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Analog Abattoir: 1983’s “MAUSOLEUM” Is a Sexy, Schlocky Demonic Spectacle

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 | Analog Abattoir


Starring Bobbie Bresee, Marjoe Gortner and Norman Burton
Directed by Michael Dugan
Written by Robert Barich and Robert Madero
Vinegar Syndrome

Before the eight-minute mark of MAUSOLEUM, a man’s head explodes. A hapless vagrant attempts to stop a little girl from entering the titular mausoleum, and for his trouble, gets his head roasted to the point of combustion. By minute nine, we have seen a demonic claw slowly rise out of a crypt, bathed in putrid green lighting as the little girl looks on with overlaid laser-eye effects. At this point, I have either sold you on MAUSOLEUM or you have irreparably bad taste. There is an unspoken trifecta of possession movie royalty. The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Omen (Admittedly, the latter two more Antichrist films, but you get the idea) all sit at the cool kids’ table when it comes to demons playing puppeteer with humanity. In all honesty, they deserve those accolades, and all three films are classics for a reason. However, there’s a different table that beckons me. You know the one: burnouts debating the best Black Sabbath album, metalheads whispering about the violence in the latest Faces of Death VHS, nerds with Coke-bottle glasses talking about H.P. Lovecraft. I’m talking about the bizarro and bootleg possession films that came in the wake of the classics. Films like Cathy’s Curse, Beyond The Door, and, of course, the one I’d be asking to prom, MAUSOLEUM.

MAUSOLEUM knows what it is and dispenses with the basics of the plot before the first half hour. After her mother’s funeral, a young Susan Walker becomes possessed by a demonic force in her familial crypt. Two decades later (I guess this is a possession long con), the demon begins to exert its control over a now-married Susan. Before it can be stopped, the demon’s reign of terror will claim the lives of an impressive variety of victims. These poor rubes are dispensed in delightfully gory ways, and we get to come along for the ride. The stunning Bobbie Bresee stars as Susan, alternating between fearful innocence when in control to vamping at frat-comedy levels when possessed. If you aren’t cackling in the scene in which she is repelled by and then promptly seduces the cartoonishly perverted landscaper (Who looks like an extra from Fiddler On The Roof), then you’ve lost all sense of joy in life. The effects work from John Carl Buechler (Reanimator, the only Ghoulies movies that matter) is, as expected, second to none at bringing to life the bonkers demonic transformation scenes as well as the gruesome kill scenes. Eventually, we do get our obligatory demon banishment, but you’ll be in love with this flick long before we say goodbye to that glowing-eyed scamp. 

Branded a “Video Nasty” by overzealous British censors, MAUSOLEUM is a chef’s kiss of a midnight movie. From the original poster/VHS cover, which can only be described as worthy of thrash metal album artwork to the relentless pace of the violence, there is not a moment wasted as the demonic force controlling Susan takes us to gorehound heaven. The Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome is a wonderful piece of schlock with a crystal-clear transfer that belongs in every horror fan’s collection. Special mention should be given to the J&B-guzzling housekeeper Elsie played by Black-comedy royalty LaWanda Page and to the completely ludicrous ending scene reveal. So, at the horror movie prom, maybe it will be Regan or Rosemary wearing the tiara, and I’m fine with that. I’ll be in the back parking lot moshing to “Seven Churches” by Possessed with my prom queen, Susan Walker.

Death to False Horror,
Dr. Benny Graves 

Benjamin Grobshteyn
The thrash metal Marc Maron, Dr. Benny Graves serves as arch-fiend of the analog abattoir. With a deep love for shock rock, schlock horror, and dead media, he can often be found searching the wasteland for the right SOV horror to sate his lust for trash-cinema. Dr. Graves resides in the unholy circle of hell known as New Jersey.