Masters of Horror: The Washingtonians
Did the British take away his napkins?
Happy Presidents' Day! For my non-American readers, this is a day where we celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Actually, most of us just celebrate having a day off from school or work and have sales on cars and furniture. What better way to celebrate such a holiday than with a horror movie based on an American President. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hasn't been released yet and honestly, I'm on the fence about seeing it. It just feels like a stoned college kid said “Whoa, what if Abe Lincoln killed vampires” and a studio threw millions of dollars at him. Instead, I decided on The Washingtonians.
Based on the short story Bentley Little, The Washingtonians stars Johnathon Schaech (That Thing You Do, Quarantine) as Mike Franks and Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13, Unforgiven) as Professor Harkinson. Mike's grandmother recently passed away, so he takes his wife Pam and young daughter Amy to go through her belongings. Amy is scared of just about everything and in an effort to confront her fears, kicks a creepy painting of George Washington. The portrait falls and a strange parchment and fork is discovered. The letter, signed “G.W.”, states states, "I Will Skin and Eat Your Children. Upon Finishing, I Shall Fashion Tools Out of Their Bones." After a bizarre meeting with his grandmother's friends at her funeral, Mike shows the letter to the executor of his grandmother's estate, Samuel Madison, who becomes enraged and tries to get the letter. Mike's family is soon attacked by men in powdered wigs and Revolution-era clothing. The family flees to their home, but the attacks continue. Mike contacts his friend, Professor Harkinson, who informs Mike that the people persuing them are The Washingtonians, a fringe secret society of cannibals that will do whatever it takes to protect the true story of George Washington. Mike and his family are kidnapped by the Washingtonians and taken to Mount Vernon. The truth about Washington is revealed as well as their intentions to eat Mike and his family. Will Professor Harkinson be able to save them in time and reveal the truth about George Washington?
No taxation without representation...or toothpaste
I'm not really a fan of movies involving historical or literary figures, throwing in a horror genre, and calling it a day, but The Washingtonians was pretty entertaining. While some may find the story absurd, its absurd in a fun way, with a conspiracy so silly that only a Ron Paul supporter would believe it. (If you're one of Ron Paul's supporters that scour the internet, waiting for people to speak ill of him, please send my blog to everyone you know. It really helps advertise it. Thanks!) The film version is far more campy than the short story, but plenty of the original black humor from the story still comes through. The Washingtonians are very creepy because of their glee at eating people, virgin children in particular. There's plenty of blood and guts as we see the cannibals tearing out entrails and organs and greedily eating them. I should note that Amy thankfully breaks the horror movie cliche of having always making the kid annoying. She's perfectly fine in this movie and didn't get on my nerves.
There are some scenes throughout where people sloppily eat piles of meat, but it's not totally “meat porn” like the movie Parents. If you're vegan, your stomach might turn a bit, but its not in your face the entire time. The movie has a good pace, which plays well in Masters of Horror's hour-long format. For the most part, the acting is good, but some of The Washingtonians are too over the top and take away the horror element. The wardrobes look great and make me want to see a Revolutionary War reenactment.
Is this gluten free? I can't have gluten.
The Washingtonians takes an odd premise of taking historical or literary figures and adding in some horror and runs with it. The idea is already being overdone (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters), but this came out in 2007, so I can ignore my dislike of the idea. There is some good horror moments and lots of camp, so it's ultimately a fun watch. On this day, we remember our founding fathers and hope that they weren't cannibals.