While every network and many cable channels have tried to create successful horror anthology series, few have ever succeeded. HBO's "TALES FROM THE CRYPT" was the exception, but few of those episodes were scary at all. SHOWTIME's "MASTERS OF HORROR," now in its 2nd season, has had its share of hits and misses, but when an episode is scary, it's "R-E-A-L-L-Y" scary.
ANCHOR BAY/STARZ is releasing the first season on BLU-RAY with individual volumes consisting of three episodes each. "VOLUME 1" includes: "CIGARETTE BURNS," "DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE," and "THE FAIR-HAIRED CHILD."
"CIGARETTE BURNS" is one of those really scary episodes! Directed by John Carpenter, it's about a guy named Kirby, still troubled by the suicide of his girlfriend. He's the owner of a run-down revival movie theater, making a semblance of living, by searching for rare prints for select collectors. When an unusual man hires Kirby to find a bizarre film, thought to be lost, with a bizarre history of violence surrounding its previous rare showings, one knows there is real danger ahead.
John Carpenter does a great job here and the film's atmosphere, pacing and production values are great. Unfortunately, the bizarre aspect to the film's last few minutes is certain to turn off more viewers than it entertains.
"H.P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House" is one of the weaker shows. A grad student working on his thesis of "String theory" believes he's found openings to a parallel universe within the room he's taken at a boarding house. Thrown into the mix is a mysterious rat, possibly with a human face, a convoluted sub-plot involving a fellow tenant, and there's a story that's even farther from the source material than director Stuart Gordon's previously over-rated "Lovecraft" adaptation, "RE-ANIMATOR." Even more disappointing than the whole story, is the ridiculous, unintelligible ending.
As bad as "DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE" was, "THE FAIR-HAIRED CHILD" is worse. The horrible plot revolves around the bad things that happen after a teen is kidnapped by a bizarre couple. Everything about this episode stinks! This director needs to stop working and find another field. It's really sad to realize that even the mediocre talent found on the tv reality series, "ON THE LOT" could do better work than this guy, but he keeps getting work!!!
ANCHOR BAY/STARZ has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio, with 1080i, not "p" for this blu-ray release. As the original "SHOWTIME" presentation was 1080i, viewers aren't being short-changed here. Colors are solid and detail is often stunning. However, there are a few instances on each episode, wherein the image falls flat. The contrast is consistently impressive, and notably better than the standard dvd.
ANCHOR BAY/STARZ has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix "and" a PCM 5.1 mix. While the PCM 5.1 mix offers slightly better dynamic range than does the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, surrounds are surprisingly reserved. Separation is limited to the front soundstage, save for a few minor ambient effects in the rear. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
All of the commentaries, previously available on the individual dvd releases, have been carried over here as options.