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When a young woman (Bree Turner) has a car accident on a mountain road in the middle of nowhere, she is suddenly attacked by a psychopathic creep. Luckily for her, her husband, a gun-loving survival enthusiast, has taught her quite something about kicking attackers' asses...
"Incident On And Off A Mountain Road" is by far not one of the best MoH episodes I've seen so far, but it is certainly a decent opener to the series. The story itself is far from original, but the episode is well directed, very creepy, gory and demented, and highly atmospheric. Bree Turner fits very well in the lead, and each one of the other actors also delivers a good performance. Recommended!
It has to be said that there was a point that I began to pity Moonface, but after seeing his crucified-victims over-and-over, that ended. But Coscarelli had me there for a moment! What makes this such good horror is that our loyalties to the characters sometimes shift, and this is sometimes unresolved. We're left feeling ambivalent. There are some freaks out there in America's deepest-corners, and the story had a ring of folklore to it, I liked this. For ages, there have been stories in the Old South of crazies in the mountains, so the story isn't that far-fetched. My maternal-Grandmother grew-up in the Ozarks, and told us of the "Mountain people" who still believed slavery was legal in 1900s America! There were even tales of cannibalism and inbreeding. It all gives the film a bit of a Texas Chiansaw Massacre flavor, with a new-addition to rural crazies in our collective-consciousness.
The boyfriend-backstory is really crucial if you want to understand this story, and until the shocking end, it resonates strongly. Of course, men made the woman's character so violent, but the film begs-the-question: is this violence already there, waiting to be activated under the right-circumstances? The story suggest yes. In one of the featurettes, however, Coscarelli seems to think the young-woman will be "normal" after all of this--I disagree. The close-shots he uses for the eye-drillings by Moonface and by the woman are IDENTICAL, which makes-it-plain that the actions are EQUAL. She has become just like Moonface. It's a minor-complaint, and it's not a contradiction within the film itself, just an aside-comment in an interview with the director.
It's OK if a director doesn't entirely-know what he has, after-all. Cronenberg is the best-example of this, and claims he doesn't entirely- understand his films during their production. Moonface could easily be seen as a distorted-version of the boyfriend in the flashbacks. He's bald, he's VERY white (the boyfriend is an Aryan Nations type), and his focus is on killing. Like the boyfriend, he is a predator to the woman-character. Even Moonface's hideout suggest a survivalist-setting. All of this leads to the surprise-ending that you have to see-to-believe, and it is a very subversive-upending of stereotypes surrounding men and women. Some have argued that woman is the strongest of the species, and I would be hard-pressed to disagree. Women are too-easily underestimated. Remember Aileen Wuronos? The film just has great atmosphere, and some excellent night-photography which is still difficult to get right. I loved the fast-cutting, and how dark the film looks. The image of Moonface is unforgettable, and will probably be remembered for some time in horror-iconography. The long-shots with the yard of crucified-victims was just incredible and chilling, and the chase-scenes are an adrenaline-boost. This is a first for Coscarelli, a film that is primarily a chase, but it works. The Scrimm character, "Buddy" is a really good comedic-relief in the heart of a horrible-situation, and he does the film proud as he usually does. Again, IDT/Anchor Bay have done a superb-job with the transfer and the extras. No complaints here whatsoever. It does what it's supposed-to.
The Film: Don Coscarelli's "Phantasm" is a very entertaining horror film, one that is filled with gore, tension, and scares. So, when I heard Coscarelli was going to direct the TV adaptation of Southern writer Joe R. Lansdale's "Incident On And Off A Mountain Road" for "Masters of Horror," I was intrigued. I was never quite a fan of the "Phantasm" sequels or "Bubba Ho-Tep," but Coscarelli's entry in the series is great fun all the way. "Incident On And Off A Mountain Road" is a surprisingly original slasher movie, with plenty of gore, a hip villain, and a sexy heroine. Bree Turner is very good as Ellen, with Ethan Embry("That Thing You Do")as Bruce, and John De Santis as Moonface. And Angus Scrimm, the infamous Tall Man of "Phantasm," has a terrific cameo here as a wacko dude from Moonface's lair.
The Result: Original, bloody, and entertaining are the three words to describe "Masters of Horror: Incident On And Off A Mountain Road." Don Coscarelli is a great director, and hopefully, he will make more movies like this one. "Hell of a night...huh, Moonface?"
I skimmed a few reviews of this film, and the same words keep popping up: "predictable" and "derivative". Even my friend Jason, whom I respect as a master of horror, had warned me the film was quite predictable. Please allow me to address this with regards to "Incident on and off a Mountain Road".
