Some things never rest in peace.
Year of Release: 1980
Also Known As: Cries in the Night
Running Time: 93 minutes (1:33)
Director: William Fruet
Kay Hawtrey ... Maude Chalmers
Lesleh Donaldson ... Heather
Barry Morse ... Mr. Davis
Dean Garbett ... Rick Yates
Stephen E. Miller ... Billy Hibbs
Alf Humphreys ... Joe Yates
Peggy Mahon ... Florie
Harvey Atkin ... Harry Browning
Robert Warner ... Sheriff
Jack Van Evera ... James Chalmers
A young woman arrives at her grandmother's place to help convert it over to a bed and breakfast inn from the funeral home which was operated by her recently departed grandfather. After completing the changes guests begin arriving, but soon the granddaughter hears strange noises from the basement and finds some of the guests have disappeared. Getting nowhere with the police, the granddaughter decides to get to the bottom of the mystery by going down to the locked cellar to see what's inside.
Funeral Home, remindin' us that it's just as imperative that your car wait at least an hour after fillin' up before it goes swimmin' too. Otherwise the whole goll durn thing just seizes up like a straight butthole in a transvestite bar the moment the distributor gets wet an pretty quick you've got more crappie in the back seat than that time I gave Billy Hilliard a ride home from the Stuckey's after he'd wolfed down a plate an a half of their deep fried mayonnaise balls. The Topaz musta smelled like the Depends bin behind Mom'n Poops Hospice Care an 24 Hour Pawn for three weeks before I finally got that stank under control. Now it just smells like the goat steak fajita that got lodged under the seat, but the car came that way so I'm not too worried about it. An speakin' of people who get dumped on, every Indian I know is absolutely in love with this one. Casino Indians I mean, not Seven Eleven Indians. An why the heck not? It's not hard to imagine how they could pretty easily identify with an old silver haired hag who hasta chop people up into country fried steak when they won't quit comin' by durin' the Braves game to try stealin' 'er land out from under 'er even after she's told 'em to get bent exactly 143 times an ran 'em off with a tire iron no less than 26 times while threatenin' to send 'em on a permanent spirit walk. I used to have a little white guilt problem when it came to Indians, so I offered to let a few of 'em set up a coupla wigwams out back completely rent free as my way of apologizin' to the native peoples of America for bein' a descendant of a whole mess of jerkoffs, only they got all stuck up about bein' downwind of the outhouse an only havin' access to dial up internet an politely refused. I guess they didn't care for Grampa's old rusted out 1973 VW Thing that's parked out by the wood shed either, I didn't catch the entire conversation but I did hear the phrase "uglier than Wings Hauser in Vice Squad" used. Indians is good people though, other'n bein' a little high an mighty sometimes. Like it woulda killed 'em to wipe with the Sears Roebuck catalog like everybody else, it's not like I just let my garbage blow all over the place til it flies onto the side of the freeway an they all end up blubberin' so hard the shaman has to come down offa the hill to figure out why the ground's already drenched before he'd even started doin' the rain dance. I'd like to think I'm a little bit more culturally sensitive than that, I mean, I wasn't raised by wolves or nothin'. That was only a temporary thing that lasted a coupla months, tops, after I got thrown outta the house for leavin' that dead raccoon inside Dad's pillowcase for not lettin' me go side swipe 12 year olds at the go kart park. I've learned a lot since then, an I've grown as a person. These days, I only do that to teenagers.
