THE MORTUARY COLLECTION Blu-ray | ©2021 RLJE/Shudder

THE MORTUARY COLLECTION Blu-ray | ©2021 RLJE/Shudder

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Clancy Brown, Caitlin Fisher, Christine Kilmer, Jacob Elordi, Ema Horvath, Barak Hardley, Sarah Hay, Ben Hethcoat, Mike C. Nelson, Jennifer Irwin, James Bachman, Alison Gallaher, Phyllis Applegate
Writer: Ryan Spindell
Director: Ryan Spindell
Distributor: RLJE Films/Shudder
Release Date: April 30, 2021

THE MORTUARY COLLECTION is a horror anthology with several fun concepts.

The first, which takes a moment of adjustment, is that even though it’s set in the present (or at least post-2000), the production style is of the ‘50s/’60s. People still use rotary-dial telephones and have CRT televisions with bulging screens. On the other hand, they’re also concerned about prophylactics and college campus sex.

The next is that some characters from one story appear in others. This makes sense, as THE MORTUARY COLLECTION takes place entirely in the fogbound coastal town of Raven’s End.

Raven’s End may be small and isolated, but it’s got enough supernatural mayhem to rival the burgh in TRICK ‘R TREAT. Mortician/pastor Montgomery Dark knows a lot of these stories. When a young woman, Sam (Caitlin Fisher), shows up and says she’s responding to the “help wanted” sign out front, Dark shares some of these tales with her.

There is a lot of meta-analysis of storytelling here, both from Dark’s insistence on their importance, and Sam’s snarky critiques. There is so much discussion of “twist endings” here that we’re not only expecting the last few, but may guess correctly at what they’ll be.

This also feels like THE MORTUARY COLLECTION is attempting to anticipate and fend off possible criticisms. It really has no need to do so.

Director/writer Ryan Spindell, aided especially by production designer Lauren Fitzsimmons, has crafted a pocket universe that feels all of a piece, while playing with different concepts and tones in the various segments. Some are topical, others pay homage to classic horror, but all work very well.

Brown, one of the executive producers here, nails the avuncular, creepy tone required for our host, aided by some good age makeup. Fisher pairs well with him as the spunky smartass with a story of her own.

The home video release of THE MORTUARY COLLECTION comes with a laudable trove of special features, including one of special creature and makeup effects company Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. Others examine director/writer Spindell, the cast, hair and makeup, practical special effects, sound, stunts, VFX, deleted scenes, the film’s Kickstarter campaign, cinematography, costumes, the art department, locations (the movie was shot in Oregon), and props.

There’s a running debate between Dark and Sam as to whether wrongdoing is ultimately punished, or whether the bad guys get away with it. The ending is open to interpretation in this regard. However, a good horror anthology is always its own reward, and that’s the case with THE MORTUARY COLLECTION.

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