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Horror News and Commentary

"Masters": Carpenter & Gordon

If, like me, you've been unable to catch the majority of season one of Showtime's "Masters of Horror" series on the tube, you've got some catching up to do. IDT Entertainment and Anchor Bay make it just about impossible to ignore the series any longer--not that any true-blue horror fan has been trying to. The lineup of directors, writers, actors, musicians, and special effects craftsmen for the series is enough to put a rictus on the face of any devoted follower of horror cinema. After watching the DVDs of John Carpenter's "Cigarette Burns" and Stuart Gordon's "Dreams in the Witch House," I'm a firm believer that we're in good hands on the DVD front as well.

Not only has every episode of "Masters" that I've seen lived up to the hype--not to mention the name of the series--but the DVD releases appear to build on the already solid foundation of the program. Each DVD, judging from the Carpenter and Gordon entries, contains a detailed featurette in which stars from that director's career have a chance to sing his praises or poke fun at his foibles. The director himself is interviewed in a separate special feature. It's a nice presentation that eliminates the cluttered and chaoitc feel that accompanies so many special-edition DVDs.

But are the movies any good? Of course! I've seen five of these things, and there hasn't been a sour apple in the barrel yet. There are isolated moments in both Carpenter's and Gordon's films that are difficult to watch, and even more difficult to shake. In "Cigarette Burns" it's the image of an angel whose wings have been brutally severed and who is held captive in the home of a rich, eccentric film connoisseur (played with relish by Udo Kier). The willowy being, as the angel is called in the credits, will remain with you long after you've seen the film, I assure you. In "Witch House," the most memorable scenes emerge from the most grisly elements of the plot and are really best left for you to discover on your own. It might not be too far from the mark to call some of what appears in Gordon's adaptation of Lovecraft unspeakable.--Pete Mesling

Posted by Pete on April 2, 2006 11:36 PM
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