But back to more important matters, this one's gotta be just about the best Psycho plot snatcher ever to come outta Canada. Although the senseless destruction of that classic 1972 Ford Gran Torino was a little hard to watch. Nonetheless, I've picked out a few more nuggets of wisdom for us regular people to take in an use to better ourselves an help maintain our intellectual edge over those drool cups who're makin' Transformers 4 the highest grossin' movie of all time, even though that record seems to go down easier'n a sexually frustrated high school math teacher after 13 Purple Hooter Shooters. First, if a stranger in a van offers you a ride, take it. The ass, grass, or cash ultimatum couldn't possibly be any worse than havin' to negotiate a black cat crossin' the road in front of you, after all. Besides that, the supposed "dangers" involved are just manufactured by big oil to try gettin' more people to buy their own rig an crank the demand for crude up to 11. Second, should your Porsche Turbo ever become lodged in a hay stack, do not panic. Remain calm, roll down your back window, an start makin' mooin' noises to attract enough cattle that they'll eventually eat your ride to freedom. But make sure you don't moo like a slut, otherwise the bulls'll end up mountin' your gas tank an once that happens you've got no recourse but to pop a coupla Dramamine tablets an ride it out. An third, if the best man you can get is the guy who voiced King Koopa on the Super Mario Brothers Super Show an have to cock tease a mental invalid to achieve any kinda self esteem, you should prolly just accept your position in life an get back in front of the Motley Crue roadie you were workin' the night before an leave decent folks alone. Otherwise, you may be subjected to an unsolicited test of your vehicle's amphibious capabilities.
But what really burns my clutch about this one is the way people're always assumin' that you must be crazy if you talk to yourself, an takin' that up a notch, the way they get that look on their face like they just heard Britney Spears' singin' voice with no auto tunin' if you happen to get into an argument with yourself. Like there's somethin' wrong with takin' a minute to set yourself straight when things start gettin' all wonky in the wiggidy whack. An I'll tell you somethin' else, the first time you let you embarrass yourself in a game of Trivial Pursuit when you knew full well that you were wrong to begin with, you'll never let yourself hear the end of it. Nobody likes a cocky bastard who thinks they know everything, an you're bein' a hypocrite if you let that kinda thing slide just because you happen to be the cocky bastard that's pissin' you off. Sometimes you've just gotta get right in the middle of the situation an show yourself who's the brains of the outfit, cause once you let you start runnin' your life, you can pretty much forget about ever regainin' your self's respect back. An alotta times, you'll end up tryin' to make a big spectacle outta you in public like those punk kids who know they'll get what they want if they can just embarrass their folks enough. An when this happens, if you don't take a stand against you an argue yourself into a corner til you're able to finish yourself off, you've had it. But on the plus side, it'll be the last thing you'll expect, so the next time somebody gives you a funny look after you've had to put yourself in your place, you just look 'em straight in the eye an tell 'em that it was either you, or you.
The movie begins with this girl (Heather) gettin' dropped off by a bus at the county line out in Amish country for not keepin' 'er ankles covered, where she ends up lookin' around like an eight year old comin' home from school one day an realizin' 'er parents ran away. Fortunately, this guy in a pedo-van (Rick) drives by an offers 'er a ride, an once they get alla the candy an puppies moved outta the front seat he gives 'er a lift out to 'er Granny's place where she's gonna help 'er convert a funeral home into a bed & breakfast so Granny can finally use up alla the left over cold cuts. Once they make it out to Granny's place she has to explain how she was gonna pick 'er up but it turns out 'er dim witted gardener's no match for a burnt out alternator an brings Heather inside. It's kinda funny really, cause the gardener (Billy), who musta been out fryin' ants with a magnifyin' glass when they were passin' out brains, looks a lot like Samwise Gamgee after gettin' rolled by a biker gang. Then Heather asks who the heck Billy is an why he smells like a 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner after some punk kid shoved a mozzarella stick down the heatin' vent an Granny explains that he was Grampa's helper before he disappeared an that he's the only guy in town that'll do work for 'er in exchange for gettin' to sleep in the chicken house. Elsewhere, this Elmer Fuck who looks like Tim Conway after The Carol Burnett Show money ran out is showin' a cop (Joe) a Porsche 924 that he found inside a haystack til the cop has to explain to 'im that just cause he found it don't mean he can keep it an that he really doesn't wanna see just how far the sluttier girls in town'll go for a ride in a Porsche when there's a 70 year old man drivin' it. Meanwhile, this spineless wimp (Harry) an his obnoxious bitch of a hooker (the way I figure it, a mistress is really just a long term hooker who also accepts food and material goods as payment) stop in at Granny's bed an dreckfest an once Heather shows 'em to their room she hears Granny downstairs in the cellar arguin' with some guy about gettin' Heather the heck outta there cause there's no guarantee she'll look the other way when she finds out about the cock-fightin' ring they're runnin' an Granny tells the unseen voice that she's got everything under control an to bugger off. The next mornin', Joe comes by to ask Granny about the Porschmoe that went missin' an she tells 'im the guy came by several times tryin' to get 'er to sell 'er property so he could turn it into a Cabela's, but that she refused cause she expects 'er husband who ran off to join a monastery after seein' 'er nekkid to come back any day now. Then Granny has to yell at Harry for fallin' asleep on the porch on account of his smell attractin' possums from miles around til he gets up an leaves to find a coupla pine scented air fresheners to a hang around his neck.
