"Masters of Horror" Valerie on the Stairs (TV Episode 2006) Poster

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A Bit Too Silly For My Taste
Witchfinder-General-6663 February 2009
Mick Garris deserves a lot of praise for being the creator of the "Masters Of Horror" series, but it has to be said that the episodes he directed himself, "Chocolate" and "Valerie On The Stairs" both rank among the lesser entries to this generally vastly entertaining franchise. While I liked this eighth episode of the second season slightly better than Garris' boring contribution to the first season, "Chocolate", "Valerie On The Stairs" is just a bit too silly for my tastes. The episode is set in a boarding house where unsuccessful writers are allowed to reside until their works become published. In this particular house the writers' nightmarish fantasies seem to come to life, however... "Valerie On The Stairs" was adapted from a story by Clive Barker, but I guess it must have been altered quite heavily, as this is certainly not a worthy entry to Clive "Hellraiser" Barker's repertoire. While Horror does not necessarily have to be realistic, it should have a certain logic, and it should certainly NOT be ridiculous. "Valerie On The Stairs" sadly gets ridiculous at some points, which is a shame since there could have been some potential in this episode. The episode stars prolific actors Christopher Lloyd and Tony 'Candyman' Todd, and Clare Grant, who plays the eponymous Valerie is one yummy protagonist (the beauty of the female cast members is a quality that most MoH episodes have). Too bad the episode keeps getting sillier and sillier to a ridiculous point.
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Barker Knows Best...
cchase4 December 2008
There are probably not a whole lot of horror fans who would disagree with me on this, but I think it's been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the only filmmaker who is a master of adapting Clive Barker for the big or small screen IS Clive Barker. HELLRAISER. LORD OF ILLUSIONS. Even the sketchy but still fine movie version of NIGHTBREED. Case closed.

Well, not quite. I find myself in the minority (no pun intended) when I express my total disappointment at the grand mess that is the MOH episode, "Haeckel's Tale." John McNaughton is a really good director, but that episode pointed out all the reasons why Clive should've been asked to join the series to lend it some real chops in the directorial department, (unless he was asked and politely refused.)

VALERIE ON THE STAIRS comes a little bit closer to the essence of Barker's style, but I think it would've kicked major ass with an assist from its original author. As is, it's entertaining at the very least, and lands squarely in that gray area most of the MOH episodes occupy...It doesn't exactly rock, but it doesn't suck major ass, either.

For most horror fans, VALERIE is not going to make a whole lot of sense, but we writers out here will "get it" almost immediately. It explores Barker's favorite topics - sex and death, love and loss, and blurring the lines between Heaven and Hell, fantasy and reality.

Struggling writer Rob Hanisey (Tyron Leitso) moves into Heidelberg (sp?) House, a dilapidated and very unusual collective retreat for unpublished writers. Remaining unpublished is the only condition the writers must meet while staying there, rent-free. Once your "great American novel" sees the light of day, your ass is out on the street. (Talk about a reversal of fortune!)

Of course, Rob's not even unpacked yet when he starts to hear the strange noises and experiencing all the weird things essential to old buildings in horror movies. Then comes a new twist...the sounds of a young woman's moaning and sobbing in the hallway outside his room...even though there's nobody there. That is, until he finally meets her - a sad and scared, beautiful damsel-in-distress named Valerie (Clare Grant), being stalked through the building by a mysterious Beast (Tony Todd) who always yanks her away into Somewhere Else, just as Rob is getting to know her...and become obsessed with her.

It doesn't sit well with Rob that in a strange house of looney writers that include veteran failure Everett Neely (Christopher Lloyd), angry, cynical lesbian Patricia Dunbar (Suki Kaiser) and hopped-up headcase Bruce Sweetland (Jonathan Watton), he's quickly being considered as King Nutjob. But he's pretty sure that there's more to Heidelberg House - and to Valerie - than his new neighbors are willing to tell him, and as it turns out (doesn't it always?) he's right.

