Starring Norman Reedus, Udo Kier, Christopher Redman, Christopher Gauthier, Zara Taylor, Gary Hetherington
Directed by John Carpenter
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Ah yes! Finally the series that sent forth a thousand shivers comes home to DVD and is in absolute top form from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Let’s face it, horror has never been hotter. The horror community from fans to filmmakers is one of the most tight knit ever. It makes sense that a gathering of gruesome greatness would eventually occur resulting in an original series. Masters of Horror debuted several months ago on Showtime and it was met with a great deal of critical and fan based acclaim. I, like many others who sunk their fangs into the series during its initial run have been eagerly anticipating the home video release of these mini-masterpieces. The first of thirteen DVD’s in the series is here, and it’s a splatter filled tale from the legendary John Carpenter titled “Cigarette Burns”.
What if there was a film created that was so horrific it would drive its viewers to homicide? That almost happened to me while sitting through Uwe Boll’s Alone in the Dark. But seriously, what if the medium of films could be used as a weapon? That’s the idea behind a long lost French film titled La Fin Absolue du Monde (The Absolute End of the World). The movie only had one showing and, as expected, the screening ended in bloodshed and mayhem, forever scarring those lucky enough to survive. Enter rare film collector Kirby Sweetman (Reedus). A spaced out colleague of his known as Mr. Ballinger, played with a steady combination of grace and manic insanity by Udo Kier, hires Kirby to find this long thought lost piece of cinema history. His proof that it exists and that Kirby isn’t going on a wild goose chase? Ballinger has the willowy star of the film shackled and on display on a giant turn table in his mansion. It is explained to Kirby that Ballinger’s other worldly captive is connected to the film, and that if every print of La Fin Absolue du Monde was destroyed, he would know about it. In desperate need of the cash, Kirby takes the assignment and heads out on a journey into darkness.
The subject of cursed films isn’t exactly new territory for horror fans. From eighties classics like Popcorn to far east epics like the Ring series, we’ve gotten our fair share of celluloid induced shrieks. However, with Carpenter now at the reigns this material seems as fresh as the geysers of blood that spew from the newly severed arteries of La Fin Absolue du Monde’s victims. There is a reason this man is noted as a true master of horror. John Carpenter helped to shape what our genre has become today. With classics like The Fog, Halloween, Prince of Darkness, and The Thing under his belt it’s safe to say that few other filmmakers have been as influential on today’s talent as he. If there was any doubt about whether or not Carpenter still has what it takes to deliver the goods, “Burns” will erase it. It’s gory, disturbing, and at times beautiful to look at. We’re talking vintage Carpenter here, people. The maestro of the macabre at work! With this stunning return to the director’s chair, albeit on the small screen, we can only hope that we’ll see a new Carpenter film in theatres some time again soon. C’mon John! Stop teasing us!
As stated before, this DVD is packing, and I mean PACKING! Anchor Bay has done a tremendous job ushering this baby home. In fact, I’m shocked all this goodness fit on to one disc. This DVD is a Carpenter fan’s wet dream. Everything about the man is detailed from his history in the genre, to talent descriptions of what he is like to work with. Of course there are other featurettes included here as well that detail the making of “Cigarette Burns“, but it’s clear that Carpenter himself is the star of this show. The commentaries are well worth a listen as Carpenter can be at times absolutely hilarious, and writers McWeeny and Swan show a real love and affection toward the film itself. Their energy is absolutely contagious. Also included are the standard batch of extras like stills, trailers, and bio’s. PC users will want to download the Masters of Horror screen saver as it is truly bitchin’. Truth be told, there’s so many things to talk about here, that should I go into explicit detail you won’t have any time to go and watch the disc. Let’s just leave it at this: as fans we just simply could not have hoped for a better package. The attention to detail and thought that got the Masters of Horror series off the ground to begin with is truly echoed here. Bravo, Anchor Bay. Bravo.
There you have it, kids! One DVD down and twelve more to go, including the unseen Miike entry, “Imprint“. Horror is a dish best served cold, and without question the master’s are the best chef’s around. Season two is already in the works, and the future of TV and DVD look delightfully dark and blood splattered. So good!
Celluloid Apocalypse: An interview with John Carpenter featurette
Audio commentary by John Carpenter
Audio commentary with writers Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan
Behind-the-Scenes Making-of Cigarette Burns featurette
Working with a Master: John Carpenter: Director retrospective featuring MOH directors, stars of Carpenter films, and more featurette
On Set: An interview with star Norman Reedus featurette
John Carpenter text bio
Collectible Masters of Horror Trading Card
DVD-ROM screenplay and Screensaver
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