Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Masters of Horror: Pro-Life, Valerie on the Stairs, The Screwfly Solution, Pick Me Up

I've had these episodes of Masters of Horror since late September, but for some reason I haven't watched 
them until now. Tonight, as a matter of fact.
 All four of them, one right after the other.

directed by John Carpenter from a script by Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan.

A pregnant teenager miraculously winds up at a Women's Health Center when she desires an abortion for a baby she's only had for a week, but looks, at first, to be six months along. Her father, a die-hard religious nut who has threatened the clinic's staff before, has been told by God to protect the all costs.

This episode starts out kind of rocky, but eventually finds its rhythm and goes at it full tilt boogie. Some of the effects leave a lot to be desired (too much arterial spray in some scenes, too little in others...not normal for the KNB crew to be so uneven, but CGI is also to be blamed here), but it was a good, effective episode. Carpenter's first season entry, "Cigarette Burns," was far better, though both give me hope that if he's making dark films again then he's back to making dark films.

Biggest issues with the plot: Cell phones and the remote location of this clinic. You mean to tell me that NONE of the people in that building have a cell phone with which to call the cops? And do you mean to tell me that a clinic that offers abortions would be so remote AND be without a substation or a small unit of police officers? Yeah, no...but hey, I really like the basic idea so I'll overlook that.

Valerie on the Stairs
directed by Mick Garris from his adaptation of the Clive Barker story of the same name.

An unpublished writer moves into a writer's hostel, of sorts, where he can work uninterrupted without worrying about rent and food. Of course, uninterrupted means interrupted by a beautiful apparition and the demon who possesses and worships her.

Clive Barker's a hard one to adapt. His words paint the picture in the reader's mind and it's a difficult job to get those images on screen, especially for Garris, who is one of Stephen King's most frequent screenwriters. I love Stephen King, don't get me wrong, but when Mick Garris adapts, you can feel the television all over it. Even his previous Masters of Horror entry which was adapted from his own short story, felt like teevee. Garris gave it his all for this one, though, he really did...but he didn't quite get there, though it's better than his first season entry "Chocolate."

I still liked it, however, because the idea is so wonderfully complex and so wonderfully Clive Barker.

The Screwfly Solution
directed by Joe Dante from a script by Sam Hamm who adapted James Tiptree, Jr.'s short story.

When a strange illness turns all the men in the world into murderous psychopaths at the merest hint of sex, two women try to escape by going north, but there's no where to hide.

This was one of the worst entries to the Masters of Horror series that I've seen. I haven't read the original short story, but it has to be loads more interesting than what was filmed and offered. Very disappointing.

Pick Me Up
directed by Larry Cohen from a script by David J. Schow which was adapted from his own short story.

A bitter young woman is caught in the cross-fire between two highway psychopaths. I'm oversimplifying it a bit, but that'll do. The less you know going into the episode, the better.

I wasn't expecting to like it, but I did. Schow managed to take two staples of the Urban Legend / slasher genre and pit them against each other in a way that was strange and believeable at the same time. I would have arranged it a little differently...the set-up took up most of the episode leaving very little time for the actual pissing contest, but I wasn't expecting the ending so that made up for it. Good flick.

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