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Masters of Horror – Season 2
I’m really rather amazed that I got the opportunity to watch this in the first place. Fewer copies of season two were released than season one, and quite possibly with good reason. Though there were other incentives to pick up season two, the constant muttering of the fans had some valid complaints.
The season two box set is ironic, when you consider it fully. Yes, indeed, it comes in an absolutely freaky case that looks like an exact replica of a human skull. Pull off the top and an array of DVDs are found within. But Masters of Horror Season Two is exactly like a real human’s head, and not just for the amazing skull case; it’s a masterfully designed casing holding a mix of the good and the ill. Just like a real human head. I’m somewhat opposed to this, however, as it required some titles to be double-packed on one DVD—Family is the B-side of The Screwfly Solution’s disc, and that’s not a good thing.
Yes, the fans were correct. Season two was quite a bit inferior to season one, but it’s crashingly unfair to say that season two was bad. No, not in the least—it wasn’t bad at all. It just wasn’t good compared to the first. Why? Well, I’m going to put forth the suggestion that it just averaged better. Strange thing to say, I know, but look at season one—only Deer Woman and Chocolate were anything less than good. And the best of season one—Pick Me Up, Homecoming and Cigarette Burns—were inspired masterworks of horror. Takashi Miike put forth possibly the very first work of horror that Showtime refused to show. The rest were at least good, and that makes a pretty high plateau to achieve.
By comparison, there are fewer high points and more low points to season two. I’m still offended by the existence of The V Word—a vampire story? In Masters of Horror? Honestly—surely masters of the art can do better than rehash old mythoses into the modern era. Vampires are done and to death—I’m sick of Lestat and his buddies mincing his way through horror movies, and only slightly better are the coked-up madmen of movies like 30 Days of Night. At least that’s a bit original. But even in this it was still a relatively successful film—just because I’m not all that into vampire stories doesn’t mean vampire buffs won’t enjoy it. Bringing in chronically ignored pulp-horror figure Bentley Little for The Washingtonians was also a good move that showed a commitment to at least try—when’s the last time you saw anything vaguely related to Bentley Little? Yeah, I figured—like I said, chronically ignored. Do yourself a favor—go out and read his book The Store and see if you can look at a Wal-Mart the same way ever again.
And let’s face the unpleasant fact—season two lost a lot of its best masters and was forced to turn to lesser masters. Here—see if you can appreciate the differences.
Season one originals that left: Takashi Miike, Larry Cohen, Lucky McGee, Don Coscarelli, William Malone, John McNaughton.
Season two replacements: Norio Tsuruta, Peter Medak, Tom Holland, Rob Schmidt, Brad Anderson, Ernest Dickerson
Not to complain about Norio Tsurata—he did Premonition, which was sweet. But let’s be honest here—which of these names will you more readily identify: the replaced…or the replacements? Tom Holland did direct the first Child’s Play movie, but the last thing he directed was Thinner back in 1996, and nothing after until 2007’s We All Scream For Ice Cream. Rob Schmidt may have directed Wrong Turn, but does that reall qualify you for Masters of Horror status? I say it ranks you for Assholes of Horror status. How far down the ladder were they willing to go? Charles Band? Uwe Boll? Ulli Lommel, for crying out loud? Any one of them has directed more than three times the number of movies Rob Schmidt handled, but somehow Schmidt’s a “master”?
Shenanigans, anyone? I’m calling shenanigans.
But anyway…it’s like I said. it wasn’t that Masters of Horror season two was bad—say what you will, but watching George Wendt pour acid over a corpse, break for lunch, and then start talking to dressed skeletons in Family just tickled me pink—it just wasn’t as good as season one. There is plenty to like about season two…and here’s the rundown:
The Screwfly Solution. An amazing array of niftiness where the menfolk run as amok as the womenfolk have always thought us capable of.
Jeffrey Combs in The Black Cat. Jeffrey Combs has yet to turn in a bad performance, and I will always—always—give bonus points to anyone who brings in this spectacularly effective actor.
Sounds Like. You’ve got to love how there’s a problem, and then its polar opposite for a bit, and then right back to where it was.
All in all, Masters of Horror season two may not have been as good as the first, but there’s still nothing really bad about it by a long shot.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
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