Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Hearse

Normally, after all my family members die and my husband divorces me within the same month, I choose to head to my creepy old dead aunt's house out in the middle of nowhere for a summer of fixing up the house, dating ghosts, fighting with lawyers, and leading on young teens that work at their daddy's hardware stores. And being pursued by creepy hearses for no particular reason is always on my list of good times.

Such is how Jane's summer unfolds. She moves out of San Francisco for the summer - you know it's San Francisco cause look, here's some row houses. Over there, the Golden Gate Bridge! Here's some hills. It's all standard boring scene establishing stuff that's straight outta a made for TV movie, which I'm guessing THE HEARSE (1980) was made for TV, given its generic score (think ominous music at night, lilting piano scenes for the ghost sex - calm down - we'll get there in a minute, and boring we're moving out of the seventies into the early eighties score stuff for establishing shots and driving music), and lack of violence, as well as lack of female anatomy.

Jane moves into her old aunt Rebecca's house. Seems there some animosity amongst the townfolk - Rebecca's been dead almost thirty years (and there's nary a spec of dust in her house and it's not even all that decrepit) - and the town's lawyer Pritchard has been taking care of it. He wanted the house for himself, but since Jane's mom passed away a few weeks prior, the house now belongs to Jane. So Pritchard's miffed as fuck, even more so when he has to deliver the keys to Jane in the middle of the night when she arrives after being chased by a mysterious antique hearse on the road into town. We're not showing too much promise so far - the hearse is mainly concealed by the crappiness of my avi file and Jane, while it's intimated that she's a pretty loose canon (she sees a shrink before she leaves for BFE), she's just Jane, as her name might imply.

The slow burn continues as Jane settles into her new abode. Yeah, the place is big and sometimes the music box in the back room seems to play itself creepily and once in awhile Aunt Rebecca will make her presence known when you're on a ladder three stories up cleaning windows to scare the shit out of you, but it's home. Hell, it was free. I've always wanted to inherit a house - I don't even care what kind of house. No more mortgage, no more townhouse association fee.. but whatever. The filmmaker or whoever is going for a creepy old dark house vibe and it just ain't happening. Most of the 'spooky' stuff takes place during the day and the movie is freakin' called THE HEARSE. Less house, more demonic carriage of the dead, please.

Despite these sundry unpleasantries concerning her new dwelling, Jane is met with equal animosity in the town. Seems old Auntie had quite the reputation, as Jane will come to find out, the old broad was a card-carrying Satanist and pissed off more than a few townies with her witchy ways. Even the kindly old Reverend (who I don't trust for a second) Winston stops by to encourage Jane to attend church. She politely tells him she's not interested, but not before my favorite dialogue of the movie is exchanged.

Jane (upon seeing the Reverend pop up kinda outta nowhere): You scared the hell out of me!
Rev. Winston: I guess I should take that as a compliment.

Yeah, start slapping your knee now, I know. It really doesn't get much better than that. Or does it? I did mention ghost sex, didn't I?

So Jane's being hated on all over town and the house is weird and there's this hearse that likes to follow her at night, and she's been reading her Satanist aunt's journal at night before she goes to bed during thunderstorms (which is my usual reading material - it really relaxes me - especially by candlelight during power outages and I play the Halloween theme on a battery powered radio as I do so). Needless to say, she's having these funky nightmares where she attends her own funeral and her dead body hisses at her and there's all these old people in the church with fog and smoke. Remember that visit to the head shrinker? Yeah. Well, is Jane just crazy or is this whole business with the Satan worshipping aunt and her boyfriend, Robert granting her eternal life some big secret in the town that everyone knows about by Jane? You figure it out, because I'm bored. I told you this was a slow burn.

