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. This fourth volume provides us with four episodes, up from the usual three, but this is an inconsistent selection. Imprint is much hyped thanks to its banning from broadcast, but it doesn’t live up to that. Chocolate and Homecoming are probably my least favorite episodes from the show’s run, while Haeckel’s Tale shows promise, but never quite comes together. I still recommend this release to horror fans, but I think a rental should suffice in the case of these four installments.
1. Imprint- Christopher (Billy Drago) has ventured back to Japan, to claim the woman he fell in love with there years back. The woman was a prostitute named Komomo, with whom he fell deeply in love, but he had to leave behind. He travels long and far to find her, but he discovers heartbreak instead. He learns at the brothel that Komomo killed herself not long before he arrived, a tale that is told to him by another prostitute. But as time passes, Christopher begins to question what is the truth and soon, he descends into chaos and madness…
2. Homecoming- As an unpopular war rages on, the current President of the United States wages his own battle, his effort to get re-elected to the oval office. On the front lines for his defense are his right hand man David Murch (Jon Tenney) and the beautiful, controversial conservative icon Jane Cleaver (Thea Gill). Cleaver goes to extremes to promote her views, while Murch takes a more subtle, kind approach. When Murch is caught off guard by a question, his mind blanks and he says if he had one wish, it would be that the soldiers killed in the war could return and tell the nation how they feel. As it turns out, he will wish he’d never said those words, as a ghastly turn of events soon unfolds.
3. Haeckel’s Tale- Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil) believes he has the power to bring back the dead, but thus far, his experiments have yielded only failure. He has heard of a necromancer with such abilities, a man named Montesquino, but he isn’t convinced and thinks his methods are mere parlor tricks. As he returns home to his dying father’s side, Ernst stops off to spend the night at a farmhouse, home to an old man and his much younger beautiful wife. Ernst begins to suspect things aren’t quite right, but when Montesquino arrives, even Ernst couldn’t expect what happens next…
4. Chocolate- Jamie (Henry Thomas) has incredible taste, but not in clothes or furniture, just incredible taste buds. He works in a lab that creates artificial flavors, as his sense of taste is so keen, he can pick up even the slightest variations. At home, he is enduring a divorce that is crushing him, as he doesn’t get to see his son that often. He soon begins to experience sensory losses, sometimes sight or sound, unexplained situations that put him in potential danger at times. Then he has visions of an unknown woman, but as he tries to seek her out, can he handle what he uncovers?
Video: How does it look?
All four 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 four episodes on DVD and high definition cable, but the improvement here is beyond compare. All four movies have plenty of audio potential, from the tortured sounds of Imprint to the living dead in Homecoming. 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?
As with previous Masters of Horror releases on Blu-ray, all of the supplements have been dropped, save the audio commentary tracks. Each episode has one, as writer Sam Hamm discusses Homecoming, two films critics wax on Imprint, writer/director Mick Garris drones on about Chocolate, and John McNaughton talks about Haeckel’s Tale. None prove to be landmark sessions, but if you enjoyed a specific episode, you might want to give the track a listen.