A traditional ghost story motivated by revenge, “Grave Secrets” focuses on floating home goods and rural tropes rather than real scares.
The owner of a bed and breakfast hires a paranormal investigator to help her figure out a vengeful haunting. Let’s dig into 1989’s “Grave Secrets”, directed by Donald P. Borchers!
As I See It
A ghost story with paranormal investigators and a seance? That tends to be a recipe for success, at least in the current genre climate. But when you get no-sell acting, as the lead is choked by an unseen force, you’re doomed no matter what.
A professor who’s asked to help with a haunting says no but then shows up and is told to leave. He leads the way against a poultrygeist! That’s not a mistype. Eggs flying from a basket, a glowing attic, floating garments; oh my!
Any attempt to really scare us is held for the end when the ghost takes on a semi-solid green state and the truth plays out in a sub-par fashion.
The big jump scare is saved for the final image, of course — a dream sequence.
I don’t want to rip on the acting too much, as the material which they had to work with wasn’t exactly groundbreaking. But even a minimal effort would have improved what made it to film.
Not all films are due a release for posterity.
David Warner (Dr. Carl Farnsworth) makes his challenge to Sir Christopher Lee for the king of the mountain. The Omen, Titanic, TMNT II, as well as tons of Digs. The man has had a busy career in genre film.
Lee Ving (Zack) loves living in the city. The singer of the legendary punk band Fear that tore up Saturday Night Live on Halloween night (hosted by Donald Pleasence!) and introduced DC Punks to a New York soundstage (shout out to Ian MacKaye) has a small role here.
Of Gratuitous Nature
There is such a muddle of plot that it makes the inclusion of the local antagonist useless. I feel bad complaining about Lee Ving being involved, but it’s a wasted appearance in my opinion.
The old-school 8-bit graphics on the paranormal equipment is as close to my heart as this film can reach.
Ripe for a Remake
It’s an achievable endeavor though not very original or special. It’s all about tone in my opinion — and location.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Vinegar Syndrome released a Blu-ray back in April. You can also stream from Tubi, Epix, and Paramount +.