Friday, February 16, 2007

Masters of Horror - Pelts (2006)

I was really disappointed with Dario Argento’s first episode from the Masters of Horror series, entitled Jenifer (review). To me it didn’t even feel like an Argento film and I was really let down. Considering this, I was apprehensive about watching his contribution to season two, but luckily Argento’s signature style is back with Pelts.

Jake (Meat Loaf Aday) is a sleazy furrier, hiring illegals to work in his foul-smelling shop and frequenting strip clubs, where he is obsessed with stripper Shana (Ellen Ewusie). Meanwhile, Pa Jameson (John Saxon) and his son Larry (Michal Suchanek) illegally trespass on recluse Mother Mayter’s (Brenda McDonald) property to trap some raccoons. After trapping a large number of raccoons, they realize that the pelts are the finest they’ve ever seen. Jameson calls Jake to tell him about the pelts and to offer to sell them. Spending too much time with the pelts, Larry begins to covet them, eventually murdering his father and killing himself. Jake arrives at the Jameson’s home to find the shocking scene, but he too becomes enamored of the pelts and decides to take them. He plans on making a coat and having Shana wear it in the next big fur trade show. Things soon go awry as anyone who gets close to the pelts is met with horrific death.

Argento has definitely crafted a fine, very bloody, erotic episode for season two of the Masters of Horror series. Stylistically, the movie is beautiful, utilizing bright colors and key lighting, which are part of Argento’s signature style. The gore is great here and really pushes the envelope as blood flows freely and often. Some sequences to enjoy include: a man getting his brain bashed in by a baseball bat, someone sticking their face in a bear trap, suffocation through self-inflicted stitching up of mouth, nose and even eyes, a self-evisceration and a man skinning himself.

I loved that there were clever little nods foreshadowing events in the film. When we see Jake attack Shana the first time, it is just a prelude to what comes after. It’s the same when the Jameson’s find that a raccoon has escaped a trap by chewing off its own foot…something like that happens later on.

The story, while original, is a bit far-fetched, but then again Argento’s strength lies in gorgeous and gory imagery. The explanation for the “curse” of the raccoons is not explained quite enough as well, but the imagery more than makes up for it. The characters are well fleshed out and the actors all do a fine job. Meat Loaf’s performance seemed a bit subdued, but it was still great to watch him play the sleazy furrier. I loved seeing John Saxon as the drunken trapper as well.

With scenes taking place in the strip clubs Jake so often frequents, a lot of female nudity is to be expected. Lap dances, pole dances and lots of boobies are seen. I find a lot of female nudity unnecessary, but with one of the leads being a stripper it is to be expected in this film. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this episode.

Argento definitely upped the ante for the Masters of Horror series with Pelts. It delivered buckets of blood and gore with ample style to back it all up. A tale of obsession that quickly turns into possession, this is one of the better episodes I’ve seen from the series and reminds me why I’m so enamored of Argento. Now, let’s hope that Argento’s La Terza Madre, one of the movies I’m anticipating most, will deliver as well!

Available on Amazon!

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