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Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A deer — and then some — caught in the headlights.

A detective investigates a series of bizarre slayings that at first bear all the earmarks of animal attacks, the male victims’ bodies trampled to unrecognizable hamburger by what is apparently an incredibly powerful deer, and as he delves deeper he discovers each of the deceased were last seen with a beautiful Native American woman of inhuman allure.

Cinthia Mauro as the enchanting and completely fucking deadly Deer Woman.

As the strange clues begin to pile up, the detective awakens to the possibility that the murders may be supernatural in nature, perpetrated by what a worker at a local Indian casino informs him sounds like “Deer Woman,” an irresistibly sexy spirit who lures men away with her seductive charms, has sex with them — in one case snapping off a victim’s penis — and fatally stomps her bedazzled lovers until they resemble steak tartare. The casino worker fills the detective in on all the pertinent info regarding his impossible suspect, such as the fact that she’s physically a deer from the waist down and wears outfits that hide her half-doe aspect, she’s a spirit so there’s no motive behind her murderous behavior, and that the fact that she’s a spirit means that you can’t stop or kill her. The last outbreak of identical stomping deaths occurred one hundred years previous and claimed the lives of several loggers, so any way you cut it, in an encounter with Deer Woman you’re shit outta luck.

The 2005 DEER WOMAN installment in the MASTERS OF HORROR series is only fifty-seven minutes long, and as such it’s a model of tight storytelling economy. Directed by John Landis — he of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and INNOCENT BLOOD renown (I’ll leave out A VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN) — , DEER WOMAN features his patented blend of scares and humor and is a lot of fun while it lasts, but the real draw here is Brazilian actress Cinthia Moura in the title role. She’s mouthwateringly stunning, and the Deer Woman’s totally silent presence, remaining utterly wordless even as her horny prey chat her up, only adds to her unknowable otherworldliness. Looking every bit like the forest goddess/siren she’s supposed to be, Moura is so easy on the eyes that one can see how any guy would find himself bewitched, probably grinning from ear-to-ear as she removed her top, revealing a pair of the most perfect breasts in all of Creation…until the hooved blunt force trauma began.

All I have to say to this is: What a way to go!

Other than the unmitigated pleasure of taking in her spectacular beauty, the thing I enjoyed most about the Deer Woman as a character was that we’re told in no uncertain terms that she’s an unkillable, unfathomable spirit, so she rightly remains unexplained and simply vanishes into thin air at the story’s climax, just after the detective has shot her several times and totaled his car against a tree while running it into her at full speed, demonstrating the impotence of science and technology in the face of ancient Earth-magicks. In other words, you can do your damnedest to control or even destroy nature, but it’s kind of like attempting to face down a ravenous zombie horde with nothing but your limp dick in your hand. Native American lore has been little explored to viable effect in the horror genre and its myth base is very rich indeed, so I hope to see filmmakers return to that territory and mine its vast resources. With hockey-masked machete-wielding slashers and other serial-killing madmen defining the face of the American horror ethos for the better part of nearly the past five decades, it would be awesome to see the nature-inspired myths and legends of this land’s original inhabitants brought to wondrous and fearsome life on the big screen, and I hope that DEER WOMAN won’t be the last of its ilk.

And I swear that when Moura’s top came off — twice!!! — I exclaimed “Holy fucking shit!” out loud, and I bet you will too.


Declan Shalvey said...


I think I'm in love.

Thank you, *so much* for bringing this to my attention.


John Bligh said...

Yowza. She is perfect, ain't she?

Anonymous said...

Gods, yes - she's gorgeous. And the film was a treat as well - easily Landis's best work aside from American Werewolf, Trading Places and maybe Animal House.

The "Masters of Horror" series is an incredibly mixed bag. "Deer Woman" was one of my favorites, with the other places of honor being taken by Stuart Gordon's "Dreams in the Witch House," Joe Dante's "Homecoming" (probably my favorite, though not the best), Lucky McKee's "Sick Girl," and Takashi Miihae's inexpressibly grotesque yet unspeakably beautiful nightmare "Imprint." If you haven't seen 'em, check 'em all out.

And stay FAR away from Peter Medek's "The Washingtonians" and John Carpenter's "Cigarette Burns." They suck like Godzilla's Hoover. (Now THERE are a few images burning into the mental landscape - ouch!)