on August 7, 2007
4.5 Stars for the show:
I personally liked a lot of Showtime's Masters of Horror series. What a great idea a bunch of influential directors in the horror genre doing one hour films. Some were great and some not so great but every Sunday while the seasons played you'd have the opportunity to see something new in horror.
These discs were originally released individually and someone could've easily payed twice as much as this set is worth, for those people, the people who probably followed the show the closest, were it's biggest supporters contributing ratings, and contributed money for their monthly Showtime subscriptions it sucks this wasn't released at first.
For the people that liked the show but never picked any up this is a great deal.
From a marketing and business side i guess this was smart to get more money out of people.
Episode Guide Season 1
Haeckel's Tale - "Haeckel's Tale" is about a man who takes shelter in a cabin in the woods of New England, and once inside is told not to leave---no matter what sounds he hears on the outside. Based on a Clive Barker short story and directed by John McNaughton. Steve Bacic.
Pick Me Up - "Pick Me Up" pits a serial killer (Michael Moriarty) who targets hitchhikers against a serial-killer hitchhiker, with a young woman caught in the middle. Directed by Larry Cohen ("It's Alive").
Sick Girl - "Sick Girl" is a comedy thriller about an insect scientist (Angela Bettis) and the fly in the ointment that threatens her lesbian love affair. Erin Brown. Directed by Lucky McKee and written by Sean Hood.
Fair Haired Child - In "Fair Haired Child," an odd couple kidnap a teenage outcast (Lindsay Pulsipher) and lock her in a basement with their 13-year-old son, who harbors a dark secret. Lori Petty. Directed by William Malone and written by Matt Greenberg.
Cigarette Burns - "Cigarette Burns" is the story of a young man (Norman Reedus) searching for a print of a rare film that purportedly, upon viewing, sent its audience into a crazed and violent frenzy. Directed by John Carpenter ("Halloween"). Udo Kier, Gary Hetherington.
Deer Woman - A cynical cop (Brian Benben) suspects that a fabled Native American creature called "Deer Woman" may actually be real. Cinthia Moura, Anthony Griffith. Directed by John Landis, who co-wrote the script with his son Max.
Homecoming - In "Homecoming," directed by Joe Dante ("Gremlins"), the nation discovers that the latest presidential election was intentionally tainted---by zombies. Jon Tenney, Robert Picardo. Sam Hamm wrote the screenplay, based on Dale Bailey's short story "Death & Suffrage."
Chocolate - In "Chocolate," a divorced man (Henry Thomas) experiences life through the senses of a mysterious woman with whom he falls in love. Written and directed by Mick Garris ("The Stand").
Jenifer - A modern-day Lolita named "Jenifer" turns out to be bad news for the police officer (Steven Weber) who saves her life and brings her to live in his home. Carrie Anne Fleming, Brenda James. Directed by Dario Argento ("Suspiria") from a script by Weber, who adapted the classic Bruce Jones comic book.
Dance of the Dead - "Dance of the Dead" is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which a young woman (Jessica Lowndes) visits an entertainment venue where reanimated corpses perform for the survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Directed by Tobe Hooper, written by Richard Christian Matheson, who adapted the short story by his father, Richard Matheson.
Dreams in the Witch-House - "Dreams in the Witch-House" is an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story about a college student (Ezra Godden) who rents a New England flat, where he has nightmares that involve a witch, a rodent and the devil himself. Directed by Stuart Gordon ("Re-Animator"), who co-wrote the script with Dennis Paoli.
Incident on and off a Mountain Road - Featured: "Incident on and off a Mountain Road," about a deformed serial killer terrorizing a resourceful young woman (Bree Turner), who proves to be quite the survivalist. Angus Scrimm, Ethan Embry. Directed by Don Coscarelli, who co-wrote the screenplay with Stephen Romano.
Imprint - Directed by Takashi Miike (Audition) The version that did not play on Showtime because of it's subject matter, I'll let you discover that one yourself.
Box Set Features
Masters of Horror Director's Dinner at L.A.'s famed Magic Castle Restaurant - a round-table discussion of horror by the Masters themselves!
