The Video Nasties #153 – Mausoleum (1983, Michael Dugan)

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‘God can’t help you now.’

Watching these Video Nasties has forced me to develop my own mantra, which I repeat over and over under my breath for the first 10 minutes of every film. It goes,

‘Thou shalt not judge a film by it’s opening scene, Thou shalt not judge a film by it’s opening scene, Thou shalt not judge a film by it’s opening scene, etc’

Luckily, it came in handy for Mausoleum.

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Because it’s another one of those films that begins with a dynamite sequence of horror and then flails around like a fish out of water for the rest of its runtime. But let’s enjoy the good while it lasts.

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A cemetery. Ambitious crane shots and Steadicam work reminiscent of Halloween. A young girl in a gothic crypt. Mario Bava-esque lighting.

Perfection!

Check out this, one of the best shots in any Nasty –

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And then, game over.

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Meet Susan and Oliver.

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Oliver is an important business man. We know, because he is waiting on a ‘call‘ about the ‘deal‘. While out dancing at a nightclub, he has to take a call. The next day he has to be at the office early, and then comes home late. In another, better film, Oliver would be having an affair. Here, it’s just bad characterisation. His wife is no better.

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Her character amounts to Ex-Playmate: will do nudity.

And she does, with aplomb.

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Do you want to hear about the plot?

Me neither. Something about demonic possession, my least favourite horror sub-genre. They even go for that most uncinematic and boring possession movie trope – the hypnotism scene.

On an unrelated note, doesn’t this shot remind you of Twin Peaks a bit?

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Maybe it’s just me.

Also perhaps not intentional is the undercurrent of – at best – class tension and at worst racism.

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The first victim is a homeless man living in a haunted crypt. I guess you could say that that is his own fault. The next guy is the Mexican gardener, Ben, the only character in cinema history to be given an extended laziness montage. Honestly, a full sequence showing him sleeping on the job, fishing, eating and just generally doing no work, before being seduced by the bored rich housewife and killed.

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But worst of all is Elsie, Susan’s black maid. Not content with having her look after our white leads in the most motherly fashion possible, Elsie is also the dreaded mixture of spiritual and sassy. ‘There’s some strange shit goin’ on in this house,’ she says while investigating a bright green light coming from the bedroom.

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She decides not to check, instead saying, ‘Good googly boogly – no mo’ grievin’, am leavin’!’ She runs from the house to the sound of her own comedy musical cue, and you shake your head in disbelief that this was 1983.

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There are just enough crazy supernatural deaths to keep you from falling asleep, and there’s the classic scene near the end where Susan’s breasts grow faces and rip someone’s guts out, but everything around these moments seem designed to make you not give a shit, and it is for this reason that I simply can’t recommend Mausoleum. Unless, of course, you are studying casual racism in the 1980s, in which case you’ve hit a strange, sad little jackpot.

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