Color, 1983, 97 mins. 10 secs.
Directed by Michael Dugan
Starring Marjoe Gortner, Bobbie Bresee, Norman Burton, Maurice Sherbanee, LaWanda Page, Laura Hippe
Treasured Films (Blu-ray) (UK R0 HD), Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), BCI/Eclipse (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Dark Vision, Cornerstone (DVD) (UK R0 PAL), CMV Laservision (DVD) (Germany R2 PAL

MausoleumGiven an enthusiastic Mausoleumavalanche of coverage in Famous Monsters magazine, Mausoleum was one of those mystery films (a la Night Warning and Demon Rage) for a lot of horror-loving kids who wondered where the actual movie wound up going. The press coverage played up the (excellent) monster effects and tried to make a new scream queen out of star Bobbie Bresee, a Playboy Bunny who had turned up on a handful of TV series like The Love Boat and Wonder Woman. The film ended up hitting a very small number of screens (predominantly drive-ins) in 1983, with its evocative poster art getting only a bit of traction amid a glut of slasher films. However, Bresee did end up being cast in future films like Ghoulies and Star Slammer, and the film did go on to find an audience on home video and airings on the USA Network.

After the death of her wealthy mother, young Susan is so distraught about going off to live with her aunt Cora (Hippe) that she runs away through the cemetery to the Nomed family mausoleum where mom's body is being kept. Unfortunately that puts her in the line of fire of a clawed demon that's been lurking inside her family members for generations, and now it's Susan's turn. Flash forward a couple of decades as a now adult Susan (Bresee) has inherited her mother's estate and now lives with her husband, Oliver (Gortner). Those latent demonic powers finally start to emerge obviously enough to tip off Cora, Mausoleumespecially when Susan's eyes tend to turn green at moments of heightened emotion and kill anyone who's gotten on her bad side. MausoleumHer therapist, Dr. Andrews (Burton), finds he's dealing with something far more dangerous than a broken psyche as people around Susan keep dying off, with an increasingly distraught Oliver also trying to get to the bottom of his wife's supernatural behavior.

A sex-crazed creature feature that felt out oddly out of step in a year crowded with everything from Christine to Sleepaway Camp to Psycho II, this feels far more like something that would be at home on cable TV where its gaudy colorful lighting and hit and miss filmmaking prowess would be more appealing. The film definitely delivers on the outrageous highlights with a cavalcade of death scenes (including a great falling gag in a shopping mall) and grotesque monster effects including one involving carnivorous breasts that has to be seen to be believed. These concoctions are the early handiwork of John Carl Buechler, who would work on tons of Empire Pictures favorites and direct Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Cellar Dweller, and Troll.

After its VHS release (most prominently from Embassy in the U.S.), Mausoleum laid low for many years until it turned up in 2008 from BCI Eclipse as part of its Exploitation Cinema line, paired up with the Frankie Avalon horror oddity, Blood Song. Initially slated to come out from Code Red, the film can also be played with a "Grindhouse Experience" option tacking on assorted goodies including bonus trailers for Final Exam, Nightmare, The Babysitter, Savage Streets, Beyond the Door, and Killer Fish. MausoleumUnfortunately that transfer is taken from a very, very battered film print of the R-rated U.S. version, which uses Mausoleuma little editorial finesse to omit a brief but graphic exploding head effect in the opening sequence. That same version made the rounds on every other DVD out there around the time except for the full frame German one. On the positive side the film can be played with an exclusive extra, a fun audio commentary with Bresee and Lee Christian that zips through her career leading up to this film, the challenges of sitting for hours going through the elaborate latex appliance process, the scrappy nature of the production mainly led by newbies to the industry, and more.

In 2018, Vinegar Syndrome bowed the title on Blu-ray and DVD for its worldwide HD debut as a Black Friday dual-format slipcase edition. Despite claims that ratty theatrical prints were the only game out there, this release proves otherwise as it's taken from the original camera negative and looks absolutely stunning. The stylized lighting schemes really pack a punch here, and far more image info is visible compared to past release as well. This is also the uncensored version of the film complete with the head explosion, which is great to finally have back in action. The English LPCM mono track is also in better shape, though the original sound mix (with tons of sibilance, especially from Bresee) has never been that hot in the first place. The main extra here is "Making Monsters" (8m39s), a new video interview with Buechler who chats about Bresee being a trooper even when having an allergic reaction to her makeup, the dubious nature of crediting Michel Dugan as the director, the optometrist brought on board to come up with those crazy gel contact lenses (used again in Ghoulies), and plenty more. The theatrical trailer is also included (in gorgeous quality) along with two TV spots and a gallery of lobby cards and other promotional material.

In 2023, Treasured Films upped the ante with the film's first U.K. special edition on Blu-ray, featuring the same excellent scan and audio quality (with English SDH subs) as well as a slew of bonus features. The Bresee audio commentary is finally back here and great to have; it's worth noting that it was recorded to the cut version and was already out of sync the first time around, so that's the case here as well. A brisk new audio commentary by Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw spends a fair Mausoleumbit on the film's baffling run-in with the BBFC when it got tangled up in the video nasty panic, as well as plenty of detail Mausoleumabout the film's place in the '80s horror cycle and all the major players involved including Gortner's very colorful life and career. (Weirdly, the film now sports a "15" rating despite the heavy quantities of gore and nudity.)

The "Making Monsters" featurette and trailer are here as well, but you get plenty more starting with "A Damn Good Reason" (52m58s) in which the elusive Bresee provides a new audio interview with Christian covering pretty much every aspect of her life and career. Loaded with memorabilia from her own collection, it's a great listen opening up with the final word about how to pronounce her last name and going through pretty much anything you could want to know about her. "When You Comin’ Back, Marjoe?" (19m46s) is a new video essay on Gortner by author John Harrison (who wrote the book Wildcat! about the actor) covering his fascination starting with The Food of the Gods and some of the more unusual detours in Gortner's life including his outstanding performance in When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? In the hilariously candid "Babysitting Monsters" (22m43s), special effects artist Christopher Biggs looks back at his rather chaotic experience making the film, his pleasant shock at the end result getting released, his tenacious stabs at getting into movie makeup, and lots of comments about the industry at the time including his work on the fourth and fifth Nightmare on Elm Street films that had every different fates with the MPAA. In "Cursed Auras" (29m44s), Stephen Thrower, the preeminent literary expert on regional American horror, parses through this film's bizarre and sometimes sketchy history involving its multiple directors, a longtime gestation maybe going back to 1978, its shooting in two different halves, and its peculiar release history and promotion. Also included are a minute of TV spots and a huge 7m22s gallery of virtually anything you could want to see from the film's first announcement through its home video releases. The limited 3,000-unit edition comes in a rigid slipcase with art by Graham Humphreys, six art cards, and a perfect-bound book with essays by Darrell Buxton ("Losing the Plot: Mausoleum Has Risen from the Grave!"), Mikel Koven ("Liliths, Succubae and the Nomed Family Curse"), and John Martin ("Obscene...ish!"). The first 500 webstore orders also come with an exclusive "Bitey Boobs' Nomed Demon Magnet" perfect for your fridge and a reversible fold-out poster.



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BCI Eclipse (DVD)

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Updated review on December 21, 2023.