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After spending far too long making comedies, another genre for which he is well known, John Landis makes a bit of a comeback with this amusing entry in the popular Masters Of Horror series. Deer Woman is definitely a Landis horror flick. Much in the same way that An American Werewolf In London did almost 30 years ago, Deer Woman mixes a steady helping of humour in with its horror. Its kinda nifty to see a native American legend that perhaps was not the easy route to take make an appearance as the monster for this episode. It would have been much easier for the writer (Landis's son, Max) to just make it a werewolf or vampire. Brian Benben is hilarious as the cop who always seems to get the weird cases. He is put upon but still has his dignity. Fans will get a kick out of a reference to American Werewolf's key setpiece. While certainly not the scariest entry, Deer Woman makes for a fun one and a welcome return for Landis.
When I first heard that John Landis had directed this episode I didn't
really know why because compared to the other directors, he isn't
really a Master of HORROR. But then I remembered the classic
horror/comedy An American Werewolf in London which has earned him this
title. Deer Woman is much the same, a great blending of comedy and
The plot focuses on a policeman (Brian Benben) who is investigating a series of bizarre murders where the victims are trampled to death. This leads him to believe that an Indian folklore might be true and a "Deer Woman" (Cinthia Moura) is seducing and killing men.
Brian Benben is hilarious as burned-out policemen Dwight Faraday. In one particularly amusing scene, he imagines all the possible ways of death by deer. If it weren't for his acting that scene would not have been as funny. Cinthia Moura is perfect as the Deer Woman, she didn't need to speak but her facial expressions and perfect body made the character.
John Landis' direction is pretty much perfect as he is suited to horror/comedies. Although there is more comic elements to the movie, there is a nice amount of horror in it and it is suitably gory and gross.
I'm quickly becoming a massive fan of the "Masters of Horror"-series, despite this only being the third episode that I've watched. What can I say? So far, they all delivered a good story, a fair amount of tension and plenty of gory situations and hence I see absolutely no reason to be negative about this TV-initiative...This installment was directed and co-written by John Landis; a filmmaker who already deserves to be called a "master" in the genre if it were only for that one immortal classic "An American Werewolf in London". Landis also directed the very adequate "Innocent Blood" and "Shlock", but those are lesser known movies and belong more in the cult section. "Deer Woman" is a very nifty variation on the premise of urban legends/campfire tales/mythological stories that turn out frighteningly real and revolves on a stunning Indian beauty who seduces random guys and then tramples them to death with her deer legs. It takes quite a few dead bodies before fatigue police detective Faraday and officer Reed unofficially discover that the murders are committed exactly like it's described in an ancient Native American myth. The characters in "Deer Woman" are likable and there seems to be a much deeper story behind each and every one of them. The 60 minutes screenplay also preserves more than enough time for humor, witty dialogues and a truly priceless reference to the aforementioned "American Werewolf". Brian Benben is very adequate in his role of tormented copper and the unknown Cinthia Moura (the deer woman herself) is magnificent eye-candy. She hasn't got any lines but her natural charisma and gorgeous smile definitely did the job. Recommended!
It seems as though, after a period of doing comedies, John Landis loves
to do horror also. In 1981, he did "An American Werewolf in London", in
1992 he did "Innocent Blood" and now he's taking on the deer woman. The
main thing that struck me about this Masters of Horror episode is it's
sense of humor. Where the other episodes up to this one were quite
serious, this one had a great sense of humor, which John Landis seems
to have in all of his films. The next thing that struck me as good was
the disturbing gore. There wasn't a lot of special effects with the
gore, just disturbing cutting in to human skin type stuff. The final
great thing about this was the acting was great. Everyone did a top
notch job. My only problem, which also seems to always be Landis's
problem, is the ending. The ending to this was one I did not care for.
John Landis has always had a problem writing endings though. I found
this episode about a native American deer woman that kills men to be
the most entertaining of the episodes.
My rating: *** out of ****. 56 mins. Not rated, contains violence and language.
A trucker is killed in his semi by what appears to be a large deer, and
a detective from the animal attacks division (Anthony Griffith) is left
to investigate. Is the killer human, animal or something else?
I really enjoyed this movie a lot. After seeing the thirteen movies from the first season of "Masters of Horror", let me say this proudly: "Deer Woman" is one of my favorites. I enjoyed a few of the others quite a bit (particularly "Jenifer", "Incident" and "Dreams in the Witch House")... but this one ranks right up at the top.
John Landis gave us a movie that is more comedy than horror, but the kind of comedy a horror fan can appreciate. He even found a way to reference his classic "American Werewolf in London" (another bizarre animal attack). Way to go tying the mythology together, John.
