Masters of Horror: Deer Woman (2005)

Masters of Horror: Deer Woman (2005)

A detective investigates a series of bizarre murders where the victims have seemingly been trampled to death by a deer. This leads him to believe a Native Indian legend about a mysterious “deer woman” who seduces men before killing them. But that’s only a legend, isn’t it?

 

John Landis directs one of my favourite episodes from the Masters of Horror TV series with Deer Woman, a horror-comedy episode which reflects the less-than-serious tone of Landis’ classic An American Werewolf in London. He even manages to throw in references to that by mentioning “events in Picadilly in 1981″ which got a chuckle out of me. You’ll also see deer dressed in lumberjack shirts. You’ll see characters attacked with deer legs. I might also add that the deer looks ridiculously silly, almost as if they found one of those mounted deer heads on someone’s hunting lodge wall and ripped it off to move it around the set with someone holding it. In one hilarious scene, the detective dreams up three crime scenarios of what could have happened when one of the truckers took the woman back into his motel room and each ends in a funny deer-related attack (cue the aforementioned deer leg bludgeoning).

It seems that Landis, and his son Max who co-wrote, understand the rather silly nature of the plot and,  instead of going down the straight route like so many episodes of this series have, opt to play it silly and it works all the better for it. It’s all bizarre enough to work wonderfully. There are more comedy elements involved here than true scares but the film is still gory and messy when it needs to be. After all, we’re dealing with trampled bodies. You forget how bloody the film is due to the silliness of everything else.

It helps that Cinthia Moura is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous as the ‘deer woman’ and isn’t afraid to show a bit of skin. She hasn’t got any lines but her smile and natural aura do the job of making her this stunning but deadly creature. She’s almost perfect and I’d like to see more of her (in more ways than one I might add) in future, although maybe she can’t act to save her life. Best stick to the semi-naked, non-speaking roles. Brian Benben in the lead role is great and the script really helps him create a likeable character for us to get behind. His deadpan performance isn’t funny in itself but he makes everything else around him funny – the sign of a great straight man in a comedy film.

If there is a problem with the script, it’s the unsatisfying ending but maybe that was down to the fact that they simply ran out of time in the episode. Remember these are basically short films designed to run as a TV series. In reality, I think that this episode could easily have been stretched out another thirty minutes or so and turned into a full blown motion picture. Landis shows enough here to prove that he’d have been able to hack it. The pace is good, the episode is constantly entertaining and the time flies by a little too quickly – another thirty minutes wouldn’t really have killed that had they been used wisely. I could imagine that this would have made a decent The X-Files episode without the comedy elements.

 

Deer Woman is one of the best Masters of Horror episodes and proves that sometimes horror doesn’t need to be scary to work. Sometimes you just need a good chuckle in the face of death. If you want serious scares, most of the series is played straight. But if you want a throwaway episode with laughs, goofing around, a seriously hot naked chick and a deer dressed as a lumberjack then check this out. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

 

 

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