Plot: What’s it about?
Ellen (Bree Turner) finds herself injured and alone on a remote, isolated stretch of road, with no help to be found for miles and miles. As she drove around a sharp curve, she couldn’t miss a stopped car in her lane and smashed head on. She smacked her head hard in the accident, but is able to walk and have her wits about her, which is crucial in this situation. Unable to get a signal on her cellular phone, she walks back to the other car and notices a trail of blood. As she follows it, she soon hears cries for help and sees a young woman being dragged by a hideous looking man with a very sharp knife. This situation would render most people hysterical, but Ellen has been instructed on how to survive, even in situations like this. Her ex-husband Bruce (Ethan Embry) is a survivalist and while his abusive ways caused her to leave him, his lessons have now become useful. Ellen darts through the dark, eerie woods to escape this madman, using whatever she can find to help her fight him off. She masks a hole in the ground with branches, rigs a trap with a pair of scissors, anything she can think of. But when she is captured and locked in the monster’s cellar, will she be able to survive?
Another installment in the Masters of Horror series and this time, we’re shown the dark vision of Don Coscarelli, director of the horror classic Phantasm. Although he only uses fifty-one minutes of screen time, the director weaves a solid all around tale and weaves at a rapid pace. The film wastes no time and gets right down to the action, then aside from some flashbacks, runs nonstop. The tension is immense from the start, then only turns hotter as we close in on the conclusion. The survivalist elements lend a lot to the story and while our hero is indeed skilled, she is not unstoppable. That is one reason this movie works so well, as our hero is capable, but vulnerable, so we believe she can indeed survive and of course, we want that to happen. The villain here is Moonface, a unique and quite cool character that is silent, but very violent. Moonface is the kind of slasher that could inspire sequels, if only this were part of a franchise. So we have a great hero and a great villain, not to mention eerie atmosphere and high tension, so a lot of the bases are covered here. Incident On and Off a Mountain Road is by no means a horror classic, but it is well crafted and effective. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is one you’ll want to check out, no bones about it.
Video: How does it look?
Incident On and Off a Mountain Road is presented in 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a very well done visual presentation, even if some small flaws do surface at times. As this is a dark movie in terms of visuals, contrast is vital to the visual scheme and for the most part, black levels are on the mark here. But in a few scenes, I saw some grain present and while not a serious problem, it is worth mentioning in this review. No issues with colors though, as the hues look bold and dead on, especially those wonderful reds, which we see a lot of in this flick. In the end, the small errors don’t impact the transfer much and as such, I am giving this one a rather high score, which it more than deserves.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a great one, with only a couple flawed instances keeping the score down a shade. All of the speakers get a workout with this track, thanks to a tense atmosphere and a lot of impact sound effects, all of which are presented to near perfection in this terrific mix. The surrounds are used almost all the time once the tension kicks in, but the material is still natural in tone, so no gimmicky sound to be heard here. I did notice a couple spots where dialogue is a little hard to understand, but on the whole, the vocals are flawless in terms of clarity and volume. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc has a lot of goodies, including not just one, but two audio commentaries. Coscarelli leads both sessions, joined by writer Stephen Romano on the first and author Joe R. Lansdale on the second. Both tracks are talkative and filled with information, focused mainly on the story and how it was developed. You can tell that Coscarelli has a lot of respect for Lansdale’s work and bringing it to life on screen made this a very personal project, which is quite cool. A featurette on Coscarelli’s career is well done and runs just under half an hour, while another piece features the cast’s take on working with the director. This disc also includes a behind the scenes piece, as well as some interviews with cast members.