THE EVIL CLERGYMAN (1988)
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In 1988 Charles Band was preparing a three-story anthology film called Pulse Pounders. The film was shut down before postproduction was completed when Empire Pictures collapsed, and the footage was thought lost. In 2011 a VHS work print of the film was discovered and while inferior to the original filmed footage, Band decided still to restore the three segments, one at a time. One segment was a sequel story to Empire’s Dungeonmaster, another was a sequel to their popular Trancers flick. The third segment was The Evil Clergyman which was based on an H.P. Lovecraft story and starred alumni from Band’s other H.P. Lovecraft based productions Re-Animator and From Beyond… *
The Evil Clergyman is a spooky segment with a bit of an erotic tinge. The story finds a young woman (Barbara Crampton) returning to the old rat-infested house where she had a tumultuous affair with a handsome priest (Jeffrey Combs), who recently killed himself. When entering the room where the two committed their passionate acts, she finds the priest alive…or so she thinks. She also finds herself in a nightmare, as her lover’s intentions for her were apparently far more sinister than just sinful and consorting with her wasn’t the only consorting he was doing.
Chilling segment is directed by Charles Band from a script by Dennis Paoli, based on Lovecraft’s story of the same name. It has atmosphere and there are some very creepy moments when things start to go wrong for our pretty heroine. Aside from Crampton’s Said Brady entering the castle-like home and confronting the landlord (Una Brandon-Jones), the rest of the segment takes place entirely in one spooky room. Band gives it some decent chills and there is a little fire in the sex scene between Crampton and Coombs. What limited make-up FX we see, such as David Gale’s rat demon and the wounds on David Warner’s spectral bishop, are well rendered by legendary FX man John Carl Buechler. It ends on an unsettling note and works well enough on its own and thus probably would have been very effective as part of the anthology, as originally intended.
The cast are all good. Barbara Crampton is sexy and very effective as the first elated, then terrified Said Brady. Coombs is spooky and sinister as the title clergyman, Jonathan. He and Crampton work well together as they have before and this wouldn’t be the last time, teaming again on Trancers II for Band and Castle Freak for Stuart Gordon in the 90s. The late David Gale is creepy as the rat demon with a human face and David Warner as well, as a ghostly bishop apparently murdered by Coombs’s priest. Last but not least, Una Brandon-Jones is solid as the judgmental and angry landlord. A good cast for what would have been a solid segment for this unfinished anthology flick.
Overall, this was a spooky little, short film and it’s cool Full Moon restored it, so it can be seen. At some point it is said that they intend to put all three segments together as originally planned, but for now The Evil Clergyman is available for free streaming on Tubi and Full Moon’s own streaming channel. Trancers: City of Lost Angels can be seen on Amazon and Full Moon streaming, too. Dungeonmaster 2 seems to be the only segment left to be yet restored, but time will tell if that emerges out of obscurity, too.
*Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB and the segment’s own opening notice.
Rated 3 (out of 4) rats without human faces.
Trailer for the Pulse Pounders anthology including The Evil Clergyman…