Masters of Horror

Season 1 Episode 4


Aired Friday 12:00 AM Nov 18, 2005 on Showtime

Episode Fan Reviews (13)

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out of 10
193 votes
  • Holy crap. Literally.

    I'm actually disappointed in Dario Argento's work in this one. His directing skills pop up here and there during the episode. You get the great character intros at the beginning of the film, which are visual storytelling often absent from television. You get a nice use of sound. You get a take on gore that is actually more unsettling than hilarious... There's a strong directorial instinct behind this piece of work, that's undeniable.

    Unfortunately, the story being told is not worth it. Not even close to worth it. After a few episodes of this series it's becoming painfully obvious that, given the opportunity, any given hip, indie director will choose to go freudian on the audience's colective rears and attempt horror through sexual themes. That's not bad per se, some of the greatest horror movies have done it, but sex is horror when it's hidden. Sex becomes scary when it's a forbidden, secret thing. Argento has a blast with his pay-tv creative freedom and decides to hit audiences over the head with gutted girls, phalus cannibalism, breast exposure and several servings of close-up intestines, and every instance of those things misses the mark the moment the camera focuses on it.

    It's scary when the face of Jenifer is hidden, it's scary when her attacks on animals and people are a secret, or when the sex is insinuated through vagina-like cuts and licking sounds. When Argento goes further and tries to shock audiences with gore and sex, all he does is tap into the dead parts of the brain, those that are desentitized already and are unable to react to such things unless a heavy dose of humor or irony is added to them. In the end, too much of the story is too old, and the in-your-face approach doesn't refresh the concepts. The circular structure, the killing lover, the man dragged by his own impulses towards crime... it's all campfire horror story fare, and fake guts shoved into the audience's face don't elevate it at all.

    The site reports the story comes from a comic book short story. I'm actually more interested in that, since the stylized, dark visuals of Swamp Thing creator are bound to present the horror elements so much better than this.

    But make no mistake, some of the bad reviews on this site respond to viewers being overwhelmed by the strong visuals, which might mean the story packs a decent punch for less resilient minds. It has merits that can't be denied by any rational person who hasn't been thrown off by the sex and gore.