Is it derivative to have a woman chased through the woods by a killer? Yes. Was the film predictable? For the most part, yes (though I was not entirely sure till the end which predictable ending they'd run with). But as someone who has seen more than his share of horror films, aren't most horror films derivative and predictable? You see one slasher, you've seen them all. And don't tell me you can't predict who will and won't survive after the first ten minutes? (Hint: the minority always dies first, the young female lead survives.) The point is this: you have to take the predictable and derivative, and put a new spin on it or do it as skillfully as possible, like no on else has done. This film accomplished that goal, which impressed me since I've seen the director's "Beastmaster" and would not say that it really stands out as movie genius.
The opening scene had me hooked: Don Coscarelli uses very tight shots of a dark road. Close-ups on Ellen's face, focusing on her eye. A hood's view of the road (rather than wide shot) to give us the impression of being trapped in the car. Obviously, I knew that something or someone was about to be hit, but I also knew with the angles used there was no way I could escape being right in the impact. If you've been in a serious accident, you don't want to relive it.
Also, the killer's lair was great. Sure, we often find abandoned shacks with corpses in horror films, but the police sirens and lights were a nice touch. Did he kill the cops? Was it a taunting, letting his victims know there was no escape? I really enjoyed that. And the drill press... so much more frightening than a hand drill.
Bree Turner was great as Ellen. Her past roles have apparently been all comedies, but she showed here she was more than capable of being a strong heroine in a tense role. And, personally, I want to say Bree Turner is one of the most beautiful women ever to appear in a horror film since the dawn of time. Strong, smart and attractive... the very perfect example of a "final girl".
I found Ethan Embry (best known for "Can't Hardly Wait") a little out of place, but he showed he could be dark and menacing and maybe I ought to give him some credit. I couldn't stop thinking "gee, he really looks like crap... he's gotten all pudgy and bald", but if I looked past that I might have found a good actor. Maybe. After listening to the commentary, I was able to better appreciate how seriously Embry took the role, allowing himself to actually be strangled and stabbed to get the part right. That's dedication.
Angus Scrimm was amazing. I have seen Coscarelli's "Phantasm", so I have seen Scrimm play "The Tall Man"... probably his best-known role for horror fans. (If someone wants to call blasphemy on me for not seeing the sequels, call it... I'm in the process of fixing this.) I did see Scrimm in "Satanic" and that role was so pointless, it could have been played by anyone old or young, male or female (see separate review). But here, oh my, he was such a well-devised character that I don't think anyone else could have given this film what he was able to do.
I have no complaints about this movie, other than wondering about Moonface's origin. He seems to have a very talented dentist and a unique knife dealer. But obviously the time simply did not permit that story to be told... maybe a flashback in a future season of "Masters of Horror". This episode, I'm pleased to say, was one of my favorites of Season One, and I'm glad they kicked off the show with it. Maybe I stand alone on that, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.
Don ("Phantasm") Coscarelli's adaptation of Joe Lansdale's short story is simple but hits all the right marks - it's an effective horror tale.
Bree Turner is delightful as the stranded woman who has to fight for survival against a bizarre killer, Moonface.
Angus Scrimm is the icing on the cake as the crazy Buddy.
As with some other "Masters of Horror" tales, "Incident" pushes the boundaries of what you'd expect to see on television. It's powerful stuff and delivered with polish and style.
In a word, "Superb".
"Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" is another rip-off of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", but I liked it. The twist with a surprising conclusion, the atmosphere of nightmare and the performance of Bree Turner makes this enjoyable episode of "Masters of Horror" worthwhile. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Pânico na Montanha" ("Panic in the Mountain")
"Anything can happen to anyone, any time, any place." (Translation: this is the horror genre, so we can do any kind of nonsense we want.) This sounds not so much like something "wise" found on a paper of a Chinese fortune cookie, but more like the credo of every bad horror film director. We get this baloney of a statement served to us early on, sort of as a preparation/justification of the absurd buffoonery to come.
"My phone isn't working!" Well, of course it isn't. There is a far greater chance that Sean Penn's brain starts working (after decades of catatonic apathy) than that a horror-film cell-phone does. The single most dreary and predictable horror cliché of the past decade. Why even say it? We KNOW help will never come via a phone-call, so ye horror-making dimwits might as well just not even mention it. The last 50 horror films I saw use this plot device. It's becoming embarrassing.
"You always have to expect the unexpected." The final twist was rather surprising, I'll give them that much... However, plenty of nonsense on the way there.
Check out the elaborate traps the heroine sets up with the speed of a drugged-up lab rat - in the cold, wet, and almost totally dark conditions. I just love horror-film realism...
When a blood-thirsty demon starts trying to be funny (by "shshshing" his victims) then you know your horror-viewing pleasure is in doubt. The less said about the old geezer "cracking wise", the better... Another stupid cliché served by a tired, lazy, uninspired director.
What are the odds of being attacked by your husband and then by an eye-hating demon - on the same day? "Expect the unexpected". They might as well have squeezed in an event in which she survives a plane crash, and then another in which she encounters aliens who tried to anal-probe her...
