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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Horror Show (1989)

A serial killer known as "Meat Cleaver Max" is electrocuted while the detective who put him on death row watches.  Max vows to get his revenge and becomes a stronger entity after death.  That's the premise of The Horror Show.  The story moves along nicely for the first hour and is filled with suspense and intrigue.  Then the movie falls apart due to bad special effects and a happy Disney ending.  One explanation for this inconsistency may be that they fired the original director David Blyth and replaced him with James Isaac.  That is never a good sign as studios try to "fix" a movie.  It fails about 99% of the time.

As I was watching The Horror Show I felt myself saying, "Hey, didn't I see this film before?  Didn't Wes Craven direct it?  Wasn't it called Shocker?"  I made a beeline to my video collection and, sure enough, Wes Craven made Shocker the same year The Horror Show came out.  Both have eerily similar plots.  Hmmm.  I don't know what that's all about but if someone out there can enlighten me, I'm all ears.

Lance Henricksen [The Terminator, Alines, Powder] is fantastic as Detective McCarthy.  He's always been one of my favorite character actors and has amassed an impressive body of work over the years.  He gets the emotional tone of this character right at every turn.  It's too bad they gave him such weak material to work with toward the end of the film.  Brion James is sheer perfection as Max Jenke.  His piercing blue eyes and maniacal laugh make him quite menacing.  James has said on a number of occasions that this was his favorite role and it shows.  They are dynamite together.

The rest of the McCarthy family varies in their ability to act.  Mama [Rita Taggart] does a nice job and so does the daughter [Dedee Pfeiffer] .  However, I wanted to kill the son [Aron Eisenberg] with a meat cleaver myself.  Perhaps it was the horrible material he was given to work with but, for whatever reason, he annoyed the heck out of me.

The other thing The Horror Show has going for it is an excellent soundtrack by Harry Manfredini who did most of the music for the Friday the 13th franchise.  Manfredini definitely knows how to establish a mood through music and this film is no exception.  Overall, I think critics are way too harsh with their reviews of this movie.  Give it a try and you may be pleasantly surprised.

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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