There's a lot of elements of Barker's other, better work mixed up in this story, but it really helps that the cast pulls it off believably. Lloyd, known mostly for playing extremely manic characters, dials it back a bit here, which is a welcome change. Todd, who I love to see in anything, is just about unrecognizable here as the demon, and though he's not given nearly enough to do, he does what he's best at...being menacing and ripping people apart. The other performers range from good to adequate, which is enough, I guess, to get this episode by.

I get the feeling that Mick Garris didn't really bring his A-game to this one, because it showed off his "AMAZING STORIES" roots a lot more than usual. In fact, it could've been an episode of that very uneven series as well...if you took out the nudity, sex and gore, of course.

VALERIE'S greatest sin is not just in the execution, though, but in the material itself. Only a certain niche of the audience will ever understand what the episode is really about (especially the very abstract, metaphorical ending), and you can never be successful adapting a story that only a third of your audience will get into. Hence the impression that Garris didn't seem all that invested in it when he was writing the script or directing it.

Overall, I liked VALERIE where I know a lot of other people are going to despise it. The better judgment call with this one, would've been to have Clive step in and do it, or to just leave it the hell alone entirely.

Still not the worst episode this season, but far from being the best. THAT is what I'm still waiting for.
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I really disagree- there is a lot going on here
refined_cujo-117 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Some of the reviews are negative for this entry to season 2's masters of horror. But there is a lot going on in this episode and I really think, like Chocolate (also very good) this one deserves a second watch.

The performances are all fine, some better than others. The photography is fantastic, each frame very well constructed- Garris really is at his best when he is at his most minimalistic (ie- the scenes with Valerie on the stairs, the main character listening to the sounds in the walls- wandering the halls; with the dutch angles and all).

This has Barker all over it and has the feeling and atmosphere of much of that you can find in his Books of Blood, even though this was a story written directly for the screen. The premise is great ( I wont give it away)- but also its greatest deterant... It is a short story premise and it shows. It is the type of thing you can get away with on paper, but when put on film it immediately seems like farce and rushed farce at that. But that having been said, you kind of go along with it. You know its pure self-referential fluff, but its Clive Barker fluff; kind of like some of his short stories (tonally; this one reminded me of The Age of Desire, The Maddonna, and In the Flesh- which were all in their own way, as equally contrived).

Some have said that it does not make sense. I really don't agree on this one. I think that many of the people who say it does not make sense are those (perhaps) who are most unlikely to see Barker as anyone other than the "future of horror fiction" as Stephen King slated him as in the late 80's. This film (and it does look like a film more so than many of the other episodes; ironic because Garris primarily works in television) although it bears all the trademarks of horror shlock (grisly murders, blood splatters etc), it has a strong faubist element, an identifiable streak of fantasy; which grants a freedom of storytelling that is more metaphorical, or dare I say it metaphysical than much of Barkers straight horror stuff. This is a story for those who preffered Weaverworld, or Everville and especially Coldheart canyon, than those who loved Hellraiser. The ending is pure evidence of this- I LOVED THE ENDING. I think those who dismiss it as silly are missing the point, and unfortunately - for them- missing great horror fantasy.

And just like Garris' prior Masters effort- this one is not straight horror- you have to get that clear. That episode was erotic/telepathic romance- with horror elements (a very nice, and delicate blend), and this one is a dark fantasy (which totally allows for what some have called the elements of the non-sensical)- with even stronger horror grissliness and context.

For this reason many have said that Garris is not worthy of his masters of horror title. I think he has. He just uses horror in a manner that is not so derivative and not so obvious; he blends his drinks, rather than pours them straight. For this, I think he should wear his hat well.

The effects are generally good. Two major criticisms: the lead is good, but not entirley interesting- which is kind of the point- he ******SPOILER******** is literally a blank sheet of paper onto which the darkness and inevitability of others fiction/perceptions are printed upon. And secondly the dispatch of Todds villain is a little too easy, but again- he burns as easy as paper- which is again the point.

Valerie herself. She is sexuality, but not really sexy. This is what makes the scenes of erotica either deservedly awkward or somewhat disturbing- it really got to me. Eerie. Like Tarantino has said "Nobody gets under your skin like clive barker." I loved Todd's villain and the apparent cheesiness of his look. He really had the 50's style element to him- which is clearly a part of the narative.

