The Hearse is a 1980 American supernatural horror film directed by George Bowers (editor of From Hell) from a screenplay by Bill Bleich (Poltergeist: The Legacy; From the Dead of Night; The Midnight Hour), based on Mark Tenser’s idea.
The movie stars Trish Van Devere (The Changeling) and Joseph Cotten (Delusion; Baron Blood; Lady Frankenstein).
Leaving San Francisco, Jane Hardy (Trish Van Devere) arrives in the town of Blackford to stay in an old house left to her by a late aunt. As time passes, Jane learns secrets her aunt kept from her in life, but that was well-known by the townspeople.
In life, Jane’s aunt had been a devil worshiper, and upon her death, the hearse carrying her body crashed, but no sign of the driver or of the coffin was ever found. Since then, the house inherited by Jane has been haunted by evil spirits and the rural road out of Blackford has been haunted by the hearse that crashed.
As these stories come to light, Jane attempts to leave Blackford to avoid being drawn in by her aunt’s spirit but finds herself pursued by the ghostly hearse and held prisoner inside Blackford by spirits.
“The Hearse qualifies as this summer’s garage sale of horror movies. It contains all the best clichés from recent, more successful horror movies (especially [The] Amityville [Horror] and even The Changeling, which came out last April and starred Van Devere, her husband George C. Scott and, of course, the obligatory self-banging doors and self-playing musical instruments).” RogerEbert.com
“The Hearse was directed by George Bowers and shot either in a very stylized fashion or without benefit of a light meter – many of the film’s outdoor scenes feature brilliant blue skies and actors with dim, shadowy faces. As far as the horror goes, Mr Bowers makes his film moderately scary and pretty unpleasant, too.” The New York Times
“The Hearse has a bad rep for being confusing, unsatisfying and boring. Not true at all. It’s just a slow and steadily building shocker with an ending that lets you decide what the hell you just watched. Nothing on the screen could ever match the horrors the human mind can conjure with a little suggestion.” Deep Red Rum
“The haunted house schtick is the film’s main focus (the hearse is just a roadside annoyance), as it attempts to create an unsettling atmosphere via a sinister piano-laden music score, point-of-view angles, lot’s of scenes that involve investigating weird noises, and plenty of cheap jump scares.” House of Self Indulgence
“The nightmare sequence is genuinely effective and the film itself features a few creepy visuals but, then again, there’s no way the sight of a hearse pulling up in front of a house in the middle of the night couldn’t be creepy. Trish Van Devere does okay as Jane, though it’s somewhat odd that all the teenage boys in the town keeps talking about how hot and sexy she apparently is when she looks like she’s about 50 in this film.” HorrorCritic.com
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“It’s not the most cohesive plot, in fact, it doesn’t really make sense but it’s solidly sinister and ghost-y-licious. I was interested the entire time and eager to see what would happen next despite the idiocy of certain aspects. (she has a pentagram locket and has no goddamn idea what it is, she just thinks it’s pretty).” The Church of Splatter-Day Saints
In the US, the film was distributed theatrically by Crown International Pictures.
On May 30, 2017, The Hearse was released as a Blu-ray + DVD combo by Vinegar Syndrome. Special features are:
Newly scanned and restored in 2k from 35mm original camera negative
“Satan Get Behind Thee” – video interview with the lead actor, David Gautreaux
Original theatrical trailer
Promotional still gallery
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH Subtitles
Cast and characters:
Trish Van Devere … Jane Hardy
Joseph Cotten … Walter Prichard
David Gautreaux … Tom Sullivan
Donald Hotton … Reverend Winston
Med Flory … Sheriff Denton
Donald Petrie … Luke
Christopher McDonald … Pete
Perry Lang … Paul Gordon
Fred Franklyn … Mr Gordon
Olive Dunbar … Mrs. Gordon
Al Hansen … Bo Rehnquist
Dominic Barto … The Driver
Nicholas Shields … Dr Greenwalt
Chuck Mitchell … Counterman
Allison Balson … Alice
Jim Gatherum … Boy #1
Tanya Bowers … Schoolgirl
Free to watch online: