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Masters of Horror: Right to Die (DVD)

Masters of Horror: Right to Die review (click to see it bigger)Starring Martin Donovan, Corbin Bernsen, Julia Anderson, Anna Galvin

Directed by Rob Schmidt

Released by Starz Home Entertainment


I wasn’t able to catch a lot of the second season of Masters of Horror as it aired, and judging by most of the reviews we had on the site as the show went along, I didn’t miss a whole helluva lot.

As much as I wanted to see it, “Right to Die” didn’t get the best reactions from most fans (though our review was overwhelmingly positive), which worried me as I really enjoyed Schmidt’s previous film, Wrong Turn, and the idea behind this episode was intriguing. Now that I’ve seen it, I can see why some had issues with it, but overall “Right to Die” is a solid episode, full of all the things that make horror memorable. If only the DVD were more worthy.

Ripped from today’s headlines (sorry, I had to), Martin Donovan plays a dentist named Cliff who, while fighting with his wife in the car one night (never a good idea), reacts too slowly to prevent them from hitting a fallen tree and ends up flipping their vehicle. His wife, Abby, is injured but looks like she’ll survive, that is until the car bursts into flames and engulfs poor Abby in the not-so-cleansing fire. Now she’s being kept alive by tubes and machines, covered in burns across 90% of her body.

Masters of Horror: Right to Die review (click to see it bigger)But was it an accident, or was there more to the situation than we are at first allowed to see? There’s got to be a reason Abby keeps managing to escape her earthly bounds and inflict damage on those around her husband, a trick she learns the first time she dies in the hospital but is unable to go too far before the doctors bring her back to life.

Cliff insists that Abby would not have wanted to live as an invalid, a scared vegetable without the capacity to feel anything but pain. Cliff’s lawyer (Bernsen) agrees; it’s only a matter of coincidence that a very costly lawsuit will come from her death since the airbag on her side of the car never went off. As soon as Cliff realizes that Abby is killing people every time she dies, he changes his tune very quickly and goes to some rather extreme efforts to make sure she stays alive.

Said methods are really the highlight of the episode for gore fans, a nice culmination of both the building drama between the characters and the violence Abby is inflicting any chance she gets. And that’s really the key to what makes “Right to Die” work so well; there are interesting, multi-layered characters with hidden motivations, plenty of cringe-inducing moments (both reality and fantasy) and even a generous helping of beautiful, topless women. Yeah, I’d say Schmidt hit all the right notes with this one.

Masters of Horror: Right to Die review (click to see it bigger)Now, as for the DVD, well… I guess I just don’t get it. Schmidt hadn’t done an episode for Season 1 so I honestly expected this thing to be loaded with features the way those DVDs were. Of course, seeing as how he’s only done one movie previous to this, I guess it would have been tough to fill up a “Working With a Master” episode…

Still, though, a 15-minute making-of and a 7-minute focus on how some of the effects were done is all we get outside of a commentary by Schmidt that is, sadly, pretty dull. He’s a smart guy and knows how to make a good horror picture, but when it’s just him talking about his movie, there’s apparently not a helluva lot to say. I would’ve dug to hear him and Bernsen on one track as Corbin loves to talk and Schmidt did cast him because he’s one of his favorite character actors, but it was not to be. Ah, well.

The behind-the-scenes doc is pretty good though, quick enough to give you some good background info without going into boring details about the shoot. The main piece of information that you’re going to walk away from the doc knowing is that everyone seems to really like working with Rob Schmidt, and Rob Schmidt really likes making horror films. Thank God for that!

So while the disc may be paltry, the episode alone is worth picking this one up for, methinks. Especially compared to some of the other entries in the season, this one really stands out as having all the right elements fit together in an intelligent package.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary featuring Rob Schmidt
  • “Burnt Offerings: Making of Right to Die” featurette
  • “Flay-O-Trish” featurette
  • “Right to Die” script
  • Photo Gallery
  • Film:

    4 out of 5

    Special Features:

    2 1/2 out of 5

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    Johnny Butane