The deer jokes and imagery were very nice. I live in Wisconsin and I have seen my fair share of deer, so you would think that deer would bore me. Usually they do. But Steve the Deer telling the wigwam joke? Classic. The attack of the Flannel Deerman? I nearly shot Diet Coke out my nose. The scene where Anthony Griffith's character is thinking up different scenarios to explain the murder is the highlight of the film, though the actress from these sequences needs an upper lip.
Dana the medical examiner (or whatever she was) was very sexy, with haunting eyes. More than Cynthia Moura, who is actually Brazilian and not Native American at all.
You have some mutilated bodies and blood, and a description of a mangled body part that left me hurting for a few minutes. Overall, the gore is minimal, though... but what it lacks in gore it makes up for with great writing. Don't let the cover or Indian mythology scare you off. I know Indian myths sound pretty stupid, but this time we got something a little better than "Pet Sematery".
The audio commentary features only Brian Benben and Anthony Griffith, so the bulk of the talking is about height differences and the film "Mandingo". The insight that John Landis or Max Landis could have provided is absent (though John does have interview segments on the DVD).
"Deer Girl" is a terrific episode of "Masters of Horror". John Landis'
episode is light-hearted but contains some moments of true suspense.
I was genuinely thrilled to see Brian Benben in the main role of Dwight Faraday. Benben was previously in the John Landis produced "Dream On" series and is a great actor - he's able to convey subtle humour in a very capable manner.
The tale itself is pretty straightforward and proceedings move at quite a pace. I had a great time watching the episode and was sad when it finished - I could have sat through another 30 minutes of this story.
Incidentally, John Landis was uncomfortable with the reference to his earlier "American Werewolf" movie but the in-joke works well and isn't out-of-place.
Newcomer Cinthia Moura is stunning as the title character, the Deer Woman. To say Cinthia is beautiful would be something of an understatement and the scenes with this actress were a joy to watch.
Finally, I really hope Landis uses Benben again in a future project - they make a great team.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the episode to watch if you choose to only watch one episode of Masters of Horror. This should be called the gateway episode because I believe that if just about anyone watches this they can be swayed into the show, or better yet into horror films in general. I showed this one to some of my more critiquing friends and they found this to be one of the best horror efforts ever made and I am to agree. This is funny and terrifying at the same time. I love how it is more of a sequel to An American Werewolf In London than that own movies official sequel is. This should be watched by everyone. John Landis also throws some references to his other movies into this like the Blues Brothers and that is cool that he is trying to connect his stuff together. Watch this.
Of the "Masters of Horror" episodes released on DVD thus far, John
Landis' 'Deer Woman' is by far the best (putting the incredibly
overrated 'Cigarette Burns' to shame), and not due to the scare factor
(of which there is next to none). No, 'Deer Woman' succeeds because of
its relentless--often knee-slapping--brand of smart-ass humor. As this
is an element that has been lacking in the episodes previously released
to DVD, Landis infuses this ridiculous tale (about a Native American
woman who transforms into the murderous title creature after seducing
hapless males) with all the jokes and jabs it can contain without
bursting under the pressure. The very funny Brian Benben plays a
disgraced cop now taking calls for 'animal accidents,' when several
corpses stomped into hamburger cross his radar; all leads wind up dead
ends (and are encapsulated in a side-splitting 'what if?'-montage),
until an Indian casino employee unspools the myth of the Deer Woman.
Like I said before--anyone looking for horror (in spite of a decent
ration of gore) will be disappointed; those seeking a fast-paced comic
romp with mild horror overtones will be ecstatic.
7.5 out of 10
When the body of a truck driver is found trampled in his truck, the
burnt-out detective Dwight Faraday (Brian Benben) is assigned for the
bizarre case. He arrives to the crime scene in a parking area with
Officer Jacob Reed (Anthony Griffith) and their investigation discloses
that the victim had left a tavern with a gorgeous woman and apparently
had been trampled by a heavy animal in the truck cabin. Later, two
other bodies of men arrive in the morgue in the same conditions, and
the coroner Dana (Sonja Bennett) notes that all of them had erection in
the moment of death, and Dwight notes hooves in the body. Dana
investigates further and finds deer footprints and hair in the corpses.
When Dwight and Reed talks to an Indian descendant in a casino, they
unravel a Pohancan legend about a deer woman, half woman but having
deer hooves and trampling men after seducing them. Without any other
lead, they begin to believe that every legend is based on facts.
