Before 'TWD,' Norman Reedus Faced Horror in John Carpenter's 'Cigarette Burns'

by Matt Loftus 2 years ago in movie review

if you're sick of waiting for Norman to appear on the small screen, why not check him out in 'Cigarette Burns'?

Before 'TWD,' Norman Reedus Faced Horror in John Carpenter's 'Cigarette Burns'

If you're super fans of #NormanReedus on #TheWalkingDead, then you've patiently waited for his return in the second half of Season 7. Some of you out there can't get enough of his portrayal of bad-boy biker Daryl and have stated you'll even "riot" if he gets killed on the show. I personally love TWD and can't wait to see what happens in the latter half of the season; Negan's not going to be easy to beat that's for sure.

Well, if you're sick of waiting for Norman to appear on the small screen why not check him out in the #JohnCarpenter directed TV mini-movie "Cigarette Burns"? If you've never heard of this then you better read on because you're missing out on this horror-macabre-masterpiece.

What's The Story?

"Cigarette Burns" was made as part of the cult horror series Masters Of Horror, which ran for two seasons from 2005 to 2007. The series was brought to life by director Mick Garris (a LONG time collaborator on Stephen King adaptions) who wanted to bring back the anthology horror format to the small screen. Each episode is standalone and directed by a famous"master" of the horror genre like Stuart Gordon, #JohnLandis and even Joe Dante.

With a decent production value — no doubt fueled by the list of big-name directors and producers on board — helped to make Masters a small-screen hit and bring back some much-needed publicity for these iconic movie makers. Shows like this seem to appear in cycles but never EVER die off completely, which is good for rabid fans of the horror genre like me. What? We need our weekly fix is all.

Sweet Logo! 'Masters of Horror' [Credit: Showtime / Starz / Industry Entertainment]

Here's the official blurb for the episode:

With a torrid past that haunts him, a movie theater owner is hired to search for the only existing print of a film so notorious that its single screening caused the viewers to become violent homicidal maniacs.

Norman plays the troubled movie theater owner who, to make extra cash, has taken the job to find the only remaining print of a film that caused mass murder on its only screening. I love the premise of this episode the most as it harks back to my love of cinema and the strange tales that surround the industry. It's like an urban legend, in a similar vein to The Ring, which involved a video tape that, once seen, cursed the viewer to die in seven days. In "Cigarette Burns" however, it seems the more you look into this creepily titled film, La Fin Absolue Du Monde — which roughly translates as "the absolute end of the world" — the more likely you are to become violent and disturbed on a major scale. Sounds like most rabid fans of the Saw franchise to me.

So the film drives folk crazy? sounds awesome! 'Masters of Horror' [Credit: Showtime / Starz / Industry Entertainment]

You may be wondering what a cigarette burn is, am I right? Well, back in the day when we actually shot movies on film, they used to add a cigarette burn as a visual cue or marker for a reel changeover. The projector operator would then switch on the second projector to play over the image so there would be no loss in the picture with the crossover. In this horror story, however, it has much more sinister overtones, as the burns appear as a prelude to violence.

Any Good?

Some twisted things happen when you see the cigarette burn... 'Masters of Horror' [Credit: Showtime / Starz / Industry Entertainment]

Hell yes, I scream! I think this episode is more than worthy of a cinema showing and, quite frankly, I would pay to see it in that format. I first caught it way back in '05 when it was aired here in the UK and was glued to my seat. The tension is built up slowly and thoroughly, with Carpenter's trademark direction as he forces Reedus to go through stranger and deadlier encounters to find the film. I was hoping the payoff would be worth it, and believe me — Carpenter delivered this one with both barrels. Each scene bristles with electricity as the viewer stumbles through the effects the film has had on everyone connected to it.

I HAVE BEEN...INSPIRED! 'Masters of Horror' [Credit: Showtime / Starz / Industry Entertainment]

Also, one of the best performances I've seen in horror comes from the ever creepy, green-eyed #UdoKier (playing the mysterious Belinger), who sends Reedus out for the madness-inducing film print. His acting style is always a joy (or terror) to behold as he glares sharp-eyed at Reedus, willing him to ask questions about the film. He's so damn creepy as a villain and every time you see him on screen he oozes evil and depravity. In one scene he even touches the film cans and closes his eyes in ecstasy. I won't give away any major plot points, but THAT END SCENE is one of the sickest moments I've seen in a horror production EVER!

If you're thinking Carpenter is a mad-genius then you're right. Have a look at four of his other cult movies (including In The Mouth Of Madness), which will disturb you in just the right amount:


A tragic love story. 'Masters of Horror' [Credit: Showtime / Starz / Industry Entertainment]

"Cigarette Burns" is a blast from start to finish, with great performances from Reedus and has a healthy amount of gore on show for a TV production. You'll be hard pressed to guess where the plot will end up but it ultimately delivers a truly dystopian gut-punch that will linger with you long after the credits have rolled. I'd love to see this show get the proper Netflix treatment, as it could easily stand alongside other great anthology formats like Black Mirror and American Horror Story. Find the series online where you can and binge watch until your eyes bleed!

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Matt Loftus
Horror-obsessed writer and Filmmaker, read my ramblings here and see my short films on YouTube:MattLoftus85
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