|The original posters make this look much scarier than it is.|
Here is a question for you: What kind of movie do you get when you mix the funeral home jokes of The Loved One, the bikers of The Wild Angels, the blood, gore and cannibalism of Blood Feast, with the campy melodrama of Batman? You get The Undertaker and His Pals.
This movie was promoted as a dark and gruesome horror film from the moment of its release in 1966. Watching it now, it has both lost its shock value and comes across as an attempt to be trendy. With that said, this is definitely one of those "so bad, it's good" movies.
The movie opens with a biker gang invading the home of a beautiful blond named Sally Lamb, who sits around the house in a long sleeved, pull over, sweater and a pair of panties. They murder her. I should point out this upsets her sailor boyfriend's photo. Yes, he is not there, but his photo gets very upset at his sexy girlfriend's death (see photo below).
Next, we see Sally Lamb's funeral, presided over by the bald and creepy Mort the mortician (Ray Dannis). Mort has made up Sally with makeup like a clown and charges her parents extra for a pair of artificial legs he attached, because her legs had been removed by her killers. He also has a sign out front that he gives trading stamps.
From there were meet Harry Glass, a private eye with an attractive secretary name Ann Poultry. He takes her to lunch a greasy spoon called The Greasy Spoon, that is run by the bikers. The special of the day is "Leg of Lamb." The bikers are delighted to find out that Ann's last name is Poultry ("Like chicken"). You can figure out where this is going. The next special of the day is "Breast of chicken" after Ann is impaled on a fence in her yard.
Mort directs Ann's funeral, which is so cheap that Ann is placed in a wooden packing crate. Harry begins to look into whether Ann's death was connected to some other deaths, while trying to find a new secretary.
|I'm too cute to be in this stupid movie.|
My question, being a native Ozarker is that odd spelling on the Greasy Spoon chalk board a tip of the hat to Springfield, Missouri's Route 66 icon Red's Giant Hamburg sign (below). One wonders.
Harry is worried about Friday, but then is surprised when her twin sister, Thursday (also Warrene Ott) shows up. I'll not go into the rest of the film because it would spoil it, other than to say that Mort and Thursday engage in a goofy chase scene. When we see Thursday running away, we hear silent movie chase music. Then we see Mort creeping after her, accompanied by a funeral organ.
I will tell you that the film's end credits are goofy. Everyone makes a sort of curtain call, even those that are dead, while a New Orleans style rock & roll song, called "A Devil Like Me", plays. Sally Lamb rises from her coffin with her legs intact and Mort's bad makeup gone. Ann pops out of her packing crate wearing only a fur coat. Friday is sitting in front of the Greasy Spoon slate, which reads "Hambur-ger Get it" eating a hamburger and winking at the audience.
This is the only film ever directed by Tom Swicegood. Legend has it that the film, originally, contained scenes of actual operations and autopsies, but those were cut out (excuse the pun) by independent movie maker Ted. V. Mikels, who distributed it as a second feature to his horror films. Those edits left this movie with a running time of just over an hour. Still, The Undertaker and His Pals is at number seven on "The Goriest Films Ever Made" in the The Signet Book of Movie List by Jeff Rovin. Of course, this book was written in 1979 and Rovin's description sounds like he may have watched a different film. He says there was a "cleaving in two of a delivery boy's skull." This scene is not as bad as he makes it sound, besides the delivery boy is laughing in the end credits (with a band aid on his head). I'm not saying there is some gore, but nothing compared to what we would see in the 70s and 80s.
If you read many on-line reviews of this film, you realize that the people who hate this movie the most are people who want more gore and less humor in their horror films. They also don't understand that this is, as the saying goes, a product of its times. I mentioned that it is a mish mash of hot movie and TV properties of the day at the beginning of this review.
If you are looking for a fun "bad" horror movie for Halloween. This is a fun choice.