I felt compelled to make up for yesterday's dross by picking another one from Masters of Horror. Of the selection Netflix has available to view instantly until April 1st, John Carpenter's Pro-Life was chosen. I almost picked between Pelts and Deer Woman, but decided to save them based on recommendations I've received from readers. Having already seen Carpenter's Cigarette Burns, I felt moderately certain Pro-Life would deliver what I want in a horror movie.
In a young girl's attempt to have an abortion behind her overpowering father's back, she conveniently runs into two doctors who work at the local abortion clinic. They take her in and then ward off the father when he shows up and demands his daughter be sent back out.
Not everyone in the movie delivers a solid performance, but the main characters certainly do and that's what matters. The father is played by Ron Perlman who easily invokes fear whether acting in a horror movie or not. He pulls off the role of an über-religious nutcase with finesse.
Once we're past the first ten minutes, which quickly lay out the conflict, the movie begins building the tension between Perlman's character and the entire abortion clinic, mainly by bringing up a lot of arguments in the ongoing ethical issue of abortion. Eventually, the father forces his way into the clinic, taking some casualties along the way, all in the name of God.
Pregnancy oddities are used to build suspense and horror as well. The daughter is disbelieved when she claims to have been impregnated only a week prior as her stomach is already showing; an ultrasound is performed and the child inside of her begins punching and kicking visibly through her abdominal wall; crablike legs emerge from between her legs.
The most notable scene in the movie involves the father overthrowing the head of the clinic and performing an abortion on him (that's right: him). While not terribly graphic--the way Takashi Miike might have done it--it was still quite insane and uncomfortable. What really makes the scene disturbing is Perlman's calm dialogue throughout the process of making a hole and then using the actual clinical abortion equipment to perform the makeshift surgery.
The movie ends with the daughter killing the evil child, and just before the credits roll she says, "God's will is done." So, it seems the moral of the movie, amid all of the ethical arguments, is that abortion is justified if you are aborting a demon seed.
Très bien Carpenter. I maintain that this MoH series has been a profitable investment for you. Now, go forth and make a full-length movie for us!
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