Masters of Horror: Deer Woman

Don’t you hate it when Native American legends about man killing seductresses come true? I know I sure do. Director John Landis’ tale conquers that common American problem with a unabashedly cheesy, but still entertaining entry in to the “Masters of Horror” series that never takes itself seriously. As basically all of these stories, there’s a woman on the road killing travelers, truckers and any horny man that comes on to her, and these guys fall for her hook line and sinker. It’s not hard to buy the fact that these men fall for this female’s tricks since the actress Cinthia Moura is utterly hot, but it’s a wonder if these guys ever saw a noir film learning about femme fatales.

Landis injects much of his sick demented approach towards horror that he takes pride in specializing in, and while the installment can be occasionally creepy, he goes more for black comedy with odd imagery and deadpan delivery of some funny one-liners. Imagine these cops trying to solve a case involving a woman whose half deer, while a man who is resorted to investigating animals finally has a purpose to his job when the murder suspect is half animal. In one very funny sequence, Benben’s character and other officers sit around anxiously attempting to discover what the killer may look like which leads to some very humorous reindeer one-liners. Brian Benben really picks up the comedic slack as the dysfunctional and utterly disgruntled officer who suddenly finds an ironic purpose in his meaningless job as an animal detective when the killer happens to be part animal.

Cinthia Moura is utterly gorgeous, just so beautiful and becomes another femme fatale in a series that’s made a habit of them from Jenifer and the witch in “Dreams in the Witch House”. Landis creates a very entertaining installment using a Native American legend to his advantage. “Deer Woman” can also be extremely cheesy, something that I was annoyed about again and again. Landis’ brand of black comedy works well when applied to certain films ala “Werewolf in London”, but his humor just didn’t fit for what I was hoping would be at least a semi-serious episode. The installment constantly meanders in to repetitious  sequences involving the deer woman, and in one truly groan inducing moment, Benben’s character begins devising different sequences on how he’d picture the deer killer.

Even Landis acknowledges over and over how ridiculous this premise is with these dream sequences that were too distracting to consider funny. Landis also gets lazy. He never explains to us why she’s doing what she does, or what the motive was. One character declares “Why does everything have to have a motive?” which would be a fascinating thought were it not such a damn blatant cop-out. “Deer Woman” stands as the most off-beat installment of the series, but it’s also the stupidest. “Deer Woman” is surely a misfire with Landis completely writing a lazy story, but the humor is appropriate for Landis’ style, and the performances are enjoyable with a concept that exploits the talents of its cast.