The fast-forward button needs a temple or a shrine built in its image.
Bree Turner makes for a cute enough scream queen but fails to generate any sexual chemistry with survival freak Ethan Embry whilst long-term director favourite Angus Scrimm proves a misplaced annoyance and John D. Santis is far too cartoonesque to generate any real fear as the dreadfully monikered Moonface.
The master employs the incredibly overly familiar set-up of an accident on lonely mountain road to lead into a run-of-the-mill slasher in the woods story that quickly degenerates into splat pack style gore soaked torture porn and sadly fails to take its own advice to do the unexpected.
It comes in through your eyes.
"Incident on and off the Mountain Road" is a fifty-minute horror thriller, based on the horror cliche of a maniac who attacks travelers on a rarely used mountain road. The girl has accident in the middle of nowhere, she is attacked by maniac who is more a monster than a man, he chase her through dark forest and everything that goes with it. But Don Coscarelli introduces some new unexpected elements and twists, that single out this story from the sea of similar ones, and skillfully maintains the tension from the beginning to the end. In various reviews, I noticed some complaints about Bree Turner's performance, but I like this actress and, at the risk of being biased, in my opinion, she was excellent in the main role. For me, this was awesome episode.
Quite a few things, I'd say. While it starts off pretty bog standard, it pretty soon develops a nice narrative (timeline) and has a few surprises at hand. Don Cascarelli puts the female lead through some crazy things, but only in the end you will see that it was all needed, the build up, to get to the point of the revenge (it is quite "satisfying" for the viewer to see how it all unfolds).
The film is about a woman that has a car accident on a deserted stretch of rain soaked mountain road. She quickly finds herself perused by a serial killer (dubbed Moonface) who is busy chasing a previous victim. She turns out not to be the damsel in distress that we suspected, as she has had survival training from her boyfriend which the film doles out in flashback. It is also interesting as one can see the progression of her relationship with the boyfriend as it coincides her conflict with Moonface.
Director Don Coscarielli runs a tight ship with plenty of surprises in both plot and scope. The acting by all is above board with a particular nod to John DeSantis as the serial killer. Moonface, with his chrome teeth, baldhead and big shiny knife; he is such a quality villain that it seems a shame he is in such a small film. Moonface certainly could hold his own with the Jason’s and Leatherface’s of the world. In fact, he has that childlike quality that made Leatherface such an endearing character,. (Not to mention they share the same interior decorator.) The gore is good, the set design is excellent and the movie is simply never boring. Add on a story with depth and layers and you have a very strong start to an excellent series.
A lady rear-ends another car that was stopped in the road on a mountain. The area is wooded, dark, and it's hard to tell exactly what happened. The lady finds herself running from a maniac, trying to help the other lady, while utilizing survival and combat training that she undertook from her ex-husband. The pace seemed frantic at first, but in retrospect, I can't remember specific sequences that well. This is good old-fashioned slasher horror. The Moonface killer has his front yard decorated with human scarecrows, and the situation looks hopeless. There is some psychological back-story, although the origin and real intentions of the Moonface killer is never really explored. It's actually completely irrelevant. Yes, there is eye-gouging. I would hardly consider this to be a strong artistic statement, but it is very enjoyable, and the horror is creepy enough to keep you scared for a short time afterward, though it will not haunt you for days.
Ellen wrecks her car on a deserted mountain road and is being stalked through the woods by a 7-foot freak with "grills" like Paul Wall. Just so happens that through flash-back sequences we find that Ellen is married to some survivalist weirdo who is all about knives, and guns, and real Grizzly Adams-meets-the UniBomber type stuff. Apparently, all of this rubbed off on Ellen as she devises ridiculous traps and weapons out of the surrounding shrubbery, the contents of her purse, and the elastic-band from her underwear. Despite her tough stance - Ellen is captured. Taken back to the freak's lair - Ellen sees the remnants of his other victims, and meets some blabbering old whackadoo (played well by Angus Scrimm) and we find out that even though bound, battered, and bruised - Ellen still has some fight left...
INCIDENT is fast-paced (as any one-hour film should be...), there are some decent FX and there is a decent "twist" at the end - but there's just too much ridiculous stuff going on (other than the 7-foot mutated freak...) to really "buy-in" to the story line. Also, I was kinda annoyed that the freak's background is never explained either. But despite the faults, INCIDENT was still an entertaining way to kill an hour - but it's no CIGARETTE BURNS either...7/10
** (out of 4)
Don Coscarelli's entry in the Masters of Horror series has a woman wrecking on a mountain road and then being stalked by a maniac. This is only my second film in the Masters of Horror series but this thing here is way behind John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns. The MTV-style editing doesn't work, some of the CGI is quite poor and in the end we've seen this type of slasher way too many times. The director of the Phantasm series doesn't build any suspense but the performances are good. I didn't care for the twist ending either.