Masters of Horror
THE V WORD
Ah, bored and playing DOOM3. This time capsule moment is brought to you by The Masters of Horror series where the screenshots of DOOM3 will soon be as quaint as watching someone play Pong. Think of all of those 1980s Horror movies that featured major scenes of kids playing video games. It's not a bad way to start a movie, but it does lock us into a very specific time and place. That time is then, and that place is anywhere when you're a kid and bored.
Kerry (Arjay Smith: THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW) is the video gamer while his buddy, Justin (Branden Nadon: LIVING WITH THE DEAD [TV]), is on the phone, fighting with his estranged Pop over some family stuff.
When the call is over, Justin is in a foul mood and starts playing the video game. But Arjay was only playing to pass the time and wants to go out and actually do something. Couch potatoes they ain't. After a few half-hearted ideas, the best Justin can muster is, "You wanna see a dead body?"
Normally a dead body would have some kind of manly rite-of-passage spirit to it, but in this case, the body in question is of a school bully that used to torment them. He's dead and they can look down on his corpse and sneer. Which, come to think of it, could be a successful business venture.
"Hey! You wanna go down to the Corpse & Gloat?"
Being bored, being young, the two are up for nearly anything and the local castle-sized funeral home is the best idea that can think up, so off they go, into the windy night.
Things are mysterious right off the bat. The door is unlocked, nobody answers their knock, the doorbell is so old it breaks in use, and the place seems to have a problem with their lights. They'll stay all the same because these boys know that the dead don't get up and move around. All they can be is scared, and what's wrong with facing your fears?
Questionable things just keep piling up. Where is Justin's cousin, who works here at night?
No, if you are any kind of Horror fan then you knew from the beginning that THE V WORD we are looking for is Vampire. And Michael Ironside (TOTAL RECALL, STARSHIP TROOPERS, THE OMEGA CODE) as Mr. Chaney (get it?), makes one hell of a great vampire! Everything up to this point is great and getting better. The setup, the lighting, the cinematography, the interaction between the two boys, the vast and seemingly unending funeral home. The creepy "What-the-hell" moments liberally sprinkled throughout.
It was going so well.
Kerry is bloodily attacked by the vampire in no uncertain terms. Justin gets away and immediately runs to... the nearest house for help?
After seeing the bloodied remains of his cousin, the brutal slaughter of his best friend, and a freaking vampire, Justin goes home to call 9/11. Then he turns on the TV and goes to bed.
His cousin is dead!
His best friend is slaughtered!
He saw a freaking vampire!
What the hell kind of person would just turn on the TV and go to bed? Nobody I'd ever call MY best friend (although I probably have a few cousins like that). Do YOU have best friends like this?
This scene causes such a wrong turn in THE V WORD that the show never recovers. Oh sure there's scenes of gore and blood and some folks who make these movies think true Horror fans are so damn stupid that the very sight of cinema blood, gore, and boobs catches us in the headlights and we're hypnotically entranced by the movie.
If you listen to the DVD commentary (and this is a review of the DVD so I include that in the review), Director Ernest R. Dickerson (TALES FROM THE HOOD, BONES) and Writer / Producer Mick Garris (THE FLY II, VALERIE ON THE STAIRS) have utterly no clue that they just made a major and obvious mis-step in their story. I say this because I'm assuming that, if they had just witnessed the brutal slaughter of their own family and friends (let alone saw an actual fucking vampire), they wouldn't just go home, turn on the TV, and go to bed.
I'd hate to think that they would.
So just as that would be an unbelievable act for them, wouldn't it be an unbelievable act for the rest of us? Yeah. Really bad storytelling here.
In fact, in their commentary when this scene takes place, Dickerson and Garris are marveling at how they were able to get the permission to show a scene from Universal Picture's 1931 DRACULA.
We were able to get a copy of Bela Lugosi's DRACULA for this scene where Justin sleeps with the TV on right after he witnessed the Freshly Murdered body of his Cousin and the murder of his BEST FRIEND! How cool that we were able to get this scene! It just really jerks the audience right out of the movie - like the entire scene doesn't do that enough already, but this video clip of Bela Lugosi in a far superior movie than what we made, REALLY beats the crap out of our dead horse.
There is a reason that Horror fans, as a whole, have turned themselves off to the gimmick that has become Masters of Horror. We have yet to see anything masterful, and we have yet to see anything Horrifying.
The superior acting ability of Arjay Smith and the ever reliable Michael Ironside is the only thing that keeps THE V WORD from one Shriek Girl.
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