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October 9, 2015

Masters of Horror: Incident on and off Mountain Road

by Keith McDuffee, posted Oct 28th 2005 10:36AM
masters of horrorI really, really wish I had time to keep up with my Killer Blog from CyberSpace column over on Cinematical, but lately there's been so much TV to watch that I haven't been able to make time to sit down and brush up on some of my B-Movie faves. If only they were just an hour long, then I'd get my horror flick fix. Well, lucky me when, opening my mailbox last night, there was a preview DVD for tonight's premiere episode of Showtime's Masters of Horror. Don't read on if you'd like to remain unspoiled.

Tonight's episode, titled 'Incident on and off Mountain Road' was directed by Don Coscarelli, who's best known for bringing us the Phantasm movies that scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid. There is a definite Phantasm-like feel to parts of this short, in particular the huge silver-skinned bald guy with metal teeth, Moonface, played by John De Santis (Lurch from The New Aadams Family movie). It seems Coscarelli has a thing for using towering juggernaughts as monsters, and when these guys are who's hunting down smallish girls like Bree Turner's Ellen, you can see why it's effective.

The story starts off with Ellen getting into a car accident on, presumably, Mountain Road, after she nearly hits an abandoned car. She leaves her own car after awakening from being knocked out, and then things go from bad to worse as she unexpectedly meets up with the towering form of Moonface. After some fun scenes of Ellen being chased through the woods by her attacker, and her sometimes getting the upper hand over him, she happens upon his "house". The scenes at Moonface's digs strike resemblances of The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even Nothing But Trouble. So yes, the house is a freakshow, though the landscape is quite spectacularly put together.

This episode of the series takes an interesting turn in making you think you know what'll happen next, but things don't at all turn out that way. The only tip off to the viewer is that, once you think the girl will get the upper hand and take down the bad guy, you glance at the clock and see that there's over a half hour left to the movie. Of course, you realize there's no way things are over just yet.

Interspersed within the movie are flashbacks to lessons Ellen learned (or tried to learn) from her boyfriend and then abusive husband Bruce (Ethan Embrey), which work quite effectively in explaining the decisions Ellen makes to get the upper hand on Moonface.

My only criticism of the movie was the gore special effects, which at times seemed rather cheesy. Some hardcore horror fans may also be disappointed at some of the gore that's held back from the viewer, though the sound effects worked well to at least keep me squirming in my seat. These episodes don't play out as cheaply made movies like Tales From the Crypt did, and instead have a more movie-like feel to them that works.

Masters of Horror starts its 13-episode run tonight at 10 P.M. on Showtime, airing every Friday night thereafter. Other directors to be featured include Stewart Gordon (Re-Animator), Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Dario Argento (Suspiria), Mick Garris (The Stand), Joe Dante (The Howling), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), John Carpenter (Halloween), William Malone (House on Haunted Hill), John McNaughton (Wild Things), Takashi Miike (Audition), Larry Cohen (It's Alive) and Lucky McKee (The Woods). I'm not sure I'd put some of those people in as "masters" of horror, and I'd like to see others listed instead, but I guess I'll have to keep tuning in to see if they still have the chops.

Quote of the episode: "Hell of a night, huh Moonface?"

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Well, according to Mick Garris Showtime laid down some rules they didn't want the directors to break, so while I still think Miike's will be crazy, it'll only be a taste for American TV goers.

October 29 2005 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Takashi Miike, are the American tv viewers ready for that? I can't wait to see that!!

October 29 2005 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can't wait for more* Oh, and you should definitely update the Killer Blog more often, I'd be your biggest fan.

October 29 2005 at 4:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought it was a fantastic episode and that Don Coscarelli completely nailed it. I can't wait for me. On a side note, I absolutely love the vibe of the "cheaply" made Tales From the Crypt and other similar TV-born horror fare, which leads me to disagree that Incident had more of a film-like feel to it. It didn't completely emulate the wonderful feeling of looking at a Tales From the Crypt episode, but I definitely think it had the TV mojo working for it. It had such stark (but wonderful) lighting and cinematography that ruled it (I'd argue intentionally) the film feeling. I can't wait for more episodes.

October 29 2005 at 4:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stuart "Borden"? Stuart Gordon.

October 28 2005 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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