Thursday, April 19, 2007

Season 2
Episode 5

Written by Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan; directed by John Carpenter

This could very well have ended up the worst episode of MoH Season 2, if not for two things: Ron Perlman, one of those genre faces who always delivers the goods, and some great creature effects by KNB (regular fx wizards for MoH, and purveyors of some of the most memorable effects in the history of cinematic horror).

Dwayne Burcell (Perlman) is a religious fanatic whose daughter (Caitlin Wachs, little Chloe Waters from TV’s Profiler, all grown up now) ends up in an isolated abortion clinic, pregnant with something that doesn’t seem entirely human.
Now although that premise sounds promising at first, in getting this to the small screen, Carpenter seems to just end up rifling his own Assault on Precinct 13, as well as filching a visual gag from his remake of The Thing.
This one doesn’t seem inspired at all, and the third act is so clumsily cut together, it’s little more than a mish-mash of senseless gore, gruesome violence, apparently central characters who go MIA, and an anti-abortion rant coupled with some torture porn lite.
Much of the fault though lies in the script, which populates the screen with far too many characters, some of whom have little more to do than stare down birth canals and have their faces sprayed with goo.
Even Burcell is presented as the stereotypical unstable religious nutjob, gullible enough to be deluded by the baddie. I mean, would God’s voice really sound like some guttural growling sent through a voice distorter? And for a father concerned that sinful things are being perpetrated on his 15-year old daughter, he seems to have enough time to engage in a little bit of torture-disguised-as-poetic-justice. I’m sure he thought he was doing God’s will.
And since I’ve mentioned Him, I should point out that God’s name is so often taken in this episode, it’s alarming. If God had any sense He’d steer clear of this terrible mess, as Carpenter should have.

And perhaps the most disappointing thing about “Pro-Life” is that it’s Carpenter taking the piss again, after he seemed to be getting back on track with his much-better contribution to MoH Season 1, “Cigarette Burns” (incidentally, also written by McWeeny and Swan).*
It’s unfortunate that when Carpenter gets it wrong—as he also did in Vampires and Ghosts of Mars—it is so wrong, it’s criminal. If there’s any justice in the world, he should get a life sentence for this one, and put up for parole only when it becomes clear that he once again knows what the word “horror” means.

* To Drew and Scott: I love your work on aicn, guys. For a film fanatic like myself, the site's indispensable.
So I was really hoping I’d like “Pro-Life” enough that I wouldn’t have to say anything too negative, since this was your baby (so to speak), as well as Carpenter’s.
But I honestly think “Cigarette Burns” was far better. (In fact, I thought it was one of Carpenter’s best after a really long, long time, thanx in no small part to your script.)
“Pro-Life” was just a little bit too messy…

("Pro-Life" DVD cover art courtesy of

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