Masters of Horror: “Cigarette Burns” – 9

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Director – John Carpenter

Cast – Norman Reedus, Udo Kier, Gary Hetherington, Christopher Britton, Zara Taylor, Chris Gauthier, Douglas Arthurs, Colin Foo, Gwynyth Walsh

Release Year – 2005

He had not hit the horror scene since 2001 with his sub-par effort we refer to as Ghosts of Mars, but master of horror John Carpenter came back in true form with his 2005 entry into the “Masters of Horror” series titled Cigarette Burns.  Blending a strong array of mystery and horror of the celluloid variety, this film is one all lovers of film should enjoy, especially those who would like to see a film so powerful it’s aftereffects are devastating.

This entry stars Norman Reedus as Kirby, a cinema aficionado with a dark past.  In an attempt to save his struggling theater from foreclosure, he accepts an offer from an eccentric film collector to find the rarest and most powerful of all films…”Le Fin Absolue du Monde”.  Only one copy of this film has ever been made…and with good reason.  This film’s single screening resulted in mayhem and death at the hands of the very audience watching the film.  Kirby’s journey will take him to several parts of the world, with each step leading him closer and closer to his own demise.

This is definitely my favorite entry thus far for the “Masters of Horror” series.  John Carpenter’s marvelous direction gives us a deep look into the depravity and mayhem a single film can cause, which should affect all of us given mankind’s love for cinema.  The journey Carpenter takes us on is an absorbing one that had me sucked in from begin to end(“fin”, heh).  I loved the film’s mystery element, which was executed perfectly by Carpenter and written expertly by the film’s two little known writers.

Story-wise this film excelled in all parts.  The development was top notch and moved beautifully at just the right times.  I mention the film’s strong mystery element, and it is supplemented greatly by the way the “lost” film is portrayed.  The shrouded mystery surrounding this much desired and much feared film left me feeling eager to see what the big deal was, just the exact same way Kirby was feeling about the film.  Smart, well-written storylines can do that to the viewer, and it makes the film all the more fun to watch.  Each of the main characters was used to their full potential and we did not get any character play that was not needed.  Watching the eccentric Mr. Bellinger‘s(Udo Kier) desperation over acquiring this much sought after film reminded me of my friend’s and I when we make our way to the horror section of our favorite DVD stores.  Heh.  It was great to watch, and to me his performance and character use was more enjoyable than that of our lead, Kirby.  Kirby’s descent into madness as well over acquiring the film and getting his own taste of it was great also, don’t think I am downplaying his role.

The visual horror we get on screen was what I loved most about this film.  Watching our main characters descend into madness was fun, but seeing the elements that sent them to their hell was what really got me going.  I will not give too much away, but by the time the ending sequence kicks in and we get to see what the film looks like, all mayhem really does break loose…and we have front row seats.  Carpenter did not shy away from laying on the gore, and saved it for the most pristine moment possible.  If you haven’t guessed yet, this film has one hell of an ending.

Overall, this is a great watch that I highly recommend to those who love cinema, horror, and anything John Carpenter puts his touch on.  Definitely my favorite thus far for the “Masters of Horror” series, this is a must watch for all.

Rating: 9/10

– I ranked this film #1 of 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.

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