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Does The Mighty Hercules Say There’s Anything To Fear From NBC’s Anthology FEAR ITSELF??

I am – Hercules!!
NBC’s “Fear Itself” anthology series comes from the same fellows who put together Showtime’s “Masters of Horror” anthology series. There was even some discussion early on of simply calling “Fear Itself” the third season of “Masters.” I can’t recommend the first two episodes – written by the guy who wrote “Critters 2” and “Hocus Pocus” and the guy who wrote “White Noise 2.” I found them both predictable, dull, cliché-riddled and credibility-challenged. But the third installment, titled “Family Man” – the tale of a loving husband and father who somehow swaps bodies and lives with a depraved incarcerated serial killer – I found surprisingly engrossing, thanks to a twisty script by “Carnivale” creator Daniel Knauf. NBC should have started with episode three if you're asking me. The other 10 episodes have not yet been made available to the press. Entertainment Weekly says:
… We recommend this series for people who want insomnia. …
The New York Times says:
… delivers a lot of ripped flesh and spilled blood — terrible things happen, in particular, to lips and teeth — in the service of very little terror or discomfort. … among the series’s first three episodes, only the third, “Family Man,” plays to something primal, the idea that one day you can wake up unknown to the world as the person you had always been before.
The Los Angeles Times says:
… It's a little difficult to judge the whole on the basis of the three episodes made available for review, when each is different enough to suggest that something unpredictably great may be coming later. (That is perhaps whistling in the dark.) What they do have in common is wintry Canadian weather, a general lack of humor without having much serious to say and the fact that they are not particularly scary. And I am not hard to scare. …
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says:
… how could the Peacock people even think about acquiring an anything-but-thrilling dud of a horror anthology called "Fear Itself"? The only thing you have to fear from the first two episodes of this new 13-episode series is a killer case of the giggles or a stupefying siege of boredom. The third week's drama, while considerably better, still isn't strong enough to erase the stink that its predecessors leave behind.…
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:
… Each episode tells a different story but in the first two, it's clear the stories won't be all that different from those we've seen a million times before. … It's not exactly a psychological thriller, more of a cheesy horror flick, the kind you laugh at for its obviousness and ridiculousness. Perhaps that's what the kids these days are looking for, but given the intricacies of the "Saw" stories, "Sacrifice" seems way too straightforward. …
The Boston Globe says:
If you ever have a raging case of the hiccups, you might be better off asking a friend to yell "Boo!" than watching "Fear Itself." NBC's new anthology horror series is, like far too many TV horror anthologies before it, just not scary enough. The first three episodes are a string of cliched fright plots that won't make you jump out of your seat so much as deliberately leave it in search of more entertaining activity.…
Variety says:
… Though a bit slow in places and not necessarily the type of horror film that will thrill fans of franchises such as "Saw," "The Sacrifice" is a quality summertime diversion. …
The Hollywood Reporter says:
… pretty much like most of these genre-specific anthologies: wildly inconsistent, sometimes maddeningly so. But when it hits, it blasts the ball out of the park. When it doesn't, well, at least you have the pools of blood to keep you company.
There are 13 “Fear Itself” episodes airing this summer, including one – “Skin & Bones” – penned by my buddies and fellow longtime Ain’t It Cool contributors Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan (the duo made their TV debuts by penning the “Masters of Horror” episodes “Cigarette Burns” and “Pro-Life”). The network provides a rundown:
