Funeral Home - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Funeral Home


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Movie: :2stars:
Video: :3stars:
Audio: :2.5stars:
Extras: :4.5stars:
Final Score: :2.5stars:




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Movie

I know a person can’t see every single movie on the planet, even in a specific decade, but I found it shocking that I had not ever seen Funeral Home before. Being a 1980s horror buff this was an affront to my reputation, so when I saw that Scream Factory was releasing a collector’s edition of the film I dove on it quickly so that I might remedy this particular error in my ways. Unfortunately, lets just say that there’s a reason that I’ve never seen the film. Funeral Home (originally titled Cries in the Night) came and went right around the turn of the 1970s turning into 1980, and was generally seen as a flop from what I could pull up in records. The Canadian production is a straight forward horror thriller, taking cues from Psycho and various other classic films to craft a flick that barely manages to raise the interest level of the viewer past the 1st notch of “I give a care”. There’s some fun performances by Kay Hawtrey (who will always be the library attendant in 1998’s Urban Legend to me) and Jack Van Evera (through flashbacks), but overall this is a pretty forgettable low budget thriller.

Heather (Lesleh Donaldson) arrives to work on grandmother’s Funeral Home that has been recently converted to a bed and breakfast after her grandfather vanished. Her grandmother Maude (Kay Hawtrey) is a god fearing, fire and brimstone preaching, prim and proper woman who wants to make due after Mr. Chalmers vanished some time back. Heather herself is your typical teenager who wants to date cute boys and have fun, so there’s some natural friction between the two generation of women. However, the two form a sort of “understanding” as the film progresses that seems to run only skin deep.

Simultaneously Maude is running her little bed and breakfast as best she can, but the clientele that she’s attracting is raising her moral ire just a bit. There’s the sleazy salesman shacking up with his floozy girlfriend for a weekend away from his “real” family, the mysterious old man who has a secret that he’s not telling, and even worse, random visitors from around town are vanishing mysteriously. It all starts with a real estate developer who was poking his nose into buying Maude’s old Funeral Home, but soon starts to spread to other guests in the creaking old home. Heather’s curiosity gets the best of her, and despite all of Maude’s protestations of everything being find, begins to slowly suspect that her grandmother is keeping a terrible secret locked up in the cellar of their old home. A secret which may explain all of the terrible deaths and missing person’s that has been plaguing the town the last few months.

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Funeral Home is an absolutely silly production, and much like so many other films early on in a decade, it mimics more of the 1970s horror/thrillers than it does what we consider 80s horror films. The flick is very light on horror or suspense at all until the half way point of the movie. There’s some rumblings of missing persons and crummy people hanging around, but there’s no real suspense up until the point where the sleazy salesman and his girlfriend get murdered. And even then, the suspense and horror is kind of chuckle worthy, culminating in a “twist” ending that anyone who has ever seen Psycho will see coming a mile away (I actually started belly laughing when the “twist” came to fruition on screen. I knew it was coming, but it was so over acted in a Broadway play style manor that it was one of the most unintentionally funny parts of the whole movie).

I can’t fault EVERYTHING on the writers, as there was a lot of budgetary constraints on the film. The movie is supposed to be set in Northampton New England, but the film can’t blur out or deflect all of the Ontario and Toronto license plates on the cars. Nor can the slight Canadian “how aboot that” accent be completely eliminated as well. The thing was made on a shoe string budget and slapped out there during the change over from the 1970s ghost/psychological thrillers just as the 1980s gore fests was about to dominate. As such, it sort of slipped through the cracks and really didn’t make much of an impression on cinematic history.




Rating:

Rated R by the MPAA




Video: :3stars:
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While there supposedly was a new master struck for this film recently, there’s not a whole lot of information out there on the film’s source material, now what level master was struck for the film. But either way, there is a lot going on with it. Shout Studios/Scream Factory seems to have tried to mitigate a lot of the source degradation that went on, but there’s a ton of issues that remain. Including haloing, flickering on the screen, and some soft and mildly smeary look to the entire image. Detail is a bit soft as a result and colors (while warm) seem to be slightly lacking and leaning towards that dulled brown and light foliage green tones. Housing interiors seem to fare the best, but the copious “day for night” shots give a heavy fake blue tinge that just doesn’t let up during the many night time scenes. Grain is there, but it seems a bit smoothed out and I noticed some crush in the darker shots as well. Overall it’s a “eh, we have what we have” type of presentation.









Audio: :2.5stars:
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The DTS-HD MA track also suffers pretty badly from technical limitations of the time, as well as obvious source degradation as well. There is a very muddied and murky sound to the entire track, with crackling vocals, rasping high ends, and some shrill tones that keep this from being anymore more than an “acceptable” mix more than anything. The sound seems a little digitally processed to get rid of some of the degradation, but there’s only so much you can do with a cheaply shot Canadian film, that has sat lounging in a studio storage for the better part of 45 years.












Extras: :4.5stars:
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• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historians Jason Pichonsky And Paul Corupe
• NEW Isolated Score Selections & Audio Interview With Music Historian Douglass Fake
• NEW Audio Interviews With Actor Lesleh Donaldson, First Assistant Director Ray Sager, And Production Assistant Shelley Allen
• NEW "Secrets & Shadows" - Interview With Director Of Photography Mark Irwin
• NEW "Dead & Breakfast" Interviews With Art Director Susan Longmire And Set Assistant Elinor Galbraith
• NEW "Family Owned & Operated" Interview With Brian Allen, President Of Premier Drive-In Theatres
• NEW Original Filming Location Footage
• Theatrical Trailer
• Video Trailer
• TV Spots
• Radio Spots
• Still Gallery












Final Score: :2.5stars:

Funeral Home is a slice of ancient 1980s (yes, my joints snap like rice crispies and I have lower back pain so I can say that as I grew up in the 80s) history that is fun to re-watch, and I’m glad that Scream Factory actually rescued this one from the DVD hell that it was relegated to decades ago. The Blu-ray is loaded to the gills with special features, but suffers from having a poor video and audio source, despite going back for a new remaster. Couple that with the very niche audience that this will appeal to and It’s basically one of those movies that I can really only recommend for fans of the film. Most others will want to catch this streaming or rent it first before considering a buy.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Kay Hawtrey, Lesleh Donaldson, Barry Morse, Dean Garbett, Alf Humphreys, Jack Van Evera
Directed by: William Fruet
Written by: Ida Nelson
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English SDH
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 92 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: February 6th, 2024
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Recommendation: Skip It/For the Fans

 

Asere

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We have similar taste in 80s horror but I haven't seen this one either. I will watch it one day if it is streaming. Thanks for the review.
 

Asere

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Denon AVR X4200W
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Wanted to mention I ordered the 1980's Nightmares with the four tales with Emilio Estevez. I haven't seen it since the 80's and likely cheesy now but a fun nostalgic watch for sure. I also ordered Ghost Story with Fred Astaire. Another goodie from the 80's.
 

VJM

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Gotta love the 80's horror cheese, I love them all, haven't seen this but I'll keep it on my radar.
 
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