Starring Matt Frewer, Leah Graham, Stacy Grant, Katharine Horsman, Lucie Laurier, Henry Thomas, and Paul Wu
Directed by Mick Garris
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Dinner. Amazing feats can be accomplished by just having a single sit-down meal. After all, we live in a world in which empires have been forged and come undone over cocktails alone. Over dinner is exactly how the hit Showtime original series Masters of Horror originally came to be. Genre staple Mick Garris came up with the idea of having all the horror heavyweights get together every so often for some wine, some steak, and of course conversation. From those gatherings talk about how cool it would be if they could all collaborate on a single project together began to gain momentum. The rest is horror history, and what we have here is yet another absolutely stunning DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. This time around the man himself, Mick Garris, gets his chance to shine, but the results are just a bit on the mixed side. Sit back, kids; it’s time to learn about a tale that starts with one of life’s most irresistible sins! A tale of Chocolate.
What happens to a person when he has been stripped of everything? Loss can have a lot of damaging effects on the psyche, but the most dangerous of all is that feeling of void and emptiness within one’s soul. For Jamie (Henry Who You Tellin’ to Phone Home? Thomas) that type of existence is one that he’s spiraling out of control toward in a hurry. Fresh off a divorce and dealing with the loss of his life as he once knew it, Jamie is slowly losing not only hope but himself. That is until one night he awakens from his sleep with the unmistakable flavor of chocolate coursing around his taste buds. We’ve all heard of wet dreams before, but I’d trade them for a mouthful of sugary goodness any time.
Thinking that this was an anomaly, he goes about his business as usual until his senses begin to betray him further. It’s not long before he starts not just having visions but actually seeing through the eyes of a strange woman he has never met. This, as you can well imagine, becomes quite disconcerting. But what happens if these extra sensory perceptions take an additional step? Before Jamie knows it, he begins to actually feel what this beautiful and mysterious woman is experiencing. Fine wine, fine food, and even some occasional masturbation with a shower massage can be kind of fun, but what about the things in her life that aren’t so pleasant such as having forced sex with her boyfriend? Can you imagine feeling vaginal penetration without a vagina? Sound uncomfortable? You bet — and in more ways than one as showcased by the scene in which Jamie’s new lover, ex-wife, and kid all happen to be with him at the exact time that he is being subjected to violation.
No longer able to deal with experiencing this woman’s life without knowing her personally, our protagonist sets off on a mission to find her. No one knows this person better than he. Could it be that the reason he is experiencing all of this is because his life was so empty and hers so very full? Maybe they’re soul-mates and this is fate knocking on the proverbial door. On paper that may sound a bit like the concept of a cheesy romance novel, but guess what? This is an episode of Masters of Horror! It’s not long before things turn ugly and violent.
Being that this whole project was the brainchild of Garris, I must confess that as a viewer and fan I became very curious about his contribution to Masters. Unfortunately, Chocolate plays like a bit of a misstep along these blood-drenched roads to depravity. Truth be told, while the situation and circumstances surrounding Jamie are indeed extraordinary, there just aren’t enough horror elements in the mix to follow suit with the other entries in this series. Don’t get me wrong; this hour-long mini-film is competently made and a very good watch. It just kind of misses its horrific marks way more than it hits.
That being said, let’s get on with the DVD goodies! Man, oh man, what more could a fan ask for? The DVD releases of Masters of Horror are without question some of the most top-shelf packages we’re likely to see now or ever. Anchor Bay once again pulls out all the stops and delivers big time. The main supplement on this disc is a look at director Mick Garris titled The Sweet Taste of Fear. Say what you want about Garris; the one thing that cannot be denied is this man’s love for our genre. In this nearly half-hour-long interview, we get a glimpse of his career from his humble beginnings as a front-man of a rock band to his many collaborations with legendary author Stephen King. Out of everything on the disc, this featurette is without question the most heartfelt. It’s hard not to gain an appreciation for the man. As long as he and people of his ilk are involved, it’s good to know that our genre is in very capable and caring hands. It’s no wonder you’re considered a master of your craft, Mick. Bravo.
Elsewhere on the disc is another featurette that explores what it’s like working with Garris titled, what else, Working With a Master: Mick Garris. Here we meet a plethora of stars that have worked with Mick not only on Chocolate but throughout his career. Stories are swapped, smiles are shared, and once again it becomes clear why Garris is at the top of his game. From there we have various interviews from the set of Chocolate with stars Henry Thomas and Lucie Laurier, some fairly cool behind-the-scenes footage, and your standard extras such as trailers, a very lively and insightful commentary by Garris, a host of DVD-ROM features, and a truly extensive text bio. However, the gem of it all comes while watching a really early clip from Garris’ talk show Fantasy Film Festival in which a very young Garris interviews soon-to-be fellow master in his own right, Roger Corman. Watching this is like stepping through a time machine and ending up in the land of cable access past! It’s a truly great addition to a really packing disc.
Bottom line, you simply could not ask for more from a DVD. Masters of Horror is an important event in our genre, and Anchor Bay treats it with the respect it and its fans truly deserve. While I wasn’t too keen on the feature itself, this DVD still stands head and shoulders above most and is a worthy addition to any horror fan’s collection.
Audio commentary with writer / director Mick Garris
The Sweet Taste of Fear: An Interview with Mick Garris featurette
Working With a Master: Mick Garris featurette
On Set: An Interview With Henry Thomas featurette
On Set: An Interview With Lucie Laurier featurette
The Making of Chocolate behind-the-scenes featurette
Fantasy Film Festival: Mick Garris interviews Roger Corman
Mick Garris text bio
Collectible Masters of Horror trading card
DVD-Rom features: screenplay, original short story, screen saver
4 out of 5
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