RRM #31: MASTERS OF HORROR, Pt. 3

One of the more distinct pleasures for me, horror-wise, in the last few years was the introduction of May into my life. While my friend Egg-or had previously recommended the film to me, as she knows many of my tastes well, it actually took a heap of "c'mon, c'mon" cajoling from my pal Flowers (his surname, not a nickname) to get me to finally take a crack at it. Knowing that I had developed a mild "thing" for Anna Faris, who has a minor but important role in May, Flowers slapped the DVD into my hand one day after work and gave me a look that told me he was pretty sure that I would eat it up, without actually verbalizing such a thought. The aftermath? While I didn't feel that all of the elements in the film worked -- May's conversations with her dolls early on almost me turn the disc off more than once (dolls annoy the hell out of me... not scare me, just annoy me) -- by the time its unexpected finale rolled around, the film stood revealed to me fully as the minor goth-comedy masterpiece that it truly aspires to be.

The strange part is I never remembered the name of the filmmaker responsible for May, only its star, Angela Bettis. Skipping to a couple weeks ago, I checked out the string of discs that fall under the umbrella of Showtime's Master of Horror series (the first eight of which I have given cursory glances at in the past two posts, hence the "Part 3" above). Ninth on my list was an entry called Sick Girl by someone improbably named Lucky McKee. "Who is this?," I wondered, and looked up info on this so-called "Master of Horror." To my happy surprise, I saw May listed in his resume, and from that point on, I eagerly awaited this episode in the mail. To my unhappy unsurprise, Sick Girl doesn't quite reach the heights of the earlier movie, even with Bettis once again in the starring role, this time as an extremely pent-up lesbian entemologist who is sent a package from Brazil which contains a very unique insect. She also starts up a what-seems-to-be meets-cute-dates-cuter relationship with Erin Brown, whom, if you've ever spent a late night "up" with HBO or Cinemax, is better known to the world as Misty Mundae, the pulchitrudinous star of about three dozen low-budget softcore lesbian spoofs from Seduction Cinema.

I have seen exactly three of these films: "Lord of the G-Strings," "Spiderbabe," and a sci-fi spaceship sex romp of which I never found out the title (this is what happens when you are a guy who is channel surfing and you suddenly stop as breasts cross the screen -- you have to look, but you tend to forget the name of everything). They are certainly unique films, which is the best that I can say for them; despite the light lesbian groping antics, they are for me that worst type of film: boring. There were a couple mildly clever lines and puns here and there in the examples that I saw, but because I prefer my "erotica" a little dirtier, it just seemed to me that if you were going to have production values this low and scripts this inane, you might as well be doing real porn. What's the point? I can't imagine anyone past the age of 14 willing to crank one out to what is boring, fake action.

That said, Ms. Brown/Mundae is a cutie-pie, but her presence in Sick Girl is somewhat troubling, simply for the fact that her appearance makes you slightly forget the comic-horrific buildup and wonder when the hell the gaygirl rubbing and disrobing is going to begin. Also, her character is endowed with an annoyingly fast voice, which I suppose comes from a misappropriated attempt at character development from an actress who is merely adequate at best. Or maybe she is just bad, sending her lines spinning into the universe without a care. Either way, it takes away from the movie's beginning, but once the red red red starts to flow, the movie once again centers itself. As for Bettis, who is a better and far more engaging actress, she too seems to play with her character a little too much, adopting a series of goofy variations in her voice from time to time that are also a tad annoying. The story itself doesn't work overall, but that's OK -- it's all meant to be goofy fun, and displays a unique attitude towards "alternate" family lifestyles, which is refreshing. (I actually liked this movie more before I started writing about it -- funny how that happens sometimes...)

The tenth and final episode that I watched was the one that I saved for last: Jenifer by Italian giallo master Dario Argento. Again, disappointment played a role as I waded through this one, but perhaps my expectations were far
too high, because the film itself it a nice bit of wetworks that is genuinely creepy from the first frame onward. Steven Weber, late of Wings and currently of Studio 60: Live on the Sunset Strip, surprisingly wrote the screenplay (from a Bruce Jones short story), and its no wonder, since he gave himself a brace of sex scenes with the monstrously faced but hotly bodied title character. Weber's cop character soon sees his family life torn apart when he brings home Jenifer, who he believes he has rescued from a maniac intent on chopping her into little pieces -- but there is a reason for this -- her black eyes and savagely torn mouth betray her as the most savage looking of creatures, but there is something about her that draws men to her, where they no longer see the monster. Oh, yeah... it's the hot bod. Men are such easily led pigs. And cats, they are apparently delicious... Well worth the time, this one is, and Argento really delivers in the blood department. (Again, my opinion of this episode changed with the writing, this time for the better...)

The List:
Masters of Horror: Lucky McKee's Sick Girl (2005, DVD) - 6; Masters of Horror: Dario Argento's Jenifer (2005, DVD) - 7.

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