MASTERS OF HORROR SEASON ONE, EPISODE EIGHT: JOHN CARPENTER’S CIGARETTE BURNS

MASTERS OF HORROR SEASON ONE, EPISODE EIGHT: JOHN CARPENTER’S CIGARETTE BURNS-United States-2005

Masters_of_Horror__Cigarette_Burns_-_John_Carpenter

Norman Reedus as Kirby

Norman Reedus as Kirby

Udo Kier (R) as Bellinger

Udo Kier (R) as Bellinger

Christopher Redman as Willowy Being

Christopher Redman as Willowy Being

Directed by John Carpenter

Written by Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan

I assume that a lot of you read Written in Blood because, first and foremost, you love movies; especially horror movies. I will expand upon that assumption by saying that there are those of you out there who love movies so much that not only do you collect and watch movies, but that you also collect movie memorabilia of various degrees. Along with the hundreds of DVD’s and Blu-rays that I own, I also have some posters; as well as a Planet Terror Cherry Darling action figure still in the original package. My pride and joy is a beautiful ceramic Godzilla statue depicting the lizard king (sorry Jim Morrison, but the Big G will always be the original) from Godzilla vs. Biollante. But enough about all that; this is one of those times where I start with one story to tell you another story. John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns is about the high price of movie collecting and I’m not talking about paying double on eBay for an authentic Iron Man helmet.

Norman Reedus (Mimic, The Walking Dead) is Kirby, a rare films dealer hired by the wealthy Bellinger (Udo Kier, Blade, Suspiria) to find a print of an ultra-rare film called “La Fin Absolue du Monde”, or “The Absolute End of the World”. Upon its premiere, the film set off a homicidal riot and was later believed to be destroyed. Bellinger is convinced that a print of the film exists and shows Kirby proof in the form of the Willowy Being, a humanoid creature that may or may not be an angel. The Being tells Kirby that if the film were truly destroyed then he would know about it. Up to his ass in debt to his late girlfriend’s father, Kirby accepts the job. The closer he gets to the truth, the more he begins to see ‘cigarette burns’ a slang term for the mark on a film that indicates that it will soon be time to change reels. The ‘burns’ are used here to indicate when there will be a shift in the tone of the film and the results of Kirby’s search for “La Fin Absolue Du Monde”. With that, seeing as how I take pride in keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible, there’s not much else I can tell you about the plot of Cigarette Burns.

This is the second time in the past three years that I’ve watched Cigarette Burns. The first time I had yet to begin writing and therefore took a casual approach to the episode. But, even after watching it with more scrutiny the second time around; I found that I had to sit for a while to be able to collect my feelings about it. It reminds me of a friend of mine who told me that when he went to see Pulp Fiction, he sat in his car in the theater parking lot for twenty minutes pondering on whether he liked the film before finally deciding that he did like it. I understand him now; it took me twenty minutes to determine that I liked Cigarette Burns. It’s the best episode (so far) of Masters of Horror. Norman Reedus carries the film with a charm that I personally don’t think a more well-known actor could have accomplished. Those of you who only know the guy as Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead I would highly recommend to see this episode. There’s a lot more to the guy than a red neck and a crossbow.

Cigarette Burns has an identical plot to Roman Polanski’s thriller The Ninth Gate. One of the main differences being that it is a film and not a book that Kirby is hired to find. The other is that at over two hours I couldn’t wait for The Ninth Gate to end. At the end of 58 minutes, Cigarette Burns left me wanting more.

TRIVIA

The newspaper columnist lives in a secluded house in Carthage, New York. John Carpenter, who directed the movie, was born in Carthage, New York.

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About Written in Blood

I was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina on March 4, 1962. I guess that makes me old, but I certainly don't feel that way. I still play video games and listen to rock and roll music. I love movies, especially horror films. I have a beautiful wife who is my all time best friend. She supports me in everything I do. More importantly, she calls me out on my bullshit. This blog is dedicated to her for everything she's done for me.

Posted on 12/10/2012, in Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Paul Foster

    Cigarette Burns 10 out of 10 !!!

  2. Cigarette Burns had me from the first viewing. It is by far my favorite episode of the series and honestly the only one I would ever really recommend.

  3. Never seen this TV series, but it looks good and I will get onto to getting a copy :D

    • I believe that you can buy most, if not all, of the episodes separately; or you can purchase the whole thing as a box set. I don’t know if the box set includes Takashi Miike’s Imprint. That one was deemed too horrific and was not aired. It was only available on disc. Thanks, Tim!

  4. Hmm didn’t even know about this one myself and I’m a huge Carpenter fan. Have to remedy this lapse :)

  5. Yeah, I liked this one better the second time I watched it – now I think its crazy good! BTW, gave you a special thanks in my Anniversary post and a link to your blog – check it out.

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