Monday, 19 December 2016

A Look Back At "Masters Of Horror"

Masters of Horror was an American anthology television series created by director Mick Garris

Back in 2005 news came out that a TV show was being made that would feature  mini films directed by some of Horror's biggest names, this was really huge news and Horror fans everywhere were so excited to see what this would all be about.

It actually all started in 2002, director Mick Garris invited some director friends to an informal dinner at a restaurant in Sherman Oaks, California. Attending were John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Don Coscarelli, Joe Dante, Guillermo Del Toro, Stuart Gordon, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, Bill Malone, and Garris himself. 

The dinner was said to be an extremely satisfying experience for the directors: a welcome night of camaraderie, humour and mutual admiration of one another's work. Del Toro coined the name of the group in jest when he told a nearby diner celebrating her birthday that the "Masters of Horror" wished her a happy birthday.

Subsequently, Garris organized regular dinners with the group and invited other horror and genre directors to attend, including Dario Argento, Eli Roth, David Cronenberg, Tim Sullivan, Rob Zombie, Bryan Singer, Fred Dekker, William Lustig, Lucky McKee, Ernest Dickerson, Katt Shea, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, James Gunn, Mary Lambert, Tom Holland, Peter Medak, Ti West, Lloyd Kaufman, and others.

These dinners turned into discussions of work and that's how "Masters Of Horror" came to be. The cable network company Showtime picked up the show and that's when the news spread like wildfire amongst fans of the genre.

Apparently the show was already fully financed even before Showtime came along, originally the episodes were just going to be released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment. This would've been an interesting move and although Anchor Bay did distribute the DVD release I wonder whatever happened to that original deal for it to be changed.

According to creator Mick Garris, the directors involved were given free reign as to what stories they told, however they wanted to tell them. But when Showtime came on board, they laid out a handful of rules. One was, there could be no full frontal male nudity. Another was, there could be no violence committed on a child by another child (but violence by adults on children or children on adults was fine).

With 13 episodes released for the first series fans were treated to some amazing stories wrote by the likes of John Landis, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson with directors such as Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper, Joe Dante, John Carpenter and more. What wasn't there to be excited about?!

There were some fantastic stories, it reminded me a lot of the 80's version of "The Twilight Zone", just with more of an all star crew. That's not a bad comparison, the 80's Twilight Zone is looked back on fondly by those who grew up with it and it featured a lot of future stars (but that's a whole other post). 

With the huge success of the first series a second series followed with a lot of Directors returning, again we had some fantastic stories. Again fans were treated to some amazing stuff but commercially things weren't great and a third series wasn't funded.

NBC took on the show but it had to change it's name, the title "Fear Itself" was chosen. Despite dealing with a lot of the same people such as Stuart Gordon, John Landis, Rob Schmidt and more something just wasn't quite right, half the season went unaired and then it was cancelled. The unaired episodes were featured on the DVD release.

The only news since the show was cancelled has been that IDW Publishing is producing a series of comic book adaptations of several episodes from the series. Unfortunately I haven't read them but it's good to see that there's still interest there.

I've always felt that this show didn't get as much recognition as it deserved, even from it's own genre. It's amazing how many people don't know about this show, even now it only seems to be known by more die hard fans of the genre.

If this was a show that was released now it would be HUGE! The names involved in this project alone would be enough to market it alone. Can you just imagine if a network like Netflix launched something like today.

It's only been just over ten years since the series was launched and sadly it just seems to have been forgotten by many. I just can't understand why this doesn't get more talked about by fans of the genre. 

I urge you to hunt this show down, it's got some great stories and a great mixture of eclectic personalities for Directors to keep it all fresh as a viewer. Give it a try!

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