"Deer Woman" is a good episode of "Masters of Horror", with a funny story mixing humor and horror but also a very disappointing conclusion. The Brazilian Cynthia Moura is extremely gorgeous, actually one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, but she has no lines along the whole story. Brian Benben has good performance in the role of a cynical detective that sees the chance to motivate his career again. There is a great homage to "An American Werewolf in London", with the reference to a mysterious murder case caused by a wolf in Piccadilly Circus in 1981. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Lenda Assassina" ("Assassin Legend")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
John Landis's skill for being able to mix horror and comedy is
absolutely unmatched in the genre. 1981's An American Werewolf in
London was a great macabre gallows humor, the kind which the Nightmare
on Elm Street series frequently reached for and almost always failed
at. 1992's Innocent Blood was full of hilarious visual gags and
character mash-ups. With this kind of talent behind the camera, and
with the formulaic and uninteresting stories most of the Masters of
Horror entries had been delivering as the series first debuted on
Showtime, Deer Woman was the "episode" I was dying to see the most.
Especially since whoever was in charge of editing trailers for each of
the entries was making them look like "Must See" events. Deer Woman
probably had the best trailer of the series. With amusing caps on all
their humorous conceits, but also making the title woman look
mysterious and creepy, and looking like it had a lot of dark scenes.
This one seemed to have "winner" written all over it. Then, I watched
it. And I have to say- talk about disappointment.
Though this entry still keeps the levels of visual style and production quality very high, the writing and characterization are so shallow and bland, it was pitiful. It's not as boring as Landis's Season 2 entry, Family, but it's not nearly as well-written. Everything here is just a set up for an awful joke or one-liner. The characters are not funny or interesting. And many scenes are stretched out, in the hope of cashing in on the new "quirky humor" of any number of current TV shows. Sort of like the lost episode of Dream On. It even has a fantasy scene, like Dream On. And it's truly the only good sequence in the movie. A trucker and some random girl he met go into his truck in three separate scenarios, all ending with some kind of bizarre (and admittedly very funny) deer-related attack. The best of which being the one where of them are actually hurt in any way. She hears a noise from outside, they both look out the window to investigate, and scream in terror... as they see a deer blink its' eyes. The main character (the still stunning and drop-dead gorgeous Brian Benben) comments- "retarded." NO, John! That's funny!
Other routines that attempt to be funny and sink like the Titanic include: Benben questioning a bartender about the mysterious woman and asks him a question where he gets confused by the answer and makes the man say the "F" word (hugely shocking and outrageous in 2005 - I'm being sarcastic). A string of crime scene investigations where a bumbling detective starts a back and forth chain of insults (none of them the slightest bit clever). A drunk trucker who gets mad and shouts loud in a bar. A scene where a heart-broken pet owner whose cherished friend has been killed being verbally bashed and lashed out upon by a woman whose dog she thinks was traumatized by it (as a pet owner myself, animal cruelty and death is never funny- ever! ...expect maybe in 1989's UHF). At least two scenes where the title woman goes topless (why not get a cheap shot in?). And completely inexplicable and head-scratching moment where Benben's character is stopped by a stranger (played by another gorgeously schlubby actor, Andy Thompson) who insists they know each other from somewhere.
Apparently, John Landis has just been away from the horror genre for so long that he's very rusty. And none of the horror projects he's tried so far this decade have done anything to restore his good name. Deer Woman takes an interesting myth and some good mystery story ties and wastes them on lead-ups to crime scenes with one-foot-hopping detectives and morgue discussions about severed penises. Why does the monster do that? Why is the monster stalking and killing the men? Even if the comedy was dumb, I liked the concept. It could have been a much better piece if they had at least given some kind of creepy clues as to why a succubus creature is luring men away (one of them the smoking-hot Steve Archer as a business man, keep an eye out for him!). All Landis seems to have is some kind of "God works in mysterious ways" mumbo-jumbo. A native-American character later on says, "why does everything always have to have a Why with you people?" Why do I want to know? Because I have to have something to distract me from the terrible humor. Anything at all would be preferable.
There are so many things that could have been done to capitalize on the intrigue and mystery of this old folklore legend. Even some of the dialogue lends itself to making this mystery terrifying and dark. But Landis only seems to see the sexual motivation or result of the situation and focuses in on that. Since if you're completely immature, you could sit around for hours and come up with a ton of jokes about genital mutilation and women messing around with animals. It seems like John's son, Max Landis, did exactly that. The Masters of Horror just do not have the best track record with mysterious women. Argento's Jenifer (who was never really a mystery) was great. And I'm starting to get the impression that Mick Garris and John Landis got the idea to do their entries based on what they thought Argento would focus on. Sure, all the women show their tits. But Jenifer was the only one who did something with her animalistic sexuality. Deer Woman just flashes and runs back into the forest. I'm not really into watching women flash... but if I were, wouldn't I want a better storyline and jokes to warrant the tease?
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