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Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (2005)

Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) directed and co-wrote the teleplay for the first Masters of Horror feature: “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” and he did a good job setting the bar for the series. The surface of the story is very straight forward. Ellen (Bree Turner) is driving a remote stretch of mountain road when she has an accident with an apparently abandoned car. She quickly learns that there is a freakish man called “Moonface” who has been catching and killing people who wreck along that dangerous road for untold years.

Ellen is chased by Moonface and as she is, the audience quickly learns she is not content to simply flee her attacker. Ellen fights back with quickly improvised booby-traps and whatever weapons she can find. This is explained by a series of flashbacks showing how she learned survival skills, and more, from her husband. As the story progresses, Coscarelli carefully reveals more about Ellen through the flashbacks and what she is willing to do to survive. In fact, Moonface even seems surprised by her ruthlessness and determination.

Eventually ending up back at Moonface’s cabin, Ellen sees bodies hung everywhere with their eyes drilled from their heads. She also meets Buddy (Angus Scrimm-the Tall Man from the Phantasm series) an insane man held in Moonface’s workshop who helps her understand some of Moonface’s reasoning behind his killing. Scrimm is perfect for this role and his character both creates tension and relieves it with his unstable ramblings and actions. Is he a prisoner or a helper of Moonface? That is ultimately up to the viewer.

I do not want to give away the twists to this story but what makes “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” stand out is Ellen. Her character is surprisingly original and strong and it is her willingness to survive and do what must be done that take this episode from the “Masters of Horror” series above and beyond the stock psycho-killer stalks young woman genre. So far the “Masters of Horror” series has provided a lot of very original and well made material and to  date “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road” is one of my favorites. Check it out on DVD or when the series airs in re-runs on Showtime.





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