As the first episode of a yet unproven series, Incident on and Off a Mountain Road was carrying a heavy load. Directed by Horror Master Don Coscarelli, best known for directing the Phantasm films, and based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale, it certainly had a strong creative team behind it.
Somewhat surprisingly then, creativity is not one of Incidents strong aspects. Considering how surreal the Phantasm films tend to be, it’s actually a little underwhelming how conventional it is. A girl of the attractiveness level you only see in proactive ads just happens to have car trouble, and there just happens to be a crazy hillbilly killer on the loose; in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, yadadada. If you’re not a senile grandma whose accidentally stumbled onto our site, this is story you’ve seen a hundred times before.
That being said, you might not have seen it on TV. As a premium channel, Showtime is allowed to air what it damn well pleases, and in the case of Incident it’s some satisfyingly graphic violence. The redneck killer Moonface has a tendency to remove his victims ocular cavities via a power drill and turn the corpse into a scarecrow. And yep, we get to see the seriously nasty results (hint: this isn’t The Wizard of Oz). It’s nothing seasoned hounds haven’t seen before, but Don Coscarelli has a real eye for details (pun intended), and the editing is a great combination of straight forward mutilation and shots left to your own morbid imagination. It’s a fresh splash of blood among a genre that tends to leave little to the mind.
And while this is a tale that’s been told before, it has a few twists. First off is our final girl Ellen, who is a legit badass, crafting makeshift weapons and generally acting exactly the opposite of your typical horror movie character. Yeah, it’s a little unbelievable that a 120 pound woman could stand toe to toe fighting with a 6’9 mass murderer, but it makes for interesting match up.
Some context about how Ellen got so savvy is shown in flashback scenes featuring her abusive, survivalist ex-husband, although I’m not sure Bear Grylls could construct some of the elaborate catapults and spike pits she seems to just casually whip out. For all you housewives out there; medieval engineering is apparently a more practical hobby than watching all 12,755 episodes of Days of our Lives.
But like I said before, as far as the actual story goes though, there really isn’t much to it. The action and murder is a lot of fun, but other than a fairly predictable twist and a fun cameo from Tall Man actor Angus Scrimm, the story is thinner than a Victoria’s Secret model . But honestly, no one is expecting a slasher TV movie to be Hamlet, and on the key points, Incident is sufficient.
So as far as some of the crazy off the wall episodes of Masters of Horror that would go on too feature tortured angels, ladies impregnated by cockroaches, and other nasty things, Incident plays it very safe. But even a standard story can be entertaining when told well, and that’s what this episode did. Nothing spectacular, but nothing that makes you want to get you eyes drilled out by Moonface; just a good start to what would go on to become a fantastic series.
Well guys, that’s the review for this week. Be sure to check back same time next week when we review H. P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch-House. Take care guys, keep those weapons sharp, and keep checking back to The Blood Shed.
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