Pro-Life & Right to Die John Carpenter & Rob Schmidt

Two more entries into the ever-increasing Masters of Horror cable series finds yet another case of half-developed horror films crammed into a 55-minute running time. So far, only two — Takashi Miike’s Imprint and Joe Dante’s Homecoming — have made any kind of impression but with each new addition there are always some moments that allow these "masters” to show why they were hired. Legendary filmmaker John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) has his second shot with Pro-Life but much like his previous effort, Cigarette Burns, this isn’t one of his finest hours. Ron Perlman stars as Dwayne Burcell, a shotgun-toting religious redneck trying to retrieve his pregnant, runaway daughter from a secure abortion clinic. Trouble is, the baby inside of Angelique is Satan’s spawn. Yes, the Devil himself is going to be a proud papa! But not if Angelique has any say in the matter — turns out Satan doesn’t exactly understand the word "no.” With doctors trying to persuade her to deliver while labour kicks in, Burcell and his armed sons storm the clinic firing away. But nothing prepares them for the fatherly appearance made by the horny one, who comes to take away his newborn and run amok while he’s at it. Pro-Life is Carpenter having fun with the opportunity. As well, it’s also Carpenter working at a far inferior level than in the past. While there are certainly some upsides (the music reminds of his past glories, and a nasty scene with an abortion vacuum is pretty awesome), the concept is far too silly and unfortunately, if there’s any humour (i.e., Satan caressing his baby) it feels accidental. Needless to say, it’s difficult being pro-Pro-Life. Right to Die fares a little better. Martin Donovan is Cliff, a husband dealing with his wife being in a coma after he crashes their vehicle. She’s covered entirely in burns and is living only through life support, but Cliff begins seeing her ghost whenever he leans towards pulling the plug. Mysterious deaths begin to occur to those around him and Cliff has second thoughts about his actions. With plenty of comedic relief (thanks to the timely tastelessness of Corbin Bernsen as the morally corrupt lawyer) and some unsettling gore, like the surgical skin removal sequence, Right to Die will certainly make your skin crawl, at times. Like most MOH films though, it suffers from feeling too much like a TV movie, which it is, but that’s something I can’t seem to get past. The twist at the end is textbook Hitchcock and though not surprising, the rubber body parts flying all over the road is a nice touch to rub in Cliff’s desperation. As usual, each DVD is crammed with extras, including commentaries and every featurette imaginable, but they’re both tough sells considering the films they’re revealing are difficult enough to enjoy. (Anchor Bay)