The Hearse is a fairly standard ghost story that has been re-released by Vinegar Syndrome. it came out in 1980 and was directed by George Bowers, who is primarily known as a film editor (he edited Buckaroo Banzai, amongst others).
A woman called Jane Hardy moves into the home of her departed aunt in a small town. She has just been through a divorce and wants to get out of the city for a bit, and having inherited the house, that seems like a great solution. Of course the townsfolk believe the house is haunted, and they are wary of her, in fact they really seem to hate the city girl. However, she ends up getting involved with one of the locals, a guy who is a bit creepy and courts her in an old-fashioned way. Then she starts seeing a black hearse and strange things start going on around the house. Is she going mad, or is there some truth to the rumours about the house being haunted?
The film came out at the height of the revival of the haunted-house film in the 1980s, with movies like Poltergeist, The Shining and The Amityville Horror. Trish Van Dervere plays the lead, and Joseph Cotton appears in one of his last film roles. One of the greatest screen actors who ever lived, even in his small role Cotton manages to bring the movie’s most interesting character to life. Cotton continued to work a lot before his retirement in 1981, including a very memorable role in Heaven’s Gate. David Gautreaux, who plays her love interest and the antagonist, was also considered for the part of the adult Damien in Omen III.
It was a PG movie, so it’s pretty mild (although with the current rating system it would have been a PG-13 or R). That said, it’s not ineffective as a haunted house film. The hearse itself is pretty cool, although there are some continuity issues with it. Of course, given the title and the cover art, you might assume there would be a lot more action involving the hearse than there is, but for the most part the activity takes part inside the haunted house—although there is a car chase at the end, at which point the plot also falls apart a bit, but as a decent editor Bowers manages to keep the pace up: At 99 minutes it moves along fairly quickly. Bowers also directed one of the last Blaxploitation films, the 1981 remake of Body and Soul.
The Blu-Ray comes with a reversible sleeve that features a quite cool new cover. There is also a 20-minute interview with Gautreaux, a trailer and a TV spot.