Friday, March 26, 2010

Larry Cohen Week: Pick Me Up (Masters of Horror)

We close up a week of Cohen films with a film made for Showtime's Masters of Horror series.  There has been some debate about this series online, as it includes people who are either not thought of as pure horror directors (Cohen, Dante, Landis) and people not thought of as 'masters' (McGee, etc).  Regardless of that, some damn good stories have come out of this show in its short, two season run on the network.  Is this one of them?  Will this match up to the latter works of Dario Argento or the great stories by Joe Dante?  Find out in my review of...
The film begins with a group of people taking a bus through the woods.  There is a bunch of them on board, but the only one of note is our heroine (Fairuza Balk).  She is your atypical punk woman who is also trying to fit in with society.  It's a weird mix that few people can pull off- she's one of them.  The bus breaks down and they all wait around for it to be fixed.  Around this time, a truck driver (Michael Moriarty) pulls up and offers some of them a ride into town.  Most of them say 'no,' although an older woman does go with him.  Our heroine decides that she doesn't want to wait around, so she wanders off towards town on her own.  A bit after she leaves, a young drifter shows up and plays nice.  Unfortunately, that act does not last long and he kills the people who stayed.  The highlight: decapitating the driver with the sliding door on the luggage compartment!  Afterward, he leaves and heads towards the town as well.  Along the way, he gets picked up by the anti-Scooby Doo gang: a group of punk rockers in a black van.
Once in town, Moriarty keeps up his nice-guy act for a while and actually woos the woman.  In a scene right out of Q, he actually plays the piano and sings.  Why couldn't he work that into more films again?  Eventually, he kills her though.  Aw.  Our heroine ends up at a hotel for the night, which is also where the hitchhiker ends up.  He ends up being one shared wall away from her torturing the punk girl (having already killed the guy).  Of course, she misinterprets that to be them having sex.  She leads a screwed up life, I guess.  To cut a short story (about 60 minutes) short, she ends up in the clutches of Moriarty in his truck.  As it turns out, he is really a serial killer that picks up random people off of the side of the road.  While driving along the road, he picks up the hitchhiker, who is also a serial killer.  Have you ever thought that you were having a bad day?  Try ending up in the clutches of two different serial killers.  Since this is recent (2006), I won't spoil the ending for you.  Sorry, you'll have to rent/buy it like I did!  The End.
This movie/show is good and even manages to do well in spite of Cohen having no hand in the writing.  Very often films don't do well when a person who usually writes and directs only does one.  Case in point: Cop Out (speaking performance-wise and not content-wise).  In this case, he does a very good job with the story and does it with his usual flair.  If you don't know, the Masters of Horror series were made on location in Canada with a small budget (somewhere around $1 million).  For some people, this might be a problem.  For Cohen, however, this is old hat.  He works well within these constraints and puts out a damn tense thriller.  It's not going to be a break-out film, but it is very entertaining.  Considering some of the Low-Budget Horror dreck that gets put out, we should count our lucky stars that we got two Seasons of this show to make it clear how it is really done!
Up next, Blockbuster Trash brings us the film debut of Olympic Gold Medalist and wrestler Kurt Angle.  Who does he play?  A serial killer who likes to play dress-up.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. I thought this was a fairly fun departure for the MoH series - it was actually a little unpredictable, for a change. And I think Cohen alum Moriarty does a bang-up job on it. I call it a "win", and I'm glad to see it getting some appreciation!