Screen Review: Cigarette Burns, John Carpenter

John Carpenter’s one-hour episode of The Masters of Horror series not only eclipses every other episode, but, for my money, everything else that Carpenter himself has ever done. And I say that as a Carpenter fan. The episode contains none of Carpenter’s characteristic camp, which I’ve always been able to take or leave, but plenty of the gore anyone who knows Carpenter’s work will be expecting. It’s fantastic and terrifying and will echo in your brain—like its brilliantly-evoked MacGuffin—for a long time to come. And although I will admit a weakness for “cursed object” horror, Carpenter’s filmic take on The King In Yellow does it almost exactly right. It even manages a straight-faced happy ending, which is an almost unbelievable achievement given the depths of darkness that come before.