While that's goin' on, Heather's rootin' around out in the chicken house tryin' to find a can of paint cause she heard the chickens were usin' it to spruce up the place when Sean Astin's stunt double (Billy) scares the bejezus out of 'er an points 'er in the right direction to get 'er the heck outta there before she notices the that baby goats all seem to have his hairline an slack jaw. Then Heather shows Florie (Harry's bimbo) up to the rock quarry where all the teenagers go swimmin' til she starts lickin' 'er chops like Kathryn Murray durin' middle school basketball practice an Rick shows up to invite Heather out furniture shoppin'. Unfortunately, Florie's saggin' worse'n a pair of pants at a 50 Cent concert, so once every guy in the area shoots 'er down like an army of Red Barons, she wanders over the hill to find Sean splittin' fire wood an starts propositionin' 'im til he actually starts to think about it for a minute an she ends up cuttin' 'im off like a foreskin at a Bris. Meanwhile, Joe heads back over to the police station an tells the sheriff that the guy he's lookin' for was a real estate agent who wanted to buy up the whole town an that he may've disappeared cause he was carryin' the entire $20 necessary to do it around with 'im in cash, til the sheriff just kinda looks at 'im like he walked in on 'im in the barn with a calf an his pants down claimin' it attacked him an tells 'im to go bust some loiterers. Later that evenin', Granny Smith an Heather're havin' some raccoon ribeye an possum puddin' when Granny spots the sinners headin' out an has to get in Harry's face an remind 'im that he an skanky doodle randy're supposed to be outta there an threaten to stone 'em harder'n the audience at a Cheech & Chong reunion show til they completely ignore 'er an go find someplace with a bathroom stall they can drill a hole into so they won't have to look at each other durin' sex. So after they've had a coupla drinks an Florie's ridden the mechanical bull so hard that even the pool cue's have gone flaccid, they drive out to the quarry an start makin' the sign of the triple billed platypus til this four wheel drive crummy pulls up behind 'em doggystyle an plows 'em right off the edge an into the lake below. The next mornin', Granny has to drive into town to pick up a coupla 25lb bags of wholesale prunes at the farmer's market an offers to take one of 'er long term guests (Mr. Davis) into town with 'er so he can sneak into the police station all clandestine like. Meanwhile, Rick an Heather're rootin' around at garage sales lookin' for some furniture so Rick won't have to sleep on a card table no more til they wind up back at Granny's place pokin' around in the garage where they find a necklace with "H.D." printed on it while somethin' watches 'em from behind an old stack of slightly used funeral tuxedos. Only a liberal'd bury a perfectly good suit on a dead guy, it's not like he'll ever notice anyway.
So later on that evenin', Heather suggests to Granny that maybe she aughta sell the hearse to the old cranky guy that runs Morningside cemetery in the next county an asks if there's any furniture down in the cellar that she may wanna sell to Rick an about that time Granny's eyes open up til they're the size of Chesty Morgan's tube top torpedoes an she tells Heather never to go down there even if it means dyin' from Soviet nuclear fallout. Then she an Rick go out cause otherwise we might have to go six or seven minutes without another "goodnight" scene in his car, only before she goes back in the house she asks 'im to tell 'er about her Grampa on account of 'er Mama never lettin' 'er visit 'im after his whiskey still exploded an took out the surroundin' forest for a radius of two miles like a mini Tunguska blast. So Rick tells 'er about the time he an a friend snuck up to the funeral home an started peekin' inside til Gramps got the drop on 'em an shoved 'em down the corpse chute an chased 'em around in the basement til they pissed themselves like the cast of Duck Dynasty watchin' old Beverly Hillbillies reruns before finally escapin'. Then Granny comes out an hauls Heather back in the house before she can kiss Rick goodnight an cause the rapture, only after she goes to bed she hears Granny talkin' to somebody in the cellar again an when she goes to investigate she accidentally knocks over a jar of pickled horse testicles an has to run like Paul Ryan after a town hall meetin' in Detroit. The next mornin', Davis heads into the police station again an the sheriff tells 'im that somebody he's lookin' for was in town for about three months but musta got homesick for filtered water an bein' able to drive two blocks without seein' a front porch that has a "Don't Tread on Me" flag an taken off. Then this wino comes up to 'im as he's leavin' an tells 'im that since he's on foot he'll wash that big ole windshield he calls a forehead for a buck an tell 'im about the person he's lookin' for for a couple extra. Back home, Granny sends Heather an Rick into town to deliver 'er flower arrangements so nobody'll see 'er with the gay florist an tell God on 'er, an en route Heather mentions that Granny always seems to regurgitate Gramps' thoughts an opinions on everything an doesn't seem to have a mind of 'er own til Rick explains to 'er that that sorta thing's perfectly normal for females of the Silent Generation. So since she didn't get P.O.'d enough the last time he talked bad about 'er Grampa to try tearin' off his stick shifter, Rick decides to tell 'er what everybody in town already seems to know, an that's that Grampa ran off with some bimbo who was evidently into testicles that look like soggy Shar-Peis. Meanwhile, Davis comes downstairs an confronts Granny with the word on the street an asks 'er if she knew a Helena Davis cause she's supposed to be cookin' his dinner an doin' the dishes back at his place an that a coupla weeks ago he ran outta clean jockey shorts an finally realized she was missin'. He's also traced 'er to this town, an this house, where the trail suddenly went colder'n an Eskimo's ballsac an tells 'er the locals're all sayin' she ran off with Gramps after he cashed in his corpse handlers pension til Granny starts blubberin' like a Brazilian watchin' the 2014 World Cup semi finals.
Then Heather's spydey senses start tinglin' while she's upstairs writin' a letter to 'er mama an I guess the ghost of Sherlock Holmes possesses 'er body or somethin' cause she starts drawin' a picture of the necklace from the garage an then writes out the name "Helena Davis" with emphasis on the the "H.D." initials. It's right about then that she gets this look on 'er face like somebody just slapped 'er across the face with a rainbow trout an goes to look for it in the garage, only Sean comes up behind 'er an scares the tar out of 'er an tells 'er Granny had 'im lock it up after she caught 'im in there lookin' through Grampa's back stock of dusty old Penthouses. Meanwhile, Davis's heard that there're plenty of fish in the sea an so he heads out fishin' an ends up comin' back to the dock with nothin' but a coupla stinky carp, only once he steps up on the dock somebody starts blindin' 'im with a spotlight like Sarah Palin when she takes 'er chopper out moose huntin', til somebody makes like Smokey the Bear an beats 'im dead out with a shovel an buries 'im in the flower garden. The next mornin', Joe's sittin' down at the cop shop talkin' on the phone til the sheriff comes up to 'im an Joe gets this look on his face like he just checked the underside of his pop bottle an realized he's won a free 20oz Coke product an tells the sheriff they've got another missin' persons report filed on the sinners who were shackin' up out at Granny's bed an sexfest. Elsewhere, all the teenagers in town're out swimmin' at the quarry til one of 'em dives in an finds the bodies bloatin' up down in Skanky Crone's Locker an starts goin' ape-shit an pretendin' like she forgot how to swim so the guys'll dive in an make incidental contact with 'er hooters pullin' 'er out. Then the cops come an haul the bodies outta there while half the county shows up so they can stand in the path of the paramedics an get a whiff of somethin' that smells worse'n they do til the sheriff sends Joe back to Granny's house with Heather an Rick to find out what she knows about the waterlogged sweathogs. So Joe goes nosin' around in the couple's room an comes up emptier'n the gas tank on my 1983 Wizard rototiller that's parked out back under a white fir tree. Then Heather an Rick go to check on their friend to make sure she didn't suck down too much of anything she shouldn't have an Heather tells Rick she's pretty sure Granny's hidin' somebody down in the cellar an so they decide they'd better go make sure she ain't Ariel Castroin' anybody. Meanwhile, Sean's wanderin' around in the house an hears Granny arguin' in the cellar like Bobby Cox on a bad strike three call an heads down to investigate til he gets run through with a embalmin' needle about 17 times an gets turned into a human strainer. Pretty good (if unoriginal) twist ending on this one, so I'll cut here. However, this one's public domain so you can check it out on Youtube if you're interested.
