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Watching a lot of the Season One episodes of MOH, I found myself
wincing quite often...from painful embarrassment. Sure, some episodes
were extremely gory as a horror buff might expect, but usually it's
employed as a distraction to keep the viewer from contemplating how bad
the writing is or how uneven the direction on some episodes.
However, the occasional segment has come up that's had me wincing and cringing for all the RIGHT reasons, and it's usually due to a true "Master Of Horror" who deserves to be invited back every season. Now, I've only heard that Takashi Miike's "Imprint" was the episode to raise the bar for sheer, overwhelming horror. But since it was never broadcast, I never got the chance to view it, so I can only go by what I've seen. And for my money, the goriest and most disturbing episode in the entire series was Dario Argento's rendering of the classic horror tale, "Jenifer." This is one director who's shown that he's not afraid of testing the limits of what this series can achieve, not to mention stretching the talents of makeup FX wizards KNB Studios to the very snapping point.
And he's managed to do it again. If anyone not in the know is wondering why Argento is most remembered for his magnum opus, SUSPIRIA, he provides a juicy, shocking reminder by once again kicking it old school with a 'giallo'-styled tale of ancient curses, based on "Pelts," a short story by genre master F. Paul Wilson (THE KEEP.)
Marvin Lee "Meatloaf" Aday plays amoral furrier Jake, who lusts obsessively for Shana (Ellen Ewusie), a beautiful exotic dancer who tauntingly reminds him that unless he can "make her happy", he can never have her. Which means that he has to find a way to become filthy, stinkin' rich or die trying.
Meanwhile, a backwoods fur trapper (John Saxon) and his son have been poaching on someone else's land for their latest haul of raccoon pelts. But this is no ordinary hunting ground, and these are more than just wild animals. The resulting fur pelts from their illegal activities are some of the most beautiful, hypnotically captivating pieces that they've ever seen. Of course, that's the way it works when something is as cursed as these pelts are, and woe to anyone and everyone who comes in contact with them...as the unlucky poachers will soon discover, followed by Jake and his associates...
It's amazing how powerful Argento's command of lighting, angles and cutting is, even now all these years after SUSPIRIA. And even though you can pretty much try to intellectualize about the top-notch quality of Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero's FX work, it's still shot in such a way that you can barely look at the screen without wanting to run out of the room. And I haven't felt that way since...well, SUSPIRIA.
With just two episodes contributed to this series, Argento moves to the front of the line as the predominant "Master Of Horror" amongst his peers. I might have nightmares after watching PELTS (which doesn't happen often), but even so, I hope he'll be invited back for a third season, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next...
Once again combining eroticism with buckets of blood and guts, Italian
maestro Dario Argento makes another memorable entry in the wildly
uneven Masters of Horror series. The story is slim this time around and
it's not as thought provoking as Jenifer but it's got a point and it
slams it in your face.
Supernatural forces allow animals (racoons to be precise) to take revenge on their killers and those who profit with their slaughter. When their fur is handled in any way the people begin to either kill others like them or begin self mutilation in explicitly graphic ways.
Argento says it's a story about greed and where it leads and that's another way of looking at Pelts. But however you look at it, Pelts at least sets the motion for some incredibly horrific and gory set pieces and who better than Argento to be at the helm. Some truly disgusting scenes of violence, murder and self mutilation are displayed and for gore fans it doesn't get much better than this.
Another thing Argento doesn't skimp on is the visual aspect. Bathing the film in strong and glorious colors and some beautiful set design, Argento still has the visual sense down to a tee.
Pelts is also very well acted, with Meat Loaf in top form and genre legend John Saxon makes a welcome return in an Argento film. Pelts may not require much brain power but just sit back and enjoy a gore filled, gloriously looking ride from a true master in bloody good form.
Meat Loaf plays Jake, a fur trader who stumbles upon some very special
raccoon pelts. But these pelts are cursed! So what happens when the
curse begins to affect everyone involved with the pelts: the trappers,
the traders, the seamstresses and the model? You'll just have to watch
Like Argento's "Jenifer", we find that he really shines in the one hour format provided by "Masters of Horror". This is by far the most gory of the second season and probably the most sexually depraved (much as "Jenifer" was probably the most depraved in season one). If you like abnormal sex and intense gore in your horror films, this one will catch your eye.
Meat Loaf is a quality actor, and since his days in "Rocky Horror Picture Show" we should have realized he has no problem taking on unusual acts. This one is no exception, with his character frequenting a strip club and looking for unnatural sexual relations (his preferred method is constantly hinted at throughout the episode). And he just shines! How a man this ugly has made it so well in the film and music industry is a mystery, but more power to him.