I really liked this episode. there is far more going on than what others have said. This is one entry, like Chocolate that tastes better and better the deeper you go.
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Running out of Ideas ...
Vic_max7 January 2007
Story-wise, its tough to do a decent horror movie these days because the themes are very well known. This movie is a case in point. It was probably an idea that sounded good, but ended up not being right for a movie.

The story is about a writer who goes to a writing retreat / hotel for unpublished authors. As he begins to write, he starts to encounter the presence of a young lady named "Valerie" reaching out to him. He begins to explore what's happening and the story progresses from there.

Sound familiar? The average horror fan will have seen this setup countless times before. Admittedly, there are some clever ideas behind "what's going on", but it's not enough. The main idea (I won't spoil it) seems too far fetched. Worst, it's just not interesting to watch.

It seems evident that the main actors do a pretty good job at what they were asked to do, but their characters seem to lack depth. Along with the story - they don't get any more interesting as time goes on.

If you're a big Clive Barker fan, you will probably want to see this to see what his thinking is like these days. For everyone else, pass on this one.
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Did This Even Make Sense?
gavin69424 February 2007
A young writer checks into a hotel where you are allowed to live for free as long as you like, as long as you never publish anything. The moment you get something published, you are asked to leave the hotel. Within the hotel, though, is a woman named Valerie (on the stairs) who needs to be saved from some supernatural force. What is our young writer to do? I thought the story had potential after reading the synopsis. As an aspiring writer myself, I like the idea of a place that lets you focus on your writing on your schedule, but has you enter the real world once you're done. This film is alright... except that most of it makes no sense and its very repetitive (within one hour).

Clive Barker is a well-known horror writer, so we expect a lot from him (though, in all honesty, I can't for the life of me tell you much good he's produced). And we have director Mick Garris -- the man who directed "Chocolate" from season one, which many people (not including myself) consider to be the worst episode of that season. Garris is second-rate, I won't even try to defend him. He has made nothing that will leave a lasting dent on the horror community in generations to come.

The best thing about this short film is the acting. The main character is alright and another housemate (Bruce) is even better. Valerie... not so much. Tony Todd ("Candyman") shows up, but sadly is given a role that doesn't really have him doing anything besides be menacing. Christopher Lloyd is yet another housemate and does a fine job with it, though there was nothing about he role that demanded the presence of Christopher Lloyd.

As I've been saying, the film makes no sense, and that's the biggest drawback. We have some decent gore, scary sound effects and plenty of nudity. But I didn't follow why any of it was going on. The biggest mysteries are explained about halfway through, but others are left untouched and the ending is complete and utter nonsense. In fact, the ending being changed just slightly would have made my rating of this film go up at least a little bit.

We are now through eight films of the thirteen episode season, and I continue to be unimpressed. With the exception of Landis and Argento, "Masters of Horror" has been more like "Masters of Bore". Mick Garris a great man for creating this show, but perhaps he needs to stay out of the director's chair. If his season three contribution turns out to be no better than "Chocolate" or "Valerie on the Stairs", he really should refrain from directing altogether. This episode can be missed without little loss on the viewer's part.
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Clive Barker wrote this?Why?
badgrrlkane3 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Not a very good entry in the Second Season of the Masters of horror season.I am a huge Clive Barker fan but really don't see his creative imagination at work in this drivel of a story about a unemployed & unpublished writer staying in a hotel that is for a group of writers to live in until their published. He starts to see some naked girl named Valerie who is pulled away each time by a demonic being(played by Tony "Candyman"Todd).Turns out their characters that were written by 3 of the tenants & the Beast doesn't want to be written away or written that he is killed as he loves owning Valerie & doesn't want things to change. And is the main character guy really himself or is he a character from the story? Just not your usual awesome Clive Barker work. What? Out of all of his amazing stories this was what they picked? This reeks of Mick Garris's work & only his.Maybe Clive just produced & Mick thought more people would be interested if he added Clive's name to the project as this is supposed to be Masters of Horror. It has a few good gore scenes but that doesn't redeem this piece of crap. If they don't better this horror anthology series,I personally don't see it coming back for a 3rd season. And that sucks as cable can do so much that network TV can't. * out of *****
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Great Horror, Good Entertainment
theglovesareoff28 July 2008
Everyone is a critic on this site, which is probably an ironic first line for me to start this review with. But if you've found this title, then you're probably into horror, and you're probably willing to approach this film different than other people.

