So, second season of Masters of Horror. What do we have to say about it? Spoilers are likely to abound.
The Damned Thing: Directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre). So, we have a boy who is too smart for his own good watch his family die. Pretty gore filled deaths too. Actually, this episode has a decent amount of gore in it. Quite fun, that. Anyhow, flash forward to the present day whee the boy is now sheriff. Small town starts having some crazy stuff happen. people killing themselves or others. Then the mystery is solved and everyone dies. Personally, this would have worked better as a full movie. The one hour to develop backstory, have the crisis, and resolve it all just wasn't working well. Not enough character development to really make you care about the deaths too much. Also, there is no real explanation of why the thing that is causing this is doing so with regard to the timeframe. What I mean is that the times between incidences in the grand picture are not consistent, and the birthday synergy doesn't make sense without more information. Also, finally, the thing was more scary before you see it. Just saying invisible is sometimes better than visible.
Family: Directed by John Landis (American Werewolf in London). So, we start with gospel music and a bath of acid. Not to shabby for setting the mood. Seeing George Wendt as this kind of character is fun, and a little disturbing. I like hos the skeletons are sometimes alive. Adds a lot to the show. I spent most of this movie expecting the new couple to be serial killers too. They just felt a little off. It is strange how John Landis has done two of these episodes, and both have a twisted humor to them. Anyhow, good episode with a really fun ending.
The V Word: Directed by Ernest Dickerson (Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knight). First of all, when I hear the phrase "the v word" I think of vagina. The word they want you to think of is vampire. Not very similar concepts, really. That aside, this is a fun little piece. We get some nice camera shots, and a good build of tension for the first half. After that, though, the whole thing loses a lot. The vampire sight thing was stupid. If vampires really saw like that, they would be virtually unable to function. It also lost all horror elements once everyone was dead. Then it shifts to emo vampire shit. Blah. I liked it ok since the first half was very well done, just a disappointment for the rest.
Sounds Like: Directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9). Wow, this is horror in a way that I usually don't think about. Not horror in that there is graphic violence or gore, though there is a bit of that. Not in that there is shocking imagery, though there it some of that as well. Not in the way that you have scenes meant to build tension and then make you jump. This is horror in a more existential way. The horror of losing someone you love, and not being able to cope. Of having the guilt you feel overwhelm you. If letting the guilt of something you cannot control consume you to the point of ruining all other aspects of your life. There is a deeper horror contained in this tale than you would normally see. When I look at who the director is, and what his major horror credit is, this does not surprise me at all.
Pro-Life: Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween). A movie with a message...I think. Girl is raped by a demon. Wants abortion. Ultra-conservative dad says no. God tells him to protect the child. Maybe. The whole thing is pretty predictable. People die, baby is born, dad realizes mistake. There are a couple scenes that are a shock, like how the dad decides to deal with an abortion doctor. Oh, and the exploding vagina. Who knew a vadge could spray like that. Also, who knew it would burn and blind like that. Pretty fun movie, but nothing stunning.
Pelts: Directed by Dario Argento (Suspiria). Leave it to Argento to bring the tits and the gore. We've got a fur trader in love with a stripper. To win her affections, he offers her the opportunity to model a fur coat in a fashion show. Problem being, the coat is made of magical raccoon skins. Which are cursed. Lots of people die. The deaths were interesting, and mostly well handled. There were some practical effects, with a dude cutting his own chest and a guy skinning himself among them. There were also some crappy cg deaths, like the woman who sews her face shut. I could have done without the obvious cg. Some is ok, but when it is easy to pick out to the point of distraction then you have a problem. I like how there are a number of strip club scenes, so a lot of nudity. I am easy to please there. Boobs make me happy. I am ok with this fact. Beyond that, I can't help but wonder how a woman feels when they are asked to do 90% of an acting role topless. I know I would feel a little strange to have my junk hanging out for most of a movie.
The Screwfly Solution: Directed by Joe Dante (The Howling). You got scifi in my horror. No, you got horror in my scifi. Actually, this was a pretty sweet episode. Begins with a description of scientists messing with the hormones of flies to mess up their mating habits, thus exterminating them. Then we get some info on dudes killing women when they become aroused. Starts as a southern US thing, and spreads north. Guys doing it claim it is God's will. There is also mention of a handful of people having seen angels, and that they are not what you would expect them to look like. Some stupid moves, like the woman not telling her daughter the full truth. Or the daughter being a stupid teenager. After women are killed, the little boys soon follow. Other than the scifi bit, this is a pretty creepy and fun movie. What The Happening could have been. This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.
