Review Date: October 13, 2008
Released by: BCI
Release date: 10/14/2008
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes [Mausoleum]
Full Frame 1.33:1 | Open Matte [Blood Song]
BCI has been fittingly cranking out their “Exploitation Cinema” double features at a speed that would make even Grindhouse programmers proud. Every month it seems there’s another couple double features, or even more in those “Drive-in Cult Classics” packs. Some have been repackagings of older titles, but this new one has me most excited of all: the cult demonic possession video hit, Mausoleum
and another unseen slasher, Blood Song
, both for the first time on legitimate Region 1 DVD. I’ve got my ticket and a choice seat up front – take it away, projectionist!
cuts right to the chase. A little girl ventures into the sanctuary of her dead mother, only to awaken a demon that enters her soul. She grows into a blonde beauty, Susan Nomed (Bobbie Bresee
), and begins seducing men with her green eyes and buxom chest. It’s the work of the devil though, and everyone from her husband, Oliver (Marjoe Gortner
) to her maid, Elsie (LaWanda Page
), will feel the wrath of the devil. Can she be stopped? Well, thanks to the longest, most convoluted run-on sentence in horror history – and the only real bit of exposition in the entire film, she can:
“Therefore did the demon extricate itself from the crown of thorns; departing the confines of the out-rimmed area of hell, he was rewarded with the eternal possession of the first female born of the family known as Nomed; once having left the mausoleum the demon is one with the possessed and can only be returned to rest by the first-born having reunited the demon with the crown of thorns, and lest we forget, no Nomed woman must enter the sanctuary of the mausoleum.”
Low brow, but high entertainment value encompasses Mausoleum
, with Bobbie Bresee’s breasts leading the way, and John Carl Buechler’s effects pulling in the rear. Bresee went from a Playboy Bunny to an almost-scream queen with this single performance, and it’s to no surprise. With her hypnotic stare and her sexually charged cataclysmic courting, she makes seducing weak willed man as fun here as it would be with Natasha Henstridge in Species
. She’s an ethereal blonde doing dirty deeds, and whether she’s seducing her gardener by dropping her towel or going all Scanners
on the delivery boy’s poor cranium, she’s always pushing the limits of intrigue. Oh, and her breasts grow into gnawing little demons.
We can thank John Carl Buechler for that last bit of praise and several more throughout the film. His effects are awesome. This is the same man who would go on to create the Ghoulies
and direct Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood
, and both see early manifestations in his effects here. Bresee’s ghoulish breasts look like they just popped out of a toilet, and there are plenty of Buechler’s notorious rib effects here, with bones protruding out of clothing the same way they do on Jason in The New Blood
. The creature itself is a fantastic demon that bares more than just a passing resemblance to Stan Winston’s later Pumpkinhead
. All fantastical effects aside though – Buechler gets everything right here, and even all the “regular” gore effects, from head exploding to face scratching all thrive with bloody intensity. Buechler always took a backseat in the press to Tom Savini throughout the eighties, but he’s proven here, as he has in many films since, that he’s more than worthy of the comparison.
If you aren’t watching this for the gory creations or gigantic cleavage, then I suppose a little camp will keep you interested. Former child-evangelist-turned-shitty-AIP-actor Marjoe Gortner proves once again that he’s the worst actor to ever have an Academy Award winning biopic, with lamentable delivery after lamentable delivery. You’d swear he was an amateur if you didn’t see his pages long resume. He may have bored you in The Food of the Gods
, but his amazing lazy-eye death scream close-up is one of the best I’ve seen. Stanford and Sons
’ LaWanda Page doesn’t hold anything back either, and her stereotypically over-the-top drunken black maid is both depressing and so outlandishly humorous it does nothing if not intrigues. There’s not a lot holding it together, but what is present in Mausoleum
amounts to as devilishly as good a time as other anemic early eighties classics like The Evil Dead and Demons.
Like the magic flute in Super Mario Bros. 3
, a couple blows and we are transported to the slasher sludge of Blood Song
. A young boy sees his father shoot his mother in the face before turning the gun on himself. With the two of them bloodied and dead right before his eyes, he does what any sensible boy would do…he plays his flute. Flash forward years later, and the traumatic events have caused Paul Foley (Frankie Avalon
) permanent sanctuary in a mental institution. You can’t keep a good song down though, and Paul escapes, seeking to live the life of a normal human being.
When a sexual partner disses his flute playing, though, it’s back to where his father left off, as Paul goes on a killing spree. He picks up women in a van that he seemingly stole from Slick in Prom Night
and makes sure to make machete music of women’s corpses. While burying a woman in the middle of a park (nice one), Paul is spotted by nosey schoolgirl and part-time cripple, Marion (Donna Wilkes
). She screams, he sees her, but she escapes, but Paul’s terror tune is far from over. If Donna doesn’t use her quick wit and her skills with a scythe, her screams might just become her swan song.
certainly gets the formula right – the opening childhood trauma kicks things off, and then voyeurism and sexual guilt guides the rest of the film to its over-the-top finale. In ways it has that same serious charm that make early slashers like Prom Night
and The Prowler
so endearing. But, at the same time, it has fucking Frankie Avalon playing a flute over and over and over. Talk about an ill-advised idea for a slasher. I’m still waiting on a slasher with Grizzly Adams and a fresh set of bagpipes. Avalon tries his best, but his teen idol image and wirey frame make him one of the least frightening villains in slasher history. Lugging around a flute certainly doesn’t help, either.