This film is good. The acting is great for horror, good for any other genre. The technical aspects are not so cheesy that it alienates the viewers, and the plot is wonderful. The characters and the story make for a great time watching this film. Compared to the rest of the series, this film stands out as one of the best. It's an even more enjoyable watch because the characters are self-aware of their situation, and if you're a writer yourself or just enjoy the process of the creation of art, then you'll chuckle at a lot of the quick exchanges between the characters.

I think that everything in this film is really well done. The violence, the makeup, the characters, the sex, all of it is appropriate and poignant. If you're into horror, this is a definite must see. If you're not into horror, then this is a film that is a good hour of entertainment. Either way, this film is good and certainly does not deserve any slams that it has been given.
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seth_the_wampyre23 October 2008
I gave it a "2" only because Barker's concept was great, but Garris proves once again he cannot hold his own amongst the "Masters." He really should just stick to producing these things. His direction of actors is deplorable. The story is perfect fodder for a horror short. There is a hotel specifically for unpublished hack authors (kinda like the fabled Chelsea Hotel in NYC). Here, the dreams of these sad writers haunt the hallways. Okay i'm with it so far. Now, the stupidity kicks in with acting on par with the worst kind of theater (cue the druggie downstairs who inhales his joints with comedic vigor).

AAAAHHHH. This just made me angry. I have nothing more to say about it i'm so mad. I should've stopped with "The Black Cat" and left a good taste in my mouth.

As the sign says in the front of the hotel (and, of course, at the gates of Hell... duh), "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here." You said it, Mr. Garris. I wish I had taken your advice from the start.
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Probably the worst MOH
lethalson29 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am giving this a 5 because it's not so bad on it's own, but because I compare it to other MOH episodes--and that is-- it doesn't stack up too well against them. If you look at the resume of Mick Garris there isn't too much horror, and it shows. Much too tame-- would have been better as an amazing story. It seemed to be hurt by trying to be both horror and comedy. The most disappointing part was the beast. Very B movie effects. The beast in Wishmaster was much cooler looking. And using Tony Todd, aka Candyman was just cheesy. Maybe someone should update Rawhead Rex. That is a Clive Barker story I would like to see with better effects...
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Boring and predictable
preppy-330 December 2006
Rob Hadisey (Tyron Leitso) is an unsuccessful writer who moves into a hotel full of them. No rent--but once you get something published you're out (???). He finds out the previous tenant of his room committed suicide. Then he starts hearing knocks on his door and seeing a beautiful woman named Valerie (Clare Grant) pleading for his help. Can you see where this is going?

Utterly predictable and boring entry in the "Masters of Horror" series. I knew what was going to happen every step of the way. It all leads up to a real silly ending.

There is some nice production design (the hotel looks suitably creepy) and there is some good acting by Leitso, Grant, Jonathan Witton and Christopher Lloyd (chewing the scenery). Also nice to see Tony Todd again. Still, an atmospheric setting, a few nice gory murders and some good acting can't help a story that is so predictable. Another negative point is throwing in totally unnecessary nude scenes for Grant. They could have been done with her clothed. Very poor entry. Not recommended.
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Not a bad episode, just not mind blowing
sorinapha18 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This episode had some great high points, for instance, the surprise appearance by Christopher Lloyd, but all in all, this episode just felt sloppy. Sloppy direction, sloppy acting from the lead character, who was decidedly out-shone by his co-stars. Seeing Tony Todd was great, but he was utterly underutilized. The special effects were sloppy, but I blame that more on the fact it's a television episode than anything else.

