Found-Again Friday: Masters of Horror—Valerie On The Stairs

So I watched neither the classic nor the classically goofy prospect for this week’s F-AF. It seems Netflix has started this proactive “Shipping Today!” feature, which I’m finding very satisfactory—not least because I now have two DVDs more than my plan requires. And so I took another peek at another Tony Todd villain a week earlier than I’d planned.

Why Found-Again? At no time is my “attracted, yet repulsed”  feeling toward horror fare more pronounced than when I watch Showtime’s Masters of Horror series. I’ve seen four of them so far, and these are the only DVDs where I avidly watch the previews, all of which are for other MoH episodes and all of which look fascinating.

Despite all this, I can barely make it through the opening-credits sequence for the show, with its decomposing rat and evilly smiling doll, among other dreadful things. Add a Clive Barker story to the mix, and we’re probably all lucky I watched this the first time.

The Premise: You know that guy in your English class who really wanted to be Raymond Carver, who wouldn’t shut up about it, and by the end of the course you wanted to kick him right in the inspiration? In Valerie on the Stairs, that man is our protagonist.

Rob, an aspiring writer with the requisite drinking and relationship problems, manages to get a rent-free spot at a house full of unpublished authors. No sooner does he sit down to write his first (pretentious) sentence than weird things start happening: there’s a beautiful girl in the walls, and a monster (Tony Todd, the only actor in the world who could have pulled off those demon ears his character has) who relentlessly pursues her. Rob has to turn to his fellow failed authors to find out what the hell—maybe literally—is going on.

Also, someone gets their spine ripped out through their mouth. I mention this because I wish someone had reminded me. Yuck.

The Verdict: This is what Found-Again Friday is all about: the first time I watched this, I found the movie’s end so insufferably twee that I almost couldn’t believe Clive Barker wrote it. And I was wrong: on this second viewing, it’s much easier to see the edge of despair in the ending, even if it does have a wry little twist in it, too. Better than I remembered.


Next time: TCBOM! When villains make me giggle… part 21,396.

J. A.

It reads. It writes. It watches. It researches. It overdoes many of those things!

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