In a time when the laws of science battled the secrets of magic, medical student Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil) believes the power of life, death and resurrection lay in his arrogant hands. But on a journey to visit his gravely ill father, he finds shelter in the home of an older man and his seductive young wife (Leela Savasta) who cannot be fulfilled by mortal hungers. Somewhere in the darkness of a nearby necropolis, a defiant necromancer (Jon Polito of BARTON FINK, MILLERS CROSSING) will now summon them all to an orgy of the undead and unleash the ultimate depravity for those who do not heed the warning of HAECKELS TALE. Directed by John McNaughton in association with horror legend George A. Romero, this startling mix of erotic desire and gut-ripping horror is adapted by series creator/executive producer Mick Garris from the short story by Clive Barker.
DVD Features:Widescreen Presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs,AUDIO COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR JOHN MCNAUGHTON,BEHIND THE SCENES: THE MAKING OF HAECKEL'S TALE,BREAKING TABOOS: AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN MCNAUGHTON,DVD-ROM: SCREEN SAVER,DVD-ROM: SCREENPLAY,JOHN MCNAUGHTON BIO,ON SET: AN INTERVIEW WITH DEREK CECIL,ON SET: AN INTERVIEW WITH JON POLITO,ON SET: AN INTERVIEW WITH LEELA SAVASTA,SCRIPT TO SCREEN: HAECKEL'S TALE,STILL GALLERY,STORYBOARD GALLERY,TRAILERS,WORKING WITH A MASTER: JOHN MCNAUGHTON
You get three Masters of Horror for the price of one in this episode of the popular cable anthology series: director John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Wild Things), writer Clive Barker, on whose short story the script is based, and the legendary George A. Romero, who had to bow out of the production but whose contribution is noted with an "in association with" credit. Romero's history and influence also weighs heavily on this Gothic period chiller, which concerns a brash young medical student (Derek Cecil), whose desire to re-animate the dead is called into question by a young woman (sexy Leela Savasta) whose passion for her husband has not quelled, despite his recent passing.
In an interview featured on the disc, McNaughton mentions the lush visuals and melodramatic tone of Hammer Films and American International Pictures as major influences on his approach to Haeckel's Tale, and both are evident in the hothouse sexuality and wonderfully overripe performances (particularly by character actor Jon Polito as a traveling magician). Of course, the gore also flows quite freely here, and the zombie makeup by Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger is typically top-notch. An above-average entry from the hit-and-miss Masters series, Haeckel's Tale delivers shivers and sensuality with a wry smile and a tip of the cranium to its '60s horror forebears. The DVD includes interview featurettes with McNaughton (which covers his career to date), Cecil, Polito, and Savasta; McNaughton also provides commentary for the episode, and is discussed at length by his Haeckel's cast as well as Michael Rooker and Tom Towles from Henry. A behind-the-scenes glimpse, storyboard gallery, and the original screenplay (accessible with DVD-ROM) round out the three hours of extras. -- Paul Gaita