Masters of Horror—Season 1

masters of horror season 1 poster episode guide
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great collection of talent

Wanted a bit more from the stories

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The Masters…all in one place!

A woman fights for her life from a killer, a man finds himself caught up in a witch’s plan, drugs turn people into zombies, a girl’s deformity might hide more, a psychic connection could expose murder, dead soldiers rise against the government, a legend comes to life, a legendary film that drives people mad, a mourning couple do what they can to save their child, new bug could cross the barrier with humanity, killer compete for a kill, a man tries to raise the dead, and a prostitute could hold the secret of murder…all tales of horror and all brought to you by the Masters of Horror!

Masters of Horror—Season 1 aired from October 28, 2005 to February 25, 2006 on Showtime.  The anthology series featured multiple directors and was met with positive reviews.  It won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music and a nomination for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) (“Dreams in the Witch House”).

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I’d like some cheese!

I like anthology series and Masters of Horror seemed like a natural idea.  You get the best-known horror movie makers (while taking some of their actors) and you make short horror films.  While the series does have some fun, it also misses the mark frequently which is unfortunate.

The series has a tricky balance.  I feel that Tales from the Crypt and Tales from the Darkside already really did the “funny” horror anthology show.  Their episodes often involved monsters and murders and the tables get turned on the end.  Masters of Horror sometimes takes this “funny” approach with episodes like “Sick Girl” and “Homecoming”, but I kind of feel that the show really needs a bit more horror and when it does “go horror” in an episode is good.  There still can be some humor, but I prefer the darker episodes for this series.

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She’s always bugging out

The series takes a lot of source materials.  “Tales from the Witch House” is by H.P. Lovecraft who is frequently adapted by Stuart Gordon.  Steve Weber adapted Bruce Jones’ short story for “Jenifer” while Clive Barker wrote “Haeckel’s Tale”.  Classic sci-fi-horror writer Richard Matheson was used for “Dance of the Dead” while John Landis and his son Max Landis came up with “Deer Woman”.  While I’m sure the series had someone finessing the scripts, I don’t know how much executive control the producers had over the series.

The series also brings in a decent cast.  While much of the cast isn’t A-List stars (I am kind of surprised with the surge of TV around this time that they couldn’t find some bigger collaborators to bring attention to the series), but they are solid.  There are some classic horror actors and director “regulars” like Angus Scrimm, Robert Englund, Udo Kier, Michael Moriarty, Angela Bettis, Lori Petty, and Robert Picardo but also other famous faces including Ethan Embry, Steven Weber, Matt Frewer, Henry Thomas, Brian Benben, Jon Polito, Norman Reedus, Billy Drago, Lori Petty, and Fairuza Balk.  It is a real mix.

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Take my hand!

The visuals for the movie also vary episode to episode.  You have some great make-up designs like on “Jenifer”, but you have some pretty generic (and unimpressive) zombie make-up on “Haeckel’s Tale” and “Homecoming”.  The series does push gore at times with episodes like “Imprint” and “Jenifer”, but like the stories, it doesn’t seem like it goes as far as it could.

Masters of Horror is a mixed bag.  There are things I really like about it (like the concept), but things that aren’t as impressing (like some of the episodes).  Issue driven episodes like “Homecoming” might make interesting talking points, but they don’t necessarily feel like the themes of the series are carried out.  This is a bit disappointing in that so many great collaborators are brought together for the show, and it doesn’t take the series to the next level which it easily could have.  While I can’t say that Masters of Horror isn’t worth watching, it hurts because it could have been even better.

Masters of Horror—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

masters of horror season 1 episode 1 incident on and off a mountain road don coscarelli john desantis

“Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”

1.1       Incident On and Off a Mountain Road Airdate:  10/28/05

Directed by Don Coscarelli.  When Ellen (Bree Turner) is caught in an accident on an isolated mountain road, she finds herself pursued by a serial killer (John DeSantis) intent on capturing her.  The killer has a surprise coming to him since Ellen has had survivalist training by her husband Bruce (Ethan Embry)…and has her own secrets as well.

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“Dreams in the Witch House”

1.2       Dreams in the Witch-House Airdate:  11/04/05

Directed by Stuart Gordon.  Graduate student Walter Godden (Ezra Godden) moves into a strange old home run by a neglectful caretaker (Jay Brazeau).  When he meets a woman named Frances Elwood (Chelah Horsdal) and her baby, he learns that evil forces within the house might demand him to do the unthinkable.

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“Dance of the Dead”

1.3       Dance of the Dead Airdate:  11/11/05

Directed by Tobe Hooper.  War has decimated much of the United States and left the people shattered.  Peggy (Jessica Lowndes) finds herself under the thumb of her possessive mother (Marilyn Norry) after her sister’s death and struggles to find her own identity.  When she meets Jak (Jonathan Tucker) and his friends from the wrong part of town, she journeys to the Dance of Dead at the Doom Room club of the MC (Robert Englund) where she’ll learn the horrific truth.

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1.4       Jenifer Airdate:  11/18/05

Directed by Dario Argento.  Officer Frank Spivey (Steven Weber) saves a deformed girl named Jenifer from death.  Taking Jenifer home, Frank finds that Jenifer has a strange and seductive control…and a killer personality.

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1.5       Chocolate Airdate:  11/25/05

Directed by Mick Garris. Jamie (Henry Thomas) is a chemical food designer who is going through a divorce and battling depression.  When he begins to see through the eyes of a woman (Lucie Laurier), he not only sees her private moments but a horrible crime…now, Jamie must find the woman and see if the crime was only the accident as he believed.

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1.6       Homecoming Airdate:  12/02/05

Directed by Joe Dante.  Political pundits David Murch (Jon Tenney) and Jane Cleaver (Thea Gill) find they have to offer a new spin when dead soldiers start returning to life…and they have some opinions on how they were killed in the war.

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“Deer Woman”

1.7       Deer Woman Airdate:  12/09/05

Directed by John Landis.  A series of bizarre murders has desk assigned Detective Dwight Faraday (Brian Benben) on the case when he begins to suspect a local legend could be the cause.

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“Cigarette Burns”

1.8       Cigarette Burns Airdate:  12/16/05

Directed by John Carpenter.  A rare film collector named Kirby Sweetman (Norman Reedus) is sent after a the print of a famed film called La Fin Absolue du Monde which is only rumored to exist.  With Mr. Bellinger (Udo Kier) backing him, Kirby might learn that the legendary film has a reason it has only been screened once…but it could be his ticket to riches.

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“Fair-Haired Child”

1.9       Fair-Haired Child Airdate:  01/06/06

Directed by William Malone.  Judith (Lori Petty) and Anton (William Samples) will do anything to have their son Johnny (Jesse Haddock) back.  Kidnapping Tara (Lindsay Pulsipher), a sacrifice is prepared, but deals are made to be broken.

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“Sick Girl”

1.10     Sick Girl Airdate:  01/13/06

Directed by Lucky McKee. Entomologist Ida Teeter (Angela Bettis) receives a strange bug in the mail and meets a new girlfriend named Misty (Erin Brown).  When the bug escapes, Misty begins acting strange, and Ida begins to question the bug’s origin.

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“Pick Me Up”

1.11     Pick Me Up Airdate:  01/20/06

Directed by Larry Cohen.  A trucker named Wheeler (Michael Moriarty) and a hitcher named Walker (Warren Kole) are patrolling a stretch of isolated highway looking for prey…which are people.  When they both set their eyes on a hitcher named Stacia (Fairuza Balk), they race to see who can kill her first.

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“Haeckel’s Tale”

1.12     Haeckel’s Tale Airdate:  01/27/06

Directed by John McNaughton.  Edward Ralston (Steve Bacic) seeks to raise his wife from the dead and visits a witch named Miz Carnation (Micki Maunsell) who attempts to dissuade him.  She spins the story of Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil) who sought the power over life and death and found the horror of truth from a sideshow performer (Jon Polito) who might hold the key.

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1.13     Imprint Airdate:  02/25/06

Directed by Takashi Miike.  Christopher (Billy Drago) comes to Japan to look for his love Komomo (Michié).  When he meets a prostitute (Youki Kudoh), he learns his love has died…and the truth of what happened.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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