The Hearse (1980)

the hearse

Director:George Bowers
Starring: Trish Van Devere, Joseph Cotten, David Gautreaux . USA. 1h m

A newly divorced woman, Jane Hardy (Trish Van Devere) decides to spend the summer in a home left to her by her deceased aunt, on the way there she has a dangerous encounter with an old hearse and it doesn’t take long for her to discover that the house is haunted. The locals don’t take to her easily and it’s not just because of her being an outsider but due to the legacy that her late aunt left behind, no one openly wants to be around her or her home. After some poking around and several visits from the mysterious hearse she discovers that her aunt used to dabble in the occult with her lover, who is much like the kindred spirit Tom Sullivan (David Gautreaux) who has often turned up on Jane’s door, the only kind face she really knows and who she is highly attracted to, so much that she ignores any signs of him being the ghost of her dead aunt’s lover.

Everything about this movie is terrible but I find myself watching it time and time again, it’s pretty tame when it comes to your average 80’s ghost flicks, the lead is incredibly slow and gullible and her presence is only out to heal her soul and find love, this Mills and Boon approach to haunting films often make them tame and at times laughable. There are no hatchets in the heads or anything that would really make you leave the light on at night, in fact it’s more of an annoyance than a haunting. But he has its charms, despite being a qualifier for the bargain bin. It feels like a rejected plot for a halloween special Murder She Wrote, but in its credit the movie is just a ghost story, no on par with the lifelong frights of The Changeling (1980) but it’s simple that and no more, the signs of the house being haunted aren’t all that frightening or unique, a music box plays by itself, doors close by themselves, her dead aunt appears in a mirror and there are mysterious footsteps, it’s nursey grade haunting material. There is one particularly bizarre scene when a minister turns up to .. well to do something I guess he’s trying to exorcise the house, despite it being a haunting he spends his time asking Satan to get behind theeeee while unknown winds lap at his gray hair, who said Satan was in? I thought this was the ghost of an old lady? How does the Hearse figure into this? Who researched this?

It’s not often that I recommend a movie overhaul but I feel that maybe this could be a success if modernised, give is a tough femme fatale with some passion and strength to really fight the paranormal entities terrorising her and maybe with some consideration to the filming this could really work. What gels all of The Hearse together is the idiot factor, everyone in the movie is an idiot, we have those really stupid ideas and conclusions that spur the movie on but leave us wondering how these people have lived until a ripe old age without killing themselves.




Rating 3/10

RHouse of 7 Corpses (1974), Dead End (2003), Amityville (1979), The Changeling (1980),
L – Hearses in films, Favourite Movie Cars, Haunted Houses,
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