Buy this or face the wigs.

MSRP: $14.98
• Feast on This: The Making of the Washingtonians
• Wigs, Teeth and Power! The Makeup Effects of the Washingtonians
• Audio Commentarry with Director Peter Medak and Writer/Star Jonathan Schaech
• Screenplay and Photo Gallery

The Pitch

A family discovers a shocking secret about George Washington and is attacked by a horribly obvious analogy and crazed, cannibalistic historians in powdered wigs and wooden teeth.

The Humans

Director: Peter Medak, Writers: Richard Chizmar and Johnathon Schaech, based on a story by Bentley Little. Cast: Schaech, Saul Rubinek, Venus Terzo

The Nutshell

“I will skin and eat your children. Upon finishing, I shall fashion tools out of their bones.


So reads a letter found by the Frank family after moving into their new Virginian home. The creepy house has been left by John Frank’s (Jonathan Schaech) recently deceased grandmother and it scares the hell out of John’s little girl Amy. So does everything, apparently, and ma and pa Frank are sick of it so they tell her to grow up and be a big girl. In retaliation, Amy kicks over a scary portrait of General George which leads to the family finding the confession (I…guess) written inside. But is it accurate? Does G.W. even mean George Washington? Mount Vernon is just a few miles north of the Frank’s. Could this letter be legit? How are they going to find out? And if it is true, what are they going to do about it? These questions cease to matter when a band of crazed, cannibalistic GW groupie historians known only as the Washingtonians invade the Frank’s home to seize the letter and prevent the truth from spreading from sea to shining sea.

Hell has frozen over!
Toilet paper sales dropped tremendously after hell froze over.

The Lowdown

While I applaud the concept of Masters of Horror, I haven’t really seen many episodes so far that warrant its existence. Very similar to other entries from its two season run (particularly the second season, where most of the writers and directors try to ape Joe Dante’s attention grabbing political satire/zomedy Homecoming), The Washingtonians doesn’t really require much deep thought from the audience before the obvert political message clicks into place. Unfortunately, clever (and potentially interesting) as the biting political metaphor may be, this episode ends up biting off more than it can chew.

Director Medak (The Changeling, Romeo is Bleeding) aims for over the top black humor and when he lingers on a bunch of creepy old folks salivating over a ripe young girl, or strikes just the right chord with a particularly tongue-in-cheek moment (like when the hero screams “Eat me, you sons of bitches!” at a feeding-lodge full of powdered-wig Washington lovers, the episode is worth at least a chuckle or two).

The acting is wildly uneven. Serving as the teleplays co-writer, Schaech (whom I haven’t seen since That Thing You Do) really commits to the lunacy of the material. Also, for all of his five minute performance, Saul Rubinek is clearly having some fun as a paranoid history professor and conspiracy theorist. Venus Terzo and Julia Tortolano (as mother and daughter Frank, respectively) fair a lot worse and never really get much of a chance to sink their teeth into their thankless roles. You don’t focus on this a whole hell of a lot thanks to the old geezers in wigs, including the guy playing George Washington in flesh-eating flashbacks, who are clearly having the time of their lives ripping into fake human meat and smearing barbeque sauce all over their wrinkled, evil faces.

is this 'welcome to Hawaii' bran?
Frosted Finger-O’s never really was a big seller for General Mills.

If the film has the right attitude, what’s the problem? It’s in the ham fisted analogy itself, really. If The Washingtonians ever elevated itself to a real point of nastiness so that it took its political target seriously, the whole affair would actually have some teeth to it rather then just coming across as an hour-long Dubyuh punch line. Instead of taking its evil subtext seriously, the episode would rather wink at the audience, as if saying that the travesty of the Bush administration has all been one big joke. Some have argued in the episodes defense saying that the ridiculous resolution criticizes the federal government more ghoulishly than any grand guignol could ever hope to achieve. I disagree and think the ending (which is fairly congruous with the original story, apparently) feels tacked on and rushed, as if the writers realized they were only writing an hour long episode on page fifty-five.

While coming up with occasional laughs from ghoulish black humor and over the top theatrics, The Washingtonians lack of subtlety and self-congratulatory humor prevent it from really ripping into its troubling subtext. Rather than biting wit that rips right into the core of the meaty subtext, we’re left with just a pair of old dentures barely making teeth marks.

This is the reason why nobody smiles in old photographs. They hadn’t learned how yet.

The Package

I can not tell a lie, I like the cover art for this disc. The extras aren’t shabby either. Everyone seems good humored about the project, from the Maedak to the actors to the make-up artists, and they all get the attention they deserve. We even see Schaech bitching about his own lines after blowing a few. You don’t see that kind of modesty from actors that often. The commentary is a little dull (Medak talks a little like Henry Kissinger, (or Dr.Henry Killinger) which is amusing at first but gets tiresome fairly quickly). All these extras just for a one-hour episode may seem excessive, but at least they’re not trying to rip you off.

4.5 out of 10

Okay, you eat people.  Sure, I get it.  But do you really eat like…the HAIR?  I mean come on, that’s just got to be filthy.  You kill a rabbit, you shave it.  Same with most animals.  Does the newbie get the hair or something?  Is it an initiation thing?  Gross…