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Masters of Horror: Deer Woman (DVD)



Starring Brian Benben, Anthony Griffith, Sonja Bennett, Cinthia Moura

Directed by John Landis

Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment

I don’t know a single horror fan who wasn’t excited when Showtime first announced its Masters of Horror series. The thought of seeing new product from the likes of Carpenter, Gordon, Hooper, Argento, Coscarelli, and more was a dream come true. Even though, disappointingly, the final product ended up with just about as many misses as it did hits, Mick Garris and his Masters still deserve our thanks and support for providing such an eclectic group of mini-movies for our consideration. Falling somewhere in the middle of the batch for this reviewer is John Landis’ “Deer Woman,” the story of disgraced police officer Dwight Faraday, who finds redemption during the course of his investigation into a series of extremely peculiar murders.

I confess that when “Deer Woman” first aired, I was unable to watch it beyond the first 15 minutes or so. For whatever reason, it just didn’t click with me. It seemed silly and tried too hard, which was a big letdown considering I’m a fan of Landis’ previous horror offerings An American Werewolf in Londonand Innocent Blood. So when the opportunity arose to give “Deer Woman” another chance and write this review, I grabbed it — and am happy to report an almost total change of heart. The more I watched of the film and the special features on the disc, the better it got.

Set in the Seattle area (but filmed, as all MoH episodes are, in Vancouver), “Deer Woman” looks great. The scenery and cinematography are a perfect match, and best of all Landis is back at the top of his game. He manages to elicit from his actors refreshingly realistic characters who are dealing with such a ludicrous situation that the whole thing could very easily have degenerated into slapstick. Brian Benben shines as Faraday, a once gifted detective who’s been demoted to the “weird calls guy” until one of those calls sends him looking for a dark-haired, yellow-eyed woman who just may be the embodiment of an ancient Native America legend in which men are seduced and then brutally killed by a half-woman/half-deer creature. The case is quickly reassigned to a team from Homicide, but nonetheless, Faraday teams up with beat cop Jacob Reed (Griffith) to undertake his own investigation. He also bounces various theories (and some smoldering sexual tension) off cute coroner Dana (Bennett). I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing a series about the further adventures of Dwight and Dana someday; their interactions were so natural, it was like hanging out with friends. Although occasionally Benben’s portrayal of Faraday did bring Dream On‘s Martin Tupper to mind, particularly in one instance when he’s imagining the various scenarios of how the first victim was killed, mostly he reminded me — and I mean this as a compliment — of Get Smart‘s Maxwell Smart. One of Max’s — and in turn, Dwight’s — strongest character traits was his ability to stay focused on the case at hand no matter how much insanity ensued around him.

After the third body turns up in only two days, Faraday’s chief puts him back on the case. At this point “Deer Woman” switches gears, and we’re off to River Rock, a stereotypical Indian casino where we learn both Faraday’s and Deer Woman’s back stories. From here on out, things happen quickly. The pacing in “Deer Woman” is right on the mark, a testament, again, to Landis’ sharpness and also to the quality and tightness of the script penned by his son, Max, who was still a teen-ager at the time. Interestingly enough, in the “Working with a Master” featurette, we learn that John and Max disagreed about the ending with, as you’d expect, the elder Landis having final say. To his credit, Max acknowledges, albeit rather begrudgingly, that his father was right; and I have to say I agree. Further proof, one might say, that Garris was indeed correct to label Landis a “master” of horror.

