Multiple choice question. Anthology horror movies ride a seasonal spike in popularity as we approach:
(A) Halloween (B) The Election (C) End Times (D) All of the above
The Mortuary Collection, written and directed by Ryan Spindell, is comprised of five tangled tales of terror, vigorously spun by Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown), the looming and gloomy mortician of the town of Raven’s End.
His audience is Sam (Caitlin Fisher), a steely job applicant with a severe curiosity for the more macabre aspects of post-mortem employment. Much to her delight, Dark digs deep into a dreadful drawer of local lore that winds inevitably back to the present.
He recounts the bizarre and gruesome fates that befell several unfortunate citizens of Raven’s End, ending up as customers in the morgue of Mr. Dark’s rambling hilltop funeral home.
At a swinging party, a trip to the toilet turns fatal for a stylish dame (Christine Kilmer) who gets too nosy with the medicine cabinet.
The campus Casanova (Jacob Elordi) is forced into reluctant fatherhood, and finds he just isn’t built for it.
A dutiful husband (Barak Hardley) gets the dirty end of the stick when his blushing bride turns catatonic right after the wedding.
Finally, a determined babysitter wages war with an escaped lunatic during a violent thunderstorm.
Each story prompts critical discussion as to whether the protagonists in question deserve their unhappy endings. Dark insists that actions have serious consequences and old rules should not be violated.
Sam scoffs at his morality plays, eventually revealing her true face in an ending that turns out to be the most outrageous segment of them all.
What’s not to like?
There’s gorgeous gore galore. The art direction, practical effects, and set design are uniformly excellent. Dark’s massive funeral home is dressed to the hilt with eerie details, crammed to the rafters with sinister flourish.
The Raven’s End Mortuary looks every inch a decaying stronghold of stories and secrets, one that seemingly winds downstairs forever.
Clancy Brown, a seasoned character actor (and voice of Mr. Krabs on SpongeBob SquarePants), towers above his costars in these grim surroundings, hitting on all cylinders as a host who tells each tale with obvious relish, while splendidly attired in a dusky wardrobe, undoubtedly purchased at the same Big & Tall Man shop recommended by Angus Scrimm.
The Mortuary Collection is top-shelf storytelling, on a par with not only the upper echelon of anthology horror films (Creepshow, Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror), but the creepy old comic books that inspired them in the first place.
Check it out. Check it all out. Time may not be on our side.