My verdict? I'd love to see a full-length adaptation of this story, but this one was rather middle-of-the road and a bit disappointing. I just feel as if so much more could have been done with such a thrilling plot, and most of it fell short.
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Barker's done better
timhayes-111 January 2007
Valerie On The Stairs is written and directed by series creator Mick Garris from an original story by veteran author Clive Barker. Where to start? First off this is supposed to be a sexually charged episode but aside from one sex scene, we are only told that it is sexually charged as nothing really happens to lead us to believe so. Hell there was more sexual energy in the dance between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr And Mrs Smith than this episode reveals. The demon is played by gravelly voiced Tony Todd and he does well with a poorly written role. His makeup is reminiscent of Night Breed star Boone, however. Tyron Leitso as hero Rob is merely okay. He has no real personality so it's hard to tell. The acting trophy here really goes to Christopher Lloyd who is great as an aging author closely linked to the events. Basically Barker seems to be just reiterating a lot of older ideas and Garris brings no real joy to the episode. Its merely okay. Still, average Barker is better than top of the line Eli Roth any day.
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"You are so full of sh*t your eyes are brown." Decent Masters of Horror episode.
poolandrews6 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Masters of Horror: Valerie on the Stairs starts as wannabe author Rob Hainsey (Tyron Leitso) pitches up outside Highberger House, a place for unpublished authors to stay & write. Rob is welcomed by the owner Nancy Bloom (Nicola Lipman) & is given a small room from which he can work in peace, however things turn creepy very quickly. At first there is constant loud knocking on Ray's door but when he answers it no-one is to be seen anywhere until he finally sees a young woman named Valerie (Clare Grant) sitting on the top of a flight of stairs but as Ray approaches her she disappears into the shadows & behind a brick wall. After several more encounters with the mysterious Valerie Ray becomes convinced that she is a ghost, however things aren't quite that simple...

This Canadian American co-production was episode 8 from season 2 of Masters of Horror, written & directed by Mick Garris who is also the shows permanent executive producer I quite liked Valerie on the Stairs although it's not the best episode I've seen. The script was apparently based on a short story by Clive Barker (why hasn't he made a Masters of Horror episode yet & while I'm thinking about it where's David Cronenberg's entry?) & starts out as a fairly effective ghost story but turns into something else completely by the end, in typical Barker style it turns into a story about twisted imagination, demons & torture. I have to mention the strange ending which literally comes from nowhere, I have to say I really liked it although I have to admit I didn't really understand it or what it represented but what the hell it just looked cool & felt right somehow. At less than an hour it moves along at a great pace so becoming bored shouldn't be a problem & it manages to sustain it's stories change in direction pretty well. On the negative said the ending felt rushed & the demon guy dies too easily.

Director Garris does a good job & there's a nice bleak atmosphere running through Valerie on the Stairs, there's not much colour to it & Garris like to place his camera at the foot of narrow stairs looking up or at the end of a long cramped corridor which gives a nice claustrophobic feel. As a a whole this episode of Masters of Horror reminds of the film I, Madman (1989) which has a similar theme & basic idea. There's some nice gore as usual, someone has their spine ripped out through their mouth, someone has their breasts slashed open with a fountain of spurting blood the result & someone has a chunk bitten out of their neck. The special effects are top notch as always & the demon guy looks impressive.

Techncially it's well made with good production values & to it's credit it doesn't look like a cheap TV show. The acting is pretty good, the 'name' actor in this episode is Christopher Lloyd who puts in a good shift, Tony Todd also makes a appearance under layers of latex so you may not recognise him straight away.

