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All Sorts Of MASTERS OF HORROR Information Finally Available!!

Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

I’m only going to Comic-Con for one day this year, and I’m only going for one reason. From 1:30 to 3:00 in Room 20 (wherever that is), there’s a MASTERS OF HORROR panel, and I thought that would be where episode titles and cast details finally started to leak.


Today, VARIETY ran a giant insert that came bundled with each issue that was devoted entirely to the series. It’s pretty groovy, and there are details about each of the 13 episodes in the first season, including lots of stuff I hadn’t heard yet.

I’ve been real reluctant to spill any of the details of the series that I’ve heard here on the site, just because the producers didn’t hire me as a publicist. After this thing, though, it seems like fair game to run the descriptions and titles of each episode. I’m going to use the exact synopses that they ran in the magazine, even for my own episode, and I’ll be dropping in a few comments in blue text between the descriptions.

”Jenifer,” dir. Dario Argento

Screenplay by Steven Weber

Based on the classic comic book written by Bruce Jones and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, “Jenifer” is the shocking tale of a modern-day Lolita who, through her Siren-like powers, ultimately destroys the bodies and souls of all men unfortunate enough to cross her path. After police officer Frank (Steven Weber) saves her life, he adopts her, only to learn that no good deed goes unpunished. “Jenifer” is a twisted and terrifying tale with a horrific twist that warns us all to be careful of what we bring into our homes.

I’ve never read the Jones/Wrightson comic, but I’ve heard that this one is really wild. I love Argento, and I regret not going up to Vancouver to try and see him work. When is he ever going to shoot something on this continent again?

”Cigarette Burns,” dir. John Carpenter

Screenplay by Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan

Jimmy Sweetman knows how to find rare film prints. However, nothing could prepare him for the daunting search for LA FIN DU MONDE, a film allegedly shown only once and rumored to have driven its audience into a murderous frenzy before the theater mysteriously erupted in flames. Working for a shadowy patron, Jimmy’s increasingly obsessive investigation becomes nightmarish and deadly. Finally he discovers LA FIN DU MONDE’s infamy is well deserved. This supernatural CHINATOWN is a chilling look at the power of cinema and the lengths to which we will go to satiate our private demons.

Hey, I’d like to see that! Sounds pretty good to me. They started filming this one on the 6th of July, and John’s hard at work on it right now in Vancouver. Norman Reedus (BOONDOCK SAINTS, BLADE II) is starring as Sweetman, and my co-author got a chance to go up to watch them shoot some of it. He seemed real happy when he got back, too.

”Pick Me Up,” dir. Larry Cohen

Screenplay by David J. Schow

Two urban legends meet on a desolate roadside when Wheeler, a serial killer who butchers hitchhikers, offers a ride to Walker, a hitchhiker who slaughters any driver unlucky enough to offer him a ride. Caught in their deadly game of cat-and-mouse is a young woman who must choose her ally carefully or end up another notch on a killer’s bloody belt.

I didn’t realize Cohen was working from someone else’s script. He’s such a good writer that I’m surprised. Of course, Schow’s pretty spiffy in his own right, and it’s a really clever high-concept. Curious to see who they cast as the two killers.

”Incident On And Off A Mountain Road,” dir. Don Coscarelli

Screenplay by Don Coscarelli & Stephen Romano

Based on Joe R. Lansdale’s short story of the same title, this film pits Ellen (Bree Turner), a seemingly defenseless young woman, against Moonface, a deformed and demented serial killer. As the story cuts back and forth in time, we slowly discover that our heroine is not as helpless or as innocent as she initially seems. Trained by her abusive husband, Bruce (Ethan Embry), to be a survivalist, instructed to use any and every available object as a weapon in a time of need, Ellen gets to test the real-life application of these lessons. Ultimately, chained to the floor of Moonface’s horrific cabin with a most unsavory roommate (Anghus Scrimm), she races against the clock to free herself before she meets a grisly fate. This gritty film pits a strong female protagonist against evil incarnate.

I’m intensely curious. Coscarelli struck gold with his last Lansdale adaptation, and this one’s supposed to be dark, dark, dark. I’m also in awe of Don for shooting a film that takes place almost entirely at night on a ten day schedule during the summer in Canada. That’s balls.

”Haeckel’s Tale,” dir. Roger Corman

Screenplay by Mick Garris

When Ernest Haeckel seeks shelter from the wilderness in a secluded cabin in the New England countryside, he is given one explicit instruction: no matter what he hears, he cannot go outside. As the cries of an unseen baby intermix with horrifying guttural moans, Haeckel disobeys his host and becomes embroiled in an orgy of the undead. Based on Clive Barker’s short story, “Haeckel’s Tale” is a sexually charged campfire story with a horrifying twist.