Series creator Mick Garris interviews horror and Hollywood's elite
Although it was the first episode of MASTERS OF HORROR to air on Showtime when the series debuted in October 2005, director Don Coscarelli's "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" is the fourth series segment to be released on DVD. And it is also one of the best of the series thus far (series one has ended, but the show is expected to continue for at least one more season). Longtime genre fans will recognize the name Coscarelli, of course, as he is the writer/director of the classic horror flick PHANTASM (1979) and its sequels, director and co-writer of the sword-and-sorcery fantasy THE BEASTMASTER (1982), and the writer/director of the more contemporary horror-comedy cult favorite BUBBA HO-TEP (2002).
An adaptation of the short story by genre author Joe R. Lansdale--who also wrote the story on which BUBBA HO-TEP was based--"Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" is an interesting, fresh take on the girl-chased-through-the-woods slasher-type flick, one with a very wry twist at the end. It stars cute actress Bree Turner (some genre fans my recognize her from 2005's JEKYLL + HYDE) as Ellen, a young woman who has an auto accident late one night while driving through the rural mountains of Oregon. After crawling from the wreckage and trying to assess the damage, Ellen quickly finds herself pursued by a hulking mountain-dwelling madman (John De Santis, familiar to horror fans from his role as Lurch in the short-lived late-1990s TV series THE NEW ADDAMS FAMILY). But Ellen is no ordinary damsel in distress. Through occasional flashbacks, it is revealed that her ex-husband was an obsessive survivalist and that he forced her to participate in his training sessions. And as a result, Ellen has a few tricks up her sleeve that just may help her outwit her brutish pursuer and survive the night.
As is, Lansdale's original story rises way above the cliche of its slasher roots, but the script by Coscarelli and his co-writer, Stephen Romano, ratchet it up even higher by adding some elements only hinted at by Lansdale. This enables Coscarelli, as director, to create a 60-minute visual ride that is dense with layers of thrills, suspense, and shocks that lesser directors would have trouble fitting into a two-hour flick. Of course, he is helped by the outstanding acting abilities of Turner, whose talent allows her to convincingly vacillate between vulnerability and strength, as well as the intense performance from Ethan Embry (who plays Ellen's ex-husband in flashback sequences) and the skills and menacing presence of De Santis. Even Coscarelli's old friend Angus Scrimm--who became a genre icon playing the Tall Man in the classic PHANTASM series--makes a delightfully quirky appearance.
The DVD edition of "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" offers a pristine digital transfer of the filmic series episode in anamorphic widescreen at its original aspect ratio of 1.77:1. And as is almost always the case with discs from the cool folks at Anchor Bay, the DVD is chockful with bonus features. This one has TWO commentaries--one featuring writer/director Coscarelli and co-writer Romano (moderated by Anchor Bay's Perry Martin); the other with Coscarelli and author Joe R. Lansdale--an interview with Coscarelli; a documentary on Coscarelli's genre career; a special-effects featurette (hidden in an "Easter egg"); and lots more! It's well worth amazon.com's reasonable price of admission.
All in all, "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" is a top-notch entry in Mick Garris' MASTERS OF HORROR series, and it leaves no doubt as to why Don Coscarelli was one of the first directors chosen to participate. But even apart from the series and despite its short runtime of 60 minutes, the episode itself easily stands alone as a masterpiece of horror film, and it is sure to become a genre classic. So even those rare horror fans not impressed by the overall TV series should seriously consider adding this flick to their collections.
on June 22, 2006
John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, Joe Dante, Don Coscarelli, Takashi Miike. These are but some of the powerhouse names in horror that were enlisted to direct episodes of "Masters of Horror", a 13-episode series that debuted last fall on the Showtime network. Comparisons to other TV horror anthologies such as Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone and Friday the 13th were inevitably made but "Masters" decidedly differs from those in several aspects as there is no host, no commercials and little trace of humor/camp. No, Masters of Horror is a no-holds barred hardcore horror anthology that gives full creative freedom to its directors, many of them names that have been known to not pull any punches whatsoever.
What I particularly like about the show is that there is no guiding voice, or TV producer, telling the director how things should be. Each episode has the director's own personal stamp on it, to give us the feeling that "This is not a masters of horror episode, it's a Dario Argento movie, or a Takashi Miike movie, etc." The result of this creative freedom and unique concept is an anthology where every episode feels uniquely distinct from one another.
