'Pick Me Up' -- Masters of Horror Episode Review

Pick Me Up by Emir Husain, MoreHorror.com

When I first heard about Showtime’s Dexter, the series reminded me of director Larry Cohen’s Pick Me Up (2006), the eleventh episode of Masters of Horror (an anthology series featuring the original works of horror writers and directors, by Showtime again). Admittedly, I’ve never watched Dexter, and haven’t read any of the associated novels. No matter, the contrast between its concept and that of Pick Me Up is as sharp as any horror-thriller knife.

The Cohen-esque imaging, for its part, doesn’t envisage a “good” serial killer tracking, only death-deserving baddies. Tout au contraire, it visualizes recreational murderers fighting over their innocent human quarry--amid equal-opportunity killers taking their grisly pleasure with all and sundry.

A novel idea of its own, to be sure, even if more realistic (frighteningly), but certainly not one romanticizing homicidal maniacs, or letting us off the hook for it. Such monsters are simply allowed their own respective notions of fair game, however twisted and nefarious.

As for the story itself, three main characters cross paths to form a fateful trio against an isolated sylvan backdrop reminiscent of -- perhaps -- upstate New York or the Pacific Northwest (a setting at least partly filmed in British Columbia, either way). They are Stacia, a bus-faring, ruggedly independent young divorcee (played by The Craft’s gothy, multi-ethnic Fairuza Balk), and her two dueling stalkers, Walker (Warren Kole), a twenty-something, not-so-good-ol’ hitchhiking Texas(y) country boy (complete with duster and cowboy garb); and Wheeler (Michael Moriarty), a trucker in his sixties with an accent, mannerism, appearance and vibe suggestive of a psycho Archie Bunker, methinks.

In fact, the similarities seem to be by design, given that Pick Me Up is a veritable medley of pop-culture references, both retro and horror, even if most are too old, obscure or subtle to resonate with general audiences. This Xer/boomer/ancient only unearthed many of them after light research. Nevertheless, the episode is rich with other kinds of symbolism.

The most obvious examples would be the names of Stacia’s stalkers, which describe their respective MOs for finding victims. The normally pedestrian Walker slays drivers and passengers of vehicles on which he’s picked up, whereas Wheeler dispatches whoever bums that trucker a ride.

Stacia, as a footloose wayfarer from the chartered bus after its breakdown, is the sole travel member skirting either eventuality, only to become a legitimate target for both killers, consequently.

And talk about going after the girl! The two pursuers are devoted to Stacia not being the proverbial “one who got away,” and neither will concede losing the lass to the other. A macabre love triangle, you might say.

Thankfully, whether that’s indeed a theme, Pick Me Up doesn’t resort to any depictions of female characters as objects of sexual abuse, really (at least in my opinion). It simply isn’t required, and that goes to show the efficacy of resourceful storytelling.

In any event, before revealing (more) spoilers or waxing even more wonkish here, I would simply say that solidly professional acting, faultless production values, panoramic yet dynamically framed cinematography, well-paced suspense (built up with help from a low-key yet captivating score), frequent noir humor, limited torture porn, zero sexual violence (arguably) and a helluva surprise ending combine to make this Masters of Horror episode a fun li’l drama.

The only major caveat I have about Pick Me Up is toward the end. It’s something I didn’t notice the first time around, or before delving into this review, thereby putting me in an awkward predicament in following through. Namely, to some of us horror enthusiasts with religious sensibilities, personally (as chimeric a species as that sounds), it’s an instance of blasphemous profanity.

Granted, among all films, horror movies--not to mention the horror genre across all entertainment and the arts--are not for those “easily” offended. If I may nevertheless quickly offer my two cents about appropriate content.

In ultra-hardcore works such as, say, NEKromantik, Men Behind the Sun, and A Serbian Film, for all their vulgarity, vile imagery and appalling subject matter, prospective viewers at least have some idea of what to expect, the better to brace themselves if taking any of them in, and opt out anytime along the way. However, in the production of relatively mainstream fare such as Pick Me Up, the deepest sentiments among more general, unwary audiences should be taken into account. It’s simply a matter of ethics.

