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  Hearse, The It's Your Funeral
Year: 1980
Director: George Bowers
Stars: Trish Van Devere, Joseph Cotten, David Gautreaux, Donald Hotton, Med Flory, Donald Petrie, Christopher McDonald, Perry Lang, Fred Franklyn, Olive Dunbar, Al Hansen, Dominic Barto, Nicholas Shields, Chuck Mitchell, Allison Balson
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: A year after her nervous breakdown triggered by the death of her mother and a divorce, Jane Hardy (Trish Van Devere) decides she's had enough of city life and goes to stay in the large country house of her aunt, a place she has inherited after the old woman's demise. She hopes for a period of rest and recuperation for at least the duration of the summer, but on her way there she is driving through the night and her car nearly gets hit by a vintage hearse, forcing her off the road...

If horror movies were meant to make you scream, here was one which would likely make you scream with boredom if such a reaction is possible. A true endurance test for all but the hardiest of chiller fans, The Hearse appeared to be the answer to Van Devere's husband's supernatural shocker of the same year, The Changeling, as if to say anything my hubby can do I can do better. Yet while his movie may have been pretty good until it got a bit silly, this never even got to that stage; a spot of silliness would have been welcome, but the script never had you thinking this was anything more than a TV movie reject.

So there was no gore, no humour, no scares, no suspense, no nothing but seeming acres of yawning sequences where Jane jumps at every loud noise, sometimes with justification, sometimes because someone has wandered up to say hello. You might observe that seeing as how she is living in a haunted house she is correct to be nervous, but she doesn't really believe in any of that so it's the old sceptic becomes believer plot that was pretty hoary thirty years before this was made, never mind in the horror genre's mini-golden era of the cusp of the seventies and eighties.

It was unfriendly locals time again, too, so while Jane is perfectly pleasant to everyone she meets, they have a nameless grudge against her that nobody is prepared to explain, leaving her in the dark both literally and in the manner of lacking useful information. However, that's for the purposes of narrative as we can work it out within a few nanoseconds of seeing the old house - although there is a hearse in this, driven by a sinister, scarred chauffeur, it doesn't loom too large in the great scheme of things as it is that creaky building where the heart of the spookiness lies.

Well, I say spookiness, but actually what you get is so crushingly tedious it would make the Scooby-Doo gang give up on Jane and leave her to it. With a selection of red herrings among the locals about who is behind the strange campaign to frighten Jane out of her skin, the one character who looks most suspicious is the one who Jane takes to her bosom, even as you roll your eyes at her blinkered behaviour. There may be stuff going on here, as it's not exactly a minimalist production, yet it makes so little impression it could only truly be recommended to little old ladies looking for a women's picture, as they used to call them, that they could watch over their knitting: there's nothing offensive, indeed director George Bowers played it groaningly safe from the opening scene to the senseless finale. Do you see what I'm getting at? This is a strong contender for most boring horror movie ever to secure a cinema release. Music by Webster Lewis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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