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"The Screwfly Solution"
Masters of Horror episode
Screwfly Solution DVD.jpg
DVD cover
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 7
Written by Sam Hamm
Directed by Joe Dante[1]
Production no. 207
Original airdate December 8, 2006
Guest stars

Elliott Gould
Kerry Norton
Brenna O'Brien
Jason Priestley

Episode chronology
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"Pelts" "Valerie on the Stairs"

The Screwfly Solution is a horror video. It first appeared as the seventh episode in the second season of Masters of Horror anthology but is completely self-contained and stand-alone. It is based upon the 1977 science fiction short story of the same name by Alice Sheldon under the alias Raccoona Sheldon, credited in the film as James Tiptree, Jr. Many of the scenes in Sam Hamm's script are expansions of single lines in this epistolary story.[2] Director Joe Dante read the story in the 1980s and had wanted to make a film version ever since.[2] He presented the story as straight horror, eschewing his usual humour and without using his usual company of stock actors.[3]Jason Priestley and Elliott Gould were the stars.[4] When interviewed while shooting the film in Vancouver, the director summarised it:

"It's vaguely political. It's not political in the same way that Homecoming is. It is about a plague that starts in the southern half of the U.S. and moves around the rest of the world. It is a story in which men are moved to kill all the women. It is extremely dark."
Joe Dante , Calgary Sun[5]

The film was screened at the 24th Turin Film Festival.[6] The DVD was released on June 12, 2007.

Contents

Techniques

The film was shot using a digital camera for the first time. The director chose this experimental technique especially to give the film a different look.[2]

Jason Priestley explained his interpretation of the motivation of the scientist Alan:

"For me, his knowledge and his level of understanding is what drives him as a character, and then his love for his wife and his daughter. That's what ends up giving him the moment of clarity before he figures it out. But, it's a heavy piece. It's a heavy piece for him. I always look for characters and try to play characters that have a turn, that aren't just one note."
Jason Priestley , UGO[2]

Reception

Michael Gingold of Fangoria magazine, awarded the film three skulls for its "stinging mix of sociopolitical commentary and traditional horror mayhem". The political message was seen as a link between religious fervour and misogyny with special reference to Muslim fundamentalism. The effect of violent horror movies upon men within the story was thought to be witty self-reference though the overall tone was considered "deadly serious". The lead actor, Jason Priestley, was thought to have been weaker than the role required while the performances of Kerry Norton, as Alan's wife Anne, and Brenna O'Brien, as her daughter Amy, were thought sympathetic and more effective.[7]

Peter Brown of iF magazine felt that the presentation of the main feature was too rushed and would have been better at 1.5 to 2 hours rather than the 58 minutes allowed by the 1 hour format. Also the denouement was revealed too soon and so suspense was lacking in the second half. He thought that the DVD extras were interesting, providing Joe Dante's account of the conversion from the short story and details of the effects used for the aliens in the story. Overall, his rating for this DVD was C.[8]

Plot

When a virus overcomes the male population of the world and turns them into murderous psychopaths, a mother and daughter escape across a country where their safety is in question.

After an explanation of the title, documenting the extermination of Cochliomyia hominivorax, the movie begins in the month of August, with a suburban house in Houston, Texas where an average man has murdered his wife, daughter, and possibly mother because God had told him to "clean up". Over the next month, a series of femicides break out all over the world to the notice of Anne Alstein (Kerry Norton), whose husband Alan (Jason Priestley) is working alongside Barney (Elliot Gould) on the solution to an insect problem in the rain forest. They have a daughter, Amy (Brenna O'Brien), who is extremely excited to see her father again. Anne, Amy, and friend and epidemiologist Bella Sartiano (Linda Darlow) hold a dinner for the returning men. They discuss the methods of how the process will slowly eradicate the screwfly problem much to Bella's annoyance who would rather have all humans killed off before they kill all life on earth.

Bella then leaves for Jacksonville, Florida where a large group of femicides took place, figuring that it was the result of some kind of epidemic. She interviews an infected Army private, William Holicky (Steve Lawlor), who murdered a stripper at a club that had already been assaulted by a preacher who was believed to be a martyr by many of the infected men. The aggression is linked to sexual arousal and many of the men use religious reasons, even going as far as creating the Sons of Adam cult, to justify the murders. He tries to kill her and she departs, only to be later killed by the infected mayor.

Before her death, Bella informed Barney by phone of the strange occurrence involving the epidemic of murdering women: the disease-like condition spreads along a major disease route near the Equator. Barney and Alan head to Washington, D.C. to consult with officials on whether or not that the condition is of natural or bioterrorism origin and that the only way to avoid it is chemical castration. Barney takes the shot (despite being attracted to men) but Alan refuses, stating that he'll be fine with pills -- until he begins to have dreams of killing Anne on the plane ride home. Alan becomes witness to two murders onboard the plane by a deranged passenger and a flight attendant, Alan realizes that every man on the plane is infected, himself included. Upon touchdown he calls his wife and daughter and says his goodbyes, telling them that the next time he sees them, he won't be himself.

In September, Anne and Amy have continued onwards to Canada with other women in a Safe Home fashion, though Amy taunts some very aroused and disturbing construction workers, of which a burly one chases after her. Eventually, the two retreat to a cabin where they encounter Alan who is infected and almost sexually assaults his daughter until Anne shoots him in the legs. At Alan's struggling insistence , they escape, but Amy, not understanding the situation, returns to the cabin and Anne arrives too late to save her. Anne is next seen unconscious and it is presumed that she was forced to kill Alan.

Anne wakes up in a hospital where a rash of murders are being inflicted on the female patients, much of it the work of a priest, Barney ensures safe passage to Anne by quietly escorting her out of the building. The two escape to Canada where she wears a "man" disguise in order to hide herself from the various male citizens and hunters who are also infected. Anne overhears a conversation while in a supplies store to pick up medicine, in which the community is now "a liberated zone", indicating that the female population has been wiped out. This is further reminded when a young boy gleefully smiles at his mother's death with his father, then talks about seeing angels in the woods. Soon after, Anne tries to save Barney who becomes very ill. Barney encourages Anne to keep running as she's the only survivor of the female population. As the winter season continues, Barney falls victim to the elements and dies peacefully. Planning to run, she tries to escape hunters who discover her after she expresses shock seeing a bag made out of a woman's breast in the same supplies store she's been shopping, which she also discovers that the young boy who was happy about his mother's death, is now dead, likely have been killed for inadvertently arousing the sexually frustrated men. As she flees, a bright and powerful light shines overhead and the source of the solution is discovered.

Bright aliens formed of light are the culprits, using alien technology to create the femicide epidemic. They kill the two hunters that pursued Anne, apparently to take some of their brain matter, and she escapes into the woods, where she makes a wish on a shooting star.

By December, all female life on Earth is presumed to have been exterminated, leaving the infected men to slowly die off.

Trivia

In the scene in which soldiers are shown various programs, one of them is shown a scene from the Masters of Horror episode Imprint, which was not shown on American television.

External links

References


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