First Transmitted - 16/12/2005
In the last twenty years the stock of John Carpenter has plummeted to such depths of mediocrity that my expectations for his contribution to the first series of Masters of Horror were not high. The concept of creator Mick Garris (himself a maker of mediocre and undistinguished films) was a novel one and on paper at least intriguing enough to warrant viewing the episodes. Of course a cursory glance over the names attached to the series indicate that this is either a nostalgia trip or a pallid attempt to resuscitate careers that flat lined decades ago. Carpenter’s is one such flat lining career, who like so many of his contemporaries almost entirely rely upon a reputation forged in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Although this was episode 8 of the series, this was the first one I saw, and as this is an anthology series the order is unimportant. Much to my surprise Cigarette Burns turns out to be one of the strongest episodes of the series and something of a semi return to form for Mr. Carpenter. If one were to measure his films purely by enjoyment factor, then this ranks as his best effort since 1988’s They Live. Of course Masters of Horror is very much a directors for hire type series, and Carpenter had nothing to do with the writing of the teleplay. This was handled by the unfortunately named Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan. The post-modern and intertextual nature of the episode is not especially in keeping with Carpenter’s oeuvre, but Carpenter does manage to direct some well mounted set pieces.
© Shaun Anderson 2010