Fear Itself (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Featured stars: Johnathon Schaech, J Larose, Anna Kendrick, Eric Balfour
Featured directors: Stuart Gordon, Brad Anderson, Mary Harron, Breck Eisner, John Landis, Ronny Yu, Ernest Dickerson, Darren Bousman, Larry Fessenden, John Dahl, Rob Schmidt, Rupert Wainwright, Eduardo Rodriguez
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Despite its intentions, Masters of Horror Season Three this was not. Fear Itself came, went, and was ultimately killed off by the Olympic Games, never to be seen again until right now on DVD in an interesting little package from Lionsgate.
Before I begin, let's take a quick look at the episodes included here, some of which are director's cuts and were never aired.
"Eater" is directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and written by Cemetery Dance Magazine publisher and editor Richard Chizmar (From a Buick 8) and actor Johnathon Schaech (Masters of Horror). A rookie cop (Moss) must spend her first night in the precinct watching over a serial killer, coined "The Eater" (Stephen R. Hart, Shoot 'Em Up). When her fellow cops start acting bizarrely, she quickly learns that no one is who they seem. Russell Hornsby (Lincoln Heights), Pablo Schreiber ("The Wire"), and Stephen Lee ("Boston Legal") also star.
"Spooked" is directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist) and written by Matt Venne (White Noise 2: The Light). While on a stake-out in a haunted house, a private eye (Roberts) is made to confront the demons of his past. Jack Noseworthy ("Judging Amy"), Cynthia Watros ("Lost"), and Larry Gilliard Jr. ("The Wire") also star.
"Community" is directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho) and written by Kelly Kennemer (The Music Within). When a young married couple, played by Brandon Routh and Shiri Appleby, find the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, their lives seem...well...perfect. But as the dark underbelly of their neighborhood creeps to the surface, they soon realize that their neighbors will go to any extreme -- even murder -- to make sure that they comply with their twisted sense of conformity. John Billingsley (“Star Trek: Enterprise") also stars.
"The Sacrifice" has a screenplay written by Mick Garris (Riding the Bullet) from a story by Del Howison (Dark Delicacies). Breck Eisner (Creature from the Black Lagoon) directs. When four people find themselves stranded in an old, snow-covered fort, they slowly discover both the fort and the seductive trio of sirens who reside there are filled with deadly secrets.
"New Year's Day" is directed by Darren Bousman (Saw II, III and IV) and written by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) from a story by Paul Kane. A young woman wakes up in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by horrifying zombies.
"Family Man" is directed by Ronny Yu (Freddy vs. Jason, Bride of Chucky) and is written by Dan Knauf ("Carnivale," "Supernatural"). This action-charged, psychological thriller focuses on a likable family man who switches bodies with a serial killer after a near-death experience. Now he must fight from behind bars to keep the murderer from adding his family to the long list of victims.
"Skin & Bones" is written by Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan (Masters of Horror) with Larry Fessenden directing. When a cattle herder returns home to his family after being lost in the woods for days, he just doesn't seem the same. Soon a terrible mortal struggle ensues against the terrifying monster possessing him.
"Something With Bite" is a reinvention of the classic werewolf story from writer Max Landis (Masters of Horror), the son of John Landis. Ernest Dickerson (NBC's "Heroes") directs.
"Chance" is written by Lem Dobbs (The Score) with John Dahl (You Kill Me, The Last Seduction) directing. In the vein of such classic doppelganger stories as Jekyll & Hyde and Poe's "William Wilson," the episode explores a dreadful, classic battle that ensues when a man is confronted by his evil self.
"In Sickness and in Health" is directed by John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) and written by Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers). On her wedding day a beautiful bride receives a mysterious note that reads: "The person you are marrying is a serial killer."
“The Spirit Box” is directed by Rob Schmidt (Masters of Horror, Wrong Turn) and written by Joe Gangemi (Wind Chill, the novel Inamorata). When two suburban high school girls, played by Anna Kendrick (Rocket Science) and Jessica Parker Kennedy (Kaya), try to contact a dead classmate via a board game, they receive an unexpected message from beyond the grave. The dead girl, thought to be a teen suicide, was actually killed by a teacher with whom she’d been having an affair and now wants their help in avenging her murder. Martin Donovan (“The Dead Zone,” “Weeds”) and Mark Pellegrino (“Dexter,” “K-Ville”) also star.
“Echoes” is directed by Rupert Wainwright (The Fog, Stigmata) and written by Sean Hood (The Crow: Wicked Prayer, Halloween: Resurrection). Steven (Aaron Stanford, The Hills Have Eyes), an affable, good-natured young man, moves into an apartment where he believes he once lived -- 88 years ago in a past life. But as memories appear to him like ghosts, he begins to believe that in this previous life he was a sadistic murderer – or is he just imagining things? Eric Balfour (“24,” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Camille Guaty (“Prison Break,” “Las Vegas”) also star.
“The Circle” is written by Cemetery Dance Magazine publisher and editor Richard Chizmar (From a Buick 8) and actor Johnathon Schaech (Masters of Horror, That Thing You Do!), based on the short story of the same title written by Lewis Shiner, with Eduardo Rodriguez (Curandero, Daughter) directing. A group of people meet every Halloween to tell horror stories and suddenly discover they’re living one. Starring Johnathon Schaech (Prom Night, Angels Fall), Ashley Scott (“Jericho”), Melanie Nicholls-King (“The Wire”) and Eric Keenleyside (“Traveler”).
Simply put, damned near every single episode comes in at either the average or below average mark with the exception of Fessenden's "Skin & Bones". One good episode does not a series make. Maybe it's because the breaks for commercials are there, eliminating what little tension there is. But then what of older TV shows like Tales from the Darkside, et al? They managed quite a few good episodes. Maybe it was the horrid B-grade CGI that snapped you out of every scene it's used in. Or maybe, just maybe, it's the ridiculous theme song. Either way the whole affair seems kind of stamped out.
Then there's the packaging. While it looks good in photos, when you have it in your hands, it's kind of laughable. The tombstone and skeleton are fashioned from really thin plastic. The kind you'd find at 99 Cent party stores. The DVD's (all flipper discs) are stacked on top of each other (begging to be scratched) with only a tiny loose foam ring separating the two sides of the package. Wow, really?
Then there are the special features. Each episode has a short interview with the director. Joy.
Yep, suffice it to say that even a year later ... Fear Itsucks.
2 1/2 out of 5
1 out of 5
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