Masters of Horror: Washingtonians, The (DVD)
Directed by Peter Medak
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
What if everything you thought you knew about American history was false? Could your mind handle that bomb? Would your brain explode at the possibility that our nation was founded on lies because the real heroes of the U.S. were ... less than pleasant. What if our greatest icon was in fact ... a cannibal?!
That is just the case in this Masters of Horror episode, "The Washingtonians". A young family has returned to Virginia to go through the hell that follows the death of its last relative. Real estate must be sorted out, things need to be packed up and a grisly mystery involving one of our founding fathers must be solved!
A group of fanatics bent on preserving the secret of George Washington's past have set their sites on the family when they discover proof that could change all of American history. These political die-hards never want it to be known that Washington liked to eat children and virgins! That, and he loved poon tang. Lots of it.
During the course of this MoH entry the audience gets to see lots of costumes, cannibalism and extreme violence. Oh, and many, many, many creepy old people. This is almost a solid episode with a some faults that bore during the first half. Much of this episode is taken far too seriously and when we are finally introduced to the Washingtonians and their whacky lifestyle, it feels like two entirely different stories.
The initial introduction to the powdered wig wearing madmen/women feels very dark and brooding, but at the end they are just a bunch of silly fucks that like to eat ribs. Thank Buddha for Saul Rubinek as the manic historian who shows up in the nick of time with plenty of ad libbed lines that should have appeared much earlier. When "The Washingtonians" went over the top is when it was good fun, but that only lasted 20 minutes or so.
It may just be my personal tastes that kept me from liking "The Washingtonians", but those fans who got a kick out of the oddballness will like to know that this DVD comes with great supplements. First is the Feast On This: The Making of The Washingtonians featurette. People who thought all it took to do anything involving period costumes was easy should think again. The money is always tight on MoH so the fact that 50+ people could be decked out in full revolutionary rags and wigs is amazing. Also on the awe inspiring list is the large feast hall that was constructed for the show's climax. At first it is difficult to tell that it is just a set based on the lighting and amount of detail. Watching all these things come together can make up for that boring first half of "The Washingtonians".
Next is the Wigs, Teeth and Powder featurette which is all about the make up and prostetics used to make each of the crazies look like Washington. There isn't much detail here. The casting process for the bodyparts, fake teeth and other things are never shown, but there is a intricate look at a few props. Washington's false teeth look great and I never knew so much work went into making wigs.
Moving on to the blooper reel ... it is boring. It is a difficult task to make people flubbing their lines yawn enducing but it sure happens here. Good thing Peter Medak sat down to do a commentary track with writer/actor Johnathon Schaech. Peter does much of the talking as he informs us about the tiny details like how one of the Washingtonians is really a wealthy architect and which of Saul's lines were made up. Mr. Schaech isn't useless, however. Through him we learn what changed between his short story that this episode was adapated from. It is depressing that at the end of the original story another group of wackos show up as Red Coats to save the day. That would have been much more satisfying.
Satisfied is something the audience may never really feel during "The Washingtonians". It truly is one of those like it or hate it episodes. If you hated it and gave up before the end, go back and rewatch the last half hour and your mind may change. Give it another shot on DVD.
3 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out 5
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