But we still have to get to my favorite part - the ghost sex. Despite all the aforementioned stupid shit, Jane meets Tom, a dapper gentleman that seems a bit out of time and place, but handsome enough nonetheless. And Jane's on the rebound big time, having been jilted by her man only like a month ago, so why not. When he offers to help her after her car breaks down on the side of the road, she invites him in. The make a date to see each other again and the next thing we know, they're out on their first date in a row boat in the middle of the lake in the middle of the night musing about love and death. Excuse me, but if some dude was like, hey Jenn, let me take you out in this canoe on this lake AT NIGHT and talk to you about the differences and similarities between being truly in love and truly dead, I would not want to go on that fucking date. No sir. I'm scared of canoes and lakes, especially at night. I also have a particular aversion to pretentious conversation as well. But hey, everyone else is hating on Jane, I'm not going to. And you'd date a ghost, too, if he flashed a thin-lipped smile at ya like this:

One thing leads to another, as things are wont to do, and Jane and Tom (what boring names - indicative of their romp) end up in the sack together. It's all tender and sweet with that nice piano music and everyone seems to enjoy themselves, given their happy facial expressions. After the coupling, that pretentious ass Tom leaves before he even gets to have coffee made for him. I don't trust him. And I've already spoiled it for you.

Jane falls hard and then decides to call Tom, but his numbers unlisted. Duh duh duhnnnnn! Get the digits before you do it with him, girl. After some more weird hearse pursuits, cemetery visiting, and Satanic journal reading, Jane figures out that Tom is actually Robert, Aunt Rebecca's partner in Luciferian crime, and he's come to make her immortal. I'd have to consider the sexy times though - what was it like doing it with a ghost? If it was okay, I might consider it. She's seems so ga-ga over Tom, why not? What else is she going to do - return to San Francisco and be a kindergarten teacher with and forget all about her otherworldly love affair and Beelzebub lovin' ancestry? I'd go with the more supernatural scenario, personally. I might even forgive Tom for that awful row boat date.

But before you can say I don't really give an eff, Reverend Winston (I know! And to think I was wary of him from the get!) comes over uninvited and and exorcises the house. Robert Tom and Jane get into a hearse/Chevrolet car chase and the hearse bursts into flames. FIN.

I tried to get a good pic of the hearse for you guys but my avi file was too dark, so here it is in flames. It really is the best thing about the movie - it's vintage looking - I'm not sure what make or model or anything - but it'd be a great hearse to drive around in - all purple curtains hanging and a big hood ornament. You know what they say about hearses with big hood ornaments? I'm not sure, either.

This is one of those that I had much more fun writing it up than I did actually watching it. It was slow, slow, slow. I want to take it by its shoulders and yell at it to hurry up! In fact, I cooked and ate dinner, had two phone conversations, and cleaned the kitchen during the hour and a half run time for this molasses-ed paced thing and STILL kept up! I wouldn't say totally avoid, but I think I'd just say 'meh' on THE HEARSE. (I like typing it in all CAPS; it makes it seem so much more ominous.) I mean, it shouldn't have even been called THE HEARSE; it should have been called something like AUNT OF SATAN or even something more ridiculous like HEARSE OF DEATH. That's a good title. Somebody make that movie for me.


  1. I just suffered through this thing, squirming uncomfortably the whole time. I actually had to stop halfway and take a nap. It just sucked the life out of me. I totally expected the ending to be akin to Carnival of Souls but I wasn't even granted that slightest bit of satisfaction. Beware! THE HEARSE is here to take an hour and a half of your life to the grave, never to be seen again!

  2. Yeah, it's pretty snoozy, Honey. And I know you take lots of naps though, so that goes without sayin'

  3. I followed up THE HEARSE with Underdog Battles Satan Claus so not all was lost.

  4. I followed it with DEMON SEED - ooh boy. Lots of cyber sexual situations and musings on what it's truly like to be human. Not to mention some feminist diatribe on males creating life and the female's role in it all. Sentient robots! Woohoo! Waaaay better than the HEARSE and not really a companion piece. But whatevs.

  5. I definitely reserve the canoe ride and love/death conversation for the 4th date.

  6. Yeah, too true, Carl. You ALWAYS save that one for like the fourth or even fifth date!

  7. This movie scared the shit out of me when I was like thirteen. Now it just bores the shit out of me. Trish Van Devere was great in The Changeling(1980).

  8. The hearse in the movie was a Henney-Packard. It has to be a '51-'54, because Henney (the conversion company) went out of business in '54. Very cool car. One of my most favorite hearses. I remember watching this movie when I was a kid just to see the car!