Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Section 3: Mausoleum

Section 3: Mausoleum

welcome to Section 3, home to the near nasties and a place of final rest for films that tickled the balls of bad taste when pre cert cassettes were simply video cassettes and the police felt the need to help themselves to your collection. This episode we have a film that features the worst kind of hand me down as a young girl gets herself good and cursed by a family demon in Michael Dugan's Mausoleum.

Susan is orphaned at a young age and after running away at her mothers funeral she happens across a rather ominous looking mausoleum which she seems compelled to explore. Inside she encounters a horrifying creature that kills off the stranger who followed her in, something odd is apparently afoot. Years later and we find Susan grown up and having inherited her mothers old house. Things are not quite right though as her family and friends notice unusual things going on with her

Mausoleum is a silly and kinda nonsensical film. From the very beginning we get a rushed out piece of exposition that culminates in the Young Susan running away from her guardian. The reaction of the guardian, Susan's aunt, is rather bizarre to say the least and only explainable in retrospect but the film likes to play these games with the audience, even if it's never directly addressed. The general shoddiness of the film is on full show just in this first scene from the less than spectacular optical effect of the mausoleum, to the random killing of the stranger, the way that Susan is somehow already enthralled by the demon but still feels the need to go see it emerge from the crypt to the soon to be reoccurring nomed reference (psst.....spoiler alert but it's Demon spelt backwards.....) I guess Son of Dracula was more influential than I realised...
It's this kind of cheese that typifies Mausoleum as a whole it's all a bit flaky and when it comes to making sense then the shit really hits the fan. The first twenty minutes brings up a plethora of unanswered questions such as why does the possession happen so young but not manifest again until much later in her life, how come the young Susan looks nothing at all like herself those years later, why does she play the games with the gardener, seducing then berating then shagging him before killing him? If these kinds of unanswered questions are going to drive you nuts then strap yourself in because it's not going to be an easy ride.
Even some fundamental questions such as why it is the family are cursed are skated over in the briefest of fashions, nothing is really explained and so much is taken for granted. This is really the irksome thing about Mausoleum, it just doesn't bother to so much as care about the simplest things that it itself hangs the story on. It is to the core, deeply sloppy and messy in these respects. As a result of this the entire film feels rather disjointed, there is a disconnect between what's seen and what happens, cause and effect are so loosely tied and sometimes even completely detached to the point that you just don't even have to be paying attention to catch the plot holes. This oddly can sometimes works in favour of a film but in the case of Mausoleum it really doesn't do anything for it. Mausoleum does have a very nightmare like quality to it the fractured images and plot as much of a hindrance as it is does almost falteringly tie into this, though had it been better executed in terms of the story then maybe it could have tied in the woolly plot structure and flaky attention to detail and made it contribute to the bizarre atmosphere of the film more effectively but as it is it simply makes for a barely coherent mess of a story. It's clear that when an explanation for something happening was identified that a contrived solution was whipped up to fill in the gaps, but it also seems that that was as far as the writing would go, answer the immediate question with an answer that makes little to no more sense than the original problem. Point in case the funeral scene....(opening scene) okay so sure they seem to know about the curse but why fulfil it by taking her to the very place where the problem exists....hold the funeral somewhere else for crying out loud. This is really a film with more holes than a mole infested golf course and if you hope to have anything substantive to watch here then frankly you're in for a disappointment as it's just nonsense upon nonsense with an ending that makes less sense than anything in the movie before it, no spoilers here but damn if it isn't the strangest and most ill thought out use of a plot twist ever and aside from that it leaves so much up in the air it'll put Nasa to shame.
This is really Mausoleums major flaw, and it's a big one, however its not so big as to entirely kill the film off. What we have here is basically an Omen/Exorcist inspired film, though Mausoleum really doesn't get to the dramatic height of either of these films by a long shot, it's just too cheap and nasty to compete on either films terms and considering the story was rather thrown together it's not like it even has that going for it. However, Mausoleum does manage to generate a weird atmosphere that peps up the film as a whole, sure it doesn't make too much sense but it does feel like a stroll into a fevered nightmare of someone suffering terminal malaria.
This is amplified by the bizarre characters, from the odd Aunt, to the creepy doctor and the slimy gardener. The later, the gardener is one of the more ….. uncomfortable portrayals in this film. The ethnic characters are not only rather screwball they are rather, stereotypical. I say stereotypical rather than racist as I don't think its malicious rather than a bit lazy. The black maid is straight out of the worst kind of parody even down the exclamation of Great googly moogly! This just peppers the film rather than permeating it and it would be easy to overstate it. It comes across more as ill advised humour rather than being malicious and there is a moment of levelling in one scene between Susan and the maid........[19:30ish shopping list] ain't much but it's there and it does make the portrayals lean more towards comedy than being mean spirited.
To add to the off the wall feeling there is the casting of Marjoe Gortner who's surprisingly capable here but it's fairly strange to see the ex child evangelist superstar acting alongside a naked playboy model.

I am very aware that this has so far been a rather negative review of the film, this is not what you should take away from this review though as Mausoleum actually works out to be a moderately fun film despite its shortcomings. It's certainly hokey enough to be amusing, the performances just the right side of bad and the special effects are particularly amusing. It all comes over as being an early 1900 horror that arrived at the cinema in the wrong decade. The shadows of the monsters come over as a lift from the classic Nosferatu, though to the casual viewer its of course a cheap way around the low budget, truth is it's probably a bit of both. Then there is the exorcist like make up of Susan as the monster and the indiscriminate use of ultra violet lighting that makes some of the scenes seem like they've been filmed at a cheap Halloween party but for whatever reason the film works, not overwhelmingly well but it is a halfway decent and undemanding watch that at least has some fun deaths along the way.
If you can put up with the nonsensical and ragged plot, the contrivances that move the story along and the dubious special effects, including a very prominent appearance by a flying rig, then Mausoleum does at least offer a bizarre acid trip of a horror film. While it can't be called a good film by any reasonable standards it does however provide a decent degree of fun along the way at least and frankly that can sometimes be just about enough. Just be prepared to be in for a goofy and almost surreal ride.

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