The Masters of Horror series has been hit and miss in terms of its quality. Some of the films have been good (The Black Cat), some great (Homecoming), and others have been utter crud (Chocolate). In any case, we anticipate them all in the same way: will we love this film or hate ourselves... it's fun to see which way the dice will fall.
Screwfly wasn't too bad. It was one of those that falls into the "good" category. And this could be because so many of them are so bad, that even if they're remotely decent, they look better than they really are. This one was a Dante entry, and his have been good in the past, so it's no surprise this works. It's about a virus the drives the male population to kill the women (a strange confusion of arousal and aggression), forcing a mother and daughter to seek refuge. Jason Priestley and Elliott Gould play the scientists struggling to find the answers and save the day.
It was enjoyable enough. Though in the past three days, I've seen Priestley getting ridden by a naked babe in bed, and I've seen Luke Perry full-frontal, exiting the shower in Oz. Didn't I dream this at some point back in 1992?
First, a disclaimer: Although Masters of Horror is a TV show, we've decided to consider the episodes as movies in their own right. With Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe and The Cowboy and the Frenchman (also part of a TV series, "How I See the French", incidentally), we've already allowed short films into this project, and with feature film directors at the helm of each Masters of Horror episode, we reckon they at least fall into the short film category.
Second, The Screwfly Solution was okay, but not great. I loved the idea of religious mania destroying the world, but this didn't quite have a Joe Dante feel to it. And even if it hadn't been Dante, if someone else had directed it and my expectations had been different, I'm not sure it would rate any higher. The story was good, but the ending felt rushed and a bit derivative - of Maximum Overdrive, of all things.
Now that that's out of the way - where do some of these people get off calling themselves Masters?
Okay, you got Carpenter. No argument there. Argento, fine. Stuart Gordon, yes. Hooper... you're getting into shaky territory here (Eaten Alive, The Funhouse and The Toolbox Murders being some of the worst "horror" I've had to endure), but still, he did give us The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, so for that alone I hold my tongue. Larry Cohen - again, fine - cheesy, but fine. But Don Coscarelli? Yes, he gave us the Phantasm series, but that's about it, as far as horror goes. I mean, just because you've made some horror movies, doesn't make you a master, you dig? John McNaughton made Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer back in 1986 - this makes him a Master of Horror?
The list also includes Joe Dante and John Landis - both of whom I'm a fan, but "masters" of horror? I'll give Dante points for The Howling and Landis for American Werewolf, but apart from that... What, Gremlins? It's a dark comedy, nothing especially horrific about it.
And who the fuck is Lucky McKee to be among the names Carpenter, Hooper and Argento? Director of May and The Woods? Sorry, pal - not impressed. Same goes for you, Mr. William Malone. Your remake of The House on Haunted Hill was beyond the pale. And Feardotcom? Now you're just fucking with me.
The only thing Mick Garris appears to be a Master of is middle-of-the-road TV adaptations of Stephen King stories. His contribution to the first series, Chocolate, is perhaps the worst because it suffers not only from his direction, but from his screenwriting and being based on his own short story. This guy knows nothing about storytelling - how he continues (indeed, how he even started) getting jobs is beyond me.
There were 13 episodes in the first season. Of the 10 that I saw, there were three good ones: Dante's Homecoming, Landis' Deer Woman, and Gordon's Dreams in the Witch House. The other seven were either incomprehensible or just went straight for the gross-out. Horror never entered into it.
Why I expected anything more from the second season - with "masters" such as Ernest R. Dickerson (Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight), Peter Medak (Species II), and Rob Schmidt (Wrong Turn) - I don't know.