Friday, July 14, 2006

Masters of Horror

I'm behind in reviewing episodes of Masters of Horror.

I saw Deer Woman by John Landis. This one got pretty bad buzz. In fact, I'd been watching them about up until this episode and the resounding lack of enthusiasm for this one kind of stopped me up. I think that's odd, since I found the episode quite charming and funny.

Partly I just have some leftover affection for Brian Benben, but mostly I just enjoyed it. It's more comedy-heavy than An American Werewolf in London, which was refreshing in its way. Not to mention the fact that Cinthia Moura is incredibly hot and really captures a certain strange animal presence in her performance.

Pick Me Up by Larry Cohen, from a script by David J. Schow, was a delight from start until... nearly the finish. I'm not sure I'm sold on the ending. The story is about a trucker who picks up hitchhikers and kills them meeting up with a hitchhiker who gets rides from people and kills them. Their credited names are Wheeler and Walker. The woman they meet is credited as being named Stacia, which I assume is some kind of play on staying.

Michael Moriarty is utterly brilliant in his role as Wheeler. He chews up the scenery but not in a hammy way, just playing a big, big character. I'm less sure on Fairuza Balk, who I love, and what her characters overall meaning is. And I guess that's where I am on the episode. It was a really fun, and occasionally genuinely disturbing, ride, but I wasn't sure it added up to as much as it wanted to.

Mind you, I'm still thinking about it and what it could mean, so there's definitely more there than just a cheap hack and slash.

I wrote quite a bit about Homecoming when it came out, but at that time I was still mostly focused on the politics. It certainly is a bold and unapologetic political statement that should be hollered from every rooftop. Check out And The Dead Shall Vote: Part One and Part Two by Stephen Bissette for more of that.

What I found remarkable in watching it again was how nice the character arcs are and how as the story itself become more extreme and absurd, the characters actually get more reality and gravity to them. It's a remarkably deft bit of writing/acting/filmmaking and one that it not only didn't get credit for, but was largely charged with lacking.

Next month is going to be Jenifer by Dario Argento, which remains my favorite episode I've seen.

I'm not unconcerned that the rental double-feature disks have started having a second feature that is not available on its own disk with its own special features. Yes, I do want to see the "Working with Larry Cohen" documentary, thank you very much!

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