Masters of Horror: "Cigarette Burns"
Season 1, Episode 8
Directed by: John Carpenter
CIGARETTE BURNS is one of John Carpenter's best contributions to the genre since the early 80s. It plays out similarly to Roman Polanski's THE NINTH GATE, and is wrought in dark fantasy, mystery, and suspense. Kirby Sweetman is a film detective hired by an obsessive film collector to locate an impossibly rare film that is rumored to cause insanity and bloodlust in its audiences. The closer he gets to the film, the closer he gets to losing his own sanity as he becomes immersed in the film's dark devices and true horror. CIGARETTE BURNS offers a critical look at the social impact Horror films have on their audience and filmmakers, not unlike the themes used in A CAT IN THE BRAIN (though handled much more tastefully here). From the first moments, the mystique behind the fabled "Le Fin Absolue du Monde" is enough to captivate the audience and drive our curiosity as we follow Kirby to his ultimate goal. His journey introduces him to an array of crazed, obsessed, and murderous characters before he is confronted with the horrors that lie within the film itself. Although it is more complex than most of the other series offerings, repeated viewings of this episode earn it a fuller understanding and appreciation. The lurid imagery and sinister premise make this a solid series entry and standalone film.
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