Friday, September 14, 2012

Oh that Uncle Roscoe: The Undertaker (1988)

The Undertaker (1988) (AKA Death Merchant)
rating: **1/2
starring: Joe Spinell, Rebeca Yaron and Patrick Askin

Uncle Roscoe is a small town undertaker, a necrophiliac, and a vile murderer who collects his killings to set them up in his own private wedding in a secret portion of his basement. Unfortunately for him, his slayings will not go unnoticed for long as his nephew witnessed this madness and alerts his teacher, much to Roscoe's dismay as two local authorities are already looking into his crimes but baffled due to lack of evidence. But with Roscoe's confidence and craziness aiding him and his sick hobby, he murders his way out of these inconveniences.

The Undertaker was long unseen and unreleased, enough to be considered as a lost film until fans found out about it two decades later and demanded for an official release.

The film certainly has an unusual taste of "star-power" sensibilities; while his role in this movie was quite similar to one Frank Zito of the slasher classic Maniac (1980), Spinell's Uncle Roscoe is almost in contrast by personality: the killer in Maniac is withdrawn and awkward yet struggling to end his madness, while Uncle Roscoe is avid, compulsive and very enthusiastic, a cheesier and less disturbing character compared to the former.

Sad to say, much to his character's quirky attitude, Spinell's performance in The Undertaker was, sadly, uneven.  At times, his delivery was so slurred it's hard to figure out whether he's just reading from the lines or he's unable to focus. Worse can be said to the rest of the cast who cheesed up the movie further with hooky lines and performance, underplayed by some pretty weak characterization.

But the worst had to come from the movie's "plot" itself which is awfully thin even for a slasher, simply revolving around Roscoe's killing spree and some fillers, dully edited that some scenes either ended too soon or prolonged to the point that even the actors wasn't aware that the camera is still rolling.

If there are gonna be any highlights from this film, it'll got to be the kills; machete decapitation, eye gouging, disembowelment, throat stabbings, drug overdosing, etc. Thankfully the shoddy editing didn't messed up the killings that much and though I could ask for a better massacre, I guess this one will do for a late 80s entry.

And then there's the skin. Live ones. The sleaze wouldn't lie as it's all sex and skin for some of the younger victims in the fray.

As much as I hate to dismiss a lost classic, The Undertaker it's an average movie for my taste. Still, I'm just happy to see the ole Maniac star one last time before his untimely passing. A cheesy wozzit with little story and lots of kills, The Undertaker is a must have for all Spinell and rare slasher enthusiasts.

1 female found with throat cut
1 female gets a syringe full of chemicals to the ear
1 female gutted with machete (film)
1 female had her breasts sliced off with knife, gutted
1 female body seen (dream)
1 male gets a syringe full of chemicals injected through his neck
1 female kitchen knifed on the gut, face fried on frying pan
1 male gets a pen knife to the eye
1 male knifed through the neck
1 male had a throat cut with a knife
1 female decapitated with machete
1 male hacked on the head with a meat cleaver
1 female pinned to the wall with machete
total: 13


  1. Yeah, I haven't seen this - but I'd have to believe it would rate one watch for Spinell alone.

    1. Code Red releasing had a DVD up, but had some of the gore cut out. I don't know if that's a good thing, but I'm sure tere areo ther releases out there.