Masters of Horror

Season 1 Episode 1

Incident On and Off A Mountain Road

Aired Friday 12:00 AM Oct 28, 2005 on Showtime
out of 10
User Rating
260 votes

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Episode Summary

Incident On and Off A Mountain Road
Based on Joe R. Lansdale's short story, this film pits Ellen (Bree Turner), a seemingly defenseless young woman, against Moonface, a deformed and demented serial killer.

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  • Great pilot!

    The show started off as great as it could do with an awsome story and acting. What I also liked a lot in this episode is that it reminded me of "Rambo - First Blood" when Rambo makes all these traps in the woods. In the episode the main character does the same thing and that gives a lot of action to the episode.
  • Good start to this series!

    In the first episode of this horror anthology series, the viewer is treated to a fairly humdrum opening of a lone woman named Ellen driving down a deserted stretch of highway and crashing her vehicle. However, at this point, things shift from the expected to the unexpected as Ellen finds herself the target of a bizarre looking serial killer named Moonface and starts running through the woods away from her assailant. As she does, Ellen does something that was unexpected to this reviewer - she sets small, improvised traps designed to slow down her pursuer.

    When Ellen and her pursuer arrive at the latter's cabin hideout, it is hard to describe the imagery one sees. The area looks to be a cross between scenes from ' The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', ' Planet of the Apes ' and stuff straight out of a horror flick set in a cemetery. The rest of the episode plays out with moments that are unexpected interspersed with flashbacks of Ellen's relationship with her husband Bruce, a survivalist whose personality grows darker in each retrospective.

    Overall, a very solid beginning to what looks to be a good series.moreless
  • Don Coscarelli's "Incident on and off a Mountain Road" sets the tone for what should be a very intersting horror anthology series.

    I'm a little biased. I've worked with Don Coscarelli before; it was even on a project based on something written by Joe Lansdale. I also have to admit that I know the kind of budget Mr. Coscarelli is used to and well let's just say that it is that very thing that keeps me from fully embracing his "Phantasm" cycle. That being said, "Incident on and off a Mountain Road" is probably the best looking and most balanced piece that he has ever committed to film/HD/whatever.

    The mood alone saves this piece that has a very tepid opening. It all seems very rote to start. Dark mountain road. Girl driving alone. Distraction. She crashes. Enter the monster. Off we go.

    Then things start to wind in a slightly different direction. We get these informative, if not a little standard, flashbacks that actually start to give our heroine, Ellen (Bree Turner)a background. We witness over the course of the episode her being wooed by a facially engorged Ethan Embry, in a far cry from his "Can't Hardly Wait" days. This is followed by their marriage, his survivalist obsession, how he teaches her to "survive anything" and their marriage's subsequent dissolution. Each of these turning points is doled out carefully and at the right moment that is paralleling Ellen's horrific adventure in the forest.

    After she crashes into a car that is abandoned on the side of a road, Ellen is surprised to discover that the driver isn't actually in the car, she's been carried off into the Oregon (but shot in Vancouver) forested night by a monster eventually referred to as Moonface.

    What follows is a cat and mouse game between the two that incorporates all the survival techniques she learned from her husband and our slow realization that she really can survive anything.

    The episode features Cosacarelli regular, Angus Scrimm, (the tall man from "Phantasm") as a delirious captive of Moonface and a pretty good twist that without any spoilage pretty much elevates this story from pat to truly horrifying in a way that I wasn't expecting.

    The good in the episode is plentiful. Its mood and atmosphere spins on a thread and teeters back and forth between the human dread of a mad husband and the fact that madness is equally finicky and can come startlingly to your aid in even more frightening situations. Embry and Turner make the doomed couple’s journey palpable and believable and Scrimm is a hoot in his insane rants.

    The Moonface character, is probably the most problematic as ultimately he is a little too much of the "Jeepers Creepers" type of monster with virtually no background and the same wide brimmed hat that was really only scary when Julian Beck doffed his cap way back in "Poltergeist II". It would have been nice to get a bit more of what he was doing up there in the mountains and why he preferred removing someone’s eyes before he crucified them. It seems like a logical question don't it? But, whatever, Moonface is only the catalyst here.

    Overall, "Incident on and off a Mountain Road" is a not too bad opening to what I am hoping are even better segments from Dario Argento and John Carpenter. Sad that George Romero had to drop out but then there is always season two, and as long as the quality of gore, character and terror remains as it exists in Mr. Coscarelli's episode, then I don't think there will be any question that it will come to pass.

  • Wow. Very solid show. I’m impressed. Coscarelli provides “serious” horror for a change!

    When I first heard about this Masters Of Horror mini-program, I immediately thought that it was going to be Twilight Zone-lite. I’m glad to see that I was totally wrong. Don Coscarelli is known for providing campy scares with an extra side of fun-loving, machismo – but I think this may be his first project where he actually succeeds in putting some true teeth into his horror.

    Deliverance-inspired stories such as this are practically a guaranteed formula for success. Even lesser efforts such as the movie “Wrong Turn” is capable of turning up the heat and providing a greasy, uncomfortable feeling of dread inside the bowels of the audience. In comparison to its contemporaries, Coscarelli’s foray into “hillbilly horror” certainly doesn’t disappoint. Further, he brought back his venerable aide-de-camp, Angus Scrimm. Scrimm, as you may know, was Coscarelli’s champion undertaker in all four of the Phantasm movies. Scrimm’s performance in this episode is highly reminiscent of the ultra-creepy Julian Beck from Poltergeist II: The Other Side. Any genre project that features Scrimm is certain to enjoy at least a modest bit of quality.

    If the rest of the series manages to capture the same stench-n-wrench allure of the pilot episode, then I can readily attest that I will be searching the pre-order pages on Amazon for the inevitable DVD collection in the very near future.

  • Wonderful First Episode

    I think that this Show is one of the scarriest I have ever seen and I think its one of the best shows I have ever seen. This was a woderful first episdoe because it kept you guessing and made you want to see what was going to happen next. I think this is a good show and will last for a long time.

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • When Moonface ties the young woman to the table in order to take out her eyes, it is seen that the woman's right leg is in perefct condition after previously being penetrated by that stick weilded by Ellen.

    • The song playing at the beginning and the end of the episode is "If Ever" by Gratitude.

    • Although no town or city is given for the episode's location, the license plate on Ellen's car indicates that it is set somewhere in Oregon.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Ellen: Where are we?
      Buddy: Oh, you have come home. I have been here waiting for you. Well I have been waiting for someone, I guess it might as well be you. It might be anyone really.
      Ellen: What is he?(about Moonface)
      Buddy: His face is like the moon, so beautiful. I used to call him Moonface, but he did not like that for long. He though I was making fun of him.

    • Ellen: I'm leaving you. I can't do this anymore, Bruce, I'm sorry.
      Bruce: Everybody is sorry for something, Ellen. I'll survive(he walks away).

    • Buddy : You see so many bad things in your life.It comes in through your eyes and sometimes your eyes lie to you and show you things you don't want to see so....he makes them go away...

    • Bruce : You've always got to expect the unexpected and do the unexpected.

    • Ellen : (looking out the window and seeing Moonface struggling to pull himself up) Hell of a night, huh, Moonface?

  • NOTES (1)

    • Angus Scrimm first worked with Don Coscarelli on the low budget 1974 drama Jim, The World's Greatest. His next role for Coscarelli is his most famous, as The Tall Man in the Phantasm series.