I have this demonic obsession with horror films featuring humans turning into walking, talking Exorcist freaks, so Demons and Night of the Demons are two of my favorite demonic possession series. But before those films were made, a classic 80s trash film called Mausoleum was released in 1983. I saw this one when I was working at the video store in the 80s and I remembered loving it. Watching it years later, I can see why I loved, it, despite the huge boobs that are constantly on screen…
But seriously, bodacious Bobbie Bresee, complete with piercing blue eyes (at first) that look like they were stolen right off of Donna Mills during her Knots Landing heavy mascara days, plays Susan, a woman who, as a young girl, ran into a mausoleum during her mother’s funeral and became possessed by an ages-old family demon that had previously inhabited her freshly deceased mother’s body. All we see is a creepy shadow on a mausoleum wall, drenched in eerie Argento-esque reds and greens as the young girl’s eyes turn traditional possession green. Young Susan pretty much makes the head explode off some random dude who wanders into the mausoleum to find her kneeling at a coffin. It’s never clear if he’s a drunk who accidentally stumbled in there or some sort of pervert who followed her in with hopes of doing nasty things to her young body (he would have been kicking himself for not waiting 15 years, when that flat-chested teen became the Dolly Parton-like Bobbie Bresee).
Flash forward to the present, and Susan is definitely being ogled by pervs, namely her ridiculously stereotypical sleazy Latin gardener. Susan’s husband is played by Marjoe Gortner, an Ichabod Crane type many Gen-Xers will recognize from 70s classics like Food of the Gods and Earthquake, not to mention for his “guest star” career on every TV show imaginable, from Fantasy Island to T.J. Hooker.
Anyway, Oliver, as he’s named in this film, is always at work and totally oblivious to every man lusting after Susan, including some Grizzly Adams looking dude at a restaurant who tries force himself on her the second her husband walks away to take a business call; grizzly meets a grisly ending as a result when Susan flashes her demonic greens his way.
Before long, Susan is knocking off everyone who enters her mansion. The only one smart enough to run away from the horror is her black maid Elsie, and I can not believe how stereotypical we still were in the 80s. When Elsie sees green light and smoke coming out from under Susan’s bedroom door, she raids the liquor cabinet, exclaims “There’s some strange shit goin’ on in this house,” then skedaddles down the road, accompanied by a ridiculous slapstick soundtrack. I kid you not. This is like some Little Rascals Buckwheat shit.
But now to the horror, which is the reason I love this film. Susan turns into a hideous demon with gnarly face, green eyes, skanky hair, and beastly teeth—and the first time it happens, it comes out of nowhere. The makeup effects are awesome in this low-budget mess. I swear, both Demons and Night of the Demons have to have been inspired by this awesome film and molded their demons after this one.
There’s an uber creepy scene in which her husband wakes in the middle of the night and sees her in a rocking chair in a dark corner, and you can tell just from her silhouette that she’s the fricking demon! No wonder my teen mind was so scarred by this film.
The best part has to be when the husband, before running off to work one morning like he always does, is like, “Where’s Elsie, where’s your aunt, where’s the gardener?” All of a sudden it hits him that no one is coming around their house anymore, and Susan’s response to all the queries is basically, “Eh, they’ll show up.” Okay, that’s not the only best part. There’s Susan killing for a piece of art at the mall with her green demon eyes, and, as the movie nears its climax, the fact that her two huge bodacious boobs turn into teeth gnashing demon heads! Too awesome.
And because of this brilliant film’s deep hidden symbolism, there’s even a moment where you can see the number 666 on a board in the kitchen (I couldn’t figure out if it was supposed to be some sort of numerical calendar or what because it looked like one of those neon signs that hangs in bar windows). But most importantly, there’s the “crown of thorns” that needs to be placed on Susan’s head to rid her of the demon. Chant it with me: “The crown of thorns of Christ compels you! The crown of thorns of Christ compels you!”