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"Pelts"

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Horror films are not always concerned with just profit and fun. For an example we must reach back only to February to find "Pelts," another horror movie that has a lot to say about people's mad cravings. And it's still a lot of fun.

If you are unfamiliar with famed Italian director Dario Argento, grab "Phenomena" or "Suspiria" to go along with this hour-long movie, which originally aired on Showtime as part of its "Masters of Horror" series.

"Pelts" stars Meat Loaf as a ruthless, cruel sweatshop owner who makes fur coats. A call in the middle of the night brings him to the home of a local fur trapper (John Saxon), who has died in a murder-suicide soon after skinning several supernaturally beautiful raccoons caught that night. Caught up in the desire to create a world-renowned coat, Meatl Loaf's Jake Feldman doesn't take enough notice of the fact that almost everyone who comes in contact with the pelts dies in a gruesome manner.

Many of the themes in Argento's more famous movies from the '70s and '80s are present, including an obsession with sex and an identification with animals, which, as they often do with Argento's movies, get their revenge in the end. "Pelts" is also unusual for its sharply unsympathetic view of its characters. Unlike innocent victims, they encounter horror not as a random force but as a symbolic rebuke of their lives.

Argento is not afraid of being obvious, nor does he shy away from camp. Yet there's always something gurgling beneath the surface that isn't just another dead body. The identity of the killer, if revealed at all, is almost always a shock. But unlike most movies of this type, it pays to go back and watch it again, even if you know what happens. **** — Wayne Melton

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