THE MORTUARY COLLECTION Gives Horror Addicts an Anthology Fix: FANTASIA 2020
A spooky mortician tells a new employee horrific tales on how the various dead, the very corpses that populate the mortuary, met their terrifying end.
Written and Directed by Ryan Spindle, THE MORTUARY COLLECTION is a fun throwback to anthology horror flicks like TALES FROM THE CRYPT (both the Amicus and HBO versions), CREEPSHOW, and more recent fair like TRICK R TREAT or the V/H/S film series.
This film has all the staples that make a great anthology film. There’s a creepy host, plenty macabre moments, and stories that daringly walk that line between gory and goofy. It’s the perfect combo that made 80s horror great, especially within this genre. You need that blend to give something to everyone, and this one certainly serves a varied menu of shocking tales.
Clancy Brown plays then head mortician, Montgomery Dark, at his absolute Lurch-iest best. He’s a tall ghoulish individual that totally sets the tone of this film. He’s the kind of host that totally makes the premise work, and he’s right there with the Cryptkeeper, or Mr. Sims from TALES FROM THE HOOD. He’s such a perfect character to take us on this ride. Montgomery Dark has total BDE (Big Death Energy). At times he made this film feels like a very colourful adaptation of the 1970s black and white Warren Publishing horror mags, Creepy and Eerie. Montgomery Dark totally feels like Uncle Creepy. And I’m totally okay with that.
Yes, the comparisons to horror books, especially 1950s horror comic books, are unavoidable because this film perfectly captures that vibe. This film wears that influential stamp from EC Comic’s Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, and Weird Fantasy, among many others, and that’s a great thing.
From the bright vivid primary colours, to the over the top gruesome deaths, to the occasional morality tales, this film just screams fright books. It’s as much as love letter to that genre that CREEPSHOW was in the 80s. This is a terrific tribute to that, and the countless imitators those books and stories spawned in both print and celluloid. It’s all about telling imaginative and deliciously devilish stories, and this one has that in droves!
In total, there are four segments that take place throughout various eras. What kind of stories are we dealing with? Well, there’s the one about a pickpocket dealing with Lovecraftian eldritch beasts lurking in the bathroom. There’s another about an oversexed fratboy experiencing a rather painful post-coitus experience. There’s a frazzled husband reaching his breaking point in dealing with his wife’s debilitating illness. And finally a babysitter dealing with a deranged murderer on the loose. That last one even features a film within a film, with a pitch-perfect riff on John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, right down to a late 70’s synthtastic score and grainy film print.
There’s indeed something for every horror fan in this one. Every story has unique bend to it. The babysitter one in particular, the definite anchor to this film, as you’ll see why upon watching it, has a wonderful spin on a few classic urban legends. It’s thrilling, with a perfectly WTF end that’s fitting with this film’s fiendish tone.
The wraparound bits are also diabolically fun, And at a near 2 hour run time, you need that. Also, the enthusiastic Sam is a great counter point to Dark’s hulking, yet brooding presence, and their dynamic is felt throughout. A good host segment with an ongoing narrative is always that fun little dessert in these kind of films, especially if it has a story of its own. This one in particular, involving the would be employee, Sam (played by Caitlin Custer), does not disappoint at all, and probably features one of the most horrific scares near the end involving– actually, I won’t spoil that for you. Just watch it and get back to me.
This film is such a treat. It’s got some particularly nasty bits of gore and wonderful creature FX throughout. It’ll definitely fill any horror junkie’s vice, which admittedly surprising since the first few opening shots led me to believe it would have an entirely different tone. I was totally wrong, and I love that it did that. The way it dived into the blood and gore and absolute weirdness, totally hit me in my jaded horror fan face.
I didn’t expect to love this one as much as I did. I actually think I love this one more than some of the classics. Anthologies are notorious for being a mixed bag, with at least one clunker in the bunch, but every one of these segments hit the spot. This is easily one of the best friggin’ horror anthologies out there, and what’s absolutely incredible is that every story is written and directed by one one person.
It’s definitely not for everyone, and I’m totally biased when it comes to horror anthologies and shorts, but if you like those films you’ll probably love this one. If you’ve read this far, you’re definitely going to like this one.
THE MORTUARY COLLECTION is the perfect for any horror fanatic who needs a late night fix that’s creepy & kooky with a mix of creature features, slashers, and copious amounts of blood. Was so glad that FANTASIA FEST showcased it, and I really hope it gets a wide release in time for the Halloween season, because this is destined to be a seasonal fave. There’s enough murderous mirth to fill any spooky soul.