Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Movie Chat: Pick Me Up

Masters of Horror: Pick Me Up

This is the third Masters of Horror show I've watched. Based on having seen this, Homecoming, and Cigarette Burns, my impression of the series is that while the episodes have a strong starting concept, the scripts don't do that good of a job of building on the initial ideas and the directors seem to struggle with hitting the right tone and achieving a consistent style - my guess is the shooting schedule is so abbreviated that they have to go with the first take a couple of times too many. Also, I have nothing against graphically violent movies, but in this one and Cigarette Burns there were scenes of graphic violence that seemed to be there just because the show is on cable. (With this in mind, I'm interested to see what Dario Argento and Takashi Miike do with their episodes.)

That said, this is probably my favorite of the three, though it's in many ways the sloppiest and least ambitious. This is billed as a Larry Cohen episode and watching the credits I was disappointed that Larry didn't write the screenplay, but was just the director. I like a lot of his movies, but I generally consider him to be first an foremost an "idea guy". As a director he gets by, but the filmmaking in his movies is usually pretty basic. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but watching Larry Cohen bring his almost non-existent horror stylings to bear on a script by Some Dude wasn't exactly the experience I was looking for.

Oh wait - Some Dude is David J. Schow, who wrote the screenplay for The Crow and according to Wikipedia may have invented the term Splatterpunk. Maybe not a "Master of Horror", but certainly a "Pretty Damn Good Practitioner of Horror".

Anyway - my short, spoiler-free conclusion: despite a rocky start and erratic performances, the movie really does come together in its last act and does a good job tweaking some genre conventions. It also has a couple of creepy bits and a few scares, although nothing that really ranks that high on my "horror" scale.

Some more thoughts (with spoilers):

It makes sense that Cohen would want to work with Michael Moriarty again, but Moriarty seems to be in pretty bad shape. The role requires a certain consistency of style that he can't quite muster, so his performance just goes all over the place. It's actually kind of sad to watch him and it shouldn't be, because his character is supposed to be a kind of a bad ass.

Warren Kole is a lot better in the less showy role of the psycho hitch-hiker.

Now, the idea of these two psychos going after the same prey and ending up going after each other is a pretty good one, but the set up is so haphazard that I didn't realize that it was a good idea until the end of the movie when they're finally facing off. Funnily enough, even though this was just an hour long movie, it felt like it should have been shorter. There's some business - Moriarty's scene with Lauren Landon and the torture scene - that just gets in the way of what should be a straightforward tongue-in-cheek send up of the Roaming Psycho genre.

Still - this is the only one of the Masters of Horror episodes that I've seen that's got better as it went along.

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