Rob Schmidt was a natural pick to helm an episode of MOH, and while his commentary track for this DVD isn't all that illuminating – even from the making-of featurette, he's described by his cast and crew as a mild-mannered guy with unassuming, warped sensibilities – his retro slasher Wrong Turn (2003) was a dynamic and brutal horror entry that stuck to the genre rules of innocents being snapped up by wild hicks, without switching gears and hovering in the torture porn realm.
The script by John Esposito (Tale of the Mummy, Graveyard Shift) is genuinely creepy, but the episode's writer, director, and composer Joey Santiago (loudQIETloud) all make sure the tone stays firmly on the border between black comedy and drama; the drama guarantees we're still engrossed with the story's grieving husband, as well as his tiresome bonking with dental assistant Trish (The Lost's Robin Sydney, sporting the ugliest perm in history), while charcoaled wife Abbey (Julia Anderson) lies catatonic in hospital when not reaching out to torment and maim hubbie Cliff, and greedy lawyer Ira (Corbin Bernsen) when she periodically flatlines.
KNB's effects are quite comedic – the facial expression on vengeful Abbey with and without bandages is vintage EC – and downright disgusting, milking every slimy nuance when Cliff decides the only way to stop Abbey's nightmarish assaults is to prolong her life by applying a homemade, full body skin graft. It's not as long and drawn-out as their sequence for Dario Argento's Pelts, but the quantity of red goo and sloshing, fatty epidermis is grotesque and pretty memorable.
Martin Donovan's dry performance style sets the episode's tone, and Schmidt admits he wanted the actor for the episode – a decision that obviously shaped the script's tone when the cameras were rolling. Santiago 's score is very threadbare and rarely goes heavily dramatic; he keeps with Schmidt's desire to have a lounge-type score, although at times one really needs some meaty stab in place of the score's limited synth palette.
Schmidt's contribution is one of the season's highlights, and it provides a good balance of horror and comedy amid the more vicious episodes.
This title is available separately, and in a life-sized skull that houses the complete Second Season of Masters of Horror which includes "The Black Cat," "The Damned Thing," "Dream Cruise," "Family," 'Pelts," "Pro-Life," "Right to Die," "The Screwfly Solution," "Sounds Like," "Valerie on the Stairs," "The V Word," "The Washingtonians," and "We All Scream for Ice Cream."
© 2008 Mark R. Hasan