Autodidact: self-taught


Masters of Horror Reviews Part 1

by V. L. Craven

Masters of Horror is an anthology series of films by some of the best horror film-makers working today. Each short-film was around an hour long and most were based on a short story. The series was helmed by Mick Garris and ran for two seasons on Showtime. What would have been the third season became Fear Itself, which aired on NBC.

Though each episode of MoH had different writers most still suffered from the occasional stilted dialogue. And even though the episodes were directed by the best horror filmmakers, it’s better to think of these as extended television episodes than films. None are up to the calibre you’d expect from a full-length film, but they’re still better than some horror movies shown in cinemas for ludicrous ticket prices. As with any collection, there were hits and misses.

Over the next several weeks I’ll review a few episodes of the series each Thursday. If you agree or disagree with my review, let me know in the comments.

Series One

Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (Don Coscarelli): Fetching young woman gets stranded in the dark on a mountain road. Mutant serial killer wants to ‘make friends’. Survivor Girl has a leg up, as she’s been married to a survivalist, who’s been training her in the ways of crazy, I mean, how to fight for survival in desperate circumstances. And being stalked in the dark by a freak who wants to make you into a Blair Witch scarecrow that uses the moonlight as eye-beams (it’s quite disturbing) is about as desperate a situation as you could ask for. Most of the gore/torture is out of shot. A nice introduction to the anthology. Based on a short story by Joe R Lansdale. 8/10

Incident On and Off a Mountain Road

‘It takes a little time to acclimate to the tilted floors, let me help.’

H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch-House (Stuart Gordon): A graduate student of string theory rents a room in a run-down boarding house and the weirdness begins nearly immediately. With the scratching in the walls, rats with human faces and the portals to parallel dimensions right in his room. There’s the obligatory old man, warning the grad student, who doesn’t heed said warning. There are also bad dreams and the titular witch, as you’d expect, the good old Necronomicon makes an appearance and a rollicking time is had by all. 8/10

MoH Dreams in the Witch House

Perhaps if he’d attended a different university…

Dance of the Dead (Tobe Hooper): Post WWIII, where terrorist attacks and rapes happen by the score, clean blood is a commodity and the common denominator for entertainment has dropped even lower than Jersey Shore, a teenage girl disobeys her mother to go into the nearest city. The hottest in entertainment is something called L.U.P.s, which, for legal reasons, have to be prefaced as ‘scientific’ performances. When legal/ethical issues must be addressed in a post-apocalyptic hell-land you know you’re in for a good time. Based on a story by Richard Matheson. Bonus points for having Robert Englund as the MC of the Doom Room, which looks like it’s based on the NIN ‘Wish’ video. And, apparently, it was scored by Billy Corgan. This was one of my favourites of the entire MoH series. 9/10

Robert Englund Dance of the Dead

Your eyes are getting heavy…you are getting sleepy…

Jenifer (Dario Argento): A detective happens upon a man about to butcher a young woman and, upon shooting the would-be assailant, discovers the woman has a severe facial deformity. Apparently mute, she’s taken to an insane asylum. The detective can’t stand the way she’s being treated there, and takes her home with him. Things don’t go very well, so he employs the help of someone accustomed to dealing with the specially gifted… the situation devolves from there. The screenplay was written by Stephen Weber, based on a short comic book story by Bruce Jones and Berni Wrightson. The goriest one thus far. mmmm entrails. 8/10

Masters of Horror Jenifer

This was the *least* horrifying photo I could find

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