"'The Screwfly Solution'"
Masters of Horror episode
Masters of Horror - The Screwfly Solution

DVD cover for The Screwfly Solution

Episode no. Season 2

Episode 7

Directed by Joe Dante   
Written by Sam Hamm
Production code 207
Guest stars

Elliot Gould

Kerry Norton

Brenna O'Brien

Jason Priestley

Episode chronology



"Valerie on the Stairs"

The Screwfly Solution is the sevent episode of the second season of Masters of Horror and is based on a short story The Screwfly Solution by Alice Sheldon under the alias of Raccoona Sheldon.


When a virus overcomes the male population of the world and turns them into murderous psychopaths, a mother and daughter escape across a country where their safety is in question.

After an explanation of the title, documenting the extermination of Cochliomyia hominivorax, the movie begins in the month of August, with a suburban house in Houston, Texas where an average man has murdered his wife, daughter, and possibly mother because God had told him to "clean up". Over the next month, a series of femicides break out all over the world to the notice of Anne Alstein (Kerry Norton), whose husband Alan (Jason Priestley) is working alongside Barney (Elliot Gould) on the solution to an insect problem in the rain forest. They have a daughter, Amy (Brenna O'Brien), who is extremely excited to see her father again. Anne, Amy, and friend and epidemiologist Bella Sartiano (Linda Darlow) hold a dinner for the returning men. They discuss the methods of how the process will slowly eradicate the screwfly problem much to Bella's annoyance who would rather have all humans killed off before they kill all life on earth.

Bella then leaves for Jacksonville, Florida where a large group of femicides took place, figuring that it was the result of some kind of epidemic. She interviews an infected Army private, William Holicky (Steve Lawlor), who murdered a stripper at a club that had already been assaulted by a preacher who was believed to be a martyr by many of the infected men. The aggression is linked to sexual arousal and many of the men use religious reasons, even going as far as creating the Sons of Adam cult, to justify the murders. He tries to kill her and she departs, only to be later killed by the infected mayor.

Before her death, Bella informed Barney by phone of the strange occurrence involving the epidemic of murdering women: the disease-like condition spreads along a major disease route near the Equator. Barney and Alan head to Washington, D.C. to consult with officials on whether or not that the condition is of natural or bioterrorism origin and that the only way to avoid it is chemical castration. Barney takes the shot (despite the fact that he is a homosexual) but Alan refuses, stating that he'll be fine with pills—until he begins to have dreams of killing Anne on the plane ride home. Alan becomes witness to two murders on board the plane by a deranged passenger and a flight attendant, Alan realizes that every man on the plane is infected, himself included. Upon touchdown he calls his wife and daughter and says his goodbyes, telling them that the next time he sees them, he won't be himself.

In September, Anne and Amy have continued onwards to Canada with other women in a Safe Home fashion, though Amy taunts some very aroused and disturbing construction workers, of which a burly one chases after her. Eventually, the two retreat to a cabin where they encounter Alan who is infected and almost sexually assaults his daughter until Anne shoots him in the legs. At Alan's struggling insistence, they escape, but Amy, not understanding the situation, returns to the cabin and Anne arrives too late to save her. Anne is next seen unconscious and it is presumed that she was forced to kill Alan.

Anne wakes up in a hospital where a rash of murders are being inflicted on the female patients, much of it the work of a priest, Barney ensures safe passage to Anne by quietly escorting her out of the building. The two escape to Canada where she wears a "man" disguise in order to hide herself from the various male citizens and hunters who are also infected. Anne overhears a conversation while in a supplies store to pick up medicine, in which the community is now "a liberated zone", indicating that the female population has been wiped out. This is further reminded when a young boy gleefully smiles at his mother's death with his father, then talks about seeing angels in the woods. Soon after, Anne tries to save Barney who becomes very ill. Barney encourages Anne to keep running as she's the only survivor of the female population. As the winter season continues, Barney falls victim to the elements and dies peacefully. Planning to run, she tries to escape hunters who discover her after she expresses shock seeing a bag made out of a woman's breast in the same supplies store she's been shopping, which she also discovers that the young boy who was happy about his mother's death, is now dead, likely have been killed for inadvertently arousing the sexually frustrated men. As she flees, a bright and powerful light shines overhead and the source of the solution is discovered.

Bright aliens formed of light are the culprits, using alien technology to create the femicide epidemic. They kill the two hunters that pursued Anne, apparently to take some of their brain matter, and she escapes into the woods, where she makes a wish on a shooting star. By December, all female life on Earth is presumed to have been exterminated, leaving the infected men to slowly die off.


The film was shot using a digital camera for the first time. The director chose this experimental technique especially to give the film a different look.[2]

Jason Priestley explained his interpretation of the motivation of the scientist Alan: "For me, his knowledge and his level of understanding is what drives him as a character, and then his love for his wife and his daughter. That's what ends up giving him the moment of clarity before he figures it out. But, it's a heavy piece. It's a heavy piece for him. I always look for characters and try to play characters that have a turn, that aren't just one note."—Jason Priestley, UGO[2]


  • In the scene in which soldiers are shown various programs, one of them is shown a scene from the Masters of Horror episode Imprint, which was not shown on American television.

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