The Damned Thing is the apocalyptic tale of a monstrous force that devastates Sheriff Kevin Reddle’s family and his small Texas town. Sheriff Reddle thinks there is a connection between this mysterious, invisible force which made his father kill his mother back in 1981, and he sets out to uncover and stop the so-called “Damned Thing” before it decimates his whole town by forcing the residents to kill each other and themselves.
I’ll be upfront and honest (like I usually am) by saying that I couldn’t really name another Toby Hooper movie beyond the original (and therefore superior) Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Well, there’s The Mangler, but I really have no intention of seeing that one any time soon. I have heard he had a hand, somewhat, with Poltergeist, but I think the majority consider that to be a Steven Spielberg joint. And with Texas Chainsaw Massacre being a visceral tour-de-force independent horror classic, I really didn’t know what to expect into watching Hooper’s entry in the Masters Of Horror series. Sufficed to say, pleasantly surprised I was.
The Damned Thing, the first episode of the second season of Masters Of Horror, is based on a short story of the same name, written by 19th century writer Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce, a fascinating author who infused a lot of his historical-based stories with a touch of supernatural. And then disappeared mysteriously in Mexico in the early 20th Century. Hooper’s take on The Damned Thing, set in a small town in Texas in the present time, deals with a sheriff who suddenly finds himself dealing with the citizens going bat guano crazy by the same entity that drove his own father to kill his mother and very nearly him at a young age. Now grown up with a son of his own — who stays with his estranged wife due to his paranoia of the entity’s return — he suddenly finds himself confronting his fears from the past as well as trying to maintain his sanity and protect his family as the wackiness ensues.
As an episode, The Damned Thing was pretty good. You get some good character development, I was kept on the edge of my seat, and there were some genuine creep-out moments. I have to admit, the monster reveal at the end was pretty cool as well. The Damned Thing isn’t the best of the Masters Of Horror series, mind you, but it isn’t the worst one either. At less than an hour, I can think of worse things you can do with your time.