MOH: THE WASHINGTONIANS
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
Mike Franks and his family travel to Virginia to clean out his deceased Grandmothers house, where they find a letter proving that George Washington may not have been the man history makes him out to be. Refusing to give up the letter, they soon become prey for a group calling themselves The Washingtonians, dedicated to preserve George's true legacy: as a flesh eating cannibal!
Is it good movie?
Directed by the tragically underrated Peter Medak (who also directed the horror classic The Changeling and the also underrated Species II) this entry from the second season of Masters Of Horror is a hilariously funny and ultra-gory tale of conspiracies and people eating. It delightfully sets history soundly on it's ear, showing us the possibilities of a gruesomely alternative American history, while dishing out heavy portions of extreme gore and black comedy. My favourite episodes of the series are the ones that mix horror and comedy, and which also showcase the talents of some of the lesser known Masters of the genre. Despite some terrible buts of acting, this tale holds up as a high point of the recent season, and it is a pretty faithful adaptation of the Bentley Little story (who coincidentally is the only other author besides Jack Ketchum that can still gross me out, but at the same time make me laugh my sorry ass off).
Now, it's not all good, and as with most MOH episodes you have to learn to take some crap along with the good stuff. Some of the acting is so over the top and atrociously bad (yeah, I'm talking to you, annoying revolutionary soldiers in powder makeup!), and some of the comedy falls flat. As well, it all seemed a little airy and light. It needed to be darker and more foreboding. I probably would have bought the whole thing more if there had actually been less comedy, and they had taken a straight approach to the story. I mean, seriously, the whole end block with the Washington Feasting Hall (with the revelation that Thomas Jefferson offered himself up as amain course to the society!), could have been gory as hell and horrific in ways that boggle the mind. Yes, it is gory, but it is also very cartoonish. The kid who plays the daughter in the flick is so annoying, and I can usually overloook the poor acting of some children due to the lack of experience that age brings, but something about her just made me cringe. And I'm sure the final gag (where the George on the dollar bill is replaced by another, more recent George) must have seemed like a funny one, but really, it's not.
On the up swing, the performance put in by co-writer Johnathon Schaech (the vampire dude in The Forsaken and a lead in the upcoming Prom Night remake) in the lead role was nicely done, as was the one by Myron Natwick as the creepy old Southern dude Samuel. The guy was giving me some serious Preacher from Poltergeist II vibe, and that's always a good thing. As well, Saul Rubinek is f**king hilarious in the short amount of screen time he is given. And the gore was simply fantastic, but then again do we expect any less from the KNB guys. Great ripped open torso and crane shot on the Thomas Jefferson bit!
Even with it's flaws, The Washingtonians was an entertaining ride, but it's not the best that Masters Of Horror has to offer. Damn good bloody fun, with cheese on the side and a healthy dish of political satire, so this one is okay in my book.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.78:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Surround 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0) and subtitles in English.
First we have the featurettes Feed On This: The Making Of... and Wigs, Teeth and Powder!: The Makeup Effects. The second one is wicked, as we get to see some of the prep work done by these legendary effects dudes, and the amount of work that goes into a powdered lace wig. There's also an Audio Commentary by the director and star/co-writer Johnathon Schaech, which is a great listen if a little short. I am so stoked to see Schraech and co-writer Richard Chizmar's adaptation of Stephen King's From A Buick 8. Finally there is a small Photo Gallery, the Screenplay on DVD-ROM, and Trailers for every episode from the first and second seasons of Masters Of Horror.
This is an episode that shows just how much the series has gotten better since last season. Even the episodes by returning Masters are better. For his first entry, it was nice to see Medak turn in such a gruesome story with such devilish glee. I for one could have used less comedy and more atmosphere and real horror, but the majority of the acting, the pacing, and the stellar work by KNB on the effects were all nicely done and made for a kick ass entertaining episode. Sadly, there were some things that dragged the flick down, and these weigh heavily on the the brain after the credits rolled. I'd still prefer the whole season as a boxed set, with the same killer features for each episode. Since they did one for Season 1, you might want to wait until there is one for this season as well. I'm looking forward to a third season, wherever it finds a home.