Masters of Horror: Season 2, Episode 7

The Screwfly Solution (8 Dec. 2006)

TV Episode  -   -  Horror | Thriller
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 1,736 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 23 critic

A strange virus renders the entire human male population into homicidal maniacs who end up wiping out all females, leaving a woman and her daughter to fend for themselves.

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Alan
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Anne
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Bella
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Amy
Steve Lawlor ...
The Private
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Barney
William S. Taylor ...
The Mayor
Don House ...
Storekeeper
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Barekeeper
Steve Makaj ...
Mankeeper
J. Winston Carroll ...
General (as J.W. Carroll)
Tara Leigh ...
Sabbath
Rob Morton ...
Max
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Rodney Bearden (as Nelson Carter-Leis)
Bill Mackenzie ...
Church
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A strange virus renders the entire human male population into homicidal maniacs who end up wiping out all females, leaving a woman and her daughter to fend for themselves.

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Horror | Thriller

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8 December 2006 (USA)  »

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During the scene in which the soldiers were shown pornographic movies in the lab, the clip of the Japanese women was taken from 'Imprint', the 13th episode of the first season. Since it was decided that 'Imprint' was too graphic for television so was not aired, this was the first time it was seen in the US before being released on DVD. See more »

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(at around 45 mins) The "Stewart, British Columbia, October" text screen is supposed to say "November" since the other texts are monthly, the previous one was already "October", and the next one is "December". See more »

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Threnody
performed by Chimaira
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While Not a Strong Movie, Some Very Strong Writing
1 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There exists a way of eliminating insects where the bugs can be tricked into forgetting how to mate, thus lowering the population of harmful species. But what if this method were tried on humans? As humans are wired so that aggression and sexual energy are very close, could they be cross-wired to confuse one with the other? What would the results be?

This episode of "Masters of Horror", starring "Beverly Hills 90210" alumnus Jason Priestley, comes across as more of an "Outer Limits" episode and less of a horror story. More science fiction and less macabre, if you will. But a great story just the same, with some deep themes and plenty of gratuitous violence for the horror buffs. (Nudity, too.) Not surprisingly, this look at culture is coming from Joe Dante, who last season satirized the war in Iraq with "Homecoming"... a film that was of a much more horror nature and less serious than this one, but ultimately more satisfying (I'll get to that in a bit).

We have some heavy issues here: domestic violence, global warming, bird flu, radical Islam, fundamentalist Christianity. They're all tied in to the growing trend of men mass-murdering women the world over. We even have the discussion of how young women should dress, which calls to mind the words of the Australian Muslim leader who compared uncovered women to "rotting meat" recently (I write this February 2007). The clothing designed for younger women is something society should address, I think... though not necessarily for the reasons this film discusses.

Dante and his screenwriter (Sam Hamm) pay a great service to the original Alice Sheldon (aka Raccoona Sheldon aka James Tiptree) story. They have stayed incredibly close, and with good reason: Sheldon has nailed everything one could want: the religious cults ("the Sons of Adam") and even the subplot of the Marine who kills his wife. Sheldon was very much ahead of her time, with 2006 having radical religious people in the news constantly and the threat of new diseases looming like never before. And as far as the idea that man is a germ that destroys the planet -- true more now than ever before, as evidenced in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth".

Screenwriter Sam Hamm quotes Richard Dawkins' new book "The God Delusion" in an interview he did: "Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival .... But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses ... The child cannot know that 'Don't paddle in the crocodile-infested Limpopo' is good advice, but 'you must sacrifice a goat at the time of the full moon, otherwise the rains will fail' is at best a waste of time and goats." Hamm quotes another part of the book where Dawkins says, "Could irrational religion be a by-product of the irrationality mechanisms that were originally built into the brain by selection for falling in love?" Why am I or Hamm quoting Dawkins? Because this film explores that aspect of religion with the Sons of Adam cult Sheldon has cooked up. Not only do we clearly have "mind viruses" where irrational ideas are spread from one person to the next, but we are dealing with a religion that takes something irrational (the mass murder of women) and weaves a story around it to make this something for God. Dawkins surely did not have Sheldon in mind, and Sheldon may not have agreed with Dawkins were she alive today, but the themes cross over very nicely.

With all this praise, you may be wondering why I gave the film a fairly lackluster grade. And the reason is this: while the ideas and writing are superb, the film tends to trail on at the second half. As time passes, the story becomes less interesting and the exploration of the themes pretty much comes to a standstill. The closing scene (which, as usual, I won't discuss) was for me a huge disappointment, inserting aspects into the film which in my opinion really were better left out.

Despite the low rating, I do encourage everyone to see this film and I would consider it better than many of the episodes in Season Two (though still not as gripping as "Pelts" or as endearing as "Family"). Dante has a way with bringing critical issues to the forefront and I hope if he returns for the next season that he continues this... I see no way he could disappoint me with this track record.


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