As most of you are quite aware, I am an avid horror movie fan, which is often a bit of a problem as there is rarely enough good material that I feel is worth my time. Thankfully Mick Garris (Critters 2, Psycho IV, and the Stand among others) got a group of his Director friends together for informal dinners in Sherman Oaks, California. Because of this and thanks to Guillermo Del Toro who nicknamed the group the Masters of Horror (He said this in jest to a woman in the restaurant the group met in when giving her Birthday wishes from the Masters of Horror), Garris would would create and produce an original horror television anthology for Showtime, movies that were only one hour long.
I sadly do not have Showtime so I had to wait expectantly for the DVD release and as soon as I saw my first episode, John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns, I knew by its opening credits this was my kind of ‘television show’!
John Carpenter would come back for the second season to direct, Pro-Life. By the way…does anyone else think that it looks like Michael Meyers at the end of the intro? The blurry shape standing over the murder victim?
A great many of the most famous horror directors were invited to take the helm of an episode of the Masters of Horror, most of them coming back for the second season as well:
Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) – Incident On And Off A Mountain Road
Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, Fortress, Dagon) – H. P. Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch-House and The Black Cat
Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins, Matinee) – Homecoming and The Screwfly Solution
Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) – Dance of the Dead and The Damned Thing
Dario Argento (The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Suspira, Creepers) – Jenifer and Pelts
Mick Garris – Chocolate and Valerie on the Stairs
John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places, Three Amigos) – Deer Woman and Family
William Malone (Creature, House on Haunted Hill, Parasomina) – Fair-Haired Child
Lucky McKee (May, The Woods) – Sick Girl
Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, God Told Me To, The Stuff) – Pick Me Up
John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Wild Things) – Haeckel’s Tale
Takashi Miike (Audition, Dead or Alive) – Imprint
Ernest Dickerson (Juice, Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight, Bones) – The V Word
Brad Anderson (Next Stop Wonderland, Session 9, The Machinist) – Sounds Like
Rob Schmidt (Wrong Turn, The Alphabet Killer) – Right to Die
Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child’s Play, The Langoliers) – We All Scream For Ice Cream
Peter Medak (The Changeling, Zorro – The Gay Blade, Romeo is Bleeding) – The Washingtonians
Norio Tsuruta (Borei Gakkyu, Kakashi) – Dream Cruise
Showtime by the way refused to air Imprint due to concerns over its extreme content, gore and torture. Joe Dante found a way to sort of get past that as he included one of its scenes on a television in the background of The Screwfly Solution. Imprint was released though, uncut, on DVD.
Mick Garris would go on to create a new series for NBC television instead of a third season of Masters of Horror, Fear Itself, and would air 13 episodes. Mick Garris also created a second series for ABC entitled the Masters of Science Fiction with the likes of Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation) directing a short story of Harlan Ellison.