Anyway, it should go without saying that no calls for any kind of censorship are being made here.

Send your horror news scoop to press[at]MoreHorror.com.

Click the "Like" button below and connect with us on Facebook!

Like us on Facebook:

Dismal Productions

Recent Horror Movie Reviews

Detention (2011) Review
We Are The Night Review
Hate Crime (2012) Review
Dead of Night Review
The Violent Kind Review
Piranha 3DD Review
Funeral Home Review
DeadHeads Review
Playback Review
House Of Flesh Mannequins Review
More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead Review
The Mutilator Review
The Psycho Legacy Review
4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH Review
Halloween II: 30th Anniversary Blu-ray Review
Full Tilt Boogie Review
Nightmare City Review
The Divide Review
Penumbra Review
Hellraiser Revelations Review
EYES WITHOUT A FACE Review
Entrance Review
Asylum Blackout Review
Mother's Day Review
Dead Pit Review
Them Review
Anguish Review
Snow White: A Deadly Summer Review
Snow White: A Deadly Summer Review
Theatre of the Deranged Review
Grimm Season One Review
Kids Go to the Woods…Kids Get Dead Review
Trilogy of Blood Review
Kill Devil Hill Review
Intruder Review
Malevolence Review
A Horrible Way to Die Review
Halloween II (Rob Zombie) Review
Final Destination 5 Review
The Killing of Jacob Marr Review
Stake Land Review
The Reef Review
Cowboys and Zombies Review
Necromentia Review
The Ward Review
The Caller Review
Bereavement Review
Kidnapped Review
The Hills Run Red Review
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Review
Home Sweet Home Review
Super Hybrid Review
Dead Hooker in A Trunk Review
30 Days of Night: Dark Days Review
Paranormal Activity 2 Review
Cannibal Holocaust Review
The Woman Review
Dylan Dog Review
Medium Raw Review
One Dark Night (1983) Review
Groupie Review
The Tingler Review
Dolls Review
Detention Review
Bitter Feast Review
Camp Hell Review
Scream of The Banshee Review
FEARnet's Twisted Comedy Review
Just Before Dawn Review
Carriers Review
RUBBER Review
Mangrove Slasher 2 Review
LEWIS Review
The Task Review
cathARTic Review
Matrimony Review
Fright Night II Review
Yakuza Weapon Review
Hobo With a Shotgun Review
Plague Town Review
The Defiled Review
Goblin Review
Primal Review
Heartless Review
Pieces Review
True Blood: Season 3 Review
Murder Party Review
Hell Night Review
Skin Eating Jungle Vampires Review
I Saw The Devil Review
Red Riding Hood Review
Drive Angry Review
Blood Night Review
Dismal Review
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Review
The Faceless Review
Fertile Ground Review
Slaughterhouse Review
Amityville 4 Review
Aftermath Review
Savage Review
Ninjas vs Vampires Review
Swamp Shark Review
The Loved Ones Review
Black and Orange Review - Novel
Terror Vision Review
Vanishing on 7th Street: Movie Review
JAWS Review
Future Kill Review
Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon Review - Novel
Daughter of Horror Review
Death of The Dead Review
The Possession of David O Reilly Review
SCREAM 4 Review
Track of The Moon Beast (1976) Review
Hyenas Review
Mongolian Death Worm Review
Black Death Review
World War Z (audio book) Review
Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D Review
The Absent Review
Alien vs Ninja Review
Missing Linx (Comic) Review
Thankskilling Review
Death Spa (1988) Review
Insidious Review
Basket Case (1982) Review
The Walking Dead: Season 1 Review
PROWL Review
April Fools Day (1986) Review
In The Mouth of Madness Review
MANDRAKE Review
