Directed By: Tobe Hooper
Written By: Jace Anderson & Adam Gierasch
Tobe Hooper is a genuinely cool cat. With a filmography that boasts classics like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1 and 2, Poltergeist, Salem’s Lot, andThe Mangler (to name only a few), you’d expect the man to be uptight, unapproachable, and unwilling to give fans the time of day. And although he’d have every right to be, he’s the opposite of that — laidback, easygoing, and modest. It was only a little over a year ago when I first saw Mr. Hooper in person: he was in attendance at the Bloor Street Cinema for a screening of Texas Chain Saw with a Q&A session to follow. I knew I had to be in attendence, since the chance to sit in the same theatre with the brilliant mind that made the world afraid of chainsaws — and incidentely any distant buzzing sounds — could perhaps be a once in a lifetime event. It was that evening that I learned something about our esteemed director:
Tobe Hooper is a genuinely cool cat. Eager to answer questions, forthcoming with behind-the-scenes information, and filled to the brim with interesting tales of the horror industry. Like George A. Romero, Hooper is the kind of guy you want to sit down and have a beer with, and just listen to his stories — and let me tell you, he has stories to tell.
Mortuary is one of those stories — a story that originated from Hooper’s mind and made its way to film by 2005. It tells the tale of a mother/undertaker (Denise Crosby), who settles in a new town with her two children in hopes of breathing new life into a now-decripit funeral home. Unbeknownst to them, town legend has it that their house is already occupied — by a disfigured boogeyman named Bobby Fowler. If it wasn’t enough to share a bathroom with a deformed mutant, a barrage of other challenges await the family: monsters, filth, awkward townsfolk, obnoxious teenagers, and mutant fungus (to name only a few).
As mentioned, the film came out in 2005, but you’d never know it. It’s an excellent throwback film with the visual look and feel of a late 70s early 80s horror film. The atmosphere is always well crafted, and overall the film is enjoyable to watch. It employs random bits of CGI, which aren’t seamlessly integrated into the scenes and unfortunately never wind up looking like they belong. That said, the make-up and visual effects are old school and extremely well done.
The movie takes a while to get going, but once it does, it’s actually quite decent. The problem with Hooper is that like Carpenter, Craven, and the other horror masters, they really go out on a limb more than any other directors when they make a film because the expectation for them to make another classic is so high. Mortuary, for the most part, was a good horror film (though arguably a bit unfocused and with perhaps a weak ending) but it would be crazy to say that it was in the same league as Poltergeist orThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
All things aside, Mortuary is very much a Tobe Hooper film, filled with scenes and characters that are 100% Hooper. While it probably won’t become a classic anytime soon, it’s a great reminder of what horror films were like twenty years ago. So if you find yourself in the mood for a trip down memory lane, toss in Mortuary and let yourself be entertained.
In the meanwhile, I anxiously await to hear the next story that Tobe Hooper has to tell.