Dudes... Roger Corman is directing this. That’s just plain cool. And I’m not familiar with the short story by Clive, but it sounds like a good one.

”Homecoming,” dir. Joe Dante

Screenplay by Sam Hamm

Terror and scandal grip the nation when the media discovers that the living dead have swayed the presidential election. This adaptation of Dale Bailey’s award-winning short story “Death & Suffrage” blends zombie horror and contemporary political satire with chilling results.

Dante’s never done zombies before, and I’m willing to bet his take on this classic monster won’t be like any other zombies we’ve seen before. Sounds groovy.

”Chocolate,” dir/scr. Mick Garris

Jamie (Henry Thomas), a newly divorced man who creates artificial flavors for the food industry, suddenly and inexplicably starts to experience brief and random flashes from someone – and somewhere – unknown: sight, sound, smell, touch. Learning that he’s experiencing life through the senses of a mysterious woman, he begins to fall in love with her without having met her. Eventually, he discovers a horrifying secret that binds him inexorably with the perfect woman in an erotic, horrifying dance of death.

Mick’s carried this one around for a lot of years. I remember reading his feature-length version of the story, FLESH & FANTASY, at least ten years ago. I know how that is... to have a story that you keep trying to find the right venue for. I’m glad to see him working with Henry Thomas again, who he directed as young Norman Bates in PSYCHO 4. Should be interesting to see Thomas all growed up in this one.

”Dreams In The Witch-House,” dir. Stuart Gordon

Screenplay by Stuart Gordon & Dennis Paoli

Stuart Gordon presents his fifth adaptation of a tale of terror from horror master H.P. Lovecraft. Walter Gilman (Ezra Godden), a college student studying interdimensional string theory, rents a garret in a run-down building in the old New England town of Arkham. He is haunted by terrifying nightmares in which he is visited by a 17th-century witch and her familiar, a rat with a human face. He begins to realize that these are not dreams at all and that diabolical forces are gathering to sacrifice his neighbor’s infant. As Walter struggles to prevent this, it becomes less clear if he will save the child or become its unwitting murderer himself.

Stuart Gordon. Lovecraft. ‘Nuff said.

”Dance Of The Dead,” dir. Tobe Hooper

Screenplay by Richard Christian Matheson

Based on Richard Matheson’s celebrated short story, “Dance Of The Dead” depicts a post-apocalyptic dystopia wherein reanimated corpses of former friends and enemies dance on stage for the entertainment of the few who survived a nuclear holocaust. Too naive and wholesome for her own good, Peggy embarks on her first double-date with a slick upperclassman. Her nervous fits of laughter quickly turn to panicked screams as she learns the truth of the dangerous world outside her mother’s protective cloister, and the sacrifices that were made in order to guarantee her survival. Intelligent, haunting, and just as politically relevant as when it was first published in 1954, “Dance Of The Dead” will be a film to be remembered.

The idea of Richard Christian Matheson adapting one of his father’s best-known stories is exciting enough, but the notion of putting really potent material like this into Tobe Hooper’s hands makes me happy. Hooper’s a good guy, and I believe he gets a bum rap a lot of the time. Here’s hoping he makes a great episode.

”Deer Woman,” dir. John Landis

Screenplay by Max Landis & John Landis

A series of bizarre murders leads cynical detective Dwight Faraday (Brian Benben) to suspect that an ancient Native American mythological creature is real in this sexually charged tale of seduction and death.

The idea of Landis and Benben making a horror film together just cracks me up. You’ve come a long way from DREAM ON, guys. Landis may not be best known for his horror films, but you can’t deny him the long-lasting power of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (I’ve got the beautiful Sota Toys sitting above my desk right now), and I’m dying to see what he did with this one.

”Fair Haired Child,” dir. William Malone

Screenplay by Matt Greenburg

Tara, a lonely 13-year-old outcast, is kidnapped by a strange couple and locked in the basement with their 13-year-old son, Johnny. Despite the fact that he is kind and sensitive, Johnny keeps a terrible secret. These two children form a special bond to find a way to battle a curse and survive the night.

I know the least about this episode, but I like the premise. The last two episodes, directed by Takahi Miike and George Romero, weren’t described in the magazine. I know that Miike is the only one of the filmmakers who is shooting his episode somewhere other than Vancouver, and I think Sean Hood actually wrote the episode that Romero’s going to shoot, but I couldn’t swear to it.

Whatever the case, I wanted to finally be able to whet your appetites with descriptions of what you can expect when the series premieres on Showtime this October. Even if I wasn’t involved with the show, I’d be excited. This much horror talent in one place, all working without any sort of ratings restrictions, telling one-hour stories... well, it pretty much appeals to everything I like as a horror fan. I just picked up the box set of Season One for TALES FROM THE CRYPT, and there are several episodes in that first batch that I like a lot, particularly the Walter Hill one. This series feels like it’s a lot less campy and E.C. flavored than that one was, and I hope there’s something for everyone in the line-up.