Valerie on the Stairs is a decent Masters of Horror episode, it's not the best one I've seen but it's far from the worst. I reckon it's worth a watch but I think most self respecting horror fans will anyway regardless of what anyone says.
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Valerie on the Scares
Jonny_Numb14 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I have always considered Mick Garris one of our most undervalued genre directors. He has understood Stephen King's prose well enough to make excellent TV adaptations of "The Stand," "Desperation," and "The Shining" (cleaning up Stanley Kubrick's nauseatingly overpraised mess-terpiece); his most simultaneously renowned and scorned creation may be the "Masters of Horror" anthology series, cited as maddeningly uneven by some, and fulfilling to others. If you can't tell already, I was a fan of Garris's Season 1 entry (the much-derided 'Chocolate'), and am now an even bigger fan of 'Valerie on the Stairs,' a showcase of storytelling (about storytelling, no less) that truly earns the praise given to a 'master.' Working from a story treatment by Clive Barker, Garris tells the tale of Highberger House, a place seemingly dusted with antiquity, where struggling writers can stay rent-free until their work gets published. Rob Hanisey (Tyler Leitso) secures a room after the previous tenant commits suicide, and quickly forges a negative rapport with the other residents when he begins having visions of an ethereal beauty named Valerie (the smoldering Clare Grant), imprisoned by the appetites of The Beast (Tony Todd under a mountain of makeup and latex). The cast (also featuring Christopher Lloyd in a good supporting role) is excellent, and Garris foments fear through the use of imposing high- and low-angle shots, matched with frequently tight and confining framing. Most importantly, he really understands Barker's fascination with multiple layers of reality, other dimensions getting a foothold, and the power of sexual desire intertwined with human imagination. Garris also takes many opportunities to show off the surprising, cynical humor that has punctuated his previous films (Rob's initial meeting with the landlord, and a middle-aged Southern woman complaining of having her "pleasure interrupted" are two gems among many). But in the end, 'Valerie' is really about the art and craft of writing--in many ways, it is a clever salute to the form, something this Garris/Barker collaboration conveys beautifully. One of the best episodes of the series.

7.5 out of 10
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The best so far
Bored_Dragon11 May 2018
Stephen King once said: "I have seen the future of horror... and his name is Clive Barker." Barker is one of my favorite authors, not only within the horror genre, but in general, and I personally prefer his dark fantasy over his classic horror stories. Perhaps that's why my experience of this episode is so much different from the reaction of the majority. After a decent, but within Barker's opus disappointing, episode "Haeckel's Tale", directed by John McNaughton, the second season brings us a beautiful and atmospheric "Valerie on the Stairs". I assume that bad reactions to this film come from fans who identify Barker with "Hellraiser" franchise, as well as those who just do not like him, but I think that fans of "Weaveworld", "The Thief of Always" and even "Books of Blood" will be pleasantly surprised by this episode, if not thrilled as I am.

I think Mick Garris successfully transmitted the magic atmosphere of Barker's text to small screens and this is one of the few episodes that hypnotized me. Photography and lighting are great, and the performance is convincing. Clare Grant will make you associate ghosts with falling in love instead of rattling chains in the attic, Christopher Lloyd was born for this kind of roles, and a pleasant surprise is Tony Todd, known to Barker's fans for leading role in "Candyman". Nearing the end, episode becomes a little silly and naive, but it's saved by excellent metaphorical ending, with a twist that, although quite predictable, fits the story perfectly. To me, this is the best episode so far.

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face it, this is Barker
trashgang6 June 2013
This script comes from the mind of Clive Barker, one of my favorites. At the end I found it a typical Barker story but as always with his stories it isn't that simple to make it a flick or an episode here in the Masters Of Horror series.

Rob Hanisey (Tyron Leitso) moves to a boarding house full of struggling writers waiting for their script to be published. While Rob is trying a new script he hear noises in the house and is suddenly confronted with a girl called Valerie (Clare Grant). She pleads to Rob to save her from evil. Slowly the house shows his secrets.

Let me first start to say that the performance of Tony Todd as The Beast was excellent. The others weren't that bad at all and the camera did some nice shots but it's so typical Barker that you must be a fan to watch this. For a Barker story this surely isn't The Midnight Meat Train (2008) but more a Book Of Blood (2009) script. A lot of blah blah going on and here and there we do have some nasty killings. You really have to sit through the whole story and maybe even then the ending will satisfy some.

There's a lot of nudity from Valerie, she even goes full frontal and there are as I said a few killings to watch (espescially the one with the backbone). Christopher Loydd is here to to see as one of the writers in the house but isn't that much in it and if he does he does what he does best, looking weird with his eyes.

An entry in the series with a lot of controversy. here I go again, only for Barker geeks.