Machete Review
White Dog (1982) Review
SAW: 3D (The Final Chapter) Review
A Serbian Film Review
[REC] Review
The Devil's Rejects Review
SAW Review
Burial Ground (1981) Review
Hollowed Ground Review
DORORO Review
Roid Rage Review
Psych:9 Review
Let Me In Review
My Soul To Take Review
The New York Ripper Review
MIZUCHI (DEATH WATER) Review
Burnt Offerings (1976) Review
I Spit On Your Grave (1978) Review
I Spit On Your Grave (2010) Review
Wicked, Wicked (1973) Review
Maniac (1980) Review
Deadline (1981) Review
Death Bell Review
The Rite Review
HUSK Review
Cemetery Man Review
Seconds Apart Review
Buried Review
The Uninvited (1944) Review
Direct Your Own Damn Movie Review
City of the Living Dead (1980)Review
The Forest (1982) Review
JIGOKU (1960) Review
Let The Right One In Review
Lost Boys: The Thirst Review
Near Dark (1987) Review
The Human Centipede Review
Thirst (2009) Review
Night School (1981) Review
Night of The Demons (Remake) Review
DEADGIRL Review
The Splat Pack Review
The Maid Review
Hatchet II Review
The Last Exorcism Review
CADAVER Review
Victim Review
Shadowland Review
Bloody New Year Review
Black Christmas (1974) Review
MIRROR Review
Splice Review
The Art of Hammer Review (Book)
Doghouse Review
The Blair Witch Project Review
Horror Movie Freak Review (Book)
Lake Placid 3 Review
Paranormal Activity Review
SHELLTER Review
Sella Turcica Review
The House of The Devil Review
UNDEAD Review (Novel)
The Woman In Black Review
Ghost Story Review
Eraserhead Review
Day of The Dead Review
The Woman Review
Night Of The Living Dead Review
Terror at Red Wolf Inn Review
The Theatre Bizarre Review
The Mortician Movie Review
Happy Birthday To Me Review
Mountaintop Motel Massacre Film Review
Frankenhooker Blu-Ray Review
The Necro Files Review
Donner Pass Review
Shark Night Review
Night Feeders Review
New Year's Evil Review
Never Sleep Again Review
Creature Review
Haunting at The Beacon Review
Zombie Review
Chromeskull Laid to Rest 2 Review
Devil's Rock Review
Fright Night (Remake) Review
Area 51 Review
Five Senses (comic) Review
Antropophagus Review
Lightning Bug Review
Never Feed the Troll Review
Alone in The Dark Review
Dead Alive Review
Zeke Review
Laid to Rest Review
The Beyond Review
Monsterwolf Review
Splinter Review
Mirrors 2 Review
Mail Order Review
Review
Snowtown Review
The Dead Review
The Shrine Review
Run Bitch Run Review
Mutilation Mile Review
The Howling Reborn Review
The Human Centipede 2 Review
The Walking Dead Review
The Echo Review
Dream House Review
Yellow Brick Road Review
Baby Blood Review
Halloween 3 Review
Feast Review
The Child's Eye Review
Scourge Review
Martyrs Review
Mothman Review
Wrong Turn 4 Review
The Keep Review
Red State Review
Paranormal Activity 3 Review
Deviling Review
Slugs Review
Nightmare on Elm Street 2 Review
Night of The Hunter Review
Pick Me Up Review
Hillside Cannibals Review
Friday the 13th (1980) Review
The Green Monster Review
The Thing (2011) Review
Night of The Vampire Review
Killer Review
Alyce Review
The Fog Review
Of Unknown Origin Review
The Revenant Review
Exit 33 Review
Rage of the Yeti Review
Let's Scare Jessica to Death Review
Territories Review
Blood Freak Review
Solstice Review
Blood Roses Review
The Haunting Review
Silent Night Deadly Night Review
Silent Night Deadly Night Review Review
Rare Exports Review
Ashes Review
Perfect Witness Review
Santa's Slay Review
Little Deaths Review
Lips of Blood Review
Bill Oberst Jr.
ASSASSINS
Silent Night Deadly Night 5 Review
Don't Let Him Review
Hell Driver Review