Cigarette Burns (2005)

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Overall Rating 68%
Overall Rating
Ranked #4,739
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With a torrid past that haunts him, a movie theatre owner is hired to search for the only existing print of a film so notorious that its single screening caused the viewers to become homicidally insane. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: May 6, 2006
In John Carpenter's entry into the Masters of Horror series, the storyline centers around an underground film known as Le Fin Absolue du Monde (The Absolute End of the World). According to the legend surrounding this film, it was only screened once at a film festival... and when it was shown, the audience erupted into a murderous frenzy, ultimately resulting in four deaths and gallons of blood being shed. We find out about this from the eccentric (and extremely rich) Mr. Ballinger (Udo Kier) as he discusses the history with a young Kirby Sweetman (Norman Reedus). Kirby, as it turns out, specializes in tracking down rare prints of films, and Mr. Ballinger believes him to be the best at what he does. It should go without saying where we go from there; thanks to the promise of a $200,000 check waiting for him upon the delivery of the film, Kirby sets out to find this film that many believe was destroyed by the government after that fabled screening. As he learns more and more about the history behind the film, our hero learns what went into the creation of it... and the effects that it has on those who watch it.

Almost a year ago, I had my cable service turned off thanks to the lack of quality programming. To me, it seemed to be the logical choice; I only watched a grand total of one or two shows per week, watching movies in full screen sucks, and the sixty bucks I'd save every month could easily be put towards upgrading my Netflix account and buying a couple of new PS2 games. Therefore, I was a bit saddened when I heard about this series debuting on Showtime, and I briefly considered having the cable turned back on just to check it out... in the end, however, I waited for the episodes to start rolling out to DVD, and what better place to start than with the one that is widely regarded by other reviewers as the best of the episodes thus far?

If this is the best episode of the series so far, I have no motivation to watch any of the other episodes... this was horrible, plain and simple. This was, and I'm quoting an anonymous reviewer here, a "return to form for Carpenter, easily on par with The Fog, Halloween, and The Thing." On that statement, I call bullshit. The storyline found here is intriguing, especially for yours truly; I'm not quite as obsessive about film as the man found here, but I know a thing or two about horror and tracking down hard-to-find films (although my search usually ends on eBay and various bootleg sites). The revelations about the film in question are interesting, and the film as a whole could have been something great... sadly, however, I found myself checking the time remaining display on my DVD player more than a couple of times, and with a movie that doesn't even break the one hour mark, that's not a good thing.

The main problem with the film, in my eyes, is the way that the story is told. Kirby goes door-to-door in his quest for the infamous movie, and each time, he is warned of the dangers behind the film before being sent to another person to talk to. We're told that this film is bad, we're told that it's evil, and we're told that it curses you... but we never really learn any history behind the film itself with the exception of what's in my above synopsis and a (very) few points that serve as plot twists. Now, I wasn't expecting something along the lines of a Hollywood action blockbuster, but watching what is basically the same scene rehashed for forty-five minutes and starring a man (Norman Reedus) who couldn't act like he was wet if he was drowning was not an enjoyable experience for yours truly. The biggest disappointment of all is the film itself; yes, he eventually finds it, but no, we don't get to see anything other than a few brief clips. When you tease the audience for close to an hour about how vile this film is and how unsettling it is for those who view it, rolling the credits before showing anything from it save for a few clips is downright stupid.

So, let's wrap this up with a small checklist. An interesting storyline? Check. Great special effects? Check (thanks, Nicotero, for being the only saving grace in this film). Entertainment? Slap down a huge X... or in this case, 2/10.
Cryptorchild #1: Cryptorchild - added May 6, 2006 at 1:29pm
I actually thought it was ok. I mean it's not great or anything. I agree with your last 2 paragraphs. I really wanted to see more of the film. SO I agree with most of what you said. It could have been a lot better, the potentional was there, they just didn't follow through. And it would have been nice if they done a little more withthe ending but oh well...I'd give it a 5/10.
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added May 7, 2006 at 4:30am
A bad little horror film. I saw all of the Masters of Horror series and this was one of the weaker entries, though it is still more watchable than a lot of the schlock out there in theatres. Carpenter is a master, but this film is far from a masterpiece. 3/10,
Edd #3: Edd - added May 10, 2006 at 12:15pm
I thought the movie was great. The Ballinger character could have been shored up better, but all in all, nice little film. 8.5/10
Tristan #4: Tristan - added November 13, 2007 at 3:09pm
This wasn't really a "horror" movie, but it certainly wasn't as boring or awful as people make it out to be. Sure, it took a while to get going, and the ending was a bit of a letdown. I still found it very interesting, and it did a fine job of keeping my attention right until the very end. 7/10
Ginose #5: Ginose - added November 13, 2007 at 5:50pm
Alright, this was probably my 4th favorite out of Season 1. I liked the plot, I liked the characters, and I liked the direction. Pacing was lousy and (as stated by Tristan) the ending seemed very... redundant... pointless, even... but, all in all, I enjoyed it thoroughly. 7.8/10
Optimus Prime #6: Optimus Prime - added January 21, 2010 at 6:40pm
Pretty weak. Great storyline, just overall kind of weak. You don't hear anything about the past of the film, just that it's "evil" and it was showed once. 3/10.
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