Hollywood Mortuary (1999) – By Brian Morton

If you’ve been surfing around Rogue Cinema this month, you might’ve read my review for The Mark Of Dracula, and if you haven’t, get over there and do it now! Now, Mark is a great vampire movie in the Hammer tradition, but in that movie the comic relief is provided by "Film Star Randal Malone". Well, Randal made sure made a big impression on me. He’s really an interesting character in that he’s sort of a cross between Vincent Price and Divine. So I went searching for other movies that might have Randal in them. I found 1999’s Hollywood Mortuary, starring "Film Star Randal Malone", and I have to tell you, this is a very good movie.

Hollywood Mortuary is the story of Pierce Jackson Dawn, played by Malone. Dawn’s a washed up horror make-up artist in the 40s, after the horror boom has basically dried up. Since he was the premiere monster maker of his time, Dawn has a bit of an ego. An ego that won’t let him sit on his laurels. Dawn longs to return to his glory days, when he made up the most celebrated horror actors of the time, Pratt Borokof and Yanos Blasko. After being told by the studios that horror pictures aren’t selling anymore, that the people want real crime stories, Dawn decides to use his skills to make some headlines which he’ll then pitch to the studios and get back in the movie business.

Dawn’s plan involves using his experience with Makumba, Brazilian voodoo, to bring back the recently dead horror stars, Borokof and Blasko, who will scare people around town, and when the headlines start hitting that the dead stars are walking, Dawn will pitch his idea to the studio and be back on top again. The problem with his idea is this… Borokof and Blasko are arch-rivals who refused to work together in life, so in death they’re a little less cooperative. So Borokof and Blasko are sent out to scare people, but they can’t contain themselves, they start killing them instead. I guess when you’re dead, the living are just playthings. And when Dawn puts his final plan into motion and tries to sell the story to the studio to get back into the movie business, Borokof and Blasko double cross him, kill the head of the studio and then kill Dawn.

This is one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen in a long time, it’s a combination of 50s horror with current day documentary. It’s a low budget type of Ed Wood, only the characters are fictitious…mostly. Borokof and Blasko are obviously parodies of Karloff and Lugosi, and they’re done very well! Tim Sullivan as Borokof does a passable Karloff impersonation, but Ron Ford as Blasko goes just far enough to complete a caricature of Lugosi without being too cheesy! But it’s really Randal Malone as Pierce Jackson Dawn who owns this movie! He’s the heart of it and he perfectly captures the attitude that was pervasive in the movies of that era.

So, if you’re looking for something that’s both horror and comedy, you may be interested in Hollywood Mortuary. It’s the kind of movie that captures the spirit of the movies from the 40s, while still having today’s sensibilities. And for you fans, you’ll love the appearances by Margaret O’Brien (Meet Me In St. Louis), Anita Page (a great actress from the 20s and 30s), David DeCoteau (director of Curse Of The Puppet Master and Retro Puppet Master), Tim Murphy (Alien Force and The Devastator) and Conrad Brooks (B-Movie Legend), all appear as themselves to tell stories they’ve heard about Dawn. It’s a great movie that encompasses a few genres effectively! If you’re interested…and you should be…you can find Hollywood Mortuary at http://www.RonFordFilms.com. Why aren’t you there now?