Gore 1/5 Nudity 2/5 Effects 3/5 Story 3/5 Comedy 0/5
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The house finally had a place to put all those frustrations.
It is a sure bet that one (Tyron Leitso) would not get a lot of writing done if they were constantly interrupted by Clare Grant Walk the Line, Black Snake Moan) walking naked through the hallways.

A house full of the creative energy of failed writers seeks a way to release that energy. It inspires three writers to creature a monster (Tony Todd), which is viewed by our hero, despite their protestations that it doesn't exist.

Masterful performance by Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future).

We are left with the ultimate question: what is real and what is imagined?
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Spin a yawn.
criticalresponse12 January 2008
I've seen a handful of the "Masters of Horror" offerings and this sits at the bottom, beat only by Mic Garris' other entry "Chocolate". Valierie on the Stairs starts promisingly enough with an unpublished writer moving into a creepy apartment set up to provide writers of his lack of success a place to live and work. Strange things immediately begin to happen as the protagonist continuously encounters the apparent ghost of a beautiful women (more and more intimately each encounter). The other residents of the building are acting strange towards the author and it's clear that they are in on some of this. Tony Todd starts to show up in conjuncture with this woman as a big demon who always drags her away. It's a pretty messy and boring film. The atmosphere's good but it doesn't carry the film as huge leaps in plot are made as unexplained revelations by the writer. What could've been an interesting examination of the darker side of the writing process becomes a dull drag, even at 60 minutes. It's too bad, Clive Barker wrote the short on which this is based, the normally captivating Tony Todd gets lost under layers of decent demon make-up and the gore effects feel added on (as it does with many an entry in this series). I suppose one redeeming quality is the appearance of Christopher Llyod whom, despite his over-the-topness, is always fun to see. Yet again, Masters of Horror disappoints.
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Garris redeems himself with this good horror flick
ODDBear29 October 2008
Mick Garris and Tobe Hooper were the weak links on Season One of "Masters of Horror". Garris's "Chocolate" was an ambitious episode and in many ways interesting but if fell flat due to incomprehensive storytelling, a snail's pace and a weak ending. Here he goes to a short story written by horror maestro Clive Barker and makes amends for the disappointing first season episode.

"Valerie on the Stairs" is an interesting story, somewhat creepy with a killer twist in the end. Garris performs well in the director's chair, elicits fine performances from his cast and ensured a fantastic look that's both atmospheric and moody. The setting here is brilliant and fits incredibly well to a horror film.

