Customer Reviews: The Hearse
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on October 17, 2002
For a quite a long while (say twenty or so years) it looked like Crown International's The Hearse was the last of a dead breed, the low-key, character/mood oriented ghost story. Wrongly overlooked when first released in 1980, the movie suffered from having a PG rating when pushing the boundaries of special effects was all the rage. Audiences wanted flowing blood, not creepy chills. Well times have changed and now, thank goodness, creepy, subtle character oriented ghost stories are back in style, which makes The Hearse's return to commercial release all the more welcome.
A woman recovering from a near nervous breakdown chooses to do so in a dead relative's country home. However the townsfolk are far from friendly (save for the local minister, a young boy, and a handsome neighbor). Making things even more difficult are the strange dreams, spectres, and a hearse's scar faced driver that harrass the poor woman. Emphasizing character and mood, The Hearse is a near classic that is only hampered by a two swift climax (in fact, although the plot is nearly complete, it looks as if several scenes were shortened) and a too enigmatic ending. Still, fans of old-fashioned ghost stories will love having this movie in their collection. Recommended.
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on June 28, 2007
The Film: The Hearse
Year made: 1980

I bought this film a few weeks back because I collect horror films and I had not seen this what I now consider to be a "gem" of a film in horror. So picture this, it's about 3AM in the morning and it's raining outside my window. What better time then to pop in a movie like The Hearse. Yes I'm a nightowl and yes I love horror films. MAHAHAHAH :)

The Package: 2/5 stars. There is nothing extra in regards to liner notes on the film. A basic cardboard holder that opens up to hold one plain looking disc. I love to see something a bit more special to each film that I can feast my eyes on, but the graphics still look cool with the hearse on the cover even though it's very basic.

Spook Meter: 3/5 Stars. As a seasoned horror film buff it takes a lot to spook me however this film is very well done and in good taste with a lot of spook as well. The camera angles, lighting, and shadows really give it a creepy feel to the overall movie and on a rainy night ones imagination can run wild for sure. :) You will get a bit of a "chill" from this film and walk away at the end of it happy and wishing it did not end. Creapy sounds like the piano that plays throughout the film will raise the hairs on your neck a few times for sure.

Gore/Violence Meter: 1/5 Star This film this one star on the gore meter. I was amazed as I watched this gem of a film just how great a movie can be with almost no gore, blood what so ever in the whole movie. I kept wondering when some bloody thing was going to happen, but in the end it was great camera work, shadows, lighting, eerie sounds that carried the film through and made the total lack of gore not matter what so ever in this case.

Profanity Meter: 2/5 Stars. Very little profanity throughout the whole film except of course like most films, film makers always have to toss Gods name in vain in a few times and this one has that twice toward the end of it. I always find this dissapointing, wither it's Gods name used or any other profanity I just don't see a need for it in films at all.

Final thoughts: There are many a great horror films out there and one may wonder why I would give 5 stars overall to a film like this compaired to many other greats. When I review a film I like to do so on a individual basis and I do not compair to other films but rather I look at this one and rate it based on just how much I enjoyed it. I hope you will enjoy this one too.

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on August 29, 2015
Surprisingly scary tale about a foul mouthed city woman, with few morals, who moves to her aunt's haunted estate and must fight evil at every turn. Jane, the main character, is terrorized by the country folk that live in her new hometown and by her evil aunt's ghost. As any level headed woman would do when faced with imminent danger, Jane often runs outside her house in middle of the night and down a long driveway to jump in her unlocked car and drive away. No time to call 911 for this gal. No, when a killer hides in the closet WITH her, they both scream and then she runs out of the closet, past a phone, out into the dark, down her long driveway, jumps in her car and speeds off in a random search for help....chased inevitably by a creepy Hearse, driven by a rather dapper young man in his mid to late 30s. This plot line repeats for about two hours, but it's quite spooky at times. I watched this with my five grandkids and they all had nightmares for days!! So, I don't recommend it for anyone under 21. My daughter was so mad at me for letting the kids watch this movie that I nearly had to run out her front door, down her long driveway...and jump into my unlocked car to get away from a wicked tongue lashing! Oh, if only the dapper gentleman in the hearse were pursuing me too. The acting is top notch, but be prepared for R rated language and a middle aged woman having Intimate relations outside of marriage.
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on June 13, 2002
Trish Van Devere does a terrific job as the lead, and the supporting cast is uniformly convincing. The hearse itself is somewhat creepy, and the story is entertaining. Unfortunately, the climax is abrupt and a bit of a let-down. The film also suffers a bit from the "tameness" of many movies from this period. Ironically, today it would doubtless be more graphic and technically superior, but the acting and mood would likely suck. I recommend this as a "suspense" movie, but it's not really scary, just a little creepy.
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I watched "The Hearse" on a dark, rainy day recently and found it an enjoyable horror flick. The storyline is simple enough - a recently-divorced teacher who has also lost her mother, decides to spend her summer vacation in a small town where she has inherited her late aunt's house.

