Body in fridge

Jenifer

Imprint

Youki Kudoh - Imprint

Billy Drago - Imprint

MASTERS OF HORROR SERIES 1 - VOLUME 2, is a six-disc boxed set featuring six more brand new, one-hour films from some of the greatest directors working in the horror genre today. Among the films included in this second volume is Takashi Miike's notorious and controversial IMPRINT, the only episode to be banned from cable television broadcast in the USA. The collection also features contributions from "horror maestro" Dario Argento (SUSPIRIA and TENEBRAE), Larry Cohen (Q THE WINGED SERPENT and IT'S ALIVE), Tobe Hooper (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and FUNHOUSE), William Malone (SCARED TO DEATH and HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remake) and John McNaughton (HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER). Representing a major television event in the US when it began broadcasting on Showtime television, MASTERS OF HORROR is the brainchild of director Mick Garris. As Executive Producer of the series, it was Garris's intention to provide the opportunity for the world's leading horror directors to make the films they wanted to make, on their own terms, with no artistic restrictions and no studio interference. After witnessing mixed opinions of this series posted on horror news groups, it came as a pleasant surprise when I finally got to see the second AB collection. For more on the background of Masters of horror see previous review. Now to most people the highlights of this particular collection are going to be Dario Argento's JENIFER, and Takeshi Miike's IMPRINT. Indeed these two episodes are very good, but the unexpected highlight for me was William Malone's segment, THE FAIR HAIRED CHILD. The episodes in this collection share themes of otherness, outsiders, disfigurement and at least two of them seem to be derived from W. W. Jacobs' macabre tale "The Monkey's Paw".

JENIFER

Steven Weber stars as Frank Spivey, a detective who rescues a strange young girl (Carrie Anne Fleming) from a psycho wielding a meat-cleaver. This causes problems for Spivey as it is the first time he has killed a suspect. Spivey takes responsibility for the mentally challenged orphan, and becomes increasingly obsessed by her; he replays the scene in his mind as he roughly makes love to his wife. Her appearance invokes both feelings of horror and sexual arousal in the detective. Has he become infected by a DEMONS style scratch to his arm? The domestic situation deteriorates to the point where his family is split apart. Meanwhile Jenifer reveals herself to be a creature with a voracious appetite for sex, and cats. JENIFER at times seems like a personal homage to one of Argento's earlier films, PHENOMENA. For starters Jennifer is the name of the leading lady in both films, although in this one there is an 'n' omitted. An opening shot of Spivey and his partner eating Chinese food in the cop car includes an overhead shot of their food which strongly resembles pots of maggots, and is that a sarcophagus fly buzzing around their car? Jenifer herself with her fantastic body and disfigured face could be the PHENOMENA psycho child grown up. She looks like a cross between Gwynplaine (THE MAN WHO LAUGHS) and Courtney Love - with doll's eyes; Spivey's son refers to her as a Morlock. On the whole the episode seems somewhat rushed; Spivey's obsession and subsequent events occur very fast. One gets the impression that Argento might have struggled with the one hour format. Frequent Argento collaborator Claudio Simonetti supplies a haunting score for JENIFER, including a trademark lullaby.

IMPRINT

In 19th century Japan, an American journalist (Billy Drago of The Hills Have Eyes) searches for the prostitute he'd loved and left behind years earlier. But on an island where demons and whores rule the night, a deformed courtesan awaits with a tale of extreme cruelty and perverse vengeance. What follows is an unspeakable orgy of torment and depravity, where the lusts of the damned will inflict wounds that remain forever. Miike finds himself directing a film in the style that western audiences want from him, not necessarily what he wants to do. Miike is not a horror film director. But he rises to the occasion and doesn't disappoint. He throws in everything but the kitchen sink, including some AUDITION-style, stomach-turning torture, and even a nod to Frank Hennenlotter's BRAIN DAMAGE. Imagine MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA with leprous noses and a catalogue of grotesqueries. Youki Kudoh of Mystery Train and Memoirs Of A Geisha co-stars in this justifiably controversial mindblower directed by Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi The Killer), based on the Japanese horror novel by Shimako Iwai (she appears in the film as the sadistic whore) and adapted by AUDITION screenwriter Daisuke Tengan.

DANCE OF THE DEAD

In the near future when nuclear war has turned much of our world into wasteland, the youth of America have become drug-crazed sociopaths who lawlessly prowl what's left. But for pretty teenage Peggy (Jessica Lowndes), her sheltered life is far removed from underground club The Doom Room where a depraved MC (Robert Englund, Freddy Krueger from NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) provides immoral entertainment for the murderous masses. Tonight, the most horrific stage show of all is about to begin... and Peggy's young innocence will come to a brutal end forever. Not a bad offering from genre veteran Tobe Hooper but it does suffer from an overused camera effect (zoom - shudder - noise) which would have worked once or twice during tense scenes, but seems to crop up unnecessarily. The story features a particularly grim incineration scene, somewhat reminiscent of that old nasty SS EXPERIMENT CAMP, where naked bodies are torched in a skip. Englund comes across as a manic version of the compere from Cabaret, or maybe, due to the post apocalyptic nature of the film, CAF… FLESH would be a more suitable comparison. Jonathan Tucker (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake) co-stars in this extreme shocker adapted by Richard Christian Matheson from the celebrated short story by his father Richard Matheson (writer of I Am Legend, Duel and Stir Of Echoes) and featuring music by Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins.

