FUNERAL HOME is a wonderful start to the world of 80s horror. It's a strange blend of so many tropes that will be seen as the cornerstones of horror of the 80s. The creepy old location, the strange cast of characters - some you don't even know the names of as they stomp around the set, the obvious red herring moments... It even has an off screen conversation between two people that you just see in shadows - PSYCHO style.
The one thing it's missing is shocks and gore. It's a slower paced little tale, but a fun watch.
Lesleh Donaldson plays Heather, a...teen ager? Maybe? Maybe 23 years old? Maybe 16?...who goes to help her Grandmother run her new bed and breakfast. Yup...in what used to be a funeral home. And...let the mysteries begin! Who's Grandma talking to in the basement? What happened to the WAY over the top couple who was at the B&B humping around IN SIN? Where did this other guy go who seemingly buried his own car under a bale of hay? And...why does a black cat freak Heather out so much?
There are these fantastic moments in the film that date it wonderfully. Things like the Grandmother - played by a wondrous, scenery chewing Kay Hawtrey - hearing that the two "kids" have gone into the basement area and want to know if there is more "cool stuff" in the cellar to which she replies, "The CELLAR? :::pause::: You must NEVER go into the CELLAR."
And Heather muttering things like, "It's awful the way he just disappeared...without anyone knowing what happened to him," with a far away look in her eyes.
The movie stumbles along spinning it's tale with a fun look and feel. There are flashbacks and side stories that really keep this film moving, even though there are moments where it's not moving at all. hehehe
Yeah...this is kind of a hot mess, but it's a fun hot mess. It's an interesting move from 70s horror into the world of 80s nastiness that was still to come. It even snatches some nuggets put out by FRIDAY THE 13th mere months before like the flashlight in the face/who's that? gag and shadowy, back-lit killers. However, there are some new reveals that are rather creepy as well.
The story is rather complex and and plays out nicely. It manages to bring a few "Ah Ha!" moments into play. It would be a good "starter horror" for someone who wants to explore the genre, but doesn't want anything too crazy. It has it's "slasher" moments, but all the scenes play out far tamer than your FRIDAY THE 13th films.
And, if the simple story still confuses you when the movie ends, don't worry, there's a full recap as the credits role by Alf Humphreys as he talks to a reporter and pets the real hero of the story, the black cat from the beginning of the movie. :) This film was a lot of fun.