Masters Of Horror - "Dance Of The Dead"

danceofthedeadrating-0.5Easily the weakest MOH episode ever to see air, "Dance Of The Dead" is every horror fan's worst nightmare: a soulless, pointless teleplay worst-case-scenario. Its incompetence only underscores the sheer dullness and stupidity of the whole affair.

In this instance, our blame seems to lie upon the shoulders of Tobe Hooper, a director I've always found to be vastly overrated. (As a hater of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and having seen The Mangler and Toolbox Murders, I've yet to forgive the man for his incompetence. Sadly Massacre was his peak and it was a flash-in-the pan waste of time.) But, aside from my deep dislike for Tobe Hooper, a good part of the blame should be heaped upon Richard Christian "Chris" Matheson, son of "I Am Legend" writer Richard Matheson, pumping out a shitty adaptation of his father's obviously shitty story.

I'm not going to try to decipher the post-apocalyptic drivel that they passed off on me as a story, so I'll leave it at this: something happened and now you've got a weird retro future where young punks roam around drinking and drugging, just like now, except there's a lot fewer people. Amidst all this, you've got a club run by Robert Englund, overacting and chewing more scenery than he's ever chewed before in his life. Imagine Freddy combined with every other role he's had since and you still don't have the level of bad overacting that he provides in this storm of ass. At this club, the severly overwrought Freddy provides patrons with the opportunity to watch zombies "dance" on the stage via electrocution. Yeah, it's actually dumber than it sounds.

I'll gloss over the entire plot and the poor, foolish young actors involved. I'm not sure how much I can blame them when the rest of this retread mongoloid garbage is so stylistically fucked and lobotimized. Some people would claim that there's meaning in this episode (iMDB, I'm looking at you), but there's nothing here except a shitty titties 'n' zombies extravaganza, more inclined to let people chew scenery and deliver dialogue about nothing than actually have them doing anything that makes the slightest bit of sense or would entertain any viewer at all.

Somehow, the monstrous stupidity of this vapid horseshit manages to drive the show down to a level beneath some of the worse movies I've seen in my time... It's too bad to even be funny. It's just an irritating nightmare and you can't wait for it to reach its wretched conclusion. One would not think that such a lack of enjoyability, good taste, or substance would be manageable, but these men made it happen.

The fact that the Matheson/Hooper episode, "The Damned Thing", in the second season was so tolerable was an experience filled with shock and awe for me, as I had given up hope that either of these men could create anything watchable by a human being ever again. So I guess I have to give them that...

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Masters Of Horror - "Jenifer"

jeniferrating-2.5There are aspects to "Jenifer" to be applauded. For one, it's one of the less horrible things that schlock-meister Dario Argento has churned out in his career. I'm sure many would be angry to hear me tear down their idol, best known for his gaudy LSD-trip nightmares of color and cheap violence to women. Unfortunately, I like story, which is an area completely foreign to all Italians, instead prefering a system by which random things happen to people until everyone gets bored, turns off the cameras, and goes home.

Additionally, this episode stars and is written by Steven Weber, an actor that I've always enjoyed, from his days on "Wings" to his current work on "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip". He is an undervalued and enjoyable actor with excellent comedic sense. Perhaps horror is not his best mileau, but I applaud his interest in more dorky areas.

While many dislike this episode and I admit the plot is somewhat nonsensical and obvious in its movements, it is an interesting idea: an almost cursed man saves a disfigured and mutated monster of a woman, first taking pity on her and then lusting after her as she viciously lashes out at everyone else. Weber does excellent work as a man torn and mentally deteriorating under the stress of balancing his desire and his need to stop this beastly but childish woman.

Really, there is little else to say about the episode, other than recapping its every moment, as it was fairly straightforward and its length is already padded out with Argento's artistic touches. By the time it reaches its obvious conclusion, you probably won't be satisfied, but I think anyone would be hard pressed to claim it as one of the worst episode of the season.

So, mediocre stuff, but kudos to Weber, who I can forgive for this less-than-stellar offering.

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Masters Of Horror - "Incident On And Off A Mountain Road"

incidentrating-3.5"Masters Of Horror" tried to start out strong, raising the bar for their show early and, subsequently, disappointed the audience with the following episodes, a series of half-baked and idiotic hack-jobs, most glimmers of hope and promise not returning for another five episodes.

