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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Hearse (1980)

I love ghost stories and had always heard about The Hearse. It was supposed to be a hybrid between a haunting flick and a devil worshiping one, which was another staple of the seventies and early eighties. As an added bonus this one stars Trish Van Devere who was also in The Changeling, an amazing haunted house movie. It was time for me to give it a try.

Van Devere plays Jane, a recently divorced woman who is going thru some emotional problems. She decides that the best course of action is to move to the house she recently inherited. Has that ever worked in any movie ever? The house belong to her long dead aunt and the locals aren’t happy that someone from the family is back to inhabit it. Seems that they think her aunt and her boyfriend Robert were Devil Worshippers. You would think the hostile locals and the fact that a creepy old hearse tries to run her off the road over and over again would make Trish move back to the city. But it doesn’t.

There are some nice folks like the local boy who helps her fix up the house and has a huge crush on her. There is also the local minister who is kind, and best of all is Tom who shows up to rescue her after one of the hearse incidents and ends up “courting” her. He is very old fashioned and formal in an odd way. Oh yeah because that isn’t going to lead to something! Things go sideways when Trish starts to read her aunts diary that she finds in the house. After a couple of pages of hearing how her boyfriend Robert wanted to worship the devil I would have jumped in the car and left.

This movie is a mess. The acting is good and there is a kernel of an interesting story here, but it gets lost in a movie that is so damn slow. The movie is more than ninety minutes long and nothing happens for most of it. It tries to create some atmosphere and scares like the much better entries in the genre, like the before mentioned Changeling also starring Van Devere, but it doesn’t work. There aren’t any scares or tension in this movie. It’s just really painfully boring.

If the pacing weren’t enough the plot is all over the place and makes zero sense. How is it that our main character Trish is so dense that she doesn’t see that Tom is creepy as hell and is mirroring the devil worshiping boyfriend from her aunt’s diary? It is so obvious that Tom and Robert are one and the same! No mystery there and the big reveal means absolutely nothing. If you are going to make the audience sit thru more than ninety minutes of inane dialogue and people wandering around in the dark you had better have a decent payoff. The Hearse doesn’t have that going for it.

I’m not sure if it is the writing or the editing but characters do stupid stuff. Let me give you one giant example of this. Trish is traumatized by having someone break into her house and scaring her. To the point she ends up in hysterics. The very next night she jumps into the shower to get ready for her date with Tom/Robert. She leaves the front door open… It’s not the house or a ghost because when she strolls down to let her date in she doesn’t mention the fact that the door is wide open! Shit like this happens from start to finish in the Hearse. Even the ending doesn’t make sense. Is he dead? If so why was he smiling? And what happened to the minister who came to help her? To hell with this movie! Watch the Changeling instead. Same actress, plus George C. Scott, and a heck of a lot more fun.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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