PICK ME UP

On a desolate stretch of mountain road, two urban myths collide in one night of chilling carnage – Wheeler (Michael Moriarty) is a friendly truck driver who enjoys slaughtering hitchhikers; Walker (Warren Kole) is a charming hitchhiker who prefers to butcher anyone who gives him a ride. Caught in the dueling psychos' depraved game of cat and mouse, Stacia (Fairuza Balk of THE CRAFT) must find a way to outwit Wheeler and Walker before it is too late. But is the most horrific twist of all yet to come? Laurene Landon (MANIAC COP) co-stars in this perverse tale written by 'splatterpunk' author David J. Schow (THE CROW, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING) and directed by the legendary Larry Cohen.

FAIR HAIRED CHILD

Lindsay Pulsipher and William Samples co-star in this relentlessly creepy saga scripted by Matt Greenberg (HALLOWEEN H20) and directed by William Mallone. Malone is known to most people for his 1999 remake of THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, but he made his first horror film in 1980; the low-budget ALIEN inspired SCARED TO DEATH. He followed this up in 1985 with the similarly themed TITAN FIND, before starting to work for TV including episodes of FREDDY'S NIGHTMARES and TALES FROM THE CRYPT. Deep within the desperate hearts of the bereaved, there is a pact with the forces of darkness that demands new blood to resurrect the souls of the dead. Lori Petty (TANK GIRL) stars as a grieving mother with a remote estate, a ghastly secret, and a locked basement where abducted teen outcasts await an evil that feasts upon their virgin flesh. But to satisfy a parent's depraved bargain, the beast must feed one final time. And tonight, the ultimate horror will begin for those who do not heed the hunger of THE FAIR HAIRED CHILD. The episode is a clever blend of Jacob's "The Monkeys Paw" and Clive Barker's HELLRAISER. Malone is clearly more at ease with the one hour format after years of TV work. He condenses important plot details into short scenes, or even single shots. We know that we are about to witness a kidnapping as we share the stalker's view of the intended victim from a car. On the dashboard are photographs of the girl, taken from the same car on previous occasions, and there is a bottle of chloroform ready for use. The girl is identified as an outsider from a few short scenes at the school. Later on, black and white flashbacks, and a few pages from a satanic diary inform us of the son's fate. In short, Malone has directed the unexpected stand-out episode from this series.

HAECKEL'S TALE

In a time when the laws of science battled the secrets of magic, medical student Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil) believes the power of life, death and resurrection lay in his arrogant hands. But on a journey to visit his gravely ill father, he finds shelter in the home of an older man and his seductive young wife (Leela Savasta) who cannot be fulfilled by mortal hungers. Somewhere in the darkness of a nearby necropolis, a defiant necromancer (Jon Polito of BARTON FINK) will now summon them all to an orgy of the undead and unleash the ultimate depravity for those who do not heed the warning of HAECKEL'S TALE. Directed by John McNaughton in association with horror legend George A. Romero, this startling mix of erotic desire and gut-ripping horror is adapted by series creator/executive producer Mick Garris from the short story by Clive Barker.

Each disc in the boxed set comes packed with a host of extra features, including audio commentaries, interviews with the directors and stars, "making of" featurettes, director biographies and much more.

Features:

JENIFER (Dario Argento) Audio commentary by writer and star Steven Weber and DVD producer Perry Martin So Hideous My Love - interview with Dario Argento Working With A Master: Dario Argento From Script to Screen On set with Steven Weber On set with Carrie Anne Fleming Howard Berger and the Make Up of Jenifer Behind the scenes Dario Argento biography 2.0 stereo and optional 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS DVD-ROM content: script and screensaver Scene selection

PICK ME UP (Larry Cohen) Audio commentary by Larry Cohen Working With A Master: Larry Cohen On set with Michael Moriarty On set with Fairuza Balk On set with Warren Kole Behind the scenes From Script to Screen Death On The Highway - interview with Larry Cohen Fantasy Film Festival - Mick Garris interviews Larry Cohen Larry Cohen biography 2.0 stereo and optional 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS DVD-ROM content: script and screensaver Scene selection

DANCE OF THE DEAD Audio commentary by writer Richard Christian Matheson Primal Scream - interview with Tobe Hooper On set with Jessica Lowndes On set with Robert Englund On set with Jonathan Tucker The Written Word with Richard Christian Matheson Behind the scenes Tobe Hooper biography 2.0 stereo and optional 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS DVD-ROM content: script and screensaver Scene selection

FAIR HAIRED CHILD Audio commentary by director William Malone and writer Matt Greenberg Working With A Master: William Malone On set with William Samples On set with Jesse Haddock On set with Lindsay Pulsipher On set with Lori Petty The Face Of Fear featurette Behind the scenes William Malone biography Malone Makes A Movie (Age 13) 2.0 stereo and optional 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS DVD-ROM content: script and screensaver Scene selection

HAEKEL'S TALE Audio commentary by John McNoughton Working With A Master: John McNoughton Breaking Taboos - interview with John McNoughton On set with Derek Cecil On set with Jon Polito On set with Leela Savasta Behind the scenes From Script to Screen John McNoughton biography 2.0 stereo and optional 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS DVD-ROM content: script and screensaver Scene selection

IMPRINT Audio commentary by critic and American Cinmatheque film programmer Chris D. and writer Wyatt Doyle I Am The Director Of Love And Freedom - interview with Takashi Miike Imperfect Beauty - make up and SFX featurette Imprinting - the making of Imprint Takashi Miike biography 2.0 stereo and optional 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS DVD-ROM content: script and screensaver Scene selection