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'Masters of Horror' Makes Its Way to DVD

3 Apr, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

L-R: Actor Ezra Godden and director Stuart Gordon at a recent signing.

You could call them the league of extraordinarily twisted gentlemen.

The “Masters of Horror” series sprung from regular dinner gatherings of some of the horror genre's most celebrated directors. Spurred on by the passion and sheer will of director Mick Garris, the series was announced as a potential direct-to-DVD anthology of horror shorts in November 2004 as it got backing from IDT Entertainment.

Showtime Entertainment signed on to debut the low-budget horror shorts on the premium cable channel. Finally, the first two “Masters of Horror” DVDs are officially on store shelves from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment — with Masters of Horror: Stuart Gordon — H.P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch-House and Masters of Horror: John Carpenter — Cigarette Burns.

All the directors who signed on were thrilled at the prospect of working with complete creative control, albeit on a shoestring budget, Gordon said. “It doesn't happen too often where they say ‘go ahead, make what you want to make, as long as it's scary.’

And it really wasn't that different, scheduling-wise, from shooting a major horror film, he said.

“Re-Animator was shot in 18 days,” he said.

Gordon said he and his fellow horror masters felt they were making TV history when the series was picked up by Showtime.

“There's never been anything on TV like this before,” he said. “It goes further than anything else we've ever done.”

Anchor Bay took the series further with DVD packaging that highlights each director, along with making-of documentaries, photo galleries, storyboard features, commentaries, DVD-ROM extras and more.

Gordon's installment was based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

“Mick had said he wanted each of us to do something that was kind of a trademark, and I had done four other adaptations of Lovecraft,” Gordon said. “I'm a huge Lovecraft fan.”

Gordon recorded a commentary track with his star, Ezra Godden.

The director already has signed on for round two of the “Masters of Horror” series. This time, he's working on an Edgar Allan Poe story, The Black Cat.

So does this mean Gordon is the official literary horror master?

“I guess so,” he laughed. “Actually, my daughter is a high school English teacher. Every year at Halloween, she has me come in and talk about Poe. Last year, I read The Black Cat, and it scared the shit out of them.”

Part of the fun of the series was the directors trying to outdo each other, he said.

“As much as we all like each other, there was kind of a rivalry to see who could come up with the scariest, most extreme piece,” he said.

Takashi Miike's Imprint, based on the Japanese novel Bokke Kyoutee, is the only production from the first series that did not air on Showtime. It will arrive later this year on DVD.

It all works out for the fans, though, Gordon said.

“There's something really special about horror movies that kind of brings people together,” he said. “The more you scare them, the more they like you.”

Streeting May 9 are the next two DVD installments: Masters of Horror: Mick Garris — Chocolate and Masters of Horror: Don Coscarelli — Incident On and Off a Mountain Road.

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