Masters of Horror

Masters of Horror: Dance of the Dead (2005)

We’re on to our second episode of Masters of Horror, the 2005 anthology show where famous and acclaimed horror directors get to direct one story per season. Each episode is pretty much a short movie considering they’re all around an hour long. The first episode I watched was John Carpenter’s amazing throwback to his late ’80s and early ’90s work, Cigarette Burns. For my next episode I decided to go with another director whom has made one of my favourite movies: Tobe Hooper.

mv5bmtuyntg2nti2nv5bml5banbnxkftztcwndg1ntyzmq-_v1_Tobe Hooper may not be as prolific as John Carpenter, but he’s definitely a heavyweight in the horror genre. Hooper was responsible for the greatest horror movie ever made, his 1974 masterpiece, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hooper also helmed the cult classic sequel, the classic ’80s haunted house flick Poltergeist (although there are rumors that Steven Spielberg unofficially directed it, everything is credited to Hooper, so as far as I’m concerned he’s still the director), and the absolutely bonkers sci-fi movie, Lifeforce. Hooper’s post ’80s output has been mostly directing the occasional episode in a TV show or making direct to TV movies, so he’s definitely fallen pretty far from the spotlight in recent decades.

Dance of the Dead takes place in a semi-post-apocalyptic world after one of the combatants in World War 3 unleashed some kind of chemical or biological weather weapon. The time period is a little while after the end of war, but is a pretty different interpretation of most post-apocalyptic settings. It’s similar to the first Mad Max film (yes kids, Mad Max: Fury Road is not the only Mad Max movie) where there’s been a worldwide crisis that has destabilized a large portion of the world, but a majority of civilized society has kept on spinning. Dance of the Dead shows both sides of humanity after it’s been devastated by global war. We get to see how a portion of the population that tries to keep it’s civility interacts with the crazy, savage punks (these guys are more like the people in Mad Max: Fury Road)┬áthat have risen up out of the war torn parts of the world and are either just trying to survive or trying to drag the rest of the world down with them.

The story follows Peggy, a young woman who works in her mother’s diner who meets some of these deplorable punks and takes a liking to one of them. He convinces her to join him and his friends for a night out on the town, and as she gets thrust into an evening of stranger and darker events, she finds out more than she wants to know about the consequences of World War 3 and the twisted history of her family. (more…)

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Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns (2005)

The Halloween spookiness continues here at Coffee and Illithids, and what better way is there to celebrate the scariest month of the year than by looking at some of the works of horror’s greatest writers and directors? I recently picked up a copy of the first season of Masters of Horror, an anthology show where each episode is directed by a different famous horror director, including Takashi Miike, Tobe Hooper, and Dario Argento. For my first foray into the series I decided to start with the one I was most excited to check out: John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns.

cigarette_burns_masters_of_horror_series_tv-416592634-largeCigarette Burns stars Norman Reedus as Kirby, a man who owns a theater and is paid to track down incredibly rare film reels for private collectors. Naturally, he’s hired to track down an incredibly rare film reel for Bellinger, a private collector of extreme cinema (played by real life adorable weirdo, Udo Kier). Kirby dives down the rabbit hole looking for the last remaining print of the infamous French horror film La Fin Absolue Du Monde, a movie so extreme, so disturbing on a fundamental level, that upon viewing it audiences are driven into a bloody, homicidal rage. This extreme reaction is not out of disgust or disdain for the film, but rather from becoming so deeply broken spiritually and emotionally that the only thing they can resort to is depraved acts of violence. Kirby begins connecting the dots and immerses himself into the culture of people who have witnessed La Fin Absolue Du Monde first hand and he begins seeing cigarette burns in real life (it’s the little circle you see in old films in the top right hand corner that signifies that a reel needs to be changed for the film to continue), and as he continues to press onward anyways, he finds himself slowly slipping into a world of madness beyond his control. (more…)