Bobbie Bresee, Marjoe Gortner, Norman Burton, Maurice Sherbanee
Mausoleum is a film about split personalities -that has a split personality itself!
We open in a graveyard where young Susan (JULIE CHRISTY MURRAY) is mourning the loss of her mother. Running away from her Aunt Cora (LAURA HIPPE - in her final role before her tragic suicide), she seeks refuge in an old Mausoleum. The tomb seems to call to her, reaching out to her mind as a heavy fog rolls from it's gates. Inside, she finds a demon who makes her forget about all her troubles.
Years later, we meet up with an adult Susan (BOBBIE BRESEE - STAR SLAMMER, ARMED RESPONSE, GHOULIES, PRISON SHIP, EVIL SPAWN, VAMPYRE and SOCIAL SUICIDE), now a happily married woman who doesn't seem to have any skeletons, or anything else amiss, in her closet. Her husband, Oliver (MARJOE GORTNER - STARCRASH, EARTHQUAKE!) is away most of the time, but tries to spend as much time with his wife when he is around.
Everything looks picture perfect.
Then, Susan starts going a little stir-crazy. As Susan's loneliness increases, the demon from the MAUSOLEUM is hatched once again. Susans' spirits begin to rise, but she goes through some startling changes. She starts to have moodswings and starts flirting with the sleazy gardener (a super sexy interlude). Strange deaths begin occurring whenever she's around. Finally, one night, Oliver wakes up to see Susan sitting in a rocking chair and he has a terrifying gut instinct that the woman "in" his rocking chair is not his wife.
Everything starts out promising. The prologue is excellent, relying on atmosphere and many exquisite and impressive special effects (this includes the demon itself, designed by JOHN CARL BUECHLER). Everything points to this film being a true diamond in the rough.
Then, Susan and Oliver go disco dancing. They wholeheartedly shake their booties to some instrumental dance track and there is a very sexy scene involving a delivery boy; these and other memorable parts only cement my opinion of the entire film and I would like to describe one comedic subplot which may give momentary pause between the intense horror and unrelenting bloodshed!!!
Easily, the best comedic moment involves the character of Elsie (LaWANDA PAGE - SANFORD & SON), an African-American maid who suspects that strange things are going on. She is a comic relief character and that's not bad. LaWANDA certainly has a good comedic resume. The humor was handled with more class than say the racist stereotypes in the THIRTEEN GHOSTS remake. With such classic lines as-- "There's some strange s_ _ _ going on in here, I know there is"! And "Man, I ain't been this nervous since I've been Black". Then, as she finally flees the house of terror, LaWANDA rolls her eyes like an old minstrel show, mutters, "No more grievin'. I'm leavin'," and runs out of the house, complete with high-speed effects and slapstick music.
On to the rest of the film, which is exceptionally better!!! What strikes the viewer is how Susan's possession coincides with her loneliness. Susan is a classic co-dependent. The demon makes its first appearance when she's orphaned and then comes back when her husband goes away on business and she becomes bored with her existence as a housewife. Add to this the idea that the possession is alleged to have taken her mother as well and you've got addictive personalities being passed down genetically.
In real life, loneliness leads to all sorts of vice. People have admitted to turning to alcohol, drugs, pornography and other taboo objects to please their own personal demons. By the time they realize how much they've destroyed themselves, it's often too late.
Idle hands are the devil's playground and Susan just shows an extreme facet of those addictions. The demon takes a psychological and finally a physical form. Instead of the bottle or prescription drugs, the demon makes a personal appearance, manifesting itself within Susan. It's a fascinating point to the story and it's the part that works the best.
Hear me out. MARILYN CHAMBERS, former adult film actress who went legitimate, bringing her charisma and honesty with her to straight films. Compare MARILYNS' performance in David Cronenberg's RABID to BOBBIES' performance in MAUSOLEUM. In RABID, MARILYN was able to retain her dignity as the tragedy of her infestation increased. It never played nearly as insipid, vapid and clichéd as it could have. In MAUSOLEUM, BOBBIES' performance is exceptionally honest and her charisma is supreme even when the plot twists become more and more fantastic.
MARJOE GORTNER does a very good job. MARJOE is an interesting actor in his own right. An ordained minister at the age of four, he continued to heal and preach all along the Bible Belt, until he exposed the whole industry as a fraud when he was in his teens. He left in disgust and turned his attentions to acting in various exploitation films, some with better results than others.
What makes MAUSOLEUM so memorable is that it seems like two different films. Most of the time, the film is intense and very moody. Other parts show the very warmth and passion indicative of separating itself from just the pedantic, run-of-the-mill, splatter-fest and blood bath movies! This movie is most definitely worth seeing over and over again.
MAUSOLEUM really tries and it succeeds!!! The personalities described in the film are as addictive as the story-line itself!!!
The performances are awesome, for the most part, luscious BOBBIE BRESEE does a breathtaking and impressive performance in the title role, whether or not she's under the demonic influence. --Especially when it comes time for her eyes to glow green and the slaughter to begin.
The Movie Data
The Movie Trailer
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