Plot: What’s it about?
As a devoted horror movie fan, I was thrilled when Masters of Horror was announced. A series that would bring in some of horror’s best & brightest, give them an hour, and see what happens. The names involved were impressive, John Landis, Tobe Hooper, Lucky McKee, Stuart Gordon, Dario Argento, Takashi Miike, and others all directed episodes. Thanks to being broadcast on Showtime, the series could be liberal with blood and nudity, which is always good news. In this second volume of episodes from the first season, we have three of my personal favorites. Sick Girl is probably my favorite episode from the first season, a lot of fun and a movie I could watch over and again. Jenifer is eerie and almost hypnotic, while Deer Woman is so over the top, its hard to resist. None stand out as masterpieces, but each one is solid and has great moments. This Blu-ray disc offers all three episodes complete with an audio commentary track for each, but ditches the other supplements. Even so, if you’re a fan of the series and these episodes in specific, this is the best way to experience Masters of Horror.
1. Jenifer- Frank Spivey (Steven Weber) is a detective with a family, his life isn’t perfect, but it isn’t so bad. On a stakeout, he steps out to get some fresh air and hears a woman scream. He rushes toward the sound and sees a crazed man about to chop off a woman’s head, so of course, he draws his gun. The situation ends when Frank guns the man down and saves the woman, who turns out to be disfigured to an extreme degree. When no one will step up to look after her, the woman is sent to an institution, but Frank wants to help, so he takes her in. This causes immense tension with his wife, especially when the woman devours the family’s cat. Soon, Frank finds himself secuded by the woman and even when his wife and son leave, he remains behind. But when the woman begins to show homicidal traits, will Frank be able to survive what follows?
2. Sick Girl- Ida (Angela Bettis) has a few bugs in her apartment. Not that she minds however, as they’re not pests, in fact they’re pets. This sounds very weird, but she works as an entomologist, so her interest is the bugs isn’t just personal, its also professional. But the fact that she brings her work home has caused her problems, as her dates have often been unable to deal with the situation. She soon becomes bold and asks a woman who she often sees at work to dinner and right from the start, Ida is smitten with Misty (Erin Brown) and the feeling is mutual. But as the two enjoy some passionate kisses, a strange bug delivered to Ida stings Misty, though she keeps it a secret. Soon however, the bite proves to be a real problem, though Misty continues to remain silent. When the two move in together and share more time together, what will become of Misty and her ever worsening bite?
3. Deer Woman- Dwight Faraday (Brian Benben) is a dedicated police detective, but these days, he isn’t allowed to put his skills to the best uses. Instead of working murder cases or organized crime incidents, Dwight finds himself assigned to animal attacks. So when someone has a problem with a mean gopher, he’s the man to call. But a recent rash of killings seems to have some sort of animal connection, so he and his partner Jacob (Anthony Griffin) decide to investigate. The lone connection between the murders is that witnesses see the victim with a brown haired woman, well that and the gruesome, animalistic murder methods. By chance, he hears about a legend known as the Deer Woman and while far fetched, it sounds similar to the murder scenarios. But has Dwight really stumbled onto a real life legend, or has he just worked too many animal bite cases?
Video: How does it look?
All three episodes are presented in 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was impressed with these transfers, as they’re an improvement over both the DVDs and Showtime’s HD broadcasts. At the same time however, they aren’t the kind of eye popping visual delights some might expect. The main improvement is overall clarity, as the image in each episode is much clearer and displays enhanced detail levels. Not as razor sharp as some transfers, but good detail and in close ups, the smallest details seem to be crystal clear, so that is great news. I found colors to be bright and vivid, while contrast is spot on, flawless in almost every scene. So these episodes do look much better here, but don’t expect flawless detail from start to finish.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is supplied via uncompressed PCM 5.1 options, which is about as good as it gets, folks. I’ve seen all three episodes on DVD and high definition cable, but the improvement here is beyond compare. All three movies have plenty of audio potential, from eerie atmosphere to tense sequences to deer kicking the doors off of big rigs. I wouldn’t say the audio competes with high end action movie material, but for these episodes, the audio is fantastic. All the screams, slashes, cat hisses, and what not come across in great fashion, not to mention clear, crisp dialogue. Each episode also offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 option.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Each episode has an audio commentary track included, as star Steven Weber talks about Jenifer, director Lucky McKee is joined by cast & crew on Sick Girl, and stars Brian Benben and Anthony Griffin are on deck for Deer Woman. I wouldn’t call any of these “must listen” material, but if you enjoyed the episodes, they’re worth a spin. The tracks tend to lean more toward brisk humor than insight, but there is some good stuff in each one. None of the featurettes or interviews from the DVD releases are present however, which is sure to irritate some fans.