Anchor Bay // 2006 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mac McEntire // January 3rd, 2007
"You're late...for your recital."
Who is this William Malone guy, and why was he included in Showtime's Masters of Horror anthology, alongside macabre marquee names like John Carpenter and Dario Argento? Sure, back in the '80s Malone directed cult faves Scared to Death and Creature, and more recently, he helmed FearDotCom and the House on Haunted Hill remake. While those films aren't entirely awful, Malone's real claim to fame in the horror community is as a mask maker, creating monsters, aliens, and other unnatural faces for dozens of films, including the iconic Michael Myers "Shatner mask" from the original Halloween. OK, so even if Malone's credentials aren't up there with some of the other guys, I'll be damned if he hasn't whipped up a gripping, suspenseful tale fright with The Fair Haired Child.
While riding home on her bike, schoolgirl Tara (Lindsay Pulsipher, Piledriver) is brutally abducted by a stranger in a van. She wakes up in a hospital, several hundred miles from home, with no memory of how she got there. A nurse (Lori Petty, Tank Girl) seems kind at first, but soon shows her true intentions. Horrified, Tara eventually ends up trapped alongside another missing teen, Johnny (Jesse Haddock, Hot Rod). The two of them must rely on and comfort each other, knowing that their deaths could be at any second.
I've now seen all but two of the Masters of Horror DVDs that have been released as of this writing, reviewing them for this site and buying the rest. I've enjoyed each of them in one way or another, finding that they're more playing with the "fun" aspects of horror, such as being chased by monsters or by wandering through gloomy locales with lighting and thunder in the distance. The Fair Haired Child also makes use of these elements, but there's more to it than that. When Tara and Johnny are trapped, the danger feels real, and their fear comes across as genuine. What makes this one work so well is its intensity. Sure, some of the other Masters have their intense moments, but this one cranks up the intensity like no other.
The story is a claustrophobic one, which of course adds to the suspense, with our characters desperately seeking an escape that just isn't there. A little less tangible is the story's tone, in which the sense of dread is down to earth and palpable, despite one or two supernatural elements thrown into the plot. The reason by both of the above points work so well is because of the performers. Lindsay Pulsipher carries the entire movie nicely. Yes, she's terrified, but she also shows some strength and courage in the face of her imminent doom. There's also a caring side to her character, in how she bonds with Johnny, watching out for him, and holding him at times when he's vulnerable. Lori Petty and William Samples (The Legend of Earthsea) are appropriately quirky as two bizarre parental figures.
Malone's background and personality really shine in the bonus features. Again, even though he's not as famous as the big names, Malone has a lot of interesting stories to tell. The featurettes and the commentary track give viewers a chance to really get to know him, as well as his thoughts on this episode and on monster movies in general. The four on-set interviews with the cast focus more on the production, as do the other featurettes. We're also treated to some very funny clips from Malone's first short film, a zero-budget backyard movie if there ever was one. As usual, the disc is rounded out with a text bio, trailers, and the screenplay and screen savers on DVD-ROM.
Should I? Should I do it? Should I take that step and declare The Fair Haired Child as the best Masters of Horror entry so far? Maybe not. If I do come right out and say that, I risk the ire of horror fans everywhere for not picking their favorite instead. And yet, this is a really, really good one. If you like scary stories, do yourself a favor and snatch this one up right away, even if the director's name makes you say "Who?"
Review content copyright © 2007 Mac McEntire; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Golden Gavel 2006 Nominee
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary with Director William Malone and Writer Matt Greenberg
* "The Face of Fear: An Interview with William Malone"
* "Working with a Master: William Malone"
* On Set Interview with Jesse Haddock
* On Set Interview with Lori Petty
* On Set Interview with Lindsay Pulsipher
* On Set Interview with William Samples
* "Behind the Scenes: The Making of the Fair Haired Child"
* Scenes from William Malone's First Short Film
* Still Gallery
* William Malone Bio
* DVD-ROM Screenplay
* DVD-ROM Screen Saver
* Masters of Horror Official Site
* The Lori Petty Home Page
* Masters of Horror: John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns Review
* Master of Horror: Stuart Gordon: Dreams in the Witch House Review
* Masters of Horror: Mick Garris: Chocolate Review
* Masters of Horror: Don Coscarelli: Incident On and Off a Mountain Road Review
* Masters of Horror: Lucky McKee: Sick Girl Review
* Masters of Horror: John Landis: Deer Woman Review
* Masters of Horror: Dario Argento: Jenifer Review
* Masters of Horror: Tobe Hooper: Dance of the Dead Review
* Masters of Horror: Takashi Miike: Imprint Review
* Masters of Horror: Larry Cohen: Pick Me Up Review
* Masters of Horror: John McNaughton: Haeckel's Tale Review