John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns
|Masters of Horror episode|
DVD cover for Cigarette Burns
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||John Carpenter|
|Written by||Drew McWeeny
|Original air date||December 16, 2005|
Deeply in debt to the father of his late wife, rare-films dealer Kirby Sweetman (Norman Reedus) has less than a month to produce $200,000 in order keep his small theater afloat. He is hired by an old cinephile, Mr. Bellinger (Udo Kier) to find the only existing print of a rare thirty-year old movie, La Fin Absolue du Monde (French: The Absolute End of the World). The film supposedly led to a homicidal riot during its premiere at the Sitges Film Festival, after which it was destroyed.
Bellinger leads Sweetman to a hidden room in his mansion, which contains an emaciated pale man (Christopher Redman) in chains. The wounds on the man's shoulders appear to be the source of a pair of angelic wings. The chained man explains that his existence is bound to the existence of the film. Bellinger then offers Sweetman $100,000 dollars to find the film, which Sweetman increases to $200,000. Sweetman begins his research and gets his first lead: a critic who wrote a review of the film. The mentally-sick critic gives Sweetman an audiotape of an interview with the film's director.
Sweetman listens to the tape and has a hallucination of his late wife in the state of her suicide. Sweetman's friend tells him that he was the projectionist at a secret screening of the film. He was spared death and insanity because he turned away from the film as it played. Eventually, he tried to stop it, but blacked out, only to wake up with his left hand burned. He sends Sweetman to a warehouse, where he meets a deranged filmmaker. Sweetman is seized, injected with an anesthetic, and blacks out, waking up tied to a chair. The filmmaker explains to Sweetman that an angel was mutilated in the film, and the evil of that horror affects all who view the film. Sweetman experiences another vision and when he comes to, he finds himself holding the machete. The filmmaker has his throat slashed. Before the man dies, he says, "Katja".
Sweetman speaks with Katja, the director's widow (Gwynyth Walsh). She gives Sweetman the film. When he asks how the director died, the widow reveals that he slashed his own throat, and hers as well, though not fatally in her case. Sweetman brings the film to Bellinger and collects his payment. Bellinger sees the mutilated angel in the film. Sweetman is informed that his father-in-law locked the theater. He receives a phone call from a distraught Bellinger, and returns to the mansion. There he finds the butler, who gouges his own eyes out with a knife. Inside, he finds the old man loading his own intestines into the reels of another projector.
Sweetman's father-in-law pulls a gun and threatens to kill him. They struggle and another cigarette burn envelopes the screen. Sweetman awakens to find both him and his father-in-law watching the movie, both bloody. The butler frees the chained angel. Sweetman's late wife appears and bites her father's neck. Sweetman wakes up, and decides that he and his father-in-law both have to die because neither can truly let her go as long as they're alive. Sweetman then brutally kills his father-in-law and commits suicide himself.
The last scene shows the angel taking the two film reels. The angel walks into the theater, looks at Kirby's bloody corpse and says, "Thank you for this," indicating the film reels, before leaving.
DVD and Blu-ray Disc
The DVD was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment on March 28, 2006. The episode was the eighth episode and the first to be released on DVD. The episode appears on the first volume of the Blu-ray Disc compilation of the series.