The Evil Clergyman

Jori reviews THE EVIL CLERGYMAN

The Evil Clergymanaka Pulse Pounders (The Evil Clergyman was originally a segment of this anthology film)
30 min., 1988
Directed by Charles Band
My rating: ★★★
IMDB

Worth waiting for.

* * *

This has been a long journey for Evil Clergyman, what with Empire Pictures shutting down and the original 35mm film lost forever.  Lucky for us, someone found a VHS copy and huzzah!  We get a decent quality transfer that will at least allow us to finally see this segment from the Pulse Pounders anthology.

Jeffrey Combs is the titular clergyman – a sex fiend having a torrid affair with a woman (Barbara Crampton) who, as it turns out, is far more evil than we think.  When she visits the room where he committed suicide (to get closure, of course!) she is caught up in a bizarre world where her lover is collecting souls for his rat-demon familiar.  You mean all that kinky sex wasn’t proof he loved her?  Gasp!

This is based on an HP Lovecraft short story, so the basic foundation is already good.  While I am not familiar enough with Lovecraft to pretend I know what I’m talking about, I can at least say that what I’ve seen I really enjoy.  The great thing about this is that it is short enough not to get boring.  It actually feels like a perfect run time.  It ended exactly when I was ready for it to end.

Though the quality is not quite clean, it is entirely watchable.  Nitpicking makes no sense, considering this is the only copy we’ll see.  Not everything has to be viewed in super HD folks.  The design of the rat-demon is pretty neat, if not a bit silly.  There are minimal effects, with most of the short relying on atmosphere that works quite well for the story. Combs is brilliant, with a very cold demeanor throughout.  He is (was) quite handsome and that detached coolness makes him irresistible.  Crampton does quite well, though she resorts to a bit more hysterics than I prefer.  While entirely appropriate for her situation, some of her scenes could have been cut down so as not to make her seem too overwrought.

After taking into consideration the year this was actually made and the master used for transfer, it is a no-brainer to say that this is a really great short.  Lovecraft fans familiar with the short story might not be too thrilled with the changes, but it kind of works.  If viewed on its own, it is a solid story.  The ending is fantastic, and my favorite part!  With a few bits of extra editing, this could really be perfect.

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About Jori

Being a stubborn girl, Jori insisted on watching scary movies as a little girl and proclaiming "I'm not scared!" from behind her oma's rocking chair. Much sleep was lost in the early years due to paralyzing fear, and her uncle Albert deserves a special mention for unwittingly showing her Monkey Shines. Jori spends her adult life trying to recapture that initial feeling of terror that she experienced as a child. Follow her on Twitter at @fvjori.

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