"Sacrifice" has a screenplay written by Mick Garris ("Riding the Bullet," "Amazing Stories") from a story by Del Howison ("Dark Delicacies"). Breck Eisner ("Creature from the Black Lagoon") directs. When four criminals find themselves stranded in an old, snow-covered fort, they slowly discover both the fort and the seductive trio of sirens who reside there are filled with deadly secrets. Jeffrey Pierce ("The Nine"), Jesse Plemons (NBC's "Friday Night Lights"), Stephen Martines ("Port Charles"), Rachel Miner ("Californication") and Mircea Monroe ("Drive") star. "Spooked" is directed by Brad Anderson ("The Machinist") and written by Matt Venne ("White Noise 2: The Light"). While on a stake out in a haunted house, a private eye (Eric Roberts, NBC's "Heroes") is made to confront the demons of his past. Jack Noseworthy ("Judging Amy"), Cynthia Watros ("Lost") and Larry Gilliard Jr. ("The Wire") also star. "Family Man" is directed by Ronny Yu ("Freddy vs. Jason," "Bride of Chucky") and written by Dan Knauf ("Carnivàle," "Supernatural"). This action-charged, psychological thriller focuses on a likeable family man (Colin Ferguson, "Eureka") who switches bodies with a serial killer (Clifton Collins Jr., "Star Trek") after a near-death experience. Now, he must fight from behind bars to keep the murderer from adding his wife (Josie Davis, "Ghost Whisperer"), son (Gig Morton, "Psych"), and daughter (Nicole Leduc, "Kyle XY") to his long list of victims. "In Sickness and in Health" is directed by John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London") and written by Victor Salva ("Jeepers Creepers"). On her wedding day, a beautiful bride (Maggie Lawson, "Psych") receives a mysterious note that reads: "The person you are marrying is a serial killer." James Roday ("Psych") stars as the groom. Christie Laing ("The 4400"), Sonja Bennett ("Eureka") and Marshall Bell ("Hamlet 2," "Tales from the Crypt") also star. "Something With Bite," directed by Ernest Dickerson (NBC's "Heroes"), is a reinvention of the classic werewolf story from writer Max Landis ("Masters of Horror"), the son of John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London"). When a veterinarian (Wendell Pierce, "The Wire") gets bitten by a large, strange animal brought into his clinic, he begins to see the world and his stale life differently. Paula Jai Parker ("Side Order of Life," "The Proud Family") also stars. "New Year's Day" is directed by Darren Bousman ("Saw II, III and IV") and is written by Steve Niles ("30 Days of Night") from a story by Paul Kane. A young woman (Briana Evigan, "Step Up 2: The Streets") wakes up in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by horrifying zombies. "Eater" is written by Richard Chizmar & Johnathon Schaech and directed by Stuart Gordon ("Re-Animator," "Masters of Horror"). A rookie cop (Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men") must spend her first night in the precinct watching over a serial killer, coined "The Eater" (Stephen R. Hart, "Shoot ‘Em Up"). When her fellow cops start acting bizarre, she quickly learns that no one is who they seem. Russell Hornsby ("Lincoln Heights"), Pablo Schreiber ("The Wire") and Stephen Lee ("Boston Legal") also star. "Skin & Bones" is directed by Larry Fessenden ("The Last Winter," "Wendigo") and is written by Drew McWeeny & Scott Swan ("Masters of Horror"). When a cattle herder (Doug Jones, "Hellboy II: The Golden Army") returns home to his family after being lost in the woods for days, he just doesn't seem the same. Soon, a terrible mortal struggle ensues against the terrifying monster possessing him. Gordon Tootoosis ("Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee") also stars. "The Spirit Box" is written by Joe Gangemi ("Wind Chill," the novel "Inamorata"), with a director to be announced. When two suburban high school girls try to contact a dead classmate via a board game, they receive an unexpected message from beyond the grave -- the dead girl, thought to be a teen suicide, was actually killed by a teacher with whom she'd been having an affair and now wants their help in avenging her murder. "Chance" will be directed by John Dahl ("You Kill Me," "The Last Seduction") and is written by Lem Dobbs ("The Score"). In the vein of such classic doppelganger stories as "Jekyll & Hyde" and Poe's "William Wilson," the episode explores a dreadful, classic battle that ensues when a man is confronted by his evil self. "Echoes" will be directed by Rupert Wainwright ("The Fog," "Stigmata") and is written by Sean Hood ("The Crow: Wicked Prayer," "Halloween: Resurrection"). Sam, an affable, good-natured young man, moves into an apartment where he believes he once lived -- 88 years ago in a past life. But as memories appear to him like ghosts, he realizes that in this previous life he was a sadistic murderer, and he must keep that past life from bleeding into his present one. "The Circle" is also written by Richard Chizmar ("From a Buick 8") & Johnathon Schaech ("Masters of Horror," "That Thing You Do!"), based on the short story of the same title written by Lewis Shiner, with a director to be announced. A group of people meets every Halloween to tell horror stories and suddenly discovers they're living one.
10 p.m. Thursday. NBC.

