The Hearse (1980) poster

The Hearse (1980)


USA. 1980.


Director – George Bowers, Screenplay – Bill Belch, Story/Producer – Mark Tenser, Photography – Mori Kava, Music – Webster Lewis, Art Direction – Keith Michi. Production Company – Marimark.


Trish Van Devere (Jane Hardy), David Gautreaux (Tom Sullivan), Perry Lang (Paul Gordon), Donald Hotton (Reverend Winston), Joseph Cotten (Walter Pritchard), Ned Florey (Sheriff Denton)


Schoolteacher Jane Hardy inherits the home of a recently deceased aunt in the town of Blackford. As soon as she moves into the house, strange things begin to happen. The townspeople treat her with antipathy and accuse her of witchcraft. She is haunted by a mysterious hearse that keeps appearing and trying to run her off the road. She finds a diary written by her aunt that describes her meeting a handsome stranger who offered her an immortality pact with The Devil. Soon after, a similar stranger appears to Jane, entrancing her with his charms.

The Hearse is a fairly ridiculous but not entirely unentertaining B effort. This was not long after the more-than-reasonable hit of the theatrically-released Steven Spielberg tv movie Duel (1971) premised around the idea of a man being pursued by a maleviolent truck. It was not long before we started to see several films about supernaturally empowered vehicles with Killdozer (1974) featuring an alien-possessed bulldozer and both The Car (1977) and the Stephen King adaptation Christine (1983) featuring possessed cars – see Films About Fantastical Vehicles – see Films About Fantastical Vehicles.

A passable degree of atmosphere is sustained but the shaky contrivation of the premise soon becomes evident. The main surprises are predictable and the script suffers from an overall vagueness and dearth of logic – Why, for example, did Trish Van Devere’s aunt die if she signed an immortality pact? Why does the Devil’s emissary want Van Devere in particular – reincarnation? family lineage? What purpose do the attacks by the hearse serve?

Trish Van Devere in The Hearse (1980)
Trish Van Devere and hearse

Trish Van Devere (better known as Mrs George C. Scott) is adequate, but the scene stealers are all in the supporting cast, including taciturn Joseph Cotten, Donald Hotton of particularly unsettling laugh, and the appealing boyish Perry Lang. As the mysterious stranger, David Gatreaux (whose main claim to fame is that he was once selected as Leonard Nimoy’s replacement in a planned 1970s tv revival of Star Trek) is laughably wooden.

The Hearse was one of only four films directed by editor George Bowers who also made the non-genre likes of the boxing film Body and Soul (1981) and the teen makeout comedies My Tutor (1983) and Private Resort (1985).

Trailer here

Full film available online here:-

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