Alrighty, well, this one moved here from Canada an they say it's slow, eh. And for a 1980 flick it is a bit slow, borrowing heavily from the Hitchcockian era of slowly building suspense, rather than cheap scares or Herschell Gordon Lewis-esque gore. If the body count were any lower, I'd probably have to reverse the "Horror/Mystery" designation, but that's not to say there isn't an audience out there for movies with this type of pacing. I mean, other than exploitation titles, pretty much all the 70s horror titles were much more slowly paced than the average 80s movie. I'll say one thing for it though, every week that I review a public domain title my eyes start to glaze over cause I know there's a good chance that it's gonna be a complete turkey. Yet, Funeral Home is another flick that isn't the abject failure I always expect a public domain title is going to be. Sure, it's got a few problems, for instance, the black cat that kept showing up in the movie (I never mentioned it in the plot summary because even by the end I still couldn't grasp the significance). What's goin' on with that? Is it just Salem Witch Trial nonsense meant to suggest terrible misfortune? Is the cat embodying the spirit of somebody? Was the set just so riddled with mice that the director brought it in to keep the Bubonic plague under control? It's possible that this may have been explained in an uncut version of the movie, but the Mill Creek running time was 92 minutes and 20 some seconds, and the IMDB lists it at 93 minutes, so if they explained it, they did it in under 40 seconds. I guess it's not real important, but anytime a movie takes the time to establish something like that and nothing comes of it, you know somebody dropped the ball. If nothing else, it's pretty good at being what it sets out to be. Just because I would prefer faster pacing, doesn't mean that it's a bad movie because it doesn't meet my personal standards of how everything should have been. I've seen people refer to it as a "lost gem" more than once, and in all fairness, looking at it from the perspective of people who prefer a potboiler, that might actually be a fair assessment. I'm not suggesting it's terribly obscure, after all, anybody who buys public domain movie packs has the opportunity to view it, but it still doesn't have a whole lotta ratings on the IMDB, with a present tally of 633 ratings. I'm also inclined to agree with the IMDB for once, as it has the movie currently sitting at a 5.3, though I'll probably go slightly lower than that. In any event, this is the kinda title where, if you can get even 5 or 6 that're this good on a public domain DVD set, the set was worth purchasing. Funeral Home will be a pleasant surprise for anyone checking it out for the first time expecting garbage.