Don Coscarelli was a fair enough choice to start out the proceedings, though it could be pointed out that he's hardly a "Master" of anything, having only managed to crank out the Phantasm films, Bubba Ho-Tep, and The Beastmaster, easily his best work. Others might defend Phantasm, an impossible feat given that it's a festival of retardation revolving around exploits at a funeral home where corpses are turned into undead dwarves and transported to another planet (with higher gravity, hence the need for dwarves) by The Tall Man as a cheap form of labor. Fine stuff, right? Bubba Ho-Tep isn't much better, though the fans will watch any retarded shit as long as it stars Bruce Campbell, a cool enough guy that's given far too much credit in exceptionally mediocre films idolized by fucktards.

Given these drawbacks, Coscarelli does a good job, doing yet another Joe Lansdale adaptation, this tale involving a girl stopping on the side of the road, only to be chased by a pale mute giant with a knife, intent on having her as a fleshy toy with which to test his drill press. The straightforward and bloody plot is interspersed with the development of the girl's relationship with her husband, from first date to his neo-fascist survival obsession, where he trains and abuses her, toughening her up along the way.

Bree Turner does a good enough job as the damsel du jour, though the real marks go to Ethan Embry as her ever-more-unstable husband and Angus Scrimm (far from his Tall Man days) as Buddy, the lunatic captive of killer Moonface, there to voice mad concern for Miss Turner as she frantically plots her escape. Scrimm is the best thing about the episode and, along with Embry and the beautifully filtered and filmed darkness and gore, is all that's worthy of merit, but it was an above-par beginning to a series that promised a new revolution in horror... If only it had delivered as well as the limited abilities of Mr. Coscarelli, then I would have no complaints at all.

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Masters Of Horror - "Dreams In The Witch House"

dreamswitchhouserating-2.5Welll, there's good news and bad news, dear readers... The good news is that the second episode of "Masters Of Horror" was one of the better Lovecraft adaptations. The bad news is that it's another bland and not-particularly-good Lovecraft adaptation.

True enough, Dagon was enjoyable enough, without really capturing any part of the Lovecraft "Deep Ones" stories to any great degree, but doing an admirable job of capturing some fo the atmosphere of the tales, though tweaking it up with a certain kitschy and Sci-Fi Channel-like sheen of silly low-budget-tude. Others are very fond of Re-Animator, but I found that movie to be an annoying waste of time, focused more on providing yet another plot point by having the wretched cunt girlfriend cause more trouble. When your plot is based entirely around some bitch that we're supposed to believe another character likes causing as much pain and discomfort to everyone as humanly possible with her idiotic, whining decisions, then perhaprs you shouldn't make that movie at all...

But "Dreams In The Witch House" restrained a bit of those annoying points and tried to rein in the kitsch by updating the story and trying to actually manifest Lovecraft's "impossible angles" and dream geometry visually. To a certain degree, the points of the story are accomplished, but with no great flair by anyone involved.

The plot was thin, but at least it was servicable as a Lovecraft adaptation. It didn't stab me in the eye and that's saying something. But it definitely did nothing to raise "Masters Of Horror" above the level of "Tales From The Darkside".

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Masters Of Horror - "The Damned Thing"

damned_thing.jpgrating-3.5The first episode of "Masters Of Horror" season two turned out shockingly well, moreso because of how immensely disappointing this same creators were in the terminally awful "Dance Of The Dead" episode, which was both dull and stupid. It may be in part because, instead of being based on a story by the writer of the episode, this one is based on a story by Ambrose Bierce (though I imagine the basis is tenuous at best) and the quality is immediately more apparent, though the episode seems far from literary. In fact, it's still a fairly stupid episode with no clear goal and no explicable purpose to the creature or force, the titular "damned thing", making up for the lack of content with a decent visual style delivered by Tobe Hooper, some decent acting by Marisa Coughlan (out of her comedic element) and Sean Patrick Flanery, and plenty of gore, sure to please all those complaining jackass gorehounds who refuse to recognize anything as "horror" if it doesn't swim in blood and feature people being chased by monsters or slashers.

Hooper and his writer have shown how bad they can possibly be in "Dance" and this episode shows that they can do servicable, if not great, work. Despite writing flaws, Hooper manages to give it a theatrical look and it features plenty of shock moments (you haven't lived until you've seen a man kill himself with a claw hammer).

Hopefully this season starting out on a better note with one of its weakest links is a good sign that the episodes will, in general, be of higher quality.

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