***** - Freakin' awesome
**** - Very nice indeed
*** - Pretty good. Not bad for a MoH episode, but kinda lame when compared to real-deal horror movies.
** - Meh.
* - A waste of film and everyone involved in the making of this should be ashamed and appalled and should not be allowed to make movies anymore.
Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (Don Coscarelli, ****) - I love Don Coscarelli. He made Bubba Ho-Tep, which I adored. This film is a traditional bit of horror about a damsel in distress who is hunted and chased through the woods to a creepy cabin by a deformed freak. It's tense, gory and pretty much everything one would hope for from a horror film.
H.P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House (Stuart Gordon, ***) - Kinda fun but silly story about a student who moves into a haunted house and starts having crazy dreams. It's fun because I seem to remember that there are extended scenes of a rat with a man's face and that was cool.
Dance of the Dead (Tobe Hooper, **) - Interesting concept that falls short. In the not-too-distant dystopian future, people pay to see corpses injected with junk that makes them jerk about and appear to be dancing. Shoddy camera work and stupid MTV-style fast editing make this almost painful to watch. Could have been very cool.
Jenifer (Dario Argento, *****) - My husband's fave. Steven Weber rescues a woman with a super hot body and a seriously busted up monster face and ends up obsessed with her. They have lots of weird sex and then she eats children and midgets. It's funny and scary and works as a Beauty and the Beast in reverse.
Chocolate (Mick Garris, **) - Mick Garris is not only the director but also the creator of the MoH series. This one is just rather boring. A guy keeps randomly projecting into the body of a hot young Canadian woman who commits a murder. Snore. I guess not much interesting happens in Canada.
Homecoming (Joe Dante, *) - Ugh. A stupid movie that tries to be a political commentary (I HATE that). Soldiers that have died in Iraq come back from the dead and want to place their vote in the next election. Oh, it's really really bad.
Deer Woman (John Landis, ****) - What a hoot! This one is about as far from scary as you can get, but it's really good fun. Based on Native American legend, a woman with a hot upper body and deer legs stalks men. The men get all turned on my her beautiful face and, um, assets, but they don't notice her crazy deer legs under her long skirt. Once she gets 'em hot and bothered, Deer Woman tramples them to death with the deer legs. Police are baffled, hilarity ensues.
Cigarette Burns (John Carpenter, ****) - This was the first episode I ever watched, and I was completely hooked. The story follows a movie theatre owner who is contracted out to track down rare prints of films. An eccentric collector (played by Udo Kier, of course) hires the guy to track down a movie entitled La Fin Absolue Du Monde which screened once at a film fest and drove the audience to madness. This one is unique and creepy and sorta makes you wish that La Fin Absolue Du Monde was a real film except for the fact that the "clips" you get to see towards the end are a bit disappointing.
Fair-Haired Child (William Malone, ***) - Almost but not quite great. A strange couple kidnaps a pretty young blonde girl and throws her in their basement where she meets a dirty mute kid. The blonde and the mute see signs that other kids died in the basement and start freaking out. Then the mute turns into a hideous beast with wire hair who tries to eat the blonde. It has its moments and the end is pretty good.
Sick Girl (Lucky McKee, ****) - My friend Atlanta's absolute favorite. She convinced me to watch it a second time, and it plays better upon repeat viewings. It takes a while to get used to Angela Bettis' entomologist, but you must go with the flow and you'll be rewarded. The story concerns lonely lesbian scientist Bettis who obsessively collects insects and keeps them in her apartment. She receives a mysterious package that harbors a strange insect unlike anything she's ever seen before. At about the same time, she meets a beautiful blonde who likes her for who she is and doesn't mind all the creepy crawly critters hanging around. It's a sweet love story. With bugs. This lead me to track down Lucky McKee's movie May which also stars Angela Bettis and is just a wonderful film.
Pick Me Up (Larry Cohen, ***) - From the director of Black Caesar and Q:The Winged Serpent comes this potentially nifty episode that ultimately falls flat. Fairuza Balk, my favorite actress, stars as a lone traveler caught in a cat and mouse game between two serial killers. The gimick is that one serial killer is a hitchhiker who kills the people who give him a lift, the other is a trucker who kills his hitchhikers. I give it 3 stars for Fairuza's performance alone, otherwise it's too dull and the ending is lame.
Haeckel's Tale (John McNaughton, ***) - I didn't think I would enjoy this one, but it is pretty decent. Based on a story by Clive Barker, the story concerns a young man whose wife has recently died. He pays a visit to a witch in hopes that she will bring his love back to life. The witch tells a story explaining to the man why this is not the best idea. As usual, bringing back the dead is a foolhardy effort. I just looked at Clive's Imdb page and he's not aging well. Teeth are an issue. Just an observance.
Imprint (Takashi Miike, *****) - Ah, my favorite. This one was banned from airing in the U.S., so I was desperate to see it. Miike's Audition upset me greatly so I was eager to see what he had in store for me. I got way more than I bargained for. Beautiful costumes, gratutious torture and terrible acting make for the most entertaining (and most disturbing) episode. Billy Drago, the best actor ever, plays Christopher, a "Yankee" who visits a remote island in Japan to rescue the prostitute Kimomo to whom he swore his love and troth. A disfigured whore relates Kimomo's horrible fate to the very distressed Christopher. I am still upset that Showtime didn't have the gonads to air this, but there are scenes of intense torture involving needles, abortions and aborted babies, incest, rape and murder. Not for the faint of heart.