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Readers Talkback
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  • June 5, 2008, 12:58 a.m. CST


    by PStar


  • June 5, 2008, 1:05 a.m. CST

    Is this going to be good?

    by Series7

    Because I am running out of TV to watch. And I like to keep a VERY busy TV schedule.

  • June 5, 2008, 1:07 a.m. CST

    Cigarette Burns

    by Series7

    Was the tits. Still waiting for Wal Mart to get more copies of Pro Life in.

  • June 5, 2008, 1:20 a.m. CST


    by Mezzanine

    I'll probably watch this show, but just because there is nothing else on. Not because I am going out of my mind with excitement to see it or anything.

  • June 5, 2008, 1:30 a.m. CST

    Brandon Routh?

    by Bass Ackwards

    I thought I saw him on the commercial. No?

  • June 5, 2008, 1:34 a.m. CST

    I hope Skin and Bones makes in on the air

    by Series7

    Are these shows connected somehow? If not why did NBC start off with the weaker ones of the series? Unlike Nightmare and Dreamscapes which started with the best and then went downhill fast from there.

  • June 5, 2008, 5:11 a.m. CST

    I'm keen to check out "Chance"

    by The Outlander

    John Dahl is a great director.

  • June 5, 2008, 5:51 a.m. CST

    I enjoyed Masters of Science Fiction

    by tonagan

    When it ran on ABC last summer, so I'll give it a shot.

  • June 5, 2008, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Earl and a 1.5 hour Comic Standing?

    by James_O'Nasty

    This show will be on 4 weeks, tops.

  • June 5, 2008, 9:22 a.m. CST

    "Eater" sounds VERY familiar

    by Fish Tank

    I've read thousands of horror short stories, and this one (by description only) sounds like a story I read about a demon that moves from body to body (criminal, cop friends etc.), playing mind games with the male cop protagonist. Very atmospheric, it ends with the sounds of this creature rushing towards the cop. Wish I could remember the name (?) Any one?

  • June 5, 2008, 9:26 a.m. CST


    by Fish Tank

    it all takes place in a precinct.

  • June 5, 2008, 9:56 a.m. CST

    The Ronny Yu episode seriously sounds best.

    by DerLanghaarige

    And this will probably the only episode I'm gonna watch of this series. Mostly because I'm a Yu-fan. No Joe Dante this time?

  • June 5, 2008, 10:21 a.m. CST

    Fish Eater:

    by Regenhund

    sounds basically like Denzel's Fallen" to me.

  • June 5, 2008, 10:58 a.m. CST

    This idea didn't work

    by password.swordfish

    even when you had the cream of the horror crop doing stories. If Argento, Miike, Hooper, and Dante can't pull it off, I'm sure as hell not giving a shot to the director of the shitty Saw sequels. Carpenter's was the only episode of Masters of Horror that worked for me. I'm a horror fanatic, but I'll be passing on this. Plus it's on NBC, so how scary could it possibly be?

  • June 5, 2008, 11:03 a.m. CST

    If the third episode is univerally considered the best

    by TVguy4566

    among critcs, why the hell didn't they lead with it? The producers must have seen the same thing that it was the best. <br><br> Another reason why NBC has dropped to the fourth network now. Stupid programming by leading with two weak episodes followed by their strongest. That way they can be assurd that the ratings will tank especially since it is going up against Swingtown that might split the demographics they are going after in the first place. <br><br> BTW, that is another idiotic move by NBC. CBS and ABC are showing mostly reruns at 10PM all week and NBC chose to put their only original scripted show for the summer against CBS' only scripted show of the summer that is getting far more buzz because of the subject matter. <br><br> It is only a matter of time before NBC gets lower ratings than The CW.

  • June 5, 2008, 12:27 p.m. CST

    kid's got talent

    by Bouncy X

    so one episode is written by the guy who brought us the lovely Crow 4 and Halloween 8? one movie was theatrical, the other was dtv and now he's on tv...going down the ladder i see, his next project : writing greeting cards.

  • June 5, 2008, 12:28 p.m. CST

    the girl from step up 2 is in one of these?

    by Bouncy X

    if its a rain filled episode, count me in.

  • June 5, 2008, 8:26 p.m. CST


    by Fish Tank

    Yes, agreed - like it, but not _it_. The short story was scary - Fallen wasn't ;-) <br> <br> Cheers

  • June 5, 2008, 9 p.m. CST

    18 SECONDS!!!

    by Series7

  • June 5, 2008, 9:13 p.m. CST

    Johnathon Schaech

    by Don Lockwood

    isn't he the guy stupid enough to dump delicious Christina Applegate?

