#31DaysOfHorror: Cigarette Burns (2005)

With a torrid past that haunts him, a movie theatre owner is hired to search for the only existing print of a film so notorious that its single screening caused the viewers to become homicidally insane.

Another episode of Masters of Horror to get myself caught up, this time around it’s Cigarette Burns. The sixty minutes of television that prove that John Carpenter is an absolute professional, who refuses to make poor films. While this won’t ranks as high as the work he’s famous for (The Thing, Halloween), it does offer up a really entertaining story, with great performances throughout. It’s hard to imagine that the television show gets much better than this, but I’ll be watching the rest to find out.

The cast adds a whole lot to this, starting with a pre-Walking Dead Norman Reedus, who does a pretty excellent job as the burn out, film enthusiast on the hunt for a deadly movie. You also get the piercing and horrifying eyes of Udo Kier doing what he does best, being eccentric and having a scary accent. You’ve also got a pretty spooky, and underused performance from Christopher Redman (88 Minutes), as what you infer to be a fallen angel who’s wings were violently removed. They all work well together, and leave very little to complain about when it comes to performance, if only that Reedus is a bit wooden, but that seems to be what he is loved for.

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One of the cooler parts of this movie is the location, or at least a major location. The movie was very clearly shot in Vancouver at the wonderful Vogue Theatre. It took a minute for it to dawn on me, but you definitely start becoming familiar with the geography, especially if you’re from there, or lived there briefly like I did. I also appreciated that they were able to use Vancouver as more than one city, proving its value as a filming location.

There’s not a whole lot to be said about this movie, it’s short, simple, and genuinely fun. The one spot it falls down is in showing us scenes from the “haunted film”. It seems like whenever a movie sets up something like this, the best move is not to show it to the audience. “The movie is so beautiful/violent/bizarre/haunted that it drives people insane” is a great idea, but you’re always better to leave the content of that tape up to the audience because it will never be as insane or intense as we can imagine. Exception to the rule being The Ring, where elements of the tape are part of the story and the solving of the mystery. It would have been more effective to simply have the angel wing “props” and the chained up man, and allow us to figure out what might be on the film.

That aside, there’s not much else to complain about, and it’s yet another reason to check out the Masters of Horror series, which I have had no exposure to. I picked up season one on DVD, and they just sat on my shelf. You can definitely look forward to more reviews of these episodes.

Check this out, it’s great.

MY RATING: ****

 

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