Looking back at the filmography of director Don Coscarelli and the minor horror gems that he has put to the screen, Phantasm in particular, Incident On and Off A Mountain Road seems like a footnote to his greatness.
After an accident spirals her car out of control, Ellen (Bree Turner) meets a rather eerie bystander. This bystander, named Moonface (John DeSantis), is a psycho who plucks the eyes out of his victims and ties them to a cross, allowing moonlight to shine through the eye-sockets. What Moonface doesn’t know is that he is messing with the wrong woman. Ellen has been trained to kill by her ex-husband and uses her mad skills to take on Moonface in a final confrontation.
It is the villain and the sexy and well-acting lead that make the movie. Moonface could be an iconic serial killer in a full length feature, like Jason and Freddy, becoming an unwanted, unstoppable sequel spawning machine. However, like most short films, the material provided isn’t exactly cream of the crop and usually is mediocre at best. Incident On and Off A Mountain Road, which could’ve been simply titled Moonface, delivers exactly what is expected: a shrilling, atmospheric, and worthy time-waster.
Stunning visuals of dead corpses, nail-biting suspense, and a truly frightening villain render the spooky moments. Take The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, mix it with torture porn, and add a rebellious lead character who is capable of fighting back (think Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween) and you have a somewhat pleasing entry in the Masters of Horror series.
But is all of this filler really necessary in a 51 minute feature? An awkward relationship between Ellen and her survivalist ex-husband Bruce lessens the fear factor and detaches the audience from the creepy atmosphere.
Writer and Director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) bypasses the original wall-to-wall blood-fest cliché and goes for making a fright-fest with a pneumatic ring to it. It works in the sense that it is rental worthy and actually scary at some points.
Like most of the shorts from the Masters of Horror anthology, it contains too much piffle, too much of an unwanted subplot to be entirely alluring. I did enjoy it, as should many others; it’s visually startling and kindled with some minor jolts. But Incident On and Off A Mountain Road doesn’t quite have what it takes to fully claim its spot in memory. 2.5/5 stars