Mortuary is a fun film from 1983 that stars Mary Beth McDonough as Christie, a young woman who believes that she has witnessed the murder of her father. Her mother insists that it was an accident but Christie knows that not to be true. She knows what she saw and soon, things begin happening to her which she also insists are real to which her mother scoffs at. It is not long before things become very real for Christie and those around her and the man who killed her father comes for her.
As a slasher amongst a sea of slashers, Mortuary stands out from the pack thanks to its fairly suspenseful story that moves along at a good pace, of those who star within as well as the violence and the blood that director and writer Howard Avedis peppers throughout. At first, it is unclear who the killer is and Avedis throws in a group of men holding a ritual of some kind for good measure, though it was totally unnecessary and yet it is not long before all is revealed, perhaps ruining it for some but still moving the story forward until that finale where all the moving parts finally come together. It is, to say the least, a little exciting and just a little frightening at times when that tension breaks and the killer takes down another target. The horror is prevalent throughout and one can easily feel the terror that Christie is experiencing as she continually looks over her shoulder while being told she is just imagining things.
The cast which includes not only McDonough but David Wallace, Christopher George along with his real-life wife Lynda and Bill Paxton in an early role definitely help to make the material pop with Paxton giving an especially creepy performance. In fact, if it were not for Paxton, the film might not have fared so well as he truly makes it come alive when he is on-screen. Of course, there are moments when there is a bit of dialogue that seemed a little silly and a few scenes that tended to lighten things up a little but reigning it in would be Paxton, a credit to the movie if there ever were one.
All of that being said, Avedis did a good enough job on it all to make it all quite watchable but he should have dropped the sub-plot involving the witches or else focused his attention on them. They merely distracted from all that was going on and if more time could have been given to Paxton or perhaps throwing in a few more kills, it would have made it all the better. As it is, Mortuary would end up being quite enjoyable. It was not the best slasher ever made and could have used a few more scares but it did the job and was worthwhile as a whole.
3 out of 5