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Masters of Horror: Deer Woman (Television)

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Episode 7

Starring Brian Benben, Cinthia Moura, Anthony Griffith

Directed by John Landis

Airdate: December 9, 2005


Somewhere in the latter half of this episode, protagonist Detective Dwight Faraday (Brian Benben) and his partner visit a casino in an effort to exhume more clues surrounding a series of murders all involving hoof-riddled horny hicks. During this sequence we’re given a fleeting shot of three gamblers hitting it big at a slot machine, one of these lucky bastards being series creator Mick Garris in a small cameo. He’s got more reason to celebrate here than over a little free-flowin’ coin ‘cause Landis’ Deer Woman excels at blowing away expectations and ranks as a personal fave for this writer, not just as a benchmark for this series, but as a cool piece of work in the overall genre itself.

Mind you, my preferred horror viewing tendencies have always leaned towards something a bit more droll than the dispiriting freak-out factor of, say, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (not that there’s no immense love in my bones for that movie or any of its type) . You know the kind I speak of: Evil Dead II, Dead Alive, Re-Animator. That’s why films like An American Werewolf in London and Fright Night are always within reach when I need something to charge me up. They’re stories that ground themselves in reality with likeable characters, even if their premise is on the supernatural side, and, they’re aware humor can be found even in the blackest of situations. Woman personifies all of these traits as a high quality blend of kink and supreme bodily harm. A working man’s worst nightmare set in a world where folklore becomes fact and men are powerless against a beautiful smile and an astounding set of tits.

On the surface, Faraday seems like a normal kind’ve guy. Scrape away at his sarcastic, if strangely silent, persona and there lurks a determined, smart, and incredibly witty man who’s good at his job. A helluva doodler too. Haunted by a tragedy and broken by marital separation, he’s relinquished to spending his days behind a desk, the thankless result of being put on “weird call” duty (such as animal attacks) by his department.

A homicide case one could rightly classify as “unusual” pops up one day and draws Faraday out into the field but he’s quickly replaced when it’s ruled out that any animals were involved in the death of a trucker. Hoof marks tracking up and down what remains of the corpse say otherwise, and so Faraday begins to follow some hunches. As the body count inches higher, his investigation consistently yields the same specifics: a deer was somehow involved and a stunning woman (played with a demure sexiness by model-turned-actress Cinthia Moura) was seen with the victim prior to his death. Oh, and the unlucky stiffs died with hard-ons. All signs point to the existence of the “Deer Woman” of Native American legend, but can Faraday bring himself around to believing in such a thing at the cost of losing face before his colleagues again? Well, kids, this wouldn’t be a Masters episode if there wasn’t a fine-looking chick with deer legs kicking around squad cars and taking off what clothes she’s got on.

Deer Woman was the first Masters burned to film and, out of the lot, the one that raised the biggest question mark in my mind. Aside from An American Werewolf in London, what has Landis done for horror lately? Innocent Blood was his sophomore go at frightening. That came in ’92 and was iffy at best. Woman is more Werewolf than Blood, I’m happy to say, shattering any doubts I may have harbored. Landis, with his son Max on co-writing duties, does an exemplary job at playing to his strengths. The script is tight, light, and quick on its feet presenting, to date, the series’ best ensemble cast that ranges from a punky ‘n pierced medical examiner to Faraday’s partner, Reed (Griffith), to a diner employee who proves he’s never too old to use the term “hit it.”

Where previous episodes have stumbled in their padded plotting (Jenifer), Woman has a palpable sense of progression even when Landis cuts loose in his own manic way as evident in one sequence where Faraday theorizes in his mind what may have happened during the first murder. One scenario involves a woman beating the shit out of a trucker with a deer leg, the others…l leave you to witness for yourself. Just keep any fluids away from your mouth, they’re spit-take worthy. Other memorable laughs come in a reference to American Werewolf that would suggest that Deer Woman is set in the same world where lycanthropes roam in England. And see if you pick up on Landis’ nod to the famous Patterson Bigfoot film which the director went on the record to debunk in the late-‘90s. Complementing these sly in-jokes and razor-sharp tone is Benben’s terrific delivery and Peter (son of American Werewolf composer Elmer) Bernstein’s unobtrusive score.

The comedy-horror intermingling may not be everyone’s bag. And certainly Woman is played more for laughs than American Werewolf, however, Landis keeps it fresh and just oddball enough for it all to work. I think we’ve just seen the underdog of this series have his day.


5 out of 5 Mugs O’ Blood

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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