  • June 5, 2008, 9:42 p.m. CST

    This is so crappy right now... And Fish Tank...

    by James_O'Nasty

    Are you referencing the "Urban Gothic" episode? (the following from Wikipedia) Eater: A cannibalistic serial killer is captured, but runs amok in the police station. Urban Gothic was quite good, but this show... wow.

  • June 5, 2008, 10:22 p.m. CST

    Worst theme music ever

    by Tar Heel

    Seriously, WTF? Opening credits made me cringe, and not in a way you want a horror show to make you.

  • June 5, 2008, 11:07 p.m. CST

    The last three seem like they'll be standard weak TV.

    by kabong

    New Year's Day and Eater might be good.

  • June 6, 2008, 12:54 a.m. CST

    All I Could Look At Was NASHVILLE STAR

    by 33.3rpm

    NASHVILLE STAR NASHVILLE STAR NASHVILLE STAR They're trying to scare people AND HAVE an Olympic symbol and Nashville Star on the screen. Fucking stupid assholes. The first network to eliminate lower third promos will be the most popular network in history.

  • June 6, 2008, 11:07 a.m. CST

    it was ok

    by slkboxrman

    "sacrifice" was decent... the vampire angle wasnt that obvious, i honestly wasnt sure what it was ....i def didnt think werewolf....i was thinking some kind of demon....the 4 male character names were kinda wierd, point ? diego? lemon ? navarro ? navarro being the most normal of the 4...... 3 hot blonde sisters , cant go wrong there .....the one had cleavage out for almost the whole episode.......and really what was wrong with the opening music....sounded like system of a down, and they rock!!

  • June 6, 2008, 11:28 a.m. CST


    by Sithdan

    Just because Fangoria's critics don't agree with other critics doesn't make it inferior. I tend to disagree with most critics on a wide variety of movies. Nine times out of 10, if the critics pan it, I enjoy it. Who's to say I'm right or wrong? It's all subjective. I thought the pilot to Fear Itself was pretty well done. 7/10.

  • June 6, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST

    John Dahl reduced to doing tv? Dammit.

    by JackRabbitSlim

    Ok, i admit it - I'm the only person who thought "You Kill Me" was the funniest movie of last year - and even I'll admit "The Great Raid" was anything but great - but this guy sooo deserves to be on the silver screen and not slaving away in the drudge pit of television. Here's hoping you get back on top, Mr Dahl!

  • June 6, 2008, 12:21 p.m. CST

    Mr Schaech was also dumb enough to say yes to 8mm2

    by JackRabbitSlim

    8mm2 ... *shudder* ...

  • June 6, 2008, 1:54 p.m. CST


    by Fish Tank

    Thanks for that. Interesting. I guess I read the original short story, which Urban Gothic adapted, then Fear Itself ripped off, but changed the male to a female, and most likely removed the "creature" aspect of.

  • June 6, 2008, 6:36 p.m. CST


    by brattyben

    I'll pass.

  • June 6, 2008, 8:36 p.m. CST

    That wasn't so bad

    by bah

    I expected a lot worse. I root for every anthology series that tries to make it. Someone will get it right, one of these days.

  • June 7, 2008, 12:17 a.m. CST

    cliched, but I liked it...

    by ddschneider1972

    The worst thing was the opening credits...worst theme music ever... I don't read the mag but listen to Fangoria Radio (on Sirius Sat. Ch. 100 Fridays at 10) and they knock plenty of main stream horror and promote the hell out of the non-mainstream stuff.

  • June 7, 2008, 9:04 p.m. CST

    Agreed, Nuke

    by bah

    The plot looked like Swiss cheese. I still don't understand why they treated the first guy like a vampire. What happened to Diego in the pit? I was expecting his vampified appearance to be the surprise ending. Poor Virginia. "For this scene we need you to scream. a lot. Your motivation is, you've been eaten by a monster, then dropped down a pit, then eaten some more, then slowly set on fire. And you sister caused most of this."

  • June 10, 2008, 6:45 p.m. CST

    Fish Tank

    by josh0rama

    Dude that story sounds VERY similar to Fallen with Denzel Washington. If you haven't seen it you can check it out.