Blu-ray Review: Rest In Pieces

Over the last few decades director José Ramón Larraz has been best known for his erotic horror film Vampyres. The film has a massive cult following since the Spaniard produced in England back in 1974. You wouldn’t be too wrong to imagine he was a one hit wonder. But over the last few years Larraz’s other films have been upgraded to Blu-ray that had been crumbling away on VHS. Indeed it was the VHS era that marked the end of his career when he ended up making a deal to make three low budget horror movies for American videostores and European theaters. His American casts would be brought over to Spain to fake like they were back in America. This kept the budgets low and the international appeal high. The last two of the three Deadly Manor and Edge of the Axe came out at the start of the year. And now we can end 2020 with Rest In Pieces rising from the video cassette tape onto Blu-ray.

Helen Hewitt (Arizona Heat‘s Lorin Jean Vail) and her husband Bob (Open House‘s Scott Thompson Baker) have to fly out of LAX to attended the memorial service and cremation of her Aunt Catherine (The Big Sleep‘s Dorothy Malone). Things get off to a creepy start when right before the cremation, Aunt Catherine’s body pops up because of rigor mortis. This scares Helen. Things get even weirder when the attorney shows the couple the aunt’s videotape will. It’s weird because the Aunt kills herself after telling her niece that she’s getting everything in her vast estate. She watches the aunt die while Bob begins to feel good about their change of fortune. He’s a washed up pro tennis touring player that was killing time as a tennis instructor at a country club. Now he can afford to join his club. But first they have to find out what the aunt did with her fortune. The only main thing is that the aunt owned a vast compound in a neighborhood. All of her neighbors are in fact living in her house. And she wasn’t charging them rent. This is when things get weirder since the neighbors are not happy the Hewitt’s have inherited their homes. But they don’t seem to be in a rush to do anything to the Hewitts because they sense the couple won’t be evicted them. The Hewitts are more concerned with the fact that the aunt didn’t have any bank accounts or stock investments. She paid in cash. Except the Hewitts can’t find where the loot is stashed. Even more confusing is Helen thinks the ghost of Aunt Catherine is trying to kill her. What exactly did Helen inherit?

Rest In Pieces is a twisted low budget horror tale. José Ramón Larraz doesn’t give us a straight forward tale of inheriting a bad thing. The nightmare evolves. Even the people that live on the property change from being upset that the new owner might not treat them right to being cannibals and even something more. You can’t rest on the neighbors especially if you’re their new landlord. Just prior to starring as Helen Hewitt, Lorin Jean Vail was “Bikini Girl #7” in a Love Boat Christmas special. Turns out for this role, she lost the bikini as she seems to get scared out of her top quite often. Afterward she popped up in The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. While she had a short career, it did have it’s highlights. The highlight here is finally having the first of José Ramón Larraz’s VHS Trilogy. Even though the action was intended for the small screen, there’s quite a few big screen screams that deserve a Blu-ray upgrade.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer is extremely sharp since the film was shot with brighter lighting since they must have known VHS would dim things up a bit. This is so much better than when you rented it from the Video Bar. The audio is different than what you’d imagine for a foreign film. The English track is what the actors are speaking on the set. You can listen to the Spanish track, but that’s a dub. Both are DTS-HD MA mono. The film is subtitled in English.

Piece By Piece (17:22) interviews actor Scott Thompson Baker about his time as Bob Hewitt. He talks about being a business major at college who was dared to tryout for a musical. He was able to emotionally link with his character and decided to act even more. He won the acting prize on Star Search. Rest In Pieces was his first real film. He had no idea about the director before boarded the airplane for Spain. He really wishes he knew so he could have appreciated working with José Ramón Larraz better at the time. Baker did go on to work with the Coen Brothers on A Serious Man. He said most of the crew spoke English even though they made film in Spain.

Audio commentary from Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger has the two writers talk about the film and how it fits with what other Spanish directors were making at the time. The two writers and podcasters are fans of José Ramón Larraz and enjoy the film. Their conversation will make you order more Spanish horror films.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Rest In Pieces. Directed by: José Ramón Larraz. Screenplay by: Santiago Moncada. Starring: Scott Thompson Baker, Lorin Jean Vail Lorin, Dorothy Malone, Jack Taylor, Patty Shepard, David Rose, Jeffrey Segal, Fernando Bilbao & Carole James. Running Time: 89 minutes. Released: November 24, 2020.

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