Review: Masters of Horror: The Damned Thing

Posted by Peter Hall - October 30th 2006 @ 6:45 pm

Directed by Tobe Hooper, 2006
Written by Richard Christian Matheson

The previous team up of R.C. Matheson and Tobe Hooper resulted in Dance of the Dead, what many (present company included) considered the worst episode of Masters’ first season.  I fell asleep during it.

It is with a clear conscious that I feel obligated to inform you that The Damned Thing, Hooper/Matheson’s second team up put me to sleep as well.

It opens promising enough with a birthday dinner in which the husband/father calmly unloads more than one shotgun round into his wife before chasing his son out into the accompanied wind storm.  The son is saved at the last minute by an unseen force which levels the father into the side of a pickup, spinning him like the Wheel of Fortune while simultaneously disemboweling him.  A solid effect by KNB, as are the rest of the mutilations, but the quality Kayro isn’t nearly enough to save Matheson’s scraggly script or Hooper’s inability to tell a story.

Sean Patrick Flanery is a little too gruff as the adult boy who can’t get over his childhood trauma.  Ted Raimi is a fan favorite and his turn as a priest will certainly be welcome by any viewer, but he is of relative unimportance along with the rest of the cast.  I’d mention other roles, but I can’t remember a single name.

The Damned Thing itself, the mysterious, oil (yes, that oil) linked presence, causes people all over town to commit grizzly acts against neighbor and self.  This all eventually boils over into an apocalyptic battle for the town, only we don’t get to see the meat of the action because Flannery’s character locks himself inside.  After the chaos appears to end, he heads back outside and right into the petroleum based hands of the corporeal form of the Damned Thing, which is hysterical in ways clearly not intended.

As with nearly everything Hooper has done since the ’80s, the narrative breaks down more than half way through.  But hey, at least the abrupt ending is welcome relief, even if it does cause hands to be thrown into the air.  Richard Christian Matheson needs to take a break from writing teleplays and have a long chat with his father.  I am Legend is the finest horror story ever written, it’s a pity to think that none of Matheson senior’s talent survived a generation.

If you happen to be one of the few people who still thinks Tobe Hooper has any directorial clout, by all means watch The Damned Thing.  If you’re like the rest of the world, appreciate the watchable episode for KNB’s practical effects and Ted Raimi alone.


rss 1 comment
  1. andy sell
    November 1st, 2006 | 3:18 pm | #1

    Dance of the Dead was pretty horrible.

    but I have yet to see something that even comes close to the crapitude that was Haeckel’s Tale.

    seriously.

    i’d rather be bored than spit on.

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