"Cigarette Burns" is the best episode of "Masters Of Horror". Anyone that tells you is a liar, an idiot, or some Japanese movie fetishist who thinks that Miike's bloody but unintelligible offering is somehow superior to something with a plot.
"Cigarette Burns" plays out like a combination of the Kult roleplaying game and something Lovecraftian. Like 8mm combined with Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness.
The plot covers a young man, played well by Norman Reedus (whom I usually don't like), in search of a rare film that has incited its viewers to madness and murder. He begins his search for the cursed film and is drawn into its dark web of mystery, leading to some of the most dark and explicit acts of violence and gore in the series, played in a bleakly human light instead of the shiny and intentionally-shocking method that a scene of violence usually receives. The short film earns its revulsion and takes us on a journey with Reedus to find the cursed artifact and see it all to its end.
Carpenter works with fresh-faced writers Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan to craft a really excellent short film that surpasses its made-for-cable roots to be something more powerful. Carpenter, for his part, manages to undo much of the damage done to audiences with Ghosts Of Mars and Escape From L.A. in one fell swoop, reminding us that he really is one of the masters of the horror genre, much like most of the has-beens, whose only real claim to the field is having made one bloody movie that people remember (sometimes even less).
For all his flaws, this proves again that Carpenter is a man to beat and that you can't often do better than bleak mythical fables of dark artifacts bringing about unspeakable change.