Reviewed by: Dave Murray
Meat Loaf Aday
What's it about
When a trapper (Saxon) and his son skin some mystical racoons, the resulting cursed pelts are so gorgeous they hypnotize people...to the point of brutal violence, murder and self mutilation. So when a sleazy furrier named Jake (Meat Loaf) steals the pelts to make the ultimate coat (to win the love of a stripper no less), you know it's all going to end very, very badly!
Is it good movie?
Brutal. Uncompromising. Vicious. Trippy. All of these adjectives sum up not only the majority of Italian master Dario Argento's work, but also his contribution to the second season of Masters Of Horror. Based on the short story by F. Paul Wilson, Pelts is an even better frightfest than Argento's first season episode, Jennifer. This tale of cursed racoon pelts, and the rampant murder and mutilation they cause, is a great giallo-style shocker filled with some of the most creative camera work seen to date in the series. It is also a 'raising of the bar' effects wise, as Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero kick the gore up a notch to create a truly disturbing piece. Honestly, you haven't seen gore until you've seen a suicide by beartrap or a man creating a skin tanktop from his own body!
Much like fellow master John Carpenter, Argento proves that he can still bring the goods in terms of horror, suspense and disturbing imagery. The sheer skin-crawling aspect of this episode remind me of Susperia, which means that after all of these years, Argento's still got it. His set pieces literally drip with as much character and atmosphere as they do with gore, and his trippy camera work really adds to the cursed nightmare tone of the story. In a series where the majority of the "horror" was used to hide the fact that the stories themselves were severely lacking, Argento's tale infuses every inch of the story with a creeping terror that has to be seen to be understood. His ability to do this, and do it consistently, is what makes him a master.
It's also a treat to see Meat Loaf acting again. New album aside and everything, I've always admired his film work. He was brilliant in Fight Club and I even enjoyed his turn as The Lizard in the lackluster Formula 51. In Pelts, with his age starting to show, Meat Loaf pulls off a killer performance, and convincingly puts in one of the most disturbing scenes I've seen in ages. Kick ass work, especially among a cast that is mostly forgettable. Another great showing was the venerable John Saxon as the poacher who brings the curse down on everyone. It was a short role, but it was great to see him back in the game.
It would be great to see Argento back for a third season of MOH, but until then run out and dig up his impressive backlog of films. The man does not disappoint, on any account. His contributions to the series so far have been several severed heads above any of the episodes by other so-called "masters".
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.66:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1).
Pelts was everything that it was advertised to be, and more. The tension was tight, the kills were horrific, and the story was finely told and anchored firmly in the performance of a great, underappreciated actor. Seriously, with the quality of this season of the show so far, the rest of the episodes are going to be total blast. I said the same about Carpenter, but this is what horror television should strive to be. It should be horror.