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  Rest in Pieces A Real Legacy Movie
Year: 1987
Director: José Ramón Larraz
Stars: Scott Thompson Baker, Lorin Jean Vail, Dorothy Malone, Jack Taylor, Patty Shepard, David Rose, Jeffrey Segal, Fernando Bilbao, Carole James, Robert Case, Daniel Katz, Tony Isbert, Antonio Ross
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Helen (Lorin Jean Vail) and Bob (Scott Thompson Baker) are a married couple from Los Angeles who receive word that Helen's wealthy aunt (Dorothy Malone) has been found dead, so they go to view the body at the funeral home, whereupon it sits up and stares right into Helen's eyes. The staff there are insistent that this is perfectly normal and that its internal gasses that cause the movement, but she is spooked anyway, though not spooked enough not to fly out to the aunt's house and see about the arrangements for the will. There is a lot of money at stake here, and it could do Helen and Bob a lot of good, but what they don't know is there are supernatural forces afoot determined to prevent them getting it...

Spanish director José Ramón Larraz made his reputation in horror circles by mixing sex and violence from the early nineteen-seventies onwards, and creating some genuinely striking works, if not of art, then cinematic skill. Alas, those skills had deserted him by the other end of his career and his trademark pastoral menace was replaced by efforts slavishly emulating the American market which was where the money was, since even films not made there were copying the Hollywood techniques by the eighties, so popular was product from the States in that decade. This meant acting performances by people cast because they had a North American accent, rather than being someone who was able to carry an entire film with any great focus.

That was the case here, with Miss Vail additionally appearing to be here thanks to her willingness to doff her togs at regular intervals - when she gets attacked by her aunt's ghost in the bath, the inevitable sex scene and multiple times where she simply gets out of bed with no clothes on. It was as if Larraz had given up all pretensions and said, yeah, whatever, this is what you want so come and get it. Fortunately, one director at the end of his tether can result in some eccentric choices, one of which was hiring Oscar-winner Malone for her penultimate role (her last would be Basic Instinct!) and after having her character commit suicide on a farewell video for Helen (which the lawyer is happy to show her!) reduced her contribution to smiling away while the camera crash-zoomed onto her at supposedly surprising moments.

Auntie had a few more surprises than that, however, as she allows a group of ex-mental patients to stay on her estate rent free, actually a cult of murderers who in Rosemary's Baby fashion are planning some scheme or other (very little of this makes sense). Fans of eighties British children's television will be bemused to see the evil priest here played by Jeffrey Segal, a prolific character actor who happened to take the role of the beleaguered neighbour in Rentaghost, but that's not the strangest thing going on here. The cultists' plot was so convoluted that not even they seem to know what it is about, and their massacre of a string quintet seconds after complimenting them on their musical prowess is merely one facet of their insanity. It's all overlit, possibly to make up for the deficiencies of VHS where it was headed for in most countries it was released, it tries to be scarily disorienting when it's mostly just stupid, there's a "will this do?" air about most of it, and yet, there's something about Rest in Pieces that keeps you watching, if only to see how daft it can become. Music by Greg De Belles.

[Available on Arrow Player. Click here to join the Arrow Player website - there's a free trial available.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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