Valerie on the Stairs: Directed by Mick Garris (The Stand). Proof that Clive Barker inspires great movies (since it was based on a short story of his). What a great idea. A Halfway house or unpublished authors. Free room and board as long as you are working on getting published, but have not managed to succeed yet. I would love to live in a situation like that. Except for all the smoking and the haunting and the killing. So, maybe not so much wiht the living in that situation. A fairly simple idea, not terribly unique for overall plot. But, well done anyhow. A very enjoyable episode, with a lot of fun to it. Until the crappy cg effect at the end. I know they could have found the buget to do more with that than they did. Even a practical effect could have been done for a bit of it I bet. Would have been better than what we got. I mena, come on people. At least sync up the live acting with the cg better. That was just pathetic. The makeup effects were awesome though, and especially the one leading into the crappy cg. Probably why the cg looked so bad.
Right to Die: Directed by Rob Schmidt (Wrong Turn). See, that's what I am talking about. Some awesome practicals in this one. Yeah, there's a it of cg. But, at least that all makes sense for what they are doing and isn't too intrusive. Basic idea in this one is there is a husband who cheated on his wife. She's mad, but he wants to reconcile. They get into an accident, where he escapes mostly unharmed but she is burned to a toasty mess. She is probably going to die, without a donor. He decides to pull the plug. When she dies, which happens a couple times, her spirit haunts him and does bad things. The other woman comes into this a little bit too, as well as an attorney who is helping with the do not resuscitate order. The toasty body makeup is good, as is a later scene involving a skin donor. There are some fun secrets as the show goes along, where you learn a bit more about what really happened and why. Very fun episode.
We All Scream for Ice Cream: Directed by Tom Holland (Child's Play). Note to self: Do not piss of your kids if they have cursed ice cream. Something about clowns makes for a great horror movie. Add in the ice cream man, who can be moderately creepy as well, and you have a pretty good foundation for a scary plot. The general plot of this is nothing new. Kids pull a stupid prank to be needlessly cruel. It goes wrong, and somebody dies. Now the kids are adults and the dead target of their prank is back to get revenge. The specifics are where this differs. In particular is how the death is dealt out to the victims. Some really fun visuals on this. I like how they ice cream used is how the end result looks. Icky, nasty, fun. Also, you see how to make hillbilly soup. Sort of.
The Black Cat: Directed by Stuart Gordon (The Re-Animator). A rare departure, going with a Poe story instead of Lovecraft. Still uses his best star, Jeffrey Combs. I must admit, Combs is a much better actor than I would have initially given him credit for. Even knowing he was in the episode, and who he was plying, I didn't recognize him at all. Was very cool to have that happen, as I rarely encounter acting of that caliber. Story of this is pretty much the plot of the Poe story of the same name, but superimposed over Poe's actual life. Not a lot of horror to it. First truly creepy bit isn't until about 40 minutes into this 58 minute episode. However, the effectiveness of Poe's madness and his )sometimes creepy) love of his wife/cousin is pretty well handled. I spent the whole show wondering who was the character to hate. Is it Poe, or Pluto? I am still not sure.
The Washingtonians: Directed by Peter Medak (The Changeling). AWESOME! The premise of this episode is so amazing, I am surprised this is the first place i have heard it. George Washington was a cannibal. Since his time, there has been a long line of people dedicated to keeping his cannibalism a secret, as well as continuing the practice. A guy finds written proof of the lost historical fact and his family suffers for it. Some pretty messed up images, and a really fucked up alternate history. It all kind of makes sense and works out through the limited historical knowledge I have. Then there is the historian with the federal forces. How awesome is that. This is what history should be like, man. Only down side was that horribly ending. The real horror is who they replace Washington with on the $1 bill. *shudder*
Dream Cruise: Directed by Norio Tsuruta (Ring 0: Birthday). First of all, this is based on a story by Koji Suzuki. For those of you who don't know the name, he's the guy who wrote the stories that the Ring and Dark Water series were based on. Having read the first two Ring novels, I can tell you the guy has some creepy ideas. So, does the episode deliver? Yeah, it really does. The story and events of this episode are fairly straightforward, but it still manages some good creepy bits. Hell, within the first 5 minutes it give 2 good jumps, one of which was completely unexpected for me. Basic plot is a lawyer in Japan is having an affair with his client's wife. Client finds out, and plans to kill them. Bad stuff happens with ghosts and a stranded boat. Along with this is the plot of the layer's youth, when he let his brother drown. The two stories sort of tie together, with some flashbacks to explain the new ghost. All of it is twisted into one coherent story. This works much better than a lot of j-horror for the simple fact that the story is very basic and non-confusing. The really amazing bit is that it still feels like Asian horror, and not an American movie. Probably one of the better episodes of the season.
Now I just have to go back to catch the old episodes of Fear Itself. That's the official unofficial third season of the show after Showtime dumped it and NBC picked it up, only to dump it again. After those reviews, i will go back and compare each offering from specific directors with each other to see what they tell me about each other. Unless I forget to do it.