The supporting cast is also wonderful, so I should not exclude them. John Saxon, veteran horror icon, notably appears. Though this really was, by all accounts, Meat Loaf's show.
Matthew Venne's audio commentary is worth a listen. As a fresh writer, he tells the story of getting work to the big screen, which other aspiring writers might find helpful. He never stops talking, which is a plus for a commentary, and is quite familiar with Argento's work and the source material. I do not think a better commentary could have been provided. For anyone curious on how to translate a short story into a film, Venne gives us the inside scoop.
The gore was extreme. And while some of the gory moments were not very realistic (particularly the climax), they were all nasty and even when fake-looking, still difficult to watch at times. The needles scene was well done, although too obviously computerized, and the bear trap death was very clever and well executed. The rest of them I will leave for you to find... no disappointments, I promise.
While there is one complaint I have regarding the end (which I will not discuss) that kept this from getting a perfect score, over all I couldn't stop watching. No bathroom breaks or such were necessary or would have been taken. Just straight up horror. What more do you want me to say?
The more a movie is horrifying and gory, the more it's shallow and
"cheesy", right??? WRONG. Episode 6 of the second season of Masters of
Horror, directed by Dario Argento, is the proof of this.
Now I will not spoil things for anyone who has yet to see this, but let me state the following fact: "Pelts" carries a message as deep as every gory cut and act shown in this episode. It's amazing that Dario Argento has made the most of a short story bearing the same title as this 6th part to put across his love of Nature and the idea that Nature will get even with those who abuse and kill other living creatures for profit (and maybe for ANY reason, who knows?). And he has done so very successfully, let the truth be told.
So,if you're looking for mere gore and entertainment, watch something else. "Pelts" is definitely not something to watch with friends while munching on chips or popcorn(or hardly anything else,if you know what I mean:). But if you've been longing for a horror that delivers extremely gory scenes, thrill and something you can think about long after you've switched the movie off, I cannot recommend this enough - especially if you're an animal lover.
Dario Argento truly seems to "Get It" when it comes to horror. As in "Jenifer", Argento knows how to get under (or through) a viewer's skin, and "Pelts" is no exception. I sit through horror films on an almost daily basis, yet I find myself squirming more then sitting when I watch Argento's extremely graphic stories of utter gore and chaos. The tale is an odd one, combining greed, lust and absurdness to great effect and featuring a very well acted Meat Loaf as the main protagonist. Of course, it's always good to see an old favorite, as John Saxon delivers a stellar performance as well. I stand in awe of Argento's ability to constantly turn out over the top, disturbingly beautiful and horrific works, but I certainly will not question his integrity. As far as "Masters Of Horror" is concerned, he has proved himself a true "Master"... "Pelts" is definitely one of the top three episodes of the series... Well done.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was not a very good episode of Masters of Horror. For starters,
the acting was absolutely bad and very amateur.
Even Meat Loaf came across as stiff and unconvincing as an actor. The gore part was okay, if you are into that kind of thing, but it was too little. The nudity sex scene of the stripper and the other girl came across as cheap, too, and fake.
All in all, there's not much good to say about this, except I was sorely disappointed. The positives were that the story was kind of original about the animal pelts. But that was not enough to keep my interest for the full hour of the episode.
If there is one man on this planet who deserves the title "Master Of Horror" it is doubtlessly the great Dario Argento. The genius behind masterpieces such as "Profondo Rosso", "Suspiria", "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage", "Phenomena", "Tenebre" and others is doubtlessly one of the greatest Horror directors who ever lived (to me personally, he's one of the greatest directors ever, regardless of genre), and it is therefore no wonder that his entries to the "Masters Of Horror" series were those I was most looking forward to (which is probably the case with most Horror fans). His contribution to the first season, "Jennifer" was an incredibly creepy and deliciously demented little film that ranked among the best episodes in the first season, but I personally liked "Pelts" even more. After Takashi Miike's "Imprint" (Season 1, Episode 13), "Pelts" is arguably my second-to-favorite entry to the "Masters Of Horror" series. While the premise of the MoH series, and the 1 hour Runtime does not allow Argento to build up his brilliant mysteries (be it with supernatural elements, such as in "Suspiria" and "Phenomena" or without, such as in his Giallo-masterpieces), Argento still delivers genuinely creepy and purely ingenious Horror. In "Pelts" it is a curse that has been placed upon the pelts of a rare raccoon species that brings Horror into the life of the sleazy fur-trader Jake Feldman(Meat Loaf Aday)... I do not want to give away too much, but I can assure that this episode delivers about everything one could desire in a "Masters of Horror" episode - Genuine creepiness, extreme gore and brutality, a very morbid sense of Humor, lots of female nudity, a sublime atmosphere and a great cast. Rockstar Meat Loaf Aday has given proof of his acting skills on several occasions by now, and he fits perfectly in his role here. Horror lovers, however, will be even more delighted to see cult-actor John Saxon in a supporting role. The female cast members are entirely hot, especially the lesbian stripper that Feldman is obsessed with. Overall, this bizarre and genuinely nasty episode is yet another proof that Argento is an absolute master of atmosphere and creepiness, and one of the most highly recommendable entries to the "Masters Of Horror" series.
