Masters of Horror: “The Damned Thing” – 7

In Masters of Horror: "The Damned Thing" - 7 by johnLeave a Comment

Director – Tobe Hooper

Cast – Sean Patrick Flanery, Marisa Coughlan, Brendan Fletcher, Alex Ferris, Brent Stait, George Craig, Ryan Drescher, Andrew Mcllroy, Tracy Waterhouse, Ted Raimi

Release Year – 2006

Reviewed by John of the Dead

This being Tobe Hooper’s second entry into the “Masters of Horror” series, “The Damned Thing” is a big improvement from his previous mediocre entry, “Dance of the Dead”.  Finally we get a nice dose of what Tobe Hooper can do and with a pretty interesting plot as well.  I hope Hooper continues this great momentum he has into his upcoming 2011 film, From a Buick 8.

The Damned Thing stars Sean Patrick Flanery as Sheriff Kevin Reddle.  As a child Sheriff Reddle came into contact with an abnormal force that caused his father to kill his mother before his eyes.  Fast forward 24 years later and Reddle is now the sheriff of a small town in Texas.  Once again, Kevin’s nightmare returns as the same abnormal force has come upon his town and caused the townsfolk to become homicidal maniac, killing each other without remorse.  Kevin sets out to try and stop this force before it decimates the town and once again takes everything he loves from him.

I was surprised to see how well directed this film was after Tobe Hooper’s recent celluloid failures.  Right from the get-go we are thrown into Hooper’s choppy and rebellious style of filmmaking and thankfully he keeps this feel throughout the film.  The opening scene has one of the coolest and goriest kills I have ever seen, definitely a nice treat from Hooper given he really hasn’t shown much gore in his flicks(even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was not a gory film, nor did it ever intend to be).  His direction stayed top notch throughout the film as he set up some crazy scenes thanks to his guerilla use of cinematography, a tactic he employed until this film’s highly unsettling climax.

Story wise this film did tend to lag a bit, and the film’s pacing was affected.  Personally, the antagonist of the film was not all that interesting to me.  From what I can tell, this was some kind of oil monster.  I love monsters, but this creature was not anything to grab my attention and actually was portrayed a bit silly.  Nonetheless, the effect it had on the townsfolk was nice as it turned them into homicidal maniacs at a moments notice, much like George A. Romero’s “The Crazies”.  We are never shown the whereabouts nor origin behind this film’s antagonist, and some of you may be disappointed with that.  The ambiguity behind that element is interesting, but all in all I really wish there was more substance behind the antagonist, one that would engage the viewer.  Oh well, overall I guess I am 50/50 with this film’s writer, Richard Christian Matheson, who also wrote the mediocre Dance of the Dead, also directed by Tobe Hooper.

Overall, this is a fun watch that I would recommend based off of Hooper’s awesome direction alone.  We get an OK story that is told in awesome fashion and is sure to please fans of Hooper who have been waiting for him to succeed after quite a few failures.

Rating: 7/10

– I ranked this film #18 of the 26 entries into my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.

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