"Mausoleum" follows Susan, recently turned thirty, who is plagued by an ancestral demon she encountered after her mother's death in the family mausoleum. This pesky parasite causes her to transform into a grotesque monster and kill everyone around her.
This retro 1980s schlockfest is one of the better possession/"Exorcist" knockoffs, blending elements of slasher films with possession horror and the monster movie. The result is potent with campiness, but it's really all in good fun. Bobbie Bresee plays the lead Susan, who falls in and out of her possession with a complete lack of awareness; her eyes glow green when she's under the influence of the demon, and green smoke rolls out under the door of her bedroom. At her most extreme, she morphs into a revolting creature that predates Angela in "Night of the Demons." What's surprising here is that by and large, the special effects (helmed by the famed John Carl Buechler) are very good given the time period. There are some effective levitation sequences, and the monster effects are impressive and practical.
The film also boasts solid cinematography that is at times legitimately nightmarish and recalls Italian horror cinema of the '60s and '70s, and is tied together with a moody score that adds to the ambiance. Where the film falls flat is the writing and acting, which are both mixed bags. Bresee is alternately decent and awful as Susan, but her character is so vacant that it hardly matters. Norman Burton is serviceable as her psychologist, and LaWanda Burton provides short-lived comic relief as the maid who gets the heck out of dodge before becoming demon mincemeat. It seems to me that part of the pitfalls in the performance have to do with the dialogue, which feels stilted many times throughout. Then again, this is an early-'80s monster possession flick, so I'm not sure the bar is to be set quite so high.
Overall, I found "Mausoleum" an effective early-'80s supernatural horror film. Save some lazy writing, there is a lot of fun to be had here, and the movie is chock full with gruesome murder scenes and all sorts of other supernatural (and green-glowing) mayhem. Fans of other "Exorcist"-esque horror such as "Beyond the Door" will have a riot with it, and in some ways it's better. 7/10.
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