Undoubtfully both the episodes Italian mastermind Dario Argento has done for Masters of Horror were some of the most disturbing episodes for the series. This one, although not a match for Miikes "Imprint" truly is extreme. The basic concept is about raccoon pelts forcing anyone touching them to kill them selves. And they do with some pretty disturbing and explicitly gory ways. Adding tons of nudity to the mix this must be the most extreme episode of season 2 and a very solid (while not overwhelming) episode. The camera work, while not as stunning as some of Argento's previous works, is very good. The script flows smoothly and, while not twisty at any point, keeps the watcher interested. Acting is decent (always Argento's downfall is bad acting) and the special effects so and so. The music is very good and Claudio Simoneti manages not to sound like his former band, the Goblin. To sum up it is a very solid episode that won't be a series highlight (I think "Cigare Burns" gets it) or a season highlight (I'm torn between Carpenter and Landis) but surely is one of the good ones in a relatively mediocre season
Is it wrong for me to like 'Pelts' just because it's so darn excessive? As a horror fan, I shouldn't be so apologetic. Simply put, Dario Argento's efforts in the "Masters of Horror" arena are very offbeat, with stories that are far from his usual giallo/fantasy stylings, but still passionate about the excesses he holds so near and dear. God bless this dirty old man! 'Pelts' is an over-the-top supernatural exercise wherein trapper John Saxon (of Argento's "Tenebrae" and numerous other genre offerings) comes across some stunning raccoon pelts in a mysterious-looking shrine; but the skins come with a price, inflecting those who dare touch with murderous and/or suicidal tendencies. Argento gives us in-your-face gore, from a bear trap tearing off a face to a climactic act of self-mutilation that has to be seen to be believed. While creative gore is a given from this director, 'Pelts' also has its fair share of prurient, guilty-pleasure sleaze: if you like lesbians and sultry strippers (and hell, who doesn't?), then welcome aboard! While the film's tone is less serious than 'Jenifer' (Argento's season 1 offering), its escalating madness veers more into surrealism than camp. Contains an impressive, tongue-in-cheek performance from Meat Loaf Aday, as well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a huge Dario Argento fan & have seen most of his films & loved
them, but up until the last few years Argento's films became boring &
ludicrous, films like STENDHAL SYNDROME & even his other "Masters Of
Horror" episode JENIFER, which in my eyes showed Argento at his very
worst & even though I liked SLEEPLESS, it was still a far cry from
Argento's earlier work, I figured Argento's successful career of making
good scary movies had come to an end. With his second venture into the
"Masters Of Horror" episode, I'm happy to say that I was wrong! Argento
just may have bounced back out of the mediocrity of his latter works
with "PELTS" an episode that was so much better than his first one.
MEAT LOAF starts as a short tempered small time business man named
Jake, who want to make a successful career making fur clothing & when a
trapper (JOHN SAXON) kills a weird set of Racoons out in the woods,
Jake feels he may have a breakthrough. With this fur, he'll not only
make tons of money, but also get an sexy stripper he's obsessed with,
however as it turns out in stories like this things aren't that easy,
as those who come into contact with the furs wind up brutally
mutilating themselves or violently kill others & Jakes future fate over
coming into contact with the fur will be very sadistic & painful
indeed! "PELTS" far & away is one of the better episodes in the
"Masters Of Horror" series, all of Argento's trademarks are here, the
violent murders, bizarre children's music, the animals & insects which
usually play a part in his movies, the excellent camera work & a great
set of actors. Horror fans & those of Argento's work will not be
disappointed, just don't eat anything before or during this episode!
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