Garris also doesn't shy away from some gory set pieces as well and they're very well done. "Valerie on the Stairs" is a solid entry in the relatively uneven second season of this very ambitious project that is "Masters of Horror". Congrats to Mick.
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Valerie On The Stairs
tlzor22 February 2008
I find it distressing that people are so in need of having EVERYTHING explained to them. I had absolutely no difficulty whatever following Valerie and processing what was going on. Granted, I had it figured out about halfway in, but the ride was still OK. One has to remember, there are time restrictions and rating restrictions involved in making made-for-TV productions. I'm sure the story as written was far darker than what was able to be put on screen. Insofar as the comments regarding Barker's writing, I must take issue with this. I believe the person who made them is far too young or naive to "get" the writing, and I doubt that there has been much of the material this person has read. A great deal of Barker's work, particularly the earlier work, is some of the darkest and hardest hitting work in the field...AND THE MOST ADULT. It goes places many people do not wish to go and is EXTREMELY visceral. It goes to the deepest hidden fantasies & brings them to the surface. (Example: Hellraiser--the original, not the follow-ups). Based upon the manner in which this was approached, I do not think this person "got" it at all, and with the typical American short attention span and inability to think for themselves, finds no joy in having to actually think for 2 minutes. This is why Most popular American film is trash..infantile plots, continual explaining, consistent "happy" endings & everything all tied up in a freakin' bow at the end. Any time one is forced to perhaps think, perhaps speculate...Oh, No, my brain will explode...Granted, it was a shallow representation of Barker's work at best...again...restraints of the industry.
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Uggghhh another Mick Garris misfire = MASTER OF BORE
hplovecraft66620 August 2007
Does this guy think just cause he took the title Master of Horror that he is one? Its pretty obvious that this guy never will do a theatrical movie as his skills get worse with each attempt. I don't know if hes stephen kings cousin or brother in law but this guy has gotten too many freebiees and delivered boring garbage, I love Stephen kings books but garris go back to square one and start reading his work cause your films suck and the films you produce ain't much better (except for a couple MOH episodes-Black Cat)Oh by the way wasn't this a twilight zone episode. I'll wait for serious word of mouth before watching another master of horror episode.
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Bad case of Writer's Block
Coventry28 September 2010
Although I'll always be grateful to Mick Garris for creating the overall awesome "Masters of Horror" franchise, I can't help thinking his two directorial contributions to the series rank amongst the least memorable ones. Moreover, both the first season's episode "Chocolate" and this "Valerie on the Stairs" make the exact same mistakes. The story is definitely ambitious but the build up is far too slow and hence the mini-movie lacks a whole lot of spectacle. Also, the script is a little too implausible and immature to take serious. This certainly isn't the first story about fictional horror novel characters coming to life and committing atrocities ("I, Madman", "Death by Dialogue", "In the Mouth of Madness") but I actually like none of them. These sort of movies always begin atmospherically, with ghostly apparitions and hallucinations, but the scripts gradually become so preposterous and absurd. The only thing I really like about "Valerie on the Stairs" is the setting. The short movie takes place in a home for unpublished authors. Do those really exist? What a depressing place to live that must be! The young but unsuccessful novelist Rob Hanisey is initially very glad when there's a vacancy, as this provides him with a little more financial breathing space, but pretty soon he gets a lot more than he bargained for. Almost promptly after his arrival, Rob has visions of a beautiful naked girl on the stairs calling for help, but naturally we're led to believe it's all in his imagination. The other residents, including the awesome Christopher Lloyd and the MILF personified Suki Kaiser, in particular pretend that Rob is a bona fide loser, but they definitely know more about the mysterious wench on the stairs and her monstrous lover in the walls. "Valerie on the Stairs" is dull and derivative, with an overload of false scares and predictable red herrings. Flat direction from Mick Garris and unremarkable acting performances make this one of the most mediocre episodes of the entire franchise, alongside "The V-Word" and "The Damned Thing".
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MOH Middle Ground
Michael_Elliott26 February 2008
Valerie on the Stairs (2006)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Mick Garris directed this film from the Masters of Horror series. An unpublished writer moves into a building for unpublished writers where he begins to see the spirit of a girl named Valerie. The writer starts to investigate these sightings and then realizes that a demon (Tony Todd) is also in the building. This ghost story had an interesting secret that gets revealed half way through the film and I think the movie would have worked a lot better had the film started with the secret and then moved forward. The first half of the movie really doesn't offer any shocks and the comedy bits about writers really doesn't come off too funny. Christopher Lloyd co-stars. Adapted by a Clive Barker story.
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Masters Of Horror: Valerie On The Stairs (Mick Garris, 2006) (TV) **1/2
Bunuel197629 October 2007
This isn't well-regarded on the IMDb, but I personally liked it well enough. While the plot (based, as were the recently-viewed "Candyman" films, on a story by Clive Barker) features several well-worn elements, the mix proves intriguing and reasonably compelling: failed author, eccentric household, ghostly damsel-in-distress, literary characters coming to life, etc.

Even if there were only two noted performers – the ever-reliable (and quirky) Christopher Lloyd and the Candyman himself, Tony Todd (once again, playing a figure of mystery and menace, a rather effectively made-up demon) – the rest of the cast does well enough by their roles as well, especially the hero and heroine (the entrancing Clare Grant) and the two older women in the boarding-house.

As was the case with the two previous "Masters Of Horror" episodes I've watched – both, incidentally, helmed by Dario Argento – this too confirms that TV has finally achieved maturity (with its graphic display of sexuality and violence, and the tackling of subjects previously considered taboo, in this case, a dash of lesbianism). In fact, not being into modern TV series at all, I'd only previously encountered such explicitness – where, however, it was mostly gratuitous and even off-putting – in ROME (2005)...
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