Movie making is a lot like cooking; you leave something unattended for too long and it ends up being overdone. A master chef can have some great ingredients but if their heart just isn’t into it the result can be less than satiating. Unfortunately, such is the case with the movie Mortuary directed by Tobe Hooper. When I see the name Tobe Hooper on a movie I get excited. This is the cinematic master chef that fed us skin wearing, fang dropping, house haunting classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Salem’s Lot (1979), and Poltergeist (1982). I took one look at the cover of Mortuary, saw the Hooper name, and said “bon fuckin’ appetite”. But after a few bites, I thought that this dish could use a bit more spice.
Middle age widow, Leslie Doyle (Denise Crosby) packs up her teenage son Jonathan (Dan Byrd), and young daughter Jamie (Stephanie Patton) and moves the family out to a small town in California. Interestingly enough, Leslie has had an impromptu career change and decided to become the town mortician. Just as the Doyle’s move into their dilapidated mortuary/funeral parlor/home, they hear rumors of the land’s malevolent past and a former resident that might not be so former after all.
I’m torn about Mortuary, I really am. A movie like this has so much potential. If done right, a story in this vein could be a gusher, but it seems that the chef went out for a smoke while the meat burned on the grill. Half of the actors were good, the other half of them should have been thrown down the garbage disposal. Half of the script is tighter than my belt after a three course meal, and the other half of it was sloppier than chili burgers at an elementary school cafeteria. Half of the special effects were great works of labor, and the other half of them were pathetic attempts at CGI with low budget equipment.
Ultimately I enjoyed Mortuary, but when it comes to horror flicks, I’m not exactly a picky eater. I don’t need to be pampered like some silver-spoon-fed asshole. But when you go out to experience the work of a master such as Tobe Hooper, you expect a certain level of expertise that you won’t necessarily find anywhere else. With Mortuary, I was left a bit hungry.