Donna Wilkes, who’d later slut up the streets in Angel
, makes for a competent Final Girl, although she’s more or less a poor man’s Daphne Zuniga. Luca Brasi as a skipper also makes for a weird bit of trivia (even weirder, maybe, is that he co-wrote this thing) and the title tune, with its simple melody and grinding synths, is certainly worthy of a film with “Song” in the title. Still though, the whole thing is pretty tame, with a few gory aftermath shots, but nothing much in the sense of brutality. There’s a little bit of dreamy sleaze permeating through the rest of the for-hire banality, and one of the most over-the-top projective parents in movie history, but for the most part this song ain’t got no rhythm.
Whenever you get two movies for the price of one, alarms always go off about the quality. Sometimes, it’s for naught, like Anchor Bay’s old House/House II
set, and sometimes there’s a reason. For Mausoleum
, there’s a reason. Mausoleum
starts off with some really bad print damage during the credits. This isn’t your usual dirt that comes with text opticals, but those green scratches that come with a well worn print. Simply being at the start of all the poor threading this thing has endured, the print is noticeably pretty worn. It gets better after the first few minutes, but it still plagued with green scratches throughout. Color has a decent saturation, but at the price of lower detail and higher contrast. When something falls into shadow, all information is lost. Thankfully, the film is at least 1.781: anamorphic and progressively encoded, so there’s at least some sharpness to the grainy image.
|BCI DVD||R2 DVD|
Here’s the real problem with Mausoleum
, though…it’s cut! Yes, the print used here not only loses much of the gore found on the bottom of the screen in the open matte VHS (and the Region 2 DVD), but the print itself has been sanitized as well. Notably the opening graveyard death, where the top of a man’s head explodes bloodily into the air, is completely missing, cutting just before, and then back just after, the blast. That’s not all though, the other standout death, the face clawing, is missing a lengthy scratch down the face and then a later insert shot as well. Considering the included commentary runs a little into the black at the end of this transfer, it’s clear that the participants were going off the uncut print while the version presented here is a few seconds shorter. Considering how good Buechler’s effects are, seeing them chopped up here (like they still are in his The New Blood
) is a major blow to this BCI release.
|BCI DVD||R2 DVD|
’s transfer isn’t really any better. It’s essentially an old, 1.33:1 full frame VHS transfer, with a very soft image and washed out coloring. It isn’t cut, but there wasn’t really much to cut out in the first place. There isn’t as much print damage as there is in Mausoleum
¸ but there’s a fair bit of white specking that makes its way into the print. Sadly, both films deserve a lot better than what they’ve received here.
Both films are presented in English mono only, and again, it isn’t pretty. Blood Song
has a small hiss to it, but generally sounds acceptable and as you’d expect from a no budget slasher. Mausoleum
, though, sounds like it was played off a warbly old record, with a repetitive thumping throughout the high hiss and lowly modulated track. It’s a struggle to sometimes hear what is being said, and the distracting playback noise makes the rest of the scenes in silent seem just as distracting. I understand it is tough to get good source elements for some of these forgotten flicks, but this one is particularly shabby.
While Blood Song
sadly comes with nothing, Mausoleum
features a great commentary track with star Bobbie Bresee. She speaks with the usual Code Red/BCI moderator, and is just a giddy delight throughout. She has nothing but love for the film, and it remains her most favorite work today. She takes the track in all tangents, and it’s a riot hearing her go from talking about how she was nearly blinded on set with those eye effects to how the entire crew would crowd around for her nude scenes to even who she’s voting for this coming election. It’s wonderfully scatterbrained, and filled with insight into her movie career that almost was. There’s plenty of controversy, too, from her falling out with Fred Olen Ray to the reveal of her actual age (think: dinosaur). Like that broken record that is the Mausoleum
soundtrack I’ll say it once more: BCI/Code Red commentaries are setting the new standard.
The disc, like BCI’s other “Exploitation Cinema” double features, also features a menu-driven interactive grindhouse theatre with the chance to watch the film in true grindhouse fashion. That is: the iconic “coming attractions” bumper, a few exploitative trailers (from Final Exam
to The Babysitter
), the “feature presentation” bumper, the first film, a snack bar ad, a few more trailers, and then the second picture. Although all the non-film related content is certainly not film-like in its interlaced form, it’s a nostalgic inclusion and makes for a fun way to watch the two films back to back. At any time though, it is easy to skip onto the next feature with the chapter button.
certainly doesn’t aim high, but it’s all bullseyes throughout its campy, gory and nudie proceedings. Bobbie Bresee makes for an enticing lead, and John Carl Buechler’s effects are inventive and filled with rubbery madness. Blood Song
is a mostly failed slasher, with the laughable concept of a flute-playing psychopath and the tame murders leading the way. The film takes the slasher genre with total sincerity though, and there is something innocently nostalgic that occasionally buoys the boredom. When it comes to transfers though, both films deserve much, much better. Mausoleum
not only sounds mastered from a broken record, but the print itself is cut, cut, cut. Blood Song
is in shoddy full screen and really needs to go back to the source. There’s a stellar commentary with Bobbie Bresee on Mausoleum
, but even that can’t make me recommend this release.
Code Red helped out considerably on Mausoleum
, but hopefully down the line it will get that same sterling treatment that their standalone discs usually receive. An uncut source needs to be used, the sound needs a good filter, and a few more extras would certainly do justice to this fun fright flick. If it’s doomed to double feature status, though, then hopefully BCI will at least clean it up and throw in an anamorphic Blood Song
in the process. For right now, this release is a song of woe.
Movie - B+
Image Quality - C-
Sound - D
Movie - C-
Image Quality - C
Sound - C
Supplements - B
- Running time - 1 hour 37 minutes [Mausoleum]
- Running time - 1 hour 29 minutes [Blood Song]
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English mono
- Audio commentary with Mausoleum star Bobbie Bresee and moderator
- "Exploitation experience" with trailers ads and a double feature simulating the theater
- BCI/Code Red trailers