Actors in peril: a pseudo slasher and a Giallo

I discovered two films in my Prime watchlist focusing on thespian protagonists, which meant it was double feature time! Jack Rio and Masks are very different films, though. So which did I find more entertaining?

JACK RIO (2008)

The beginning of this film is intriguing enough; Matt Borlenghi (Bloody Mary) plays a man sick of being “Jack Rio,” the character he is known for on a popular TV show. But his agent won’t let him break his contract.

While Rio is grudgingly attending a Hollywood party with industry friend, played by Sean Kanan (Hack!), a bartender is slaughtered (off camera), his face removed.

Pretty soon, others lose their lives (and faces) to a killer, and people begin to suspect Jack Rio. As he gets more and more frustrated with not being able to escape his career, we see nothing much beyond the killer wearing face trophies and a blonde female wig.

It’s simply not as macabre or creepy as it could be.

In fact, there’s only one good horror scene, when Rio goes up to a hotel room to party with a couple that is super excited to party with their TV hero.

The movie needed more of this.

Problem is, we learn the identity of the killer early on, making this feel like a cheesy made-for-TV melodrama. It also runs about 20 minutes too long at 100 minutes and has a pretty absurd twist at the end…at least the way the scene is executed.

For what it’s worth, Brian Krause of Charmed is needlessly cast in a small role that could have gone to any no name actor.

MASKS (2011)

If you want to get in the mood for the new Suspiria, don’t hesitate to see the Giallo homage Masks. Also don’t hesitate if you want to watch a much better thespian horror than Jack Rio.

A young woman who blows an audition (as she apparently has all of them) is directed toward a special secret acting school.

Naturally it’s in the middle of nowhere. And…your cellphone is confiscated when you enroll…to keep you focused, of course…

As with any Giallo, there are confusing cuts to seemingly disjointed scenes…happily, there are some gruesome kills within them, as well as a rainbow of neon lighting.

The killer uses a fencing sword, and the piercings of various body parts are FUCKED! There are also mysterious paranormal elements, resulting in intriguing Giallo perfection.

Mysterious details and situations pile up. The head teacher at the school is a bit overly appreciative of the main girl’s potential as an actress. There’s an old building where classes used to be held, but it’s now off limits.

The founder committed suicide and was known for using some unorthodox methods to teach acting. The main girl befriends (and sucks face with) another female student who seems to know more than she’s letting on….

And finally…she learns “the method.” Clear plastic tapestry abounds in the final act…because nothing says trippy, terrifying Giallo horror than victims screaming their way through a maze of plastic shower curtains.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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