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The idea sprung from a series of dinners that Garris had held with other horror film directors, and the satisfying experience and the directors' admiration of each other's works lead Garris to create this series in 2005. The basic idea was a series of one-hour films, each directed by a well-known horror director. The series featured contributions from directors as diverse as Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter and Takashi Miike, and received wide critical acclaim.
The series ran for two seasons on Showtime. Fear Itself, another Genre Anthology in the same format and created by the same team, premiered on NBC in 2008, and was cancelled after its first season. Another similar show called Masters of Science Fiction (again from the same creators) premiered on ABC in 2007, but only ran six episodes before being cancelled. Masters of Italian Horror is also in the works, focusing solely on Italian directors. IDW Publishing is also adapting several of the episodes as comic books.
The episodes, in order of broadcast, and the tropes they contained were as follows:
- 1 Season One
- 2 Incident On and Off a Mountain Road
- 3 Dreams in the Witch-House
- 4 Dance of the Dead
- 5 Jenifer
- 6 Chocolate
- 7 Homecoming
- 8 Deer Woman
- 9 John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns
- 10 The Fair-Haired Child
- 11 Sick Girl
- 12 Pick Me Up
- 13 Haeckel's Tale
- 14 Imprint
- 15 The Damned Thing
- 16 Family
- 17 The V Word
- 18 Sounds Like
- 19 John Carpenter's Pro-Life
- 20 Pelts
- 21 The Screwfly Solution
- 22 Valerie on the Stairs
- 23 Right to Die
- 24 We All Scream for Ice Cream
- 25 The Black Cat
- 26 The Washingtonians
- 27 Dream Cruise
Incident On and Off a Mountain Road
Directed by Don Coscarelli and based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale. While driving in the night by a lonely mountain road, young Ellen (Bree Turner) suffers a car crash and comes across a deranged, monster-like Serial Killer nicknamed "Moonface" (John deSantis). In order to survive, Ellen must put in practice the lessons she received from her Crazy Survivalist husband Bruce (Ethan Embry).
- Action Girl: Ellen.
- Asexuality: According to Buddy, Moonface is not interested in "sexual things".
- Bald of Evil: Moonface.
- The Brute: Moonface.
- Crazy Survivalist: Bruce, bordering Properly Paranoid.
- Evil Albino: Moonface.
- Eye Scream: Moonface uses a drill press to remove the eyes of his victims. While still alive.
- Going Commando: Ellen, after using her panties for a Booby Trap.
- Ironic Echo: Sssshhhh...!
- The Reveal: Ellen killed Bruce and was going to dispose of his body when she suffered the accident. She ends making it look like Bruce was another victim of Moonface.
- Serial Killer: Moonface again.
- Talkative Loon: Buddy.
Dreams in the Witch-House
Directed by Stuart Gordon and based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. College student Walter Gillman (Ezra Godden) rents a room in a colonial house looking for a quiet environment wherein to study his grade on Quantum Mechanics. However, he soon begins to experience some weird and very vivid dreams till he is convinced that a 17th century witch wants him to sacrifice the baby of the woman next door (Chelah Horsdal).
- Bilingual Bonus: The Ominous Latin Chanting that is heard during the two apparitions of the witch is actually a Spanish song about Human Sacrifice.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: At the end, Walter is killed by Brown Jenkins while interned in a mental asylum.
- Eye Scream: The way Walter brings down the witch.
- Familiar: Brown Jenkin.
- Fan Service: The witch's way to bring Walter to the dark side surely worked on a great number of viewers.
- Though it's also rather funny as it's painfully obvious that it's an entirely different woman in that scene. Stunt boobs!
- Half-Human Hybrid: Brown Jenkin, the human-faced rat that accompanies the witch.
- Human Resources: The Necronomicon has tapes of human skin.
- Human Sacrifice: With a twist. According to the old tenant, what the witch is after in reality is the soul of the man that performs the sacrifice, not the child's.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: At one point, Walter ponders that the witches' abilities came from having mastered quantum mechanics to travel within dimensions.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Just as Walter kills the witch and saves little Danny, Brown Jenkins comes out of nowhere and kills the baby.
- Shout-Out: The witch acquires the image of an attractive naked woman to seduce the protagonist, and reveals her true old, hideous image when she has done it while laughing her ass off. Also, the Ominous Latin Chanting heard during this scene contains the line "Iah! Iah!"
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Necronomicon.
- What Could Have Been: Frequent collaborator Jeffrey Combs was Gordon's original pick for the role of Mr. Dombrowski, but was unavailable.
Dance of the Dead
Directed by Tobe Hooper and based In Name Only on a short story by Richard Matheson. Peggy (Jessica Lowndes) is a 17 year-old girl who lives with her overprotective mother Kate (Marylyn Norry) in a post-apocalyptic US Twenty Minutes Into the Future. Her father died in World War Three and her older sister Anna went missing some years after that. Shortly after meