Monday, November 05, 2007
Masters of Horror – “The Damned Thing” [directed by Tobe Hooper]
Kevin Reddle, the sheriff of a backwater Texas town is an empty shell of a man. As a child he witnessed his father inexplicably go nuts, murdering his mother in front of Kevin. As if that wasn’t enough to cause life-long PTSD, his father subsequently attempted to murder him, chasing Kevin through the woods on a stormy night. Eventually climbing a tree to hide, Kevin bares witness to his father’s evisceration by an unknown force. As is often the case for individuals who have witnessed tragedy firsthand, Kevin is a mess in his adulthood. His wife has separated from him and he’s been medicating his depression and traumatic memories through heavy drinking. Following a series of strange events including sudden madness, and worse, violent deaths where townsfolk are inexplicably torn to pieces, Sheriff Reddle is given the opportunity to confront his inner demons once and for all.
That Damned Thing has some classic Tobe Hooper touches including the setting, which is similar to Leatherface’s homestead, as well as some disturbing violence such as a man claw-hammering himself to death. Like other Masters of Horror installments, however, Hooper’s short film suffers from uneven pacing, obvious padding, and a low budget. Although there’s plenty of gory violence, its impact is softened by too much CG to be scary. Also, perhaps for maximum shock value, the story ends quite suddenly and unsatisfactorily. Still, The Damned thing is one of the better installments of the MOH series that I’ve seen, my favorite still being John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns.