Mortuary (2005) came out in a time when Tobe Hooper’s directing career was winding down. If we look at his last “good” film, we would have to go back several years and even then, some may not agree with the choices. Do you think The Mangler (1995) was a great movie? What about Toolbox Murders a year before Mortuary? Maybe we need to head back to the ’80s with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 or Lifeforce? It doesn’t take long before you begin to understand that Tobe Hooper only had a limited number of hits on his hands, but of course, he deserves all the credit he is given thanks to the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The point I’m trying to make here is that Mortuary is another movie in a dwindling film career. Is it a terrible movie? No, but it’s got some problems.
The plot for Mortuary is a mishmash of different ideas crammed into one film. Denise Crosby plays Leslie, a widowed mother of two, who is pursuing her career of becoming a mortician. To do that she needs to move her family to a dilapidated house full of mold and an overflowing septic tank. She isn’t going to win any mother of the year awards, but she means well. Leslie’s daughter at first seems terrified of the idea of dead bodies lying around the house, but it takes her all of a few seconds to be creeping on some coffins and helping out her mother in the morgue. Her son, Jonathan, on the other hand, wants to get out of the house as quick as possible. He does so by getting a job at a local diner, where his inevitable love interest works, played by Alexandra Adi. It doesn’t take long for Jonathan to come up against some bullies, one a big breasted blonde, the other a red-headed druggie and the third and most terrifying of them all, the actor who played Alfalfa in The Little Rascals (1994 version).
Finally, after 40 minutes of not much happening, Mortuary gets to the goods when we find out about the deformed man living under the mortuary, and the weird black tentacles that feed on human blood and turn people into crazy zombie-like monsters. There is humour thrown into the mix with the highlight involving an unfortunate embalming incident with Denise Crosby. Unfortunately, because the film took so long to get going, we have been served up a mouthful of plot points and ideas that aren’t completely cooked. We don’t know much about what truly is going on underneath the mortuary, and the ending is completely nonsensical: a pointless jump scare that leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth.
Mortuary saw a previous Blu-ray release from Echo Bridge, which gave buyers a MPEG-2 encode at a bitrate of 19Mbps and the results were mediocre at best. With the MVD release, we see things bumped up to MPEG-4 and a bitrate of around 25Mbps. However, don’t get excited as the transfer on this release ends up being the same as the Echo Bridge version. I’ve compared shots and flipped back and forth and the result is always the same, a bland, soft transfer that never exceeds beyond merely acceptable. Thankfully, the mediocre transfer isn’t bad enough to justify avoiding the film (the ending of the movie does a good job of that).
Unfortunately, the audio side of the Blu is not as good as the previous release. Whereas Echo Bridge was kind enough to offer 4 English audio tracks (English: LPCM 2.0, English: DTS 5.1, English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English: Dolby Digital 2.0), the MVD release only provides two tracks and they are both Dolby Digital. We are given a 5.1 surround track and a 2.0 stereo track. Honestly, they are serviceable tracks, but a bit on the weak side, forcing you to crank the volume up.
Extra Features are the same as the Echo Bridge Blu-ray. You can check out a Behind the Scenes featurette, which runs 54-minutes. It provides plenty of behind the scenes footage, and interviews with cast and crew. Next, you have the world’s longest trailer, clocking in at a whopping 14-minutes! Heck, you could just watch that instead of the movie and you would be fine. Lastly, we have the audio commentary with director Tobe Hooper.
Audio Commentary with director Tobe Hooper
Inside the Graveyard (SD, 53:40)
Mortuary is another poor effort from Tobe Hooper, who struggled to find success in the ’90s and on. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as there is some fun to be had in the crazy humour. Sadly, the Blu-ray from MVD lacks in the video and audio side, but it does provide viewers with a few special features, albeit older features. Only buy if you can’t find the previous Echo Bridge release anywhere.