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John’s Horror Corner: The Haunting of Morella (1990), a smutty, possession-themed, boobstravaganza exploitation film with craptastic effects.

November 24, 2015



MY CALL: This may not be softcore porn, but it’s absolutely an exploitation film with nothing to offer anyone looking for any form of horror movie at all. My entertainment derived solely from the ridiculous awfulness of this movie and the amazing amount of screen time dedicated to bare breasts.  Now I remember why I liked this so much when I was 13 (over 20 years ago!).  MORE SHAMELESSLY BOOB-FILLED MOVIES LIKE The Haunting of Morella:  To name a few for you skin-flick horror fans, how about Killer Workout (1987), Death Spa (1989), Barbarian Queen (1985), Conquest (1983), Deathstalker (1983), Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans (1987), The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984), Evils of the Night (1985), Head of the Family (1996), Piranha 3DD (2012) and Bio Slime (2010). That ought to keep you busy.

Based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe (probably rolling over in his grave) and brought to you by Roger Corman, The Haunting of Morella is a film that leaps into the deep end of its own melodramatic insanity with reckless abandon from its first few seconds of running time as we witness the colonial crucifixion of the young, attractive witch Morella (Nicole Eggert; Baywatch, Clan of the Cave Bear, Decoys) whose last words curse her family that she would one day return to possess her daughter and welcome them to the gates of Hell.  This curse (and the three minutes of film surrounding it) are the only fraction of this movie’s story that makes any sense at all.  After this point, the story components and even the characters themselves seem a bit confused.


Director Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall, Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans) has had a long history of exploitation filmmaking. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to the abundance of nudity and general dearth of substance in this schlocky film.  Clearly he spent every dollar he could tipping the actresses to disrobe and spared a few remaining crumbled bills for the obviously inexperienced special effects team to transform Lenora (also played by Nicole Eggert) into the occasionally monstrous-faced Morella.


Your Day of the Dead make-up sucks.  Just sayin’.

Like any Roger Corman film, the cast features a slew of exploitation vixens including Maria Ford (Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Deathstalker IV), Gail Harris (Sorority House Massacre II), Deborah Dutch (Sorority Girls and the Creature from Hell, 976-Evil II) and the statuesque Amazon Lana Clarkson (Deathstalker, Barbarian Queen), who was tragically murdered in real life by Phil Spector.


Look at Lana Clarkson next to Nicole Eggert.  It’s like a Mastiff next to a Pomeranian!

Back when I reviewed Piranha 3DD (2012) I came up with a sort of “Movie Metric” for gratuitous nudity…  “If there was a movie Freakonomics calculation called breast time it would be measured in breast seconds—the total number of breasts in a movie times the number of seconds that each breast is bare.  [Piranha 3DDs] breast second tabulation would result in a breast time of 300% of the movie’s actual running time.  It’s truly shameful.”  Perhaps they should rename this film The Breasting of Morella as it puts Piranha 3DD to shame

Flashbacks inform us that Morella turned to the occult to remedy some unnamed terminal illness that would soon kill her—however healthy and hot she may appear. So, of course, she finds a completely naked bathing virgin woman to kill with the least convincing on-screen throat slit of 90s horror.  Afterwards, Morella bathes in her blood, also naked.  Shifting back to present day, we find Lenora’s uber-tall guardian (Lana Clarkson) naked taking a bath.  Such a smooth transition, right? How ever did the director muse the shift from a flashback with two naked women taking a bath to a present day naked women taking a bath? Impressive and seamless.  This naturally develops into a lesbian massage with continued and markedly needlessly prolonged on-screen nudity.


As a teenager of the early 90s without a computer, naturally I loved this. As an adult with the internet, this film now feels like a 90% waste of time with 10% nostalgia.

The plot lumbers forward at a sluggish pace…that is, of course, unless you came here to count on-screen boobs. With the exception of disrobing the female cast (which was done in an instant with the pull of a string), everything seems to take way too long to unfold, occur and explain itself.  And on that note, everything is over-explained in nauseating detail.  Much to the contrary the one scene that should find elaborate development, the possession and its process, is completed almost instantaneously with no effects to speak of except for a corpse with some glowing eye sockets.


This corpse talks.  Not scary, not creepy.

From one temporary possession of Lenora’s body to another, we learn that Morella needs to be fully resurrected because this whole possession thing is like way harder than she expected it to be. So now her old Amazon friend who lives with the family (no clue why) and somehow didn’t age at all in nearly 20 years (maybe it’s Maybelline) must help her to find virgins (because, yeah, you know, virgins!!!).  So we find yet another naked lady who, for some reason, is written an entire back story despite being on screen for five minutes…and she’s killed.  Now stronger after absorbing another soul, Morella again possess Lenora and…more sex! It seems sex is like filling the tank before taking your newly possessed body out for a spin. Then some more painful acting, cheap and terrible effects, and an evil mirror “other world”…and then yet more sex.


The bombardment of retched effects continues along with the general story-based stupidity. Speaking of stupid, yet another 5-minute character with too much back story is drained by Morella’s Lifeforce (1985) kiss of death to replenish her further a la Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988). As if we hadn’t yet endured enough pointless characters and gratuitous nudity, here comes more of both in the form of a grotto-like lesbian skinny-dipping scene.  This smutty scene is immensely drawn out as if to accumulate several breast minutes to the aforementioned breast time metric.  And worry not, the gross over-exposition continues to plague this already awful film with such blunt statements as “After one more feeding I’ll be completely resurrected.”  How does she even know that? Is this like a Subway punch card that’s one hole-punch away from a free 6″ sub?


For those who could possibly care, the only noteworthy point to this movie is that every female member of the cast gets naked (even though Eggert uses a body double). The movie ends without a single scary moment to its credit, rather abruptly, stupidly and with no semblance of build-up, tension, urgency or conclusion.  Lenora’s father simply grabs her, now possessed by Morella, and breaks his oil lamp to burn them both alive.  Roll credits.  Shit this was awful!  Haha


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  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: Night Angel (1990), the pleasantly gory tale of the evil succubus Lilith. | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. Sorceress (1982), a raunchy 80s fantasy movie featuring naked twin barbarian women, a floating manticore God and the dumbest magical prophecy ever. | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: Faust: Love of the Damned (2000), a smutty, gory, cheesy movie about soul-selling revenge and deals with the Devil. | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: Cherry Tree (2015), a bad but watchable witch movie featuring cool effects and perhaps too many centipedes. | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner: Blair Witch (2016), discussing a divisive franchise whose third installment offered nothing new except LOUD NOISES and a videogame monster. | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: Evil Clutch (1988) aka Il Bosco 1, a horrible Italian flick that makes no sense. | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985), more boobs, body count and masked killer shenanigans advance the Tommy Jarvis story arc. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: Necromancer (1988), just sleazy B-movie trash. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. John’s Horror Corner: Suspiria (1977), Dario Argento’s Italian witch movie about an enchanted ballet academy. | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. John’s Horror Corner: Demonoid (1980), a B-movie about a murderous disembodied crawling hand. | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. John’s Horror Corner: The Unnamable 2: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992), the revenge of the bare-boobed Lovecraft demon. | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. Bad Movie Tuesday: Witchcraft II: The Temptress (1989), just boring, boobs and bloodless. | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. John’s Horror Corner: Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), a Lovecraftian horror anthology loaded with disgusting gore and slimy tentacle monsters. | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. John’s Horror Corner: Decoys (2004), a Species-LITE (1997) knock-off playing on American Pie (1999) sex-comedy gags. | Movies, Films & Flix

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