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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 8: Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns

Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns
Welcome to Flavor Country

Movies have great power. We never really think about it, but movies have the power to elicit emotions, to recall memories and feelings we have long forgotten, and to change how we see the world; movies can show us all that we are and all that we can never be. John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns delves deep into the feelings and brings them to the surface.

Starring Norman Reedus and Udo Kier, Cigarette Burns is a psychological roller coaster that you want to turn away from, but feel compelled to keep watching. Reedus plays Kirby Sweetman, a rare films dealer with a torrid past that claimed the life of his wife. Mr Bellinger (Kier), a collector of rare films, memorabilia, and other items calls on Kirby to find “ La Fin Absolute du Monde” (The Absolute End of the World), an extremely rare film that supposedly sparked a deadly outburst from the crowd when they first viewed it.

 You should see him when he's angry

Kirby travels the world finding clues to the whereabouts of the supposedly destroyed film. As he gets closer to finding the film, Kirby begins to see circular flashes (cigarette burns) of his dead wife and slowly loses his grip on reality. Others who have seen La Fin Absolute du Monde warn Kirby of the horrible film and its sinister origins. When Kirby finally obtains the film and gives it to Bellinger, we see the terrible cost of watching the evil La Fin Absolute du Monde.

Cigarette Burns is one of those horror movies that scares you with its smart script and commentary, not monsters that jump out at you from the dark. It's the slow, creeping build that envelops the viewer and grabs their psyche. That's not to say there aren't some good scenes of violence and gore, but that's not why the movie works so well. Credit goes to Reedus and Kier for their convincing roles as well as the film's great music and solid directing by John Carpenter. My only real complaint with the movie is that it's too short. As part of the Masters of Horror series, it clocks in at just under an hour. If this was a feature length film, I believe the extra half hour would have made this movie even better.

 You've got red on you

The characters must watch La Fin Absolute du Monde. They have heard the rumors, they know what dangers the film can bring, but they are compelled to see the film, no matter the cost. We the viewers can't help but feel like we are doing the exact same thing while watching Cigarette Burns. We want to see this film within a film just as badly as the characters do. We are horrified by the brief glimpses, but cannot look away until it is too late. I hope this movie isn't a direct warning to me, this blog, and to you, the reader. Sleep tight.



  1. "Cigarette Burns" is definitely one of the best from Masters of Horror. You should check out "Dreams in the Witch House" for a good Lovecraft adaptation (that one's by Stuart Gordon).

  2. Yeah already saw Dreams in the Witch House. It was ok. I was a bit disappointed that it was set in modern times and couldn't get over how goofy Brown Jenkin looked.