Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mike The Boss - Films of 2010 - Film the Sixteenth: Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns / Dreams in the Witch House

Cigarette Burns (2005)(dir: John Carpenter) / Dreams in the Witch House (2005)(dir: Stuart Gordon)

These films are on the same disc and are both part of the Masters of Horror series.

Cigarette Burns is a fun little John Carpenter (Escape from New York, They Live) romp. It kind of acts like a complementary piece to Polanski’s much superior Ninth Gate. It deals with Kirby (Norman Reedus) being hired by Bellinger (Udo Kier) to find the only surviving copy of the most terrifying film ever to be created. Apparently, if you view this film, you will go insane and kill people and/or yourself.

The movie has some nice effects and creates a definite sense of unease throughout. However, it suffers from the fact that it needs to show you elements of this film to convince you how terrifying that it is. The problem is that the film they present to us is really just kind of wanky instead of terrifying. Carpenter would have been better off to keep it all off screen. I still think this film works because of the general creepiness that is invoked and some strong performance by Kier and Reedus. The final result is that this entry is one of the strongest in the entire Master of Horror series.

Dreams of the Witch House is a Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond) entry in Masters of Horror series. Gordon has a rep built on his entertaining film adaptations, from the 80’s, of H.P. Lovecraft stories. Witch House is another short story adaptation and it suffers from the more recent malaise that Gordon has fallen into. Gordon is still resting on the acclaim he received 25 years ago and has not adapted or evolved his craft over the years. I know he has his fans but I am not one of them.

The Witch House in the movie is a rooming house filled with misfits and has a room in the attic where the geometry of the walls serves as a gateway into a realm of evil. What could have been a scary premise is instead treated as a pseudo-comedy which disarms any horror aspects of the story. By the time the witch appears (and the appearance is laughably bad), you no longer care what happens to the Bruce Campbellesque protagonist. It is too bad that this stinker is attached to the same disc as Cigarette Burns.

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