1/27/09

Terrifying Tuesday: Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (2005)

Hello folks. It's the Bug again back for another dose of terror for this Tuesday. Today we're looking at the very first episode of the Masters of Horror series which was helmed by veteran director Don Coscarelli of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep fame. It's a tale of how one woman learns the real meaning of being a survivor when she has to deal with...
Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (2005) starring Bree Turner, John DeSantis, Angus Scrimm, and Ethan Embry. Directed by Don Coscarelli.

Ellen (Turner) is driving alone on a mountain road when she gets distracted changing the channel on the radio. As she looks up, it is too late for her to swerve and avoid a stalled vehicle. She finds herself stranded in the woods with no place to go for help and at the mercy of a deranged killer, "Moonface". She is armed with the knowledge of booby traps and survival techniques her husband taught her. With these skills at her disposal she matches wits with "Moonface" until she is captured and must make one last desperate attempt to survive.  

Film Facts

--The movie is based off a short story by writer Joe. R. Lansdale. Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-Tep  is also drawn from Lansdale's work. 

--Bree Turner's first film role was in the Jason Alexander/monkey vehicle Dunston Checks In back in 1996.

--John DeSantis who played "Moonface" is 6'9". He has made a career out of playing tall psychos such as The Juggernaut in Thir13en Ghosts on on my favorite episode of Supernatural, "Ghost Facers".

--Ethan Embry is best know as Bobby Ray from 2002's Sweet Home Alabama. 

The Bug Speaks

While many have criticized Masters of Horror for containing many substandard stories, I think the series opened up on a very strong note. The story that Coscarelli weaves is well paced and contains a fair amount of blood and well placed twists. All of this coupled with Turner's performance gives the show a well balanced feel.

The film revolves around Turner's Ellen plight when pitted against a monstrous enemy, but the meat of the film is the flashbacks that tell the story of her failed marriage to Bruce (Embry). Bruce seems like a nice enough guy when they were dating, but now that the two have married he has spiraled into a cycle of paranoia. His life begins to revolve around the militia mentality, and he expects the same from his wife. He trains her mercilessly to survive, and it wears on Ellen and their relationship. The juxtaposition of these tales plays out nicely and makes the ending of the film pay off in a great way.

The film is much enhanced by Coscarelli's friends as well. Angus Scrimm, who starred as The Tall Man in Coscarelli's Phantasm, appears here as a crazed captive of "Moonface", and as always Scrimm brings a special presence to the screen any time he shows up. The story by Joe. R. Lansdale, who Coscarelli had adapted before, is one of the real stars of the film. As always Lansdale's horror stories play with the clichés of the horror genre. This story recasts the survivor girl character as a troubled individual struggling with her own sanity. This is a refreshing change from the 
de rigor pure and innocent horror heroine. (For other Lansdale goodness check out his novel At the Drive In, a story of cannibalism, religious fervor, zombies and monsters set in a back drop of  a Texas Drive In.)

The only drawback tho this flick is the length. While I feel like the story gets fully developed, I think that with an extra 20 or 30 minutes, it could have had more of an emotional impact. With it's protracted running time, there is no time to give us any expanded character development. I would say for anyone who is a fan of Coscarelli's other work or wants to see the slasher genre get a well deserved tweak should check this one. 

Bug Rating


3 comments:

  1. For anyone interested in Ethan Embry, he is outstanding in Brotherhood as Declan 'Decko' Griggs

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  2. Thanks for dropping the knowledge there, pops. I know you really like that show (which I admit I still haven't seen).

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  3. I have not seen any of this series...I'm not sure why. I guess none of them have grabbed me, but I guess I missed this one--sounds good, plus I love Coscarelli.

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