I may be headed up to Vancouver for the last two days of the shoot next week, and if I go, I’ll try to get clearance to post some stories and pictures here when I get back. In the meantime, I have to go finish my PROMEDIO ROJO review and then get some sleep. Toshiro’s been sitting here helping me update all night between crying jags and the pants pooping, and he’s starting to look as sleepy as I feel. It might be naptime for both of us soon. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 14, 2005, 8:35 a.m. CST

    Never was much into horror..

    by Bean_

  • July 14, 2005, 8:37 a.m. CST


    by gorgo99

    This is one of my absolute favorite Lovecraft stories... Brown Jenkin gives me nightmares. I trust Stuart Gordon to get this one right!!! Never has math been more scary?

  • July 14, 2005, 9:09 a.m. CST

    Good Luck Drew

    by John-Locke

    I cant fucking wait for this. I've been waiting since The Creep Show for some proper filmakers to turn thier hand to Horror Shorts. Roughly how long is each episode? 1/2 an hour or an Hour? anyway join the revolution

  • July 14, 2005, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Running Time

    by drew mcweeny

    Each one's a full hour, John-Locke.

  • July 14, 2005, 9:26 a.m. CST

    damn i wish this was on hbo

    by fried samurai

    I only subscribe to HBO,STARZ and ENCORE.SHOWTIME just isnt worth the extra 10 bucks.They usually get all the crappy movies and their series are subpar.Looks like I'll have to wait for the dvd to check this out.Sounds cool though...peace

  • July 14, 2005, 9:30 a.m. CST

    1 whole hour

    by John-Locke

    Bliss, thanks mate. I have to admit your script sounds like the best basic premise. Is John doing his own music? Synthesizers and all?

  • July 14, 2005, 10:15 a.m. CST

    Not a huge horror movie fan, either...

    by Darth Busey

    But I love the Twilight Zone. Here's hoping some of these episodes have great mind-fuck endings. The two serial-killer/hitchiker one sounds like a good concept, as does Moriarty's.

  • July 14, 2005, 10:44 a.m. CST

    by DarthTarter

    Okay, for us super-horror dorks, without showtime I might add...what kind of dvd release could we expect and how fast? I'm hoping for a full box-set, and would gladly pay whatever they ask!

  • July 14, 2005, 10:56 a.m. CST

    Can't wait!

    by DerLanghaarige

    This can't be bad. MAybe one or two episodes (got no high hopes for the William Malone one. I love Haunted Hill, but I hate his Tales From The Crypt Episodes), but not the whole thing. Interesting: I didn't knew that Miike is doing an episode and I thought that Carpenter had left the project. Whatever. I wonder who Dick Miller will be in the Dante Episode.

  • July 14, 2005, 11:38 a.m. CST

    DarthTarter if you can't wait for DVD's get on Bittorren

    by John-Locke

    If you have no idea what i'm talking about check out the Forbidden Zone

  • July 14, 2005, 11:40 a.m. CST

    "Haeckel's Tale"

    by godoffireinhell

    What the hell is this?!? I thought I had justb about everything Clive Barker ever published and I haven't even heard about this one! Is it an original story Barker wrote just for the series? Some magically obscure, previously uncollected short story? Fill me in!

  • July 14, 2005, 12:02 p.m. CST

    Herc man, you should go to BSG panel.

    by PVIII

    If I could get to California, that's where I'd be. I'd be all stalker-like on that Tricia Helfer lady.

  • July 14, 2005, 12:05 p.m. CST


    by BitterMan23

    How the fuck is he a master of horror??? Carpenters worst piece of shit is better than Fear.Com or whatever dark castle movie he did (they all blend together)

  • Crank it up fuckers!

  • July 14, 2005, 1:10 p.m. CST

    "Pick Me Up" is ripped off from another anthology show

    by chickychow

    A pretty crappy music-related "Twilight Zone" wannabe called "Strange Frequency." I think it only lasted for a pilot. The ep had Eric Roberts as a serial killer of hitchhikers who picks up Chris Masterson (Malcolm in the Middle), who turns out to be a killer of drivers. They end up learning each other's identity and competing for a kill... Pretty silly stuff, but good enough to get stolen I guess (doesn't hurt that I'm probably the only person on the planet who saw this thing)

  • July 14, 2005, 1:11 p.m. CST

    Wasn't Stephen King supposed to be involved somehow?

    by Han Ol' Buddy

    I thought I read that in previous articles. Just wondering.

  • July 14, 2005, 1:21 p.m. CST

    What is up with Steven Weber writing the Argento one... These gu

    by chickychow

    Just strange. If it was explained prior to today, I missed it... I like the sound of these tho, most of them are "sexually charged" and/or deal with children. None of these guys should be let NEAR kids. The two zombie ones sound pretty fuckin weird, too.

