Saturday, October 31, 2009

The V Word

A lot of people were critical of the two year run of Showtime’s series Masters of Horror, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. Like all anthology series, the lack of a permanent cast or writing stable leads to a lot of inconsistency, and some of the one hour episodes were amazingly bad. But overall I would give the series a pass. I purchased the complete run in individual releases, since the producers of the series guaranteed it would never be released as season sets. Those sets look nice, too.

Ultimately, a horror anthology series, no matter how original it wants to be perceived, takes a shot at that most popular of dark creatures, the vampire, and for Masters of Horror, that shot came in the middle of the second series with the episode The V Word, written by series creator Mick Garris and directed by Ernest Dickerson. I assume the title is a play on the Showtime lesbian drama The L Word.

Kerry (Arjay Smith) and Justin (Brandon Nadon) are two high school friends, more of the rabid gamer type than belonging to the cool crowd. They decide to seek excitement by sneaking into a funeral home at night to see the body of one of their dead classmates. If you are a horror movie watcher, you know what a terrible idea this is. Once they make it into the mortuary, they find they are not alone, although strictly speaking they are the only living things in the building. Apparently of former teacher of theirs, Mr. Chaney (Michael Ironside), fired for inappropriate relations with students is there in a state of un-death. This not only poses terminal consequences for Arjay and Justin, but it brings danger to their families, as well.

The first half of the show is the two boys sneaking into the funeral home, and it is the best part. As they creep through the darkened building (“Wasn’t that coffin lid closed the first time?”) it is very spooky. Once the vampire is revealed, it becomes less frightening, more run-of –the-mill. Still the overall grade for the episode is positive. The cast is very good, particularly Arjay Smith, and Michael Ironside seems to be having a great time with the role. For some reason, I love the scene where he is walking under the moonlight holding open a tattered umbrella.* Some people may gripe the episode never explains how Mr. Chaney became a vampire (One of the boys asks him “What happened, did you bite on the wrong dick?” “Something like that” he replies.) but we know the basics, and the origin story would have just slowed things down.

There’s a fair amount of gore. These vampires don’t have fangs, so they have to tear out the throats of their victims to feed. Despite its flaws, if you are looking to watch a horror story and only have an hour to spare, you could do a lot worse than The V Word.

* I know I’ve said this before, but if vampires burst into flame at the touch of sunlight (unless they are sparkly girly vampires), how can they bear moonlight? It is reflected sunlight, after all. At least, they should get some nasty blisters.

No comments: