Season 2 Episode 11
Originally aired January 19, 2007
Directed by Stuart Gordon, Stuart Ortiz
Written by Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli
Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat
Jeffrey Combs, Patrick Gallagher, Christopher Heyerdahl, Eric Keenleyside, Ken Kramer, Elyse Levesque, Ian Alexander Martin, Aron Tager
One of the best things about the Masters of Horror series is that you don’t usually have to wait long for something demented, disturbing and gory to happen. In this episode, yet again, only an hour long, they manage to make a very brutal and graphic experience for the viewer.
Poe is a married writer. He lives a modest but happy life with his wife, Sissie, along with their lovely pet bird, a goldfish and a black cat named Pluto…until Sissie falls ill with The White Plague.
Having a loved one with a terminal illness, especially back when medicine was in its infancy, was a terrible strain on those afflicted and those caring for them. Poor Edgar just can’t handle watching Sissie wither away and soon turns to drinking to escape his pain and reality.
The truth is, Sissie being sick isn’t the only thing tormenting our writer. He is suffering from writer’s block, a death sentence when writing is how you make a living. It gets so bad that he can’t even afford to pay the doctor to come care for his sickly wife.
Meanwhile, Poe is drowning his sorrows and his sanity in bottles of alcohol. He starts to see things he isn’t sure are really there, and there’s no one he can talk to about the madness in his life. A madness which soon takes an even darker turn when he begins to suspect that his loving wife’s cat, Pluto, is somehow plotting against him, taunting him, torturing him even.
If you want to know how gruesome and gory this episode gets, you can watch it free at the link below:
Now, I will say this was an incredible episode. I was glued to the TV the whole time and I cursed when commercials came on. Watching this film short was like a window into watching a helpless man descend into a world of despair, madness and insanity.
There are certainly points where you can feel for Poe. At the beginning. But eventually, you really only feel for the wife, the only true victim in the story. It’s not like Poe takes this cat tormenting him lying down. And if you have ever tried to TRULY outsmart a cat, you’d have found they are very sneaky and shrewd at times, especially when they are on the defensive and protecting themselves. And they are smart like dogs. I don’t care what people say. I have four cats. I have two Bengals (which is a breed produced by mating an Asian Leopard cat with an American Tabby), I have a gray tabby and an all-black Bombay cat. I also have a two-and-a-half-year-old German Shepard. And I can say this, the cats figure things out like when they are getting lured with treats to come out of a room that are not allowed in. The dog, is just happy to get treats. The cats, they know you are tricking them. They know if they come out, you’re gonna grab them up and take them from the “forbidden room”. So, they don’t come out and eat the treats. Oh sure, maybe the first few times they did, but they learned quick. My dog is one of the top five smartest breeds…and it took him three times as long to figure out he was being lured back inside at night with treats.
So, Poe and this cat, they have a tumultuous relationship and it gets increasingly vicious as time goes on. So, what happens to Sissie? What about Poe? And what about this genius tormenting cat???
Watch and find out. But I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Pick Me Up
Season 1 Episode 11
Originally aired Jan 20, 2006
Directed by Larry Cohen
Written by David J. Schow
Fairuza Balk, Paul Anthony, Crystal Lowe, Malcolm Kennard, Warren Kole, Laurence London, Michael Moriarty
Oh, our masters of horror. The genius things they think up. Like this film. There are a lot of films out there in the horror genre that are blatant statements about not picking up hitchhikers. But this one, they really went the extra mile.
Meet Stacia (Fairuza Balk). She’s a recently divorced young women trying to get as far away from her abusive husband as she can. She is not a trusting person. She carries a pretty decent knife for self-protection, though it’s obvious it’s a legal length blade. Stacia, has decided to take the bus to get out of town. You would think this would be a reliable mode of transportation choice. But, in a horror film, maybe not so much.
The bus breaks down. All the passengers are pretty pissed because, well, they are broken down in the middle of nowhere really. I think the nearest business was something like nine miles away or something like that. Stacia decided to hoof it on foot, instead of waiting around for whatever relief for the bus that may or may not be coming. Other passengers are freaking out. You know the type, the typical spoiled and sheltered female complaining to her frustrated and annoyed beau about what a predicament they are in, how they should have done this or that, blah, blah, blah. Other passengers are seemingly not swayed by the mishap and are fairly easy going, willing to wait for another bus to come and grab all the stranded passengers, they’ll get where they want to go…eventually.
While waiting, a trucker in an eighteen-wheeler pulls up and over, checkin’ to see what the haps is, ya know? Not really offering to help with the bus so much as he’s offering to help the passengers and give rides to whoever wants them.
A couple of people jump at the chance, fearing that it will be a long time before anyone comes along again or before the relief gets there. So, they hop on in. Now, that couple with the bitchy chick and the annoyed boyfriend, yeah…boyfriend wants to get in the truck. Chicky takes on look at the truck driver and says hell no, refusing to go with this stranger that’s driving a clear way out of their little hole of Hell on earth. Boyfriend tries to reason with her, but you can’t speak logically with the illogically minded, right? So, there they stay, on the side of the road, in the heat, with the bus and the bus driver and a few other passengers.
So, now we have the original group of passengers, splintered off into smaller groups, with Stacia off all by her lonesome trying to make it miles on the good ol’ Shoe Leather Express.
Here, is where we meet a young man in a duster, hitchhiking as he goes down the road. He comes up on the breakdown party and sees an opportunity.
Let me explain.
See, the truck driver is a killer that will kill whoever he picks up. The duster guy is a killer that will kill whoever gives him a ride. And apparently, they are encroaching on each other’s turf.
Now do you see the opportunity? Needless to say, between the two of them, murder happens. Lots of murder.
Stacia finally ends up at the motel she was heading for. The guy in the duster has the room next to hers. He also has a victim in his room and well, she’s not going quietly into that good night. Stacia is getting annoyed because she thinks it’s just too people getting their groove on over there and she’s not in any mood to hear the sounds of the wild sex jungle at this time.
The trucker is also at the motel.
As Stacia goes to the soda machine to get a drink, she encounters both men, the duster guy and the trucker, not knowing that they are both eyeballing her with every intention of killing her, each in their own way.
But it’s not going to be that easy. Not only are they both contending with a young woman who knows a little about how to handle herself, they also have to contend with each other. Who is going to get Stacia? Which one of these psychos gets to kill her?
From this point on it’s a battle of wits and wills. Stacia vs these two killers and the trucker vs the hitchhiker in the duster.
Who wins? Watch and find out at the link below.
I’ve looked at other reviews of this episode. Most average around 6-7 out 10 on score, while one website gave it a 2/5. They constantly complain about the plot lacking bulk, that it’s slow moving and that the acting, while good, isn’t enough to carry the film. There are complaints about the film being somewhat of a black comedy and yet not being able to really pull it off. And there are complaints about the ending. All praised Fairuza Balk for her performance.
Now, for my opinion. I was shocked to see that so many people were unhappy with this episode. Maybe I’m just new to the series and haven’t seen all of what it has to offer. I am watching them out of order so, it’s not like I’m seeing them as they played when they first aired. Still, I thought this was a fun episode. I liked the ending. I actually can’t believe one of the reviews I read said the ending “fell flat on its face”. I cannot agree with that statement. That sounds like something one who doesn’t watch horror films would say.
I have discussed many times that we often find that people expect the same A-List product from horror as they do from say a drama or a romantic comedy. These are not the same kind of films, they require different formulas to work and therefore, the finished product will have different qualities. Why is it that it is perfectly acceptable to make a comedy that is meant to be bad and people love it, but if you make a horror film with the same intentions it is looked at as a failure? Not that I’m saying this film is one of those types…it’s just a question.
Anyways, even though there were a number of disapproving folks about this particular episode, I thought it was good. I liked the witty banter and power play between the two serial killers. I also like Fairuza Balk’s character, Stacia. But I seem to really disagree when these horror critics say the ending fell flat. I didn’t feel that way at all. I’d even watch it again.