Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Masters of Horror: Pro-Life

In this second season episode Pro-Life, John Carpenter again brings his horror directorial chops to the series. This evil embryo story was penned by 'Cigarette Burns' writing duo Scott Swan and Drew McWeeny. The second season was far less superior to the first, and this episode is a prime example of why. Bad acting, awful writing, and at times comical effects make for quite a bad episode.

                         Alex tries to explain he's a doctor, not an exorcist.

The story follows young Angelique (Caitlin Wachs) as she escapes her religious zealot father Dwayne (Ron Perlman) and tries to rid herself of the unborn child she carries. She's thoroughly convinced she carries a demon child inside her. Should could have gotten that idea because she was pulled down into the earth and raped by the devil as she recounts later in the story. Maybe? Luckily she literally runs into Dr. O'Shea, who just happens to work at the abortion clinic down the road who nearly runs her down with his car. She is taken to the highly fortified clinic to have a checkup after nearly being turned into a pancake by the kind doctor. Alright, just go with it. When her ecclesiastical father (who is no stranger to the abortion clinic) arrives, he is none too happy about his daughter being in the place he considers an unholy abomination. With God's words mysteriously ringing in his head, he and his three sons proceed to assault the clinic with weapons in hand to get Angelique back. Rational religion at it's best people. The clinic wont go down without a fight though, as the head of the clinic Dr. Kiefer (Bill Dow) will see to. Due to numerous harassment's and threats from Dwayne, the clinic is stocked up with guns and ammunition to deal with imminent threats such as the one being played out now. Bullets will fly and people shall die my friends, oh I promise you that. All this is going down while Angelique's accelerated and very evil pregnancy results in the quite comical and gory birth of some sort of mutant demon baby. Maybe something the clinic is not used to? All of these events culminate into an all out war. Complete with some brutal deaths, a lot of unnecessary screaming, and possibly the devil himself. What more could you want? Well let me tell you, a lot more my friends.

                          Dwayne wants in the abortion clinic it seems.

I must say this episode was a bit of a chore to sit through. The acting for the most part is terrible and or mediocre at best. Ron Perlman as the religious nut Dwayne is the only saving grace. No pun intended. He doesn't have too much scenery to chew on, but when he is on screen he always manages to command attention. Mark Feuerstein as  Dr. Alex tries to be believable as best he can, but in the end it just doesn't work for me. All Angelique does is scream and look scared. When she does speak, it's almost cringe worthy.

         What this is, not sure. It's supposed to be a demon baby me thinks.

Now the terrible dialogue might have something to do with the wooden acting. A major step down from the terrific 'Cigarette Burns' script. The lines are delivered with gusto from some of the actors, but not even the fine resume from Bill Dow can save his portrayal as Dr. Kiefer from being down right laughable. The directing from Carpenter is fine, but nothing special. Unfortunately his experience can't even garner decent performances from most of the cast.

The practical effects at times can be somewhat laughable. This is due to fake looking prosthetic and a rubber suit. The CGI effects are alright for the most part, but nothing really special. I did quite enjoy an inventive scene involving an abortion machine and a male recipient courtesy of Dwayne. The episode does show some blood and guts, while trying to gross out in others, but it all feels very contrived.

All in all it's one of the weakest episodes of the entire series. It's one of those stories that with the right time, actors, and writing could have been awesome, but it just failed on too many levels here. I can't recommend, but watch if you must. And if only for a few laughs. 1 1/2 skulls.

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