  • July 14, 2005, 1:59 p.m. CST

    Cigarette Burns sounds f-ing cool, Moriarty.

    by odysseus

    The rest seem cool, too -- but not as much.

  • July 14, 2005, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Isn't Romero involved in this?

    by Roger Thornhill

    I thought I read somewhere that he was tapped to direct one of these episodes.

  • July 14, 2005, 3:07 p.m. CST

    I would like to see more F. Paul W

    by vikingkitty

  • July 14, 2005, 3:07 p.m. CST

    More F. Paul Wilson material adapted to the screen

    by vikingkitty

  • July 14, 2005, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Romero Is Involved, RogerThornhill...

    by drew mcweeny

    ... but because of his schedule on LAND OF THE DEAD, I don't think he's finalized his plans yet. Like I said in the article, I think he's directing a script by Sean Hood, but I'm not sure about that.

  • July 14, 2005, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Darth Tater & DVD

    by drew mcweeny

    Anchor Bay is one of the producers of the show, and they've got plans for the eventual release of the project here in the US. I'm sure it'll be great.

  • July 14, 2005, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Thank goodness for 'ol Anchor Bay

    by DarthTarter

    Along with Blue Underground my favorite dvd-makers! Can't wait for the Blind Dead box set...but anyway. John-Locke, my computer is pretty much stoneage, so I don't think I can run bittorrent. Besides, I wanna own these and help support Anchor Bay, Showtime, and all the creators for taking the effort to give us these shows. And thanks for the quick response, Moriarty. I'm very much looking forward to your segment! Congrats on your future writing sucess & new fatherhood!

  • July 14, 2005, 5:40 p.m. CST


    by splbrg75

    Sadly, Dante said Dick Miller will not be in his episode. They shot in Canada and could only bring 2 American actors. Anyway, that's what he said at the last Fangoria con.

  • July 14, 2005, 5:43 p.m. CST

    Sounds like Carpenter might be in IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS territ

    by Cash Bailey

    Which is a good thing.

  • July 14, 2005, 9:14 p.m. CST

    Just wondering

    by Legowombat

    In purely coincidental news, is Darren Aronofsky still working on an adaptation of Theodore Roszak's 1991 novel 'Flicker'? It's a strange, but great novel that's part fictional narrative and part film criticism. Synopsis follows: "From the golden age of art movies and underground cinema to X-rated porn, splatter films, and midnight movies, this breathtaking thriller is a tour de force of cinematic fact and fantasy, full of metaphysical mysteries that will haunt the dreams of every moviegoer. Jonathan Gates could not have anticipated that his student studies would lead him to uncover the secret history of the movies

  • July 15, 2005, 7:24 a.m. CST


    by MartinBlank

    Man, I still remember that story. Scared the shit out of me as a kid. Though I don't see any mention in the synopsis that Jenifer is supposed to be horrendously facially deformed (one of Wrightson's finest hours as a horror artist). I wonder if Argento's take will just keep the creepy-lethal-girl aspect of it, or if she will be deformed in the adaptation and have a really elaborate makeup job. Oh, you can find Wrightson's pencils for a page from 'Jenifer' here:

  • July 15, 2005, 9:16 a.m. CST

    Mori, I love ya, man... but you really need to read more!

    by Roguewriter

    What is it with movie geeks who aren't also readers? There really are some great tales here -- here's hoping it's all good gory horror and not a lot of campy crap. I'm so sick of "humorous" horror I can't tell you. Bring on the wicked dark nasty!!

  • July 15, 2005, 10:52 a.m. CST

    A bunch of "Legends" past their prime.

    by Mr. Profit

    I am half rooting for this because the other day I was wondering what happened to horror anthology series like Tales From The Darkside. The only one that I believe has the potential to actually make an awesome movie if he tried is John Carpenter. Talent like his doesn't just disappear. Carpenter has made many movies I liked in the past, Prince of Darkness, They Live, The Thing, The Fog, and my fave of all time Halloween. But then he fell the fuck off. I hope this show is good. But I am not anticipating anything great. And why the fuck is this on Showtime and not HBO?

  • July 15, 2005, 10:58 a.m. CST

    And Cigerette Burns sounds great.

    by Mr. Profit

    Not just saying that either :)

  • July 15, 2005, 8:40 p.m. CST

    The most important episode is Cigarette Burns---Carpenter is wor

    by VatoLoco

    read it in an interview

  • July 17, 2005, 9:52 p.m. CST


    by Gilkuliehe

    He's my fave and I also thought of IN THE MOUTH which is one of my all time feve movies... Congratulations for bringing the master back, Drew- (I hope Dante's episode rocks as well)