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Director:  Michael Dugan

US - 1983



The Nomed family has a problem.  I mean, sure, all families have problems, but the Nomed case is a little different.  Instead of common dilemmas like an abusive father, an alcoholic mother, or a pot-smoking uncle who lives in the basement and listens to Bob Seger records all day, the Nomeds have trouble with the first daughter of every generation being possessed by a demon (which, I believe, has yet to be covered by Dear Abby).

Susanís mother lost both her life and her husband to demon possession, and the curse then fell upon young Susan.  Parentless, she is forced to live with her overbearing Aunt Cora.  As it turns out, Aunt Cora is the only living relative who is aware of Susanís heritage.  With Susan living under her roof, she can keep an eye on any changes in her nieceís demeanor that may indicate possible demon possession (not to be confused with the normal, horrifying changes that start with puberty).  Of course, Aunt Cora canít keep an eye on Susan forever.  The young girl eventually becomes a woman (Bobbie Bresee) and marries a successful doctor, Oliver Farrell (Marjoe Gortner).  Unfortunately, just as things appear to be getting better for our heroine, the whole ďdemon possessionĒ thing becomes an issue.  Hot gardening action!

It upsets Oliver when his wife kills the gardener and scares off the maid.  He also doesnít appreciate being kept up at night by her incessant rocking (rocking chairs arenít particularly scary, but one must take into account that this is, in fact, a rocking chairÖof Satan!).  On the outside, Oliver appears to have a legitimate gripe, but the fact of the matter is, Oliver canít see the forest from the trees.

When life gives you lemons, people, you make lemonade.  Though it can be, at times, inconvenient, there are nevertheless distinct advantages to being possessed by a demon.  Tired of being hit on at bars by drunks who look like Grizzly Adams?  Well, simply blow up their car and fry Ďem alive!  Sick of the gardener making unwanted passes?  A garden claw to the head will quickly remedy that uncomfortable situation.  Donít you hate frequent unannounced visits by annoying relatives?  Well, ripping their internal organs out telekinetically will ensure one less Christmas card youíll have to pick up next year.  You see?  Being possessed by a demon can be put to practical use.  Oliver simply refuses to think the situation through.

Instead, he goes to the family psychiatrist for guidance, who, in turn, consults a colleague who happens to be an expert in such sundry matters as demon possession (everyone knows at least one).  With the help of a book that traces the history of the Nomed family, they hope to bring an end to the terror inflicted by the demon-possessed women.

Though Mausoleum falls short in several aspects (read: anything related to good cinema), it makes up for them in sheer entertainment value.  For one thing, itís chock-full of demon-goodness.  Hardly a scene goes by where Susan doesnít wreak some sort of demon havoc.  Unfortunately, more often than not, the demon isnít actually present.  Instead, Susanís eyes simply turn green (read: superimposed green dots).  When the demon finally makes an appearance, it fails to really strike anything remotely resembling fear in the soul.  For one thing, the demonís pretty slow.  For another, it looks like my buddyís grandma.  Two things that arenít scary:  Tea parties and my buddyís grandma.  But hey, just because the demon isnít scary doesnít mean demon havoc isnít fun. 

And when thereís no demon havoc to wreak, Susan takes her clothes off (as a matter of fact, sometimes the demon havoc actually coincides with the shameless nudity Ė two for the price of one!).  Like many b-movie actresses, Bobbie Bresee apparently paid quite a bit for breast enhancements, and dammit, now sheís gonna show them off!  And hey, if sheís willing to spend so much on her breasts, then by golly, Iím willing to look at them.  I figure I owe her that much. Oh, and I guess she did a little acting in there somewhere.  Iíd appraise it, but I honestly wasnít paying attention.

Mausoleum, simply said, is good garbage.  When watching a film of this ilk, it always bothers me when the filmmakers try to make something out of nothing.  When dealing with something simple (i.e. demon housewife killing those who annoy her), keep it simple:  Donít make it artsy, donít pad it out, and for the love of everything good and pure, donít give me some half-baked moral (or worse yet, a ďdeeperĒ meaning).  Itís a monster movie.  People want monsters, violence and gratuitous nudity.  The last thing they want is a lesson.  Believe you me, there is nothing to learn from Mausoleum.  William Katt?

As a matter of fact, the only thing that really bothers me about the film is a hint of racism.  LaWanda Page (of Sanford and Son fame) plays the maid, Elsie. Not only is she constantly spoken down to by her employers (rich white folk, of course), but thereís also a scene where she suspects something to be amiss in the Farrell household (green mist emanating from under the bedroom door will do that).  Instead of investigating, however, she does the ďAh-ma gettiní outta here!Ē bit and high-tails it out of the house.  I halfway expected her to back into the demon, freeze in her tracks, and give the ďI just saw me a ghost!Ē face. 

Would you look at that?  I spend all that time whining about people preaching and here I am doing the same. 

Allow me to simply request that you keep your damn stereotypes out of my trashy movies.  Thank you and drive around.    


-- Copyright 2003, J. Bannerman



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