Monday, October 3, 2016

2016 October Horror Challenge #2: "Funeral Home (1980)"

I remember seeing this movie among the many horror titles in the video store when I was a kid.  I wasn't allowed to watch horror movies, but I could stare longingly at the movie covers and imagine what the movies were about.  This was originally released in 1980 in Canada, and it had a few bigger VHS releases in the following years, but it never became a big hit like some other slashers of the 80s.  The cover was creepy enough to catch my eye as a kid, but was the movie itself worth watching?

The movie is kind of grainy and murky as far as the picture goes, and the sound is a little muddled, but that kind of adds to the spooky atmosphere once the movie gets going.  The plot is pretty simple: a teenage girl is sent by her mother to stay with her grandmother for the summer to help her grandmother convert her big old house (which used to be a funeral home) into a tourist home for the tourist season.  The grandmother has fallen on hard times since her husband disappeared, and she needs to make some extra money.

It's a pretty simple premise, one that works well for the time period (it was pretty common for families to send teenage kids to help relatives without too many questions asked back then...I wouldn't really want my teenage daughter to live in a creepy old house where someone just mysteriously disappeared like that, but this was a different time I guess). The house itself is creepy enough on its own without really needing much help to set a spooky mood.  The main actresses who play the teenage girl and the grandmother are recognizable from other 80s horror movies, which was fun for me to notice while I was watching.

The biggest complaint lodged against this movie seems to be that it's not very original, but I don't necessarily think that is such a bad thing. First, all slashers share similarities because there aren't many ways to go with a slasher plot, plus this movie was released before a lot of the movies that have those similarities, so it was more original when it came out.  It wasn't too hard for me to figure out what was going on, but I've seen hundreds of horror movies, and the actresses do a good job with what they have. There isn't much gore to speak of, but it's not really needed in this movie, which relies more on shadows to creep us out with thoughts of what might be lurking in the dark.  I had a lot of fun with this one, despite its flaws, and I'm glad I checked it out.

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