Monday, August 30

Some quick thoughts on Mausoleum (1983)

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I don't have too much to say about my first watch of Michael Dugan's Mausoleum over the weekend; other than count me in with the chorus who enjoy this slice of cheeseball fun. As others have pointed out, the feature is packed with barely concealed racism as a means of queasy comedy. If you ascribed to the ideology Dugan sets forth, Aunt Jemima-like African American maids who spit out trite "black" cliché in affluent white households would be perfectly normal. Also Hispanic men would be fine with menial day labor and are inherently abusive womanizers towards their attractive white female employers. The completely baffling final frame might even indicate that Hispanics are the root of all evil. Or something. Although I can't be too much of an arbiter of race considering the slew of offense, exploitative, yet beloved schlock that sits on my shelves. Add Mausoleum to that list as perfect late night popcorn fodder.  

The general sense of delirium foretells the recklessly campy trend of demonic possession in late '80s horror as the sea change of Friday the 13th (1980) and The Evil Dead (1981) settled in. Mausoleum has the stuffy look and feel of an early '80s horror outing while resisting any indication of influence from the booming slasher craze, Raimi's classic, or even the "serious" knock-offs of the satanic horror cycle of the '70s. Besides the gorgeous nude physique of Bobbie Bresee, this unique quality is what kept me from the boredom that can set in with the backwash of generic horror from this period.

The inept plotting and bloody revelry of John Carl Buechler's effects rock out on the same crap planet as Tim Ritter's Killing Spree and Luigi Cozzi's Demon 6: De Profundis--only with the tone of an entirely different time in the genre. Despite the crude undercurrent of race, Mausoleum deserves recognition for this most likely inadvertent foresight. Not to mention Bresee's decent performance in what's essentially an ex-Playmate vehicle/showcase, some surprisingly creepy moments (i.e. waking up to your spouse quickly rocking in rocking chair in the dead of night), and plentiful laughs.  

I'm unsure about the version status of BCI's DVD (double featured with 1982's Blood Song), but this Embassy Home Entertainment tape is cut in at least one scene involving an exploding cranium. On this edition, the scene cuts away to a static shot with the audio of the "pop" and then cuts back to the victim falling dead. The uncut scene can be watched here on YouTube. Also the IMDB notes this unfortunateness concerning the stateside DVD: "When BCI Eclipse obtained the rights to release Mausoleum on DVD, they could not find any original elements to transfer. This means the original elements either no longer exist or are temporarily lost. BCI was forced to use a damaged print instead for the DVD release. Because of the damage, BCI decided to release it as a double feature instead of a single release as they first planned."
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5 comments:

Buscemi said...

Also notable: this film was produced by a member of the Mafia. Michael Franzese was the son of crime boss Sonny Franzese and used some of the wealth made from his ill-gotten gains to produce B-movies for his MPM label. Eventually, the company closed when he went to prison for involvement with a gasoline racket. Today, Franzese is a motivational speaker.

Other films produced by Franzese include Savage Streets and Knights Of The City. He also handled American distribution of Bruno Mattei's Guardian of Hell, William Fruet's Funeral Home, The Gates of Hell and a few Ulli Lommel films among others.

Professor Brian O'Blivion said...

Mausoleum is great cheese ball fodder for midnight weekend viewings as is it's double feature on DVD Blood Song.

J. Astro said...

I have the same double feature w/ BLOOD SONG that the Prof mentioned. I suspect that nobody will ever forget MAUSOLEUM's killer boobies sequence.

The Film Connoisseur said...

I have read about this movie before but have never had a chance to see it...my curiousity for it continues. I love movies that take place in cemetaries or mausoleums, its why I love the Phantasm movies so much.

Professor Brian O'Blivion said...

And on the receiving end of those killer boobies is the one and only Marjoe Gortner of Starcrash fame!

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