Masters of Horror: "Pelts" Episode Review
Written by Steve Pattee
You ever seen anything like these pelts? – Jake Feldman
Directed by Dario Argento
Written by Matt Venne (based on a short story by F. Paul Wilson)
2006, 63 minutes, Not rated
Meat Loaf Aday as Jake Feldman
John Saxon as Jeb "Pa" Jameson
Ellen Ewusie as Shana
Link Baker as Lou Chinaski
Michal Suchánek as Larry Jameson
Jake Feldman (Meat Loaf Aday – Fight Club) is a purveyor of pelts — and not a very nice one. The stereotypical sweatshop boss, Feldman only cares about one thing; the green.
He might care about that stripper in the club he likes to frequent, but chances are, if it came down to her or money, he'd take the coin.
One night, one of his suppliers, Pa — played fantastically by John Saxon (Nightmare on Elm Street) — gives him a call and informs Feldman that he, Pa, has found the perfect pelts. Of course, Pa neglected to mention the strange monuments surrounding the area where he and his nephew slaughtered the raccoons that made these perfect pelts.
As pessimistic as he is, Feldman decides to swing by Pa's place to check these furs out. After all, Pa has been a good supplier to Feldman, so he gives him the benefit of the doubt.
And when Feldman gets to the house, he sees the most perfect pelts he has ever laid his eyes on, just like Pa promised. He is also witness to the aftermath of a horrific bloodbath, but, dammit, he's got pelts to sell! He can call the police from the highway!
But there's something weird about these pelts (shocking!). They have a way of making people do things. Painful things. Bloody things.
And it's only a matter of time before it's Feldman's turn to do something.
Shortly before I received "Pelts" for review, I had a conversation with my friend, Tom.
"I'm getting a 'Masters of Horror' episode for review," I told him.
"Oh yeah? Which one?"
He laughed. "Oh, boy," he said. "You know who directed that, right?"
"Wonderful," I replied.
See, the people who know me know Dario Argento and I have a love/hate relationship. He loves to make movies and I hate the movies he makes.
Hate might be too strong of a word, but I have yet to grasp why Argento has such a huge following of ravenous fans.
Say this, though: The man is a master of a good shot. I don't like Suspiria, but I've watched it three times. Not so much for the story, but for the visual experience. So I'll certainly give credit where credit is due.
So I knew even if I wasn't impressed with "Pelts'" story, I would still be entertained on some level. And I was right.
The story is a little out there — not so much the evil business owner (that's a standard go-to in anthology shows) — but the whole story behind the raccoons. The best I can gather is an old lady discovered them, and now protects them. And since she seems to be some sort of witch, there's hell to pay for anyone who hurts the little buggers. A little goofy, sure, but I've seen worse.
As mentioned, John Saxon is fantastic in "Pelts" as the cranky Pa, killer of raccoons. It's been a while since I've seen him in something, and it's nice to know he's still out there kicking a little ass. Surprisingly, Meat Loaf Aday disappointed me a little. While not a big fan of his music, I've always enjoyed his acting (especially in a "Tales from the Crypt" episode in Season 4). But here, he comes off a little wooden.
Not surprising, though, are some of the nicely shot scenes in "Pelts." When Feldman first hits the strip bar, and goes into a private room, it's a very pretty shot. And not just because of the gorgeous stripper. It's incredibly well lit, and it's a standout scene. When you consider it's done for a TV episode rather than a movie, it's that much nicer. It's those type of scenes that make you realize there's a reason Argento is still in the game. Regardless of how you feel about his movies.
But what makes "Pelts" work, what makes it one of the better "Masters of Horror" episodes, is Argento's unflinching style when it comes to the gore. You won't find any quick cuts here when things start getting a little bloody. Hell, in some cases, you're getting a close up. And it's wonderful.
Each death scene is better than the last, culminating into one hell of a finale. And the finale is oh so nice.
Audio, video and special features will not be graded, as this was a screener.
"Pelts" hasn't changed my opinion of Argento much, but it's painfully obvious what a director with experience can do to what could have been a mediocre story. If you are a fan of the grue, you'll definitely want to give "Pelts" a spin.
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