Wikipedia, that treasure trove of valuable and semi-reliable internet information, defines “mausoleum” as: “an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons.” Killer Shrew, on the other hand, defines “Mausoleum” as “a near worthless, piece-of-shit early 80’s horror film with some good T&A, a paper thin plot, a few decent gore money shots, a pair of demonic boobs, and a former child evangelist as one of its stars.” I’m tempted to stop the review at this point as that sums up the movie pretty nicely, but I know that readers will want to know a little more since some of the elements in that description can be equal to a pretty damn good evening’s entertainment provided the right combination of them as well as copious amounts of alcoholic stimulants.
The film opens on a sunny day at a cemetery as a young girl, Susan, is shown at her mother’s gravesite alongside of her Aunt Cora, her now caretaker. When her aunt tells her it’s time to leave, Susan rebels and runs away, stopping in front of a large mausoleum which, for some reason, is shrouded in cheap special effects depicting smoke and rain. Susan becomes curious and walks up to the door only to discover that it is locked but after waiting a moment, the lock suddenly bursts open allowing her to gain entrance. Forgetting her grief over her mother’s death, curiosity gets the better of Susan and she walks into the monument eventually arriving at a crypt which is covered in rats and has a metal archway over it that says “Nomed.” [Note: For those who with an IQ below that of George W. Bush’s, Nomed spelled backwards is “Demon!”] Eventually the crypt opens up and a demonic hand menacingly emerges.
Jump 20 years into the future. Susan, played now by Bobbie Bresee*, is now a grown woman and married, but her aunt is concerned because she is starting to act like her mother just before she died. There’s good reason for this concern because this involves Susan frequently behaving like a nymphomaniac while having her eyes glow green. She also sometimes emits a sound like a katydid on meth and kills people for little apparent reason. It turns out that Susan is suffering from that ailment which affects so many women upon reaching the age of 30: PMS. Actually, she is possessed by a demon which, for a reason that is never quite fully explained, has been plaguing the Nomed family for centuries. It is now up to her husband, Oliver, her Aunt, and her psychiatrist, Simon, to rid her of this evil spiritual force before she kills again!
[* For those keeping score: acting = 5/10, face = 7/10, body = 9/10 ]
Here are a few points worth noting (Warning: Spoilers ahead):
- The male lead of this film, Oliver, was played by none other than former 4-year old preacher/faith healer extraordinaire, Marjoe Gortner. Marjoe, who eventually became a fairly common face in 70’s and 80’s schlock films (including “Food of the Gods” and “Earthquake”) as well as T.V. shows such as “The A Team” and “T.J. Hooker,” had left the evangelism scene in his teens when he became disillusioned with the whole manipulative and deceptive nature of it. His bizarre first name (actually his second name) is a combination of Mary and Joseph.
- The maid in the movie, who provided the “comic relief” in a film that was already pretty comical in its own right, was played by none other than LaWanda “I could stick your face in some dough and make gorilla cookies” Page of “Sanford and Son” fame (aka “Aunt Esther”). I was so wanting her to come face to face with the demon and say, “Watch it suckah!” but, alas, it was never meant to be.
- While the special effects in this movie are somewhat shabby (including poorly constructed rubber masks, cheap levitation images, and cheesy glowing green eyes), the gore is sometimes noteworthy including a man impaled on a mall-sculpture spike, a woman's chest bursting open (while levitating! - see image below), and a man having his chest ripped open from the back.
- Many movies have their one moment that people will never forget, moments that live on in people’s memories and become part of the fabric of cinematic history. In “The Shining” it was Jack Nicholson’s leering face yelling, “Heeeere’s Johnny!!” In “Rocky” it was the image of Sly Stallone running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and raising his arms in triumphant victory. In “Mausoleum” it’s puss-oozing, demon-faced rubber boobs. ‘Nuff said.
- This film is loaded with numerous WTF moments, but none is more WTF-ish than the final shot showing the Farrells’ gardener, Ben, who was previously seduced and then butchered to death by Susan (I believe his corpse is even shown rotting in the dusty attic of the Farrell’s house, further confirming his demise). In the end, for some fuck-tarded reason that is supposed to be shocking or revealing (but is neither), he is shown sitting outside of the titular mausoleum dressed like either a monk or a Jawa, strewing flowers and acting as some sort of guard of the haunted monument to keep people out. The reason is never made clear, possibly because it would be impossible to do so (or because it would be so stupid as to cause your brain to leap from your skull, bifurcate in two, sprout legs from each half, and run off in separate directions). Just before the credits roll, the gardener-turned-guard looks at the audience and laughs, waving his hand malevolently as if to say, “And you think you’re going to get your money back on what you paid for this festering pile of monkey dung?”
So is “Mausoleum” worth watching? If you’re looking for a movie that provides answers to deep, probing questions about the nature of religion, spirituality, and man’s place in the universe, you’d be better off sticking to films like “Gandhi,” “Ordinary People” or perhaps even “Air Bud.” On the other hand, if a booze-influenced late night of gore, schlock and boobs (demonic or otherwise) is more your ticket, then this does a fairly decent job of filling the bill. Beyond that, though, you won’t get a whole hell of a lot out of it. So give it a look once, maybe twice, then move on to the next ultra-cheesy, sub-par 80’s horror schlock-fest.