The third episode of Masters to be released on DVD is "Incident on and off a mountain road", directed by Don Coscarelli. Coscarelli has become a cult name in horror almost exclusively based on the success of his "Phantasm" series that consists of the original 1979 classic and its three decent sequels. Outside of Phantasm he hadn't made much worth mentioning until, that is, in 2002 with the release of Bubba Ho-tep, a wacky uncategorizable film based on a Joe R. Lansdale short story. So successful was Bubba Ho-tep that a sequel (with Lansdale again in the writing chair) is currently in production and Coscarelli has directed this episode of Masters that is also based on a Lansdale short out of the author's "High Cotton" anthology. After being known almost exclusively for the Phantasm movies, Coscarelli's adaptations of Lansdale stories has breathed new life into his career.
Story: A woman driving alone on an isolated stretch of a mountainous road crashes her car while taking her eyes off the road to switch radio stations. Things go from bad to worse when she ends up being chased around by a mutant-faced maniac ("Moonface") wielding a huge knife. While being chased by Moonface, we see flashbacks of the woman's near-past relationship with an ex-boyfriend, a soldier who would teach her survival techniques. The woman is able to use the survival techniques learned from the boyfriend to set up booby traps and clever escape routes to elude Moonface, who perhaps got a little more than he bargained for with this would-be victim.
This is only my third Masters episode that I've watched (the other two being Cigarette Burns and Dreams in the Witch House) and it's definitely the best so far. In fact, I'd be very surprised if any subsequent episode of Masters that I watch would be as good as this one. Simply put, it is a classic. While other episodes of Masters seem to go for the "weird" factor in horror with different degrees of pacing, this one goes for the throat with a non-stop unrelenting pace. This is fast-paced suspense on a par with Dean Koontz novels, thrown in with horrific macabre touches based around the lair of Moonface, who is truly evil incarnate. The flashbacks work surprisingly well and do little to slow the pace. The locales are absolutely stunning, as the chase leads us through forests and creeks under the moonlit night. Filmed near Vancouver, those familiar with the area will get a kick out of the scene filmed on the Capilano suspension bridge. All this plus a very neat twist at the end make this a truly memorable episode. Someone should look into licensing ALL the stories from High Cotton for Coscarelli to adapt. The horror world would be a better place for it.
Of the four "Masters of Horror" DVDs I've seen so far, "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road is easily the best, blowing past Mick Garris' entry and narrowly edging out John Carpenter's and Stuart Gordon's stories. First, "Incident" skillfully delivers the kind of expected thrills one looks for in a horror film (in this case, we get a monstrous killing machine chasing a young woman through the woods) but then throws in, equally skillfully, a few "all is not as it seems" elements and some welcome depth, subtlety, and complexity in the characterizations. It all adds up to a great hour or so of gritty entertainment.
The extras in this DVD series continue to be top notch. Contrary to Amazon's description, "Incident" actually includes TWO commentaries, one by director/writer Don Coscarelli and co-writer Stephen Romano and one by Mr. Coscarelli and Joe R. Lansdale, who wrote the original short story that was adapted into the "Incident" film. In fact, listening to how much Mr. Coscarelli and Mr. Romano regard Joe Lansdale's stories on the first commentary track and then hearing from the fascinating Mr. Lansdale himself on the second commentary track made me go to the book section of Amazon to order a paperback copy of "High Cotton: Selected Short Stories of Joe R. Lansdale". The book contains the original 16-page short story "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" (which for years Mr. Coscarelli wanted to adapt) and several other stories. I'm really looking forward to getting it.
By the way, that's the other great thing about these "Masters of Horror" DVDs: they constantly talk up, and make you want to seek out, other films by the featured creator or "Master of Horror" in question, and they also make sure to tell you about the literary sources (H.P. Lovecraft, Joe R. Lansdale, etc.) of some of these short films, in the event you want to check out the original stories.
