We here at AbsoluteHorror.com are thrilled that Masters of Horror will be returning for a second season. Even though the series has been hit or miss, in a season of 13 episodes, where 2 episodes are incredible, 6 or 7 are passable and the remainder constitute pure suckage, we call it a victory. The latest episode, PICK ME UP, directed by Larry Cohen (IT’S ALIVE and THE INVADERS) is one of those passable episodes – you don’t need to run home to watch it, but it will definitely serve as fine entertainment.
The movie opens with a stalled bus on a desolate stretch of land. Fairuza Balk, who has put on the Freshman 15 (I’m sure she gained weight for this meaty role), decides to ditch her stranded cohorts and heads off solo in search of civilization. Later that day, a truck driver pulls up to the group and offers to take a couple of the passengers to the nearest watering hole. Hmmm, I wonder if that’s a good idea? A couple of hours later, a drifter (aping Brad Pitt from Thelma and Louise), stops by and decides to kill the bus driver and the remaining passengers. Well, the truck driver also has the killing itch and before long his guests are sliced and diced.
The most interesting part of this movie occurs when the two serial killers, each with different styles, have their paths intersect. Both killers are chasing after the same prey – the plump, foul-mouthed Fairuza Balk. That’s right folks, first one to kill Fairuza wins a prize. Wait, have I just stumbled upon the next reality show? So, the dueling serial killers is fun to watch. One, a young, but normal-looking drifter and the other a creepy truck driver (who seems to have graduated from the Christopher Walken school of elocution).
LECTURE TIME: All horror movies rely on clichés in some form or another, but lately I have seen a more troubling method of dealing with the formulaic nature of a horror movie: blatantly acknowledging the cliché. For example, a victim runs into the woods and the killer says something like “Don’t go into the woods. You’ll always get killed in there”. I have seen dialogue like this creeping up in some of the more recent movies and I want to call a truce because acknowledging a cliché has become a cliché in of itself. At least a cliché has arisen out of years of tested movie practices and has been proven to be a successful vehicle in moving the plot forward or in scaring us. However, overuse of acknowledging the cliché is poor form and is nothing more than the writer pulling the viewer out of the moment so he can say “See? I’m smart.” I’ll step off my soapbox now, but it had to be said.
All in all, an average effort by the Masters of Horror folks. Watch it, make some popcorn. It’s WRONG TURN without Eliza Dushku.
RATING: ** (out of four)