Retro Review: ‘The Undertaker and His Pals’

Anyone who has read many of my Retro Reviews know that I have a love for sleazy, cheap, exploitative, grindhouse flicks. While these movies are fun, there is a common complaint that many of them hit a midpoint at the pacing starts to drag. But the 1966 film The Undertaker and His Pals, has such a sleek runtime and convoluted plot that it comfortably avoids this common pitfall of the grindhouse ilk.

There is a biker gang on the loose preying on young women, slicing them up and absconding with various body parts. Always on hand for the victim’s family is a sleazy undertaker who promises a low cost funeral only to rip them off. As you may have figured out, this undertaker is part of this biker gang along with two owners of a greasy spoon who serve their victims to unsuspecting customers. When they kill the secretary of Harry Glass, private eye, he is turned onto the case with his new secretary Friday (who is killed an replaced by her twin sister, played by the same actress, Thursday).

I will make no excuse, this is a stupid and silly film. But the Undertaker and His Pals knows it is stupid and proudly wears it on its sleeve. Despite this, you can not help but be entertained by it. The cast is having a blast hamming it up and this energy proves contagious for the audience. Of course, a diner run by a cannibal biker leaves things open for a number of fun food-related gags. In the sole directorial job of his career, T.L.P. Swicegood seems to know the shortcomings of the film and well as its inherent ridiculousness and plays into it. He even included a closing where the actors who died in the movie get to cheese it up waving to the camera while calling back to their demises. The gore fx are not particularly great, but the kills tend to be over-the-top enough that it works.

Released as part of a triple bill with other cannibal themed horror flicks, the Undertaker and His Pals has sadly remained a hidden gem. It is a cheap and silly exploitation flick which revels in its grotesque nature.