Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Season 2
Episode 6

Teleplay by Matt Venne; based on the short story by F. Paul Wilson; directed by Dario Argento

Since it was based on an F. Paul Wilson short story, I was pretty stoked to see this one. The fact that it was helmed by giallo master Dario Argento was also some strong motivation, as I wasn’t overly fond of his contribution to Season 1, “Jenifer,” and was hoping for some of that old black Argento magic this time around.

Rocker Meat Loaf Aday plays Jake Feldman, a fur trader who comes into possession of pelts taken from raccoons who are apparently sentinels to the ruins of some ancient city (if the drunken ramblings of Mother Mayter—Brenda McDonald—are to be taken seriously). Whatever the case may be, what becomes readily apparent is that these pelts cause the people who come into close contact with them to go seriously postal.

Now the trouble with “Pelts,” I feel, is two-fold.
One, the performances aren’t exactly strong. Unlike his turns in David Fincher’s Fight Club and Peter Chelsom‘s The Mighty, Meat Loaf doesn’t quite deliver here, and veteran actor John Saxon doesn’t really contribute much either.
Two, the gore dangerously borders on overkill, as no opportunity to showcase some fake bloodletting courtesy of Nicotero and Berger (two-thirds of KNB) is allowed to pass; if we don’t actually see the carnage as it’s taking place, we’re given convenient flashbacks so we can enjoy the gruesome proceedings. It’s almost as if Argento is desperately trying to say, “Remember me? This is some of what I’m good at.”
But Argento’s also skilled at suspense and surrealism. All we get in “Pelts” though, is the gore, and that can wear pretty thin if that’s all there is to see.

Like Season 2’s “The Damned Thing” and “Pro-Life” before it, “Pelts” is one of those MoH episodes that leave a bad aftertaste, the kind of episode that only manages to remind you of how good this particular director once was, a really long time ago, and that just maybe, he’s now way past his prime.

(“Pelts” DVD cover art courtesy of anchorbayentertainment.com.)

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