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  Masters of Horror: Deer Woman Stomp All Night
Year: 2005
Director: John Landis
Stars: Brian Benben, Anthony Griffith, Cinthia Moura, Sonja Bennett, Julian Christopher, Don Thompson, Alex Zahara
Genre: Horror, TV SeriesBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: At a bar, two truckers are playing pool and getting inebriated until one says he has to take a leak, but the other tells him he'll have to do it in the woods outside because the bathroom is broken. The trucker traipses out and relieve himself, but just as he is finishing he hears a tremendous racket: a lot of banging and shouting from a truck parked nearby. He goes over to see what's wrong, but the place is now silent, so he wanders back inside, missing the door of the cab being flung off from the inside. The next day, the troubled Detective Faraday (Brian Benben) is assigned to a new case; usually specialising in animal attacks, this one looks right up his street, so accompanied by Officer Reed (Anthony Griffith) he ventures over to the bar where the noise was heard where they discover that not only has the cab door been crudely replaced, but the truck's owner is dead inside... apparently trampled to death...

There's a humorous reference to writer-director John Landis' An American Werewolf in London during Deer Woman, his first entry into the Masters of Horror series, but this episode, co-written with his son Max Landis, doesn't really hit those heights. It's all too straightforward, and the title tells you everything you need to know, that is, that there's a supernatural half deer half woman on the loose, sort of a land based mermaid who turns out to be part of a Native American myth. When Reed hears the story from a casino worker, he says it's the stupidest story he's ever heard, tempting the viewer to agree with him as this is a very silly story - but that need not be a flaw, as it has personality.

That personailty isn't quite enough to sustain the mood, which is too obviously TV material attempting to be daring, but there is a good humour about it which may not be scary, but keeps you watching. When the body of the trucker is taken back to the morgue for an autopsy, the conclusion that is drawn from the state of the corpse was that not only was he trampled to death by an animal, but he was in a condition of sexual arousal when it happened. It takes Faraday almost the whole episode to work out what we've realised from the beginning, but the sequence where he runs through the possible scenarios in his head is amusing. The deer woman (Cinthia Moura) is a beautiful lady who has no apparent motive other than to literally walk all over men, which could be a metaphor warning against one night stands, but there's little evidence that Landis has been that thoughtful here. This is pretty basic stuff, but entertaining for all that. Music by Peter Bernstein.

[Part of the Anchor Bay Masters of Horror box set of DVDs, which include a host of extras such as commentaries and documentaries to keep fans occupied.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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John Landis  (1950 - )

American writer-director who made a big splash in the comedy genre, starting with The Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House and The Blues Brothers. An American Werewolf in London was an innovative blend of comedy and horror, and remains his best film.

Mega-hit Trading Places followed, but after a tragic accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie, Landis' talent seemed to desert him, and he offered up some increasingly unimpressive comedies. He returned briefly to horror with Innocent Blood, and after a long spell away helmed Brit comedy Burke and Hare; he also directed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and "Black or White" videos.

 
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