves otherwise as it's taken from the original camera negative and looks absolutely stunning. The stylized lighting schemes really pack a punch here, and far more image info is visible compared to past release as well. This is also the uncensored version of the film complete with the head explosion, which is great to finally have back in action. The English LPCM mono track is also in better shape, though the original sound mix (with tons of sibilance, especially from Bresee) has never been that hot in the first place. The main extra here is "Making Monsters" (8m39s), a new video interview with Buechler who chats about Bresee being a trooper even when having an allergic reaction to her makeup, the dubious nature of crediting Michel Dugan as the director, the optometrist brought on board to come up with those crazy gel contact lenses (used again in Ghoulies), and plenty more. The theatrical trailer is also included (in gorgeous quality) along with two TV spots and a gallery of lobby cards and other promotional material.

VINEGAR SYNDROME (Blu-ray)

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BCI Eclipse (DVD)

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Reviewed on November 23, 2018.