The Damnded Thing (Tobe Hooper, **) - Tobe Hooper, the creator of the classics The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, turns in another boring effort. This is about some sort of oil monster that terrorizes a small town. It starts off well enough, but builds to nothing and gets boring. Ted Raimi alleviates the dullness but showing up as preacher.
Family (John Landis, ****) - Landis comes back for season 2 with another great episode. George Wendt (yep, Norm) is a nutjob living in the suburbs who is murdering people, stripping them of flesh and blood, and then parading their skeletons around the house dressed up as his "family". His new neighbors are the friendly, all-American upper middle class type who befriend him. They begin to suspect that 'ol Norm ain't what he seems.
The V-Word (Ernest Dickerson, ***) - This is the only episode about vampires. I love a good vampire movie, and this one is okay. Two teenage boys visit a funeral home on a dare and discover that not all the bodies are exactly dead. They get chased and around and bit by the head vampire, Michael Ironside.
Sounds Like (Brad Anderson, *) - The plot is more like an episode of The Twilight Zone than a horror movie. A middle-aged man whose son recently died starts to discover that his hearing is becoming more accute. Soon the amplification begins to drive him insane. Could have been cool but I was seriously bored to tears. I believe that the greatest sin that a movie can commit is to be boring. Thus my one star rating.
Pro-Life (John Carpenter, ****) - Carpenter hasn't made a decent movie in well over a decade, but his MoH entries are really superb. This one plays upon the fears of both pro-lifers and pro-abortionists. It's a creepy affair starring Ron Perlman as a father who is determined to keep his young daughter from procurring an abortion. The daughter wants an abortion because she is convinced that she's carrying demon spawn. She's right.
Pelts (Dario Argento, *****) - I heart Dario Argento. This is terrific and very gory and often funny. Meat Loaf stars, so it's automatically ahead of the game. Anyway, Meat Loaf is a total bastard who operates a shady fur trade out of a small sweatshop. He gets ahold of some magical raccoon pelts that he shouldn't have. The pelts subsequently cause those who pet them to go really nuts and inflict all sorts of violent, grotty acts of masochism. This might be the most gory of all of the episodes.
The Screwfly Solution (Joe Dante, *) - Another dull shitfest from Joe Dante. This one is about a outbreak of a disease that causes agression in males towards females. Eventually there are very few ladies around. I can't tell if this one is misogynistic or if it's about how men are a bunch of violent jerks. Who cares? Not me. Judging from message boards and a few of my friends, a lot of folks enjoyed this one. It stars Jason Priestley. Need I say more?
Valerie on the Stairs (Mick Garris, ***) - Mick Garris improves greatly after his dull first episode, Chocolate. Based on a Clive Barker short story, this one is about a poor writer who moves into a house that's a collective of sorts for struggling writers. The poor schmuck starts seeing a hottie on the stairs of the house and she begs him to rescue her from her hulking demon lover. It's rather good, but again falls short on the ending which attempts to be a bit too existential.
Right to Die (Rob Schmidt, **) - Another horror movie that attempts a commentary on social issues. This time, a smarmy adulterer's wife is in a horrible accident and ends up in a coma. The shiesty bastard must decided whether or not to keep her on life support. The wife is pissed and haunts him. Martin Donovan plays the jerky husband. I used to love him, but this was a waste of his talent. The wife's fake boobies annoyed me, too.
We All Scream for Ice Cream (Tom Holland, ****) - This one has absolutely the BEST premise. A group of men are being stalked by a retarded clown that they accidentally killed when they were preteens. Yes, retarded (oops, I'm in Virginia! I mean Intellectually Challenged) clown. The clown just happens to be played by William Forsythe. Can you ask for much more?
The Black Cat (Stuart Gordon, **) - Disappointing take on the Edgar Allan Poe classic, told from the point of view of a drunken Poe. Poe is irritated by his wife's black cat. Blah.
The Washingtonians (Peter Medak, *) - This dumbass episode was about a stupid family who stumbles across "evidence" that George Washington was a vicious, bloodthirsty cannibal. This secret is protected by a bunch of crazy people or ghosts or something with bad teeth and powdered wigs. It's ridiculous AND boring. Just awful.
Dream Cruise (Norio Tsuruta,**) - I had high hopes for this one being that I love J-horror. Based on a short story by Koji Suzuki (author of Ringu), Dream Cruise tells the tale of an American finance specialist who falls for his client's lovely wife. The client is quite the jealous husband and he coerces the American onto his boat for a nightmare cruise. The movie begins well with some good scares, then deteriorates into another vengeful-Japanese-female-ghost-with-wet-hair story. Plus, this one runs for an hour and half, which is 30 minutes longer than the usual MoH runtime. It probably would have worked better in the shorter format.
And that's it. Showtime is run by ninnies who didn't pick up the series for a third season. It's sad to think that there may be no more, cause it was a great idea with some wonderful moments of genuis. There won't be any fulfillment of my dream director episodes (Rob Zombie would have been my first choice for a director). However, my life was a little happier knowing that Masters of Horror was in existance and that such an endeavor came to fruition. Me and the Masters had our ups and downs over the past two years, but it was a relationship that I will always remember and cherish, and anytime I need a fix I can reach for the shelf and grab an hour of Argento or Carpenter and relive those memories.