Okay then, lets bludgeon this thing with a shovel an see how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center. The plot's pretty decent, as well it should be considering how heavily it borrows from Hitchcock's Psycho. Fact is, this is one where even I can't argue with the people screamin' "rip off." But that said, I just don't really care that much when something borrows from something else. The bad part is when you put all your eggs in that one basket and fail to bring the previous idea further than the original did. Cause even though enough people seem to like the movie alright, I don't think anybody for a moment is going to suggest that Funeral Home could even wipe Psycho's ass. The acting is alright, nothing all that special from anybody, less Kay Hawtry in the last five minutes of the movie. Admittedly, it's a great five minutes, and it's those last few minutes that keep the movie above a 50%. That said, there really aren't any characters who matter who give poor performances, though some of the lesser parts were filled with unpolished actors, as you can generally expect from anything on a low budget that never got much public exposure. I did like the old farmer wearin' the overalls that was real insistent about keepin' the Porsche he found buried in his haystack though, he was pretty amusing. Not surprisingly, no big stars in this one, but here's who matters and why: Kay Hawtry (American Psycho II, Urban Legend, Videodrome, The Intruder 1981), Lesleh Donaldson (Curtains, Deadly Eyes, Happy Birthday to Me), Barry Morse (Murder by Phone, The Changeling 1980, The Shape of Things to Come, Destination Moonbase-Alpha, Alien Attack, Journey Through the Black Sun), Stephen E. Miller (The Tortured, The X Files: I Want to Believe, Disturbing Behavior, Them 1996, The Stepfather, Iceman), Alf Humphries (The Uninvited 2009, X-Men 2, Final Destination 2, My Bloody Valentine 1981), Harvey Atkin (Visiting Hours, Heavy Metal, The Incubus), Robert Warner (Black Christmas, Deranged, Octaman, The Cult), Jack Van Evera (Deadly Eyes, The Incubus, My Bloody Valentine 1981, Plague 1979, Black Christmas), Les Rubie (Black Christmas, Blue Monkey, Spasms), Doris Petrie (TekWar: TekLords, Scanners II), Bill Lake (Stir of Echos 2, Solar Attack, Blue Monkey, Murder in Space, The Shape of Things to Come), Gerard Jordan (The Intruder 1981, The Pit), Elanor Beecroft (The Mask 1961), Paul Hubbard (Nightmare at the End of the Hall), Barbara Wheeldon (Deadline), Donald Saunders (Little Devils: The Birth). There are a few things to mention for the normies out there who may've read the resumes of the real actors and felt out of touch, so here's the regular human being credits: Barry Morse was Lt. Philip Gerard on The Fugitive TV series, Harvey Atkin did the voice of King Koopa on the various Super Mario Brothers TV shows and also played Morty in Meatballs, Bill Lake played Scott in Flash of Genius, and Christopher Crabb may be more recognizable for his role of Jonah Roberts in the Danger Bay TV series.
The special effects... well, suspense titles that rely heavily on atmosphere tend to shun things like gore. And for a movie from 1980, this one is severely lacking in the blood department. So lets just tell it like it is, this movie's got a greater blood shortage than the Red Cross on the 5th of July. If the print of the movie were in better shape, I suspect there may be some visible after the shovel bludgeoning, and I believe there was a little visible during the sequence where Stephen Miller's character was gettin' aerated with the embalming needle, but other than that, I don't recall seeing any. To be fair, that embalming scene was pretty good, blood or no blood, and, though it's not gore related, the scene where the Gran Torino takes the swan dive over the cliff is excellent as well. Real car, real cliff. Of course, they fish it out later in the movie, as I'm sure they were obligated to do, but these days you probably wouldn't get a scene like that due to environmental restrictions. All the same though, pretty pitiful in the gore department. The shooting locations are alright, but nothing particularly memorable. The "rock quarry" where all the swimming sequences and the Grannon ball take place is the best of the bunch, and the only one that's really worth a damn. The exterior of the bed and breakfast is alright, and the cellar inside isn't bad, but the rest of the house is pretty dull. Houses seldom do anything for me, but now and then somebody puts together a good one. Dolls comes to mind as having a great house setting, for instance. The soundtrack is probably a minor plus, though much of it is still stuck in the 70s. However, the best and most important scenes have decent, suspenseful tracks that I would liken to a Friday the 13th soundtrack. Pretty manic during those crucial intervals where anxiety and tension run high, and just fair during the rest of the movie. It was actually one of the last soundtracks composed by Jerry Fielding (until the recent past), who also did the tracks for Straw Dogs, The Bad News Bears, The Wild Bunch, and Demon Seed. So the guy knows what he's doing, but this one was just fair, in my opinion. Overall, by public domain standards, it's a great movie. By my own personal standards, without fluffing it up by narrowing its competition down to just public domain titles, it's only fair. If it had more blood and/or violence I could see passing it, but there's just not much here for me. However, for people who enjoy a more cerebral cinematic experience, you may very well enjoy this one. If that sounds like you, give it a shot.