In any event, if you haven't checked out one of these "Masters of Horror" DVDs yet, you can't go wrong with this one. In terms of both the movie and the extras, this is the best of the lot so far.
on May 25, 2016
While I originally downloaded this as it was an irresistible addition to my Norman Reedus film collection :), as a huge lifelong fan of horror, this story did not disappoint, and it was such a complex story that still was able to be told so richly in the short span of one hour, with just enough loose ends left to keep you wondering in the perfectly creepy way only a good mystery can.
A WARNING TO THE SQUEAMISH: As a HUGE Horror fan (Scream & The Walking Dead (as you might have guessed) are favorites), unless somebody throws up in it (nobody does in this that I recall🙌🙌), I am usually good with gore in movies/TV shows, and even *I* was a little grossed out with this. Word to the wise😬😬😬
This Masters of Horror show actually started out as one of the best short stories I have ever read - Incident On and Off a Mountain Road by Joe Lansdale. Don Coscarelli did a masterful job adapting this short story (originally optioned to be a full-length feature film) into the Showtime program - 51 minutes - that was eventually made.
The casting was perfect, location was perfect, the actors did a superb horrific job.
This show is a horror show but not only exhibits the atrocities of a serial killer but also just how terrifying a bad marriage can be.
I really enjoyed the commentary that was included on the DVD between Don Coscarelli and Joe Lansdale, too. This was a great collaboration all round.
on June 7, 2016
I was expecting cheese, but this film just kind of misses with the special effects for me. The plot is unique and innovative but the special effects and graphics just feel way to third rate and they prevented me from really enjoying it. Which is a shame because the premise is quite good.
on February 29, 2016
Masters of Horror indeed. I decided to watch this after some folks online vouched for this episode claiming it was amazing and scary. I have never seen anything more rubbish in my life. Don't even get me started on the plot. Someone must have been smoking reefer when they wrote this mess.
on August 29, 2007
...the packaging is quite cheesy/cheap. I don't know what I expected for $55, but it wasn't the chintzy cardboard mausoleum NOR the cardboard slipcovers for each disc (that's correct, these discs are not held in keep cases or even slim cases, they are in cardboard slipcovers, in a slotted plastic insert).
I DO enjoy the Masters of Horror series (some good episodes, some bad, none great), but I'm a horror fanatic and not particularly discriminating. I love the fact that some of the greatest horror film directors are involved with this and, though these short films are not anyone's best work by a long shot, as I said I do enjoy this series nonetheless.
So--those who purchased these DVDs individually actually have one up on those of us who waited for the boxed set: at least your discs are housed appropriately in long-lasting plastic!!
Directed by Don Coscarelli (the man responsible for the gut-wrenching "Phantasm" films and the brilliantly quirky "Bubba Ho-tep"), "Incident" was a fine start to Showtime's promising (but spotty) "Masters of Horror" series.
The beautiful Bree Turner has spent most of her career playing snobby sorority girls and providing attractive scenery to relatively benign movies and T.V. shows. She takes the helm here as Ellen, a woman who wrecks her car late at night while driving through the mountains. Her problems, of course, turn out to be larger than a dented fender. Namely, she must square off with Moonface, a creature who is far deadlier than his name implies.
Ellen, refreshingly, is not your typical horror movie Damsel In Distress. She proves herself to be a worthy (and entertaining) foe to the disturbing creature who stalks her through the rocky woods, a pleasant change of pace from the women who stumble on broken heels, make ludicrous decisions, and prefer screaming to thinking.
In a series of well-placed flashbacks, Coscarelli gives us glimpses of her education in survival, taking place at the hands of her too-eager boyfriend/husband, Bruce. Played by Ethan Embry (who hasn't made much of himself since his "Can't Hardly Wait" days), Bruce is a convincing character, but it's hard to imagine how his slightly off-putting insistence managed to snag a smart and capable lady like Ellen.
No matter. Coscarelli leaves explanations aside, avoiding unnecessary details. What's really important is the tooth-and-nail present. Coscarelli uses standard horror film elements to mold together something decidedly unique and satisfying. It's not particularly ground-breaking, nor is it without its flaws (the flashbacks, while important, sap the story of some of its tension), but it is a comforting bit of entertainment, especially for Fright Fans who are afraid that the genre is in danger of dying a slow and boring death.