Obscure Horror Cinema: Funeral Home

by William Burns

Canada’s contributions to horror cinema need to be recognized as hugely significant. For every great American horror film of the 80’s, our neighbors to the North produced movies just as good, if not better. Happy Birthday to Me, Curtains, My Bloody Valentine, The Burning, The Changeling, Humongous, Prom Night, Ghostkeeper, and of course the work of David Cronenberg and Bob Clark all left their indelible mark on the psyches of horror fans across the globe. One of the more vague Canadian horror films is 1980’s Funeral Home. Directed by the unsung William Fruet (who would also direct Death Weekend and Spasms), Funeral Home focuses on a young woman named Heather who comes to help her grandmother run a bed and breakfast inn out in the woods. The inn was once a funeral home run by Heather’s unhinged mortician grandfather and there still are remnants of the basement mortuary that may put a damper on getting a good review on Yelp. As guests start to arrive, they find the accommodations lacking and their complaints are met with murderous violence.  Heavily indebted to Hitchcock’s Psycho,  Funeral Home has a wonderfully down home sleaze factor, as if mass murderer was loose in Mayberry. Though the body count is not as high as some other 80’s slashers, the film makes up for the lack of gore with creepy atmospherics, a score by composer Jerry Fielding, good acting, and characters you actually care about. Lesleh Donaldson and Kay Hawtrey are perfectly cast as granddaughter and grandmother, each trying to make sense of the present mysteries and past tragedies that haunt the family but have very different ways of dealing with them. Canadian horror has had a good showing on the home video front, but Funeral Home deserves a remastering right quick.


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