Starz Home Entertainment // 2005 // 175 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // October 16th, 2007
"Why does everything have to have a why with you people? You know, it's a woman with deer legs, motive really isn't an issue here."
In its ongoing attempts to bring the show of the same name to Blu-ray video, Starz has brought another trio of episodes from the Masters of Horror show out to this second compilation. So now that it's here, what do these episodes look like in their shiny blue cases?
Starz released several episodes from the show onto a compilation discussed elsewhere in the DVD Verdict coffers, and there are at least two more volumes planned for release which are similar in quality and worksmanship. The episodes on this disc are as follows:
This is a mildly eclectic combination, as Steven Weber (Wings) adapted a short story that wound up being directed by Dario Argento (Suspira). In it, Weber plays Frank Spivey, a grizzled detective on a stakeout with his partner. He gets out and stretches his legs, and sees a woman being dragged into the woods with an older man. The man wields a hatchet and threatens to kill her, but Spivey shoots the man before it happens. He takes the shy and disfigured woman into his home, but finds out that she has a secret that begins to consume his life.
Written by Sean Hood (Halloween: Resurrection) and directed by Lucky McKee (The Woods), the story focuses on an etymologist (Angela Bettis, Girl, Interrupted) working in a lab. She musters up the courage to ask a young woman (Erin Brown, The Rage) out for some coffee, and the two strike up a quick and intense relationship. The "bug doctor" has a tendency to bring some of her work home with her, which becomes a problem when a mysterious South African insect arrives on her doorstep.
John Landis (An American Werewolf In London) reunites with the actor he occasionally directed in Dream On, Brian Benben. Benben plays a detective down on his luck and ostracized by the force who takes on a mysterious string of murders, and finds out that the perpetrator might be linked to a longtime Native American legend.
You know how when you used to watch The X-Files, and they would do those episodes that dealt more with the bizarre one-offs than with the actual alien conspiracies? Usually, they would be actually funny, but a lot of times they would be goofy and just generally distracting. However, not knowing how the series pans out, I seriously hope that what I witnessed in Volume Two isn't a defining moment of subsequent silliness, seeing as how I've not watched any other episodes outside of what I've seen so far.
The episodes that I watched collectively weren't horrible. In fact, I was fairly impressed with Weber's storytelling in Jenifer. I've only known him as the goofy younger brother in Wings, and at certain points in the episode he doesn't seem to shake it, but it's convincing enough that I bought into it. The fact that Jenifer (Carrie Fleming, Get Carter) does have a, to quote a character, "nice rack" is nice, but the reason why she's so shy proves to be startling, every time you witness it.
Things segue into the quirky a little bit on Sick Girl. The etymologist Ida has kind of a Rose McGowan look to her, if Rose sounded like Kathleen Turner. But despite that, the episode is pretty good. Ida has been burned by relationships before and is embarrassed to ask Misty (Brown) out, but the relationship moves so quickly and becomes such a prominent part of the show, you almost forget the shock part that comes later. The girls are subjected to scorn and castigation, and learn to embrace one another's idiosyncrasies, even if they are, let's say "exotic."
Then we get to "Deer Woman." We know Landis has been directing for awhile, and has even directed a horror film once in a blue moon. But when paired with Benben, we get Dream On meets Tales From the Crypt, which was the last thing I wanted to see and hear. The episode gets funny, even goofy. In one scene, there's an almost masturbatory nod to Landis' past. It was kind of sad in a way, almost like Landis was saying "hey, I've got horror background, believe me!" The fact that there was some sort of relevancy to a Native American folk tale was tacked on, and the almost slapstick nature of the dialogue, even when it's supposed to be serious, make Deer Woman neither funny nor scary. I hope I didn't witness a potential shark-jumping moment.
Technically, the 1.78:1 video is pretty much the same spread as Volume One. Image sharpness is decent however not mind-blowing, and black levels are pretty good for a television show. The PCM soundtrack presents a semi-decent opportunity to test out some new speakers I got, but there's not a lot of activity over the course of the show which hardly makes it reference quality. And as in Volume One, the only extras that come over from the standard definition discs are the commentary tracks on each episode. Weber and DVD Producer Perry Martin join up for Jenifer, and Martin excels at steering the conversation and setting up a topic for his subject, and Weber does that and cracks jokes to boot. It's fairly light, not earth shattering or overly informative, but it is fun, and of the tracks, this was the best and it went downhill from there, kind of like the episodes on the disc. The track on Sick Girl is with McKee, Bettis, Jessie Hlubik (The Lost), who plays Max, and Jaye Barnes Luckett, who composed the original music for the episode. Less information is revealed here and there's a lot of joking around, but in terms of real information, you should probably skip it. The last track on Deer Woman with Benben and Anthony Griffith (Panther) is even more forgettable. Lots of dead air and no real information about the production. His jokes are even dated from when he was famous, as I hear a joke about O.J. Simpson and another with Flavor Flav. Well, Dream On did air in the mid-'90s, so that's not a big surprise there. Hope he doesn't share the wonders of the Macarena anytime soon.
Starz continues to drop the additional extras from the standard definition discs, but if there's so much room on Blu-ray, you'd think that people would think to include some of those extras here, since the video really isn't anything to jump up and down about. I should note here as well, as I didn't in Volume One, that the discs really are compilations, and not in the order they were aired.
The big thing that separates Volume Two of Masters of Horror from Volume One is that there were more "yuks" in each episode, and not enough "yucks!" Some of the horror wasn't horror at all, and seemed to fly more in the face of what I had seen before in Volume One.
The court rules not guilty for the accused, but it's not as energetic as Volume One's acquittal was.
Review content copyright © 2007 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Starz Home Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 175 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary with Writer/Actor Steven Weber and DVD Producer Perry Martin (Jenifer)
* Commentary with Director Lucky McKee, Composer Jaye Barnes Luckett and Actors Angela Bettis and Jesse Hlubik (Sick Girl)
* Commentary with Actors Brian benben and Anthony Griffith (Deer Woman)
* IMDb: Jenifer
* IMDb: Sick Girl
* IMDb: Deer Woman
* Original DVD Verdict Review: Jenifer
* Original DVD Verdict Review: Sick Girl
* Original DVD Verdict Review: Deer Woman
* Official Site
* Official Site (Showtime)
* Dario Argento Fan Site
* Official Misty Mundae Site