Masters Of Horror: Season Two (Anchor Bay, 2006) Creator: Mick Garris, w/ Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Combs. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NNN
Somewhere on one of the commentaries, series creator and occasional writer/director Mick Garris describes Masters Of Horror as an attempt to broaden the meaning of "horror" while still providing the fans with their beloved splatter.
He's succeeded spectacularly. The 12 one-hour and one 85-minute movies here represent half of the best horror made in the past 30 years. (The other half's in season one.) There's tons of inventive, effective gore, but it all stems from original, well-written stories that are worlds away from the clichéd teens-and-a-slasher crap.
These are movies, not series episodes, helmed by some of the best genre directors, including Dario Argento (Pelts), Stuart Gordon (The Black Cat) and John Carpenter (Pro-Life). No two offer the same kind of shudders. They're well acted and well made on all fronts, and make great use of practical effects and artful lighting.
Valerie On The Stairs, directed and scripted by Garris from an outline by Clive Barker, the most weirdly imaginative mind ever to apply itself to the uncanny, spins off from what looks like a ghost story to explore unwholesome love and the inner life of the unpublished writer.
The Black Cat reunites Re-Animator director/star Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs for an imaginative blend of Edgar Allan Poe's life and work. Combs does wonderful work as Poe.
Ron Perlman is equally good as Dwayne in John Carpenter's Pro-Life. He brings dignity and sympathy to his true believer, even as he's shooting everyone in sight in an attempt to rescue his daughter from the abortion clinic.
Every episode has a good commentary and making-of doc, and other behind-the-scenes docs are scattered here and there.
The highly cool skull that houses the discs makes this a great gift for the horror fan on your Christmas list.
EXTRAS All discs: Commentary with various directors, writers, producers, actors; making-of docs; other docs on selected discs. Widescreen. No subtitles.