Trish Van Devere plays the divorcee, Jane Hardy, and her welcome into the town is less than enthusiastic. To make things worse, Jane finds herself being stalked/haunted by a black hearse driven by an even creepier chauffeur! As for the house, it has stood empty for many years, but has been maintained by the lawyer overseeing the estate (the man has designs on the house himself). Jane's aunt's portrait hangs over the fireplace, and Jane is a bit perturbed to find her aunt looked very much like Jane! All of these coupled with strange incidents and the townsfolk's bizarre behavior toward her wreak havoc with Jane's already fragile state of mind.

The movie begs the questions - are Jane's experiences more to do with supernatural occurrences or are they a figment of a troubled woman's mind? Could it also be that there are people motivated to get Jane off her aunt's property and out of town?

The score is grating on the nerves and quite creepy, though I found it annoying after a while. There are some genuine spooky moments in this low-budget flick, and since I'm not a fan of the slasher and gore genre of horror movies, I kind of appreciated the low-key creepy effects. It was a fun watch on a dreary, rainy day.
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on May 29, 2015
This film is okay as it is, but sadly isn't all that spectacular! What's disappointing is that this film COULD HAVE BEEN amazing with a few changes to the plot here and there. That's not to say that this is a horrible film...because it isn't! Visually, it's very atmospheric and a sense of dread prevails throughout. The problem is that the film really isn't all that scary! It has NO gore sequences at all and that would be fine if this film delivered as a totally scary film...but it's not!
Regardless of all the negative things I've said, this film still has an appeal to me and I've watched it a few times! Sometimes you have to see a movie a few times to catch things that you may have missed during the first viewing! Overall, this is an OKAY movie that should have been better!
I won't tell you not to watch it, but I won't tell you to go out of your way to see it either! However, if you like movies about haunted houses, this one might be of some interest to you!
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<strong>The Hearse</strong> (George Bowers, 1980)

In 1980, Trish Van Devere, George C. Scott's distinctive, lovely fourth wife (Scott was married five times, but two of those were to Colleen Dewhurst), made two supernatural thrillers. One was <em>The Changeling</em>, in which she and Scott co-star. It's a real barnburner of a movie, one of the great eighties horror films that was neglected for a few decades, but is starting to get the critical recognition it so richly deserves. The other was <em>The Hearse</em>. Absolutely nothing that I said about <em>The Changeling</em> applies here.

Jane Hardy (Van Devere) has just gone through a nasty divorce and is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She decided she needs to get away from the city, and heads out to the small town that contains the house left her by her aunt, which has been untouched for the past thirty years. (What a different world it was, when one could just let a piece of real estate sit, not to mention pay the taxes on it on a nursery school teacher's salary!) Walter Pritchard (the inimitable Joseph Cotten), the crotchety lawyer who was her aunt's executor, opens the house for her, but cautions her not to stay too long. She soon finds out why: her aunt was a witch, and was shunned by the townsfolk. Thanks to guilt by association, Jane, too, is shunned by most of them, though the lecherous town sheriff (<em>The Boogens</em>' Med Flory) does some sniffing around, and Paul Gordon, the son of the local hardware store's owners, who also does handiwork (Perry Lang, now a successful TV director), finds himself drawn to her. But one's too pushy and the other's too young. So when Tom Sullivan (<em>Star Trek: The Motion Picture</em>'s David Gautreaux) enters the picture, Jane finally feels she may be able to move on from her marriage. The only problem is, it seems some of her aunt's psychic residue may be hanging on, in the form of a hearse no one else sees, but which does its best to try and kill her every time she's out on the road at night.

The worst thing about <em>The Hearse</em> is how good it could have been. It has a surprisingly strong cast for what now seems like a bad made-for-TV movie, the script is a bit derivative (especially of <em>Let's Scare Jessica to Death</em>) but could've been solid with another rewrite. The weak link in the chain is George Bowers, much better known for his work as an editor (recently on such projects as <em>From Hell</em>, <em>Roll Bounce</em>, and <em>The Preacher's Wife</em>) than as a director (his best-known film in that capacity: the 1983 sex comedy <em>My Tutor</em>, the first big-screen appearance of a promising young actor named Crispin Glover). His direction is limp, pallid, all over the map. Half the time it seems as if he doesn't know what kind of a movie he wants to direct. The other half of the time he knows what kind of movie it is, but every decision he made was the wrong one. Have you ever heard less subtle music in a movie? Ever? And yes, I'm including awful made-for-Nickelodeon kids' movies.

There's enough innate talent in the cast to slightly recommend this if you're a fan of one or more of the actors (and who isn't a Joseph Cotten fan?), but otherwise you can avoid it. **
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on June 15, 2014
This is a very creepy and atmospheric film about a woman who inherits her aunt's house, which all the people in town believe is haunted by the aunt, who used to worship Satan. A hearse driver follows the younger woman frequently as she tries to solve the mystery of why he keeps coming after her.
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on December 25, 2004
'The Hearse' stars Trish Van Devere as Jane, who moves into her late aunt's old country home to gather herself after a divorce and a breakdown. The townspeople of her new locale are not particularly friendly, and even less so when they find out she lives in the old Martin house. Jane begins to be plagued by a mysterious black hearse driven by a driver with an inconsistently disfigured face. She is also seeing images of her late aunt in mirrors and through windows. As she is unnerverd by this and reading her aunt's diary, she meets a man named Tom who begins to put her at ease and makes her feel that she has someone she can trust and in which she can confide. 'The Hearse' as a movie follows in the footsteps of many movies about hauntings from the seventies; primary of which is its slow lingering pace. A slow pace may be fine if the story can support it, but the confusion in this story does not support it. The first noticable trait that brings this movie down is its directing. George Bowers' direction appears to have come straight out of Directing 101 class. The shots and plot devices are obvious and come off as staged which means you can already see the next plot device or scene coming before it gets there (Jane stands next to a window: the window will break; Jane passes a mirror or looks into a window: Jane will see something, usually her aunt; a convenient place for a tombstone is the front yard). Before this movie is halfway there, you will have already guessed the outcome. In an attempt to prevent you from guessing the ending, we have red herrings thrown at us, in particular is a dream sequence that only becomes an annoying distraction when it is discovered that it was a red herring. The driver of the hearse is much the same red herring. The performance of Trish Van Devere is fine if not better than what this movie deserves considering the indifferent if not amateurish peformances delivered by most of the rest of the cast. The performance of David Gautreaux as Tom is wooden, uninspired, and probably a good bit of what brought this movie down: a good performance in his role could have definitely helped this movie. The performance of Joseph Cotten as the cantankerous lawyer is entertaining as well helpful to this film. An interesting note is the appearance of a young Christopher MacDonald (CBS TV series, 'Family Law') in a bit part already showing he has talent. I have read some good reviews about this film, none stellar mind you, that had proclaimed this to be a suspenseful haunting film. I was quite dissappointed as 'The Hearse' is basically a story that would have been better as a half-hour TV episode but was annoyingly padded with red herrings and lingering direction that comes off as dull, at best mediocre, and lacks suspense and any fright value.--Bob
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on January 26, 2015
Sigh. I like a low-budget, no-frills, horror movie as much as the next girl but this one just goes on and on and on with too many scenes of something happening in the dark and a lot of breaking windows and then they destroy an awesome car. Watch it with the fast-forward button in hand: I don't think even RiffTrax could save it.
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