Thankfully, “Deer Woman” is not what one would call a comedic horror film. Sure, it has some funny moments, but its tone is always serious and real. In all the various interviews found on the DVD, both Landis and the cast members stress time and time again that their mission was not to make people laugh but rather to portray a preposterous, yet scary, scenario as realistically as possible. It’s a tough balancing act, but throughout his career that unique ability has served Landis well and endeared him to his fans the world over. And his co-workers as well. “Working with a Master” is a 22-minute lovefest that opens with Don Rickles of all people speaking almost wistfully about working with Landis and includes tributes from legends like Forrest Ackerman, Rick Baker, and Dan Aykroyd. The level of respect and amount of affection these individuals show for John are quite impressive but not at all surprising considering what a gracious and self-effacing man he demonstrates himself to be in “Animal Hooves,” another featurette containing an almost half-hour interview with Landis. “Hooves” is an extensive retrospective of Landis’ career, which technically began at age 8 after he returned home from a viewing of the Harryhausen classic The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. It’s easy to forget how many classics of his own Landis has directed, and it was nice to see him include in “Deer Woman” homages to the films that mean the most to him and that he was influenced by.

The biggest missed opportunity of the package is Landis’ absence on the commentary. Benben and Griffith make a valiant effort and have a good rapport, but their bantering tends to run a bit on the dry side after reaching the halfway point. Their running joke about Benben’s height (or rather, the lack thereof) and positive remarks about filming in Canada are definitely the highlights of the piece. The interviews with Benben, Griffith, and the Deer Woman herself, Cinthia Moura, average about five minutes and are pretty much what you’d expect. They lean a bit too heavily on clips from the show, but all three enable the viewer to get to know the actors a little better and, especially in the case of the two men, confirm that they quite dedicated, likable fellows. Ms. Moura, a gorgeous Brazilian model who landed the part at the very last moment, proves herself to be a woman after every horror fan’s heart. She admits to relishing her role primarily because of the character’s absolute ruthlessness. You see, the Deer Woman has no motive for what she does. She doesn’t care if a man is good or bad; she just wants to fuck him and then pound him over and over again with her incredibly strong legs until he’s nothing more than a pile of bleeding tissue. Mmm Mmm Good! Since her character doesn’t utter a word in the film, it’s almost a shame to break the spell by having Cinthia give an interview, but she’s so completely captivating and appealing in real life that it’s easily forgivable. It’s obvious that modeling background of hers gave her ample opportunity to perfect the role of seductress. It even worked on me, another woman!

The obligatory “Behind the Scenes” is one of those no narration, follow people around with a camera type features for which I hold absolutely no liking. However, there is one very funny encounter with John Carpenter on the set that almost makes this one worth watching. The rest of the extras are the same as those found on every MoH disc: trailers for other episodes, a still gallery, a text bio on the director, and some DVD-ROM features. Lastly, there’s an extremely nostalgic interview of Landis from Garris’ old cable access show Fantasy Film Festival circa 1980 in which he looks a lot more like John Lennon than John Landis and makes one of the first official announcements about his “upcoming” film An American Werewolf in London.

When all is said and done, “Deer Woman” accomplishes what it set out to do. Its concept may, as Max readily admits, verge on silliness, but its success lies in Landis’ ability to infuse it with enough realism to engage the audience and ensure they care enough about the Faraday character to take this journey with him. Is it the type of show people will want to watch multiple times? Not likely, but it will always have a home on my DVD shelf nestled in its rightful place between “Homecoming” and “Cigarette Burns” as part of the Masters of Horror collection. Like his role model Sinbad before him, Landis fulfills his quest most admirably and affirms Garris’ inclusion of him in this project.

Special Features
Audio commentary with Brian Benben and Anthony Griffith
Animal Hooves: An Interview with John Landis featurette
Working With a Master: John Landis featurette
On Set: An Interview with Brian Benben featurette
On Set: An Interview with Anthony Griffith featurette
On Set: An Interview with Cinthia Moura featurette
Behind the Scenes: The Making of Dear Woman featurette
Fantasy Film Festival: Mick Garris interviews John Landis
Still gallery
John Landis text bio
Collectible Masters of Horror trading card
DVD-ROM features: screenplay, screen saver

4 out of 5

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review



Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith

I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5


Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

User Rating 3.59 (22 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters



Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)


The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

User Rating 4.13 (23 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror




Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods

The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.


  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom


In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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