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Masters of Horror: John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns Season 1 Episode 8
The masters of horror came about after dinners with several directors within the Horror genre would come together to converse whatever great men get together to discuss. Mick Garris getting the idea to make a series that could showcase their talents but that they would only have an hour to display whatever they saw fit. Before going any further I feel compelled to comment on how some seemed to find the series a bit pretentious. Merely a way for the directors involved to be grotesque and not so much as to terrify but to sicken their audiences. Though speaking as a fan of the horror genre, how do you look at the people attached to the series and not think they would know best or what they were talking about? Truth is that the list of people is too long to name every single contributor but you have people like Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, Clive Barker, Greg Nicotero and then of course John Carpenter and Garris himself. No need to be pretentious when you have the list of movies behind such a group.
According to Carpenter, because the films were limited to an hour, it meant they had to be “dark and cynical; fast and elegant.” Featuring several featurettes covering a variety of Actors having worked with John, fully aware of his perverse sense of humor. Though very straightforward with his work and able to combine horror with thin subtleties of comedy that few actually get. Which made Norman a fine choice for the role, described as being a great subtle and instinctive actor. While never too much, he’s always able to give exactly what is needed for the role/film. Ever so humble and appreciative of his work thus able to take the time with each project given.
The story itself was quite fascinating, especially being a collector of many things myself. Beginning by explaining how film was like magic but in the right hands, a weapon. Of which Carpenter did laugh about in the behind the scenes stating that such a sentence was crap. Though we follow Kirby (Norman Reedus), whose special talent for acquiring things leads him to Bellinger’s (Udo Kier) house in order to discuss a means of obtaining a film. Entering Bellinger’s house and immediately admiring his collection he takes notice of a giant poster for the film La Fin Absolue Du Monde and is asked what he knew personally of the film. Knowing of it only playing once but that the government had taken the picture and destroyed it when the premiere lead to all hell breaking loose. Made aware of there being one print left in existence and that he would like for him to find it.
Bellinger next takes him to a separate room where he shows just how extensive his collection actually was. Obtaining more than just films and having a prop that had been used in his latest obsession. Of which had claimed to be connected to the film and knowing of one still in existence as he was chained to a rotating platform. Clearly a demented old man whose time was winding down, offering all expenses paid with 200,000 on top of that; as per Kirby’s request. Who returns back to his movie theater where his mind begins to wonder and we get flashbacks of him and his girlfriend Annie (Zara Taylor) spending time together and indulging in guilty pleasures that ultimately took her life. Explaining to a worker that he had gotten an incredibly offer as his flashbacks continue to press forward, showing him a separate image of Annie in a bathtub of her own blood. The next day a visit from her father inquires as to where his 200,000 was and insist on Kirby having one week in order to obtain the drawn out debt that was to maintain his theater.
Kirby’s first stop was to a reviewer whose only interest peaked after hearing the film mentioned by name. Speaking of it’s destructive nature and how he had continuously tried to capture it’s significance, transforming into some crazed perfectionist in the process. Though he gives Kirby a recorded interview with the films director he insisted would change his outlook. Finding himself in Paris and experiencing his first cigarette burn. (Something used to cue the next reel) Later speaking with acquaintance Henri, (Zara Taylor) who warned of not finding the film simply for the money. It would be something he would have to earn on his own but the more he involved himself, the more he would pay for that same curiosity. Vagueness however not being what Kirby wanted to hear and becomes frustrated at the notion of a wall of silence surrounding the film when he didn’t understand why.
Attesting to needing the money too much to turn back at this point, Kirby presses on retrieving the number for Dalibor, (Douglas Arthurs) who had several personal items from the director himself. Enduring a sickening presentation of displaying “art” and what could happen once the camera was pointed at something powerful. Which he displays by hacking a woman’s head off and asking who it was that haunted Kirby. Another flash occurring in which fast-forwards time to him holding a knife with those around him dead or soon on their way. Leaving immediately to get in touch with the directors wife who declared everything he had heard of the film was true. Speaking of her husband becoming obsessed in the last year of his life and watching it consistently which had caused him to kill himself. But not before attempting the same thing with her. Gladly handing over the film, thrilled to be rid of such power, he receives his money as Bellinger prepared to finally see the film through to it’s end.
Upon returning to his theater finds that it was temporarily closed as he receives an urgent call from Bellinger to rush back, closely trailed by Annie’s father. Finding a worker of Bellinger’s disfiguring himself as he rushes to the home theater to find a distraught finally able to see a film he so desperately yearned for. A confrontation between Annie’s father and her ever haunting hallucination lets Kirby come to the realization that he will never be able to let go of her, neither would be able to until their last breathe.
The tension throughout the film merely making it feel like a featured length film in providing a large amount of information but never necessarily forcing such to make up for the lack of time. Carpenter, a master of being able to use every bit of film to his advantage. Despite thinking the entire idea of such being a complete joke, yet to still leave an impact also