June 6th, 2008


Fear Itself: "The Sacrifice"

Hey, remember Masters of Horror? It ran for a couple of seasons on Showtime. I didn't much care for it myself and thought they should have changed the name to Cliché Horror Theater With Some Directors You May Have Heard Of. In fact, I was so disappointed with the first season I didn't even bother with the second.

Apparently not many others did either, because Showtime booted them before their third season. NBC came to the rescue, turning Masters of Horror into the summer series Fear Itself.

It premiered tonight with "The Sacrifice," based on Del "Dark Delicacies" Howison's short story "The Lost Herd." I wasn't planning to watch, having been so turned off by the previous incarnation of this series, but I wound up tuning in anyway. I guess I'm a sucker that way. But in the end, it was all right. Sure, it has many of the same issues that plague a lot of modern horror films -- poor setup; scummy characters you can't root for, much less care about; huge logic problems (for a creature no one has succeeded in killing for generations, they sure dispatched with it rather simply) -- and I was kind of disappointed it turned out to be just another vampire story, but there was a good sense of atmosphere to the piece, too. I liked the isolated fortress locale and the way the mystery slowly unraveled and motivations revealed themselves. And for once Mick Garris turned in a script that didn't make me want to firebomb Hollywood until they learn their lesson.

It may seem counterintuitive, but my hope is that the network television limitations on gore and nudity, two crutches Masters of Horror relied on far too often because their stories were so bad, will actually force them to be more creative, to focus on chills and atmosphere and good stories. I'm cynical about this, of course, the way I'm cynical about all modern horror movies, but my fingers are crossed nonetheless. I'll tune in again next week and see what the next mini-movie is like.

Oh, and one more thing. I liked the opening credits sequence of Fear Itself so much more than that of Masters of Horror. Much creepier. Kudos for that.

Another Silly Meme

You are in a mall when the zombies attack. You have:

1. one weapon.
2. one song blasting on the speakers.
3. one famous person to fight alongside you.

* Weapon can be real or fictional; you may assume endless ammo if applicable. Person can be real or fictional.

1. Well, if the weapon can be fictional, and they're allowing for endless ammo, then I'm going to choose a magical machine gun that never, ever runs out of bullets and always has perfect aim. Duh. What am I going to say, crowbar?

2. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" -- just for the irony.

3. He may not be famous, but I guess I'd choose the world's greatest machine-gunner from World War II to operate my magical, never-empty, never-missing machine gun.

Doctor Who: "The Doctor's Daughter"

Not a bad episode at all. In fact, I'm tempted to call it the highlight of season 4 so far. Sure, the fishmen were silly, and one of them suffered a death so ridiculously gratuitous it makes you wonder if it was done for some mysterious budgetary reason (how exactly do fishmen drown? Wouldn't it have been so much more effective storytelling to have him help out at the climax?). But then it wouldn't be Doctor Who without someone dying a needless yet heroic death.

But even if the fishmen were silly, Jenny was great. The Doctor's paternal relationship with her was wonderful, and her line "What are you going to do, tell my dad?" was priceless. I really hope she shows up again.

And now for some of my trademark Doctor Who neepery:

I got a kick out of the Doctor talking about having had children before. We've met his granddaughter Susan, of course. She was his first companion, along with her Earth schoolteachers Ian and Barbara, who secretly followed her into the TARDIS in the very first episode back in 1963, "An Unearthly Child." Though Susan is ostensibly still on Earth in the 22nd Century, where the Doctor left her at the end of the 1964 serial "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," the rest of the Doctor's family is presumed dead, either in the Time War or from some other, undisclosed event. In 1967's "The Tomb of the Cybermen," the Doctor says his family "sleeps in his mind," which sounds very death-like, and in 1989's "The Curse of Fenric," when asked if he has any family, the Doctor says he doesn't know. (Me, I'm guessing Susan went back to fight in the Time War too. Otherwise I imagine the Doctor would be visiting her quite often these days.)

Also, Georgia Moffett, who plays Jenny, really is the Doctor's daughter. Well, a Doctor's, anyway. Her father is Peter Davison, who was the fifth actor to play the Doctor (and my second favorite from the classic series after Tom Baker). Georgia's mom, by the way, is Sandra Dickinson, who also has experience playing a space traveler. She played Trillian in the 1981 BBC-TV version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Lastly, was it just me or did the fishmen masks look like an aborted attempt at recreating the Silurians? I'm just saying.

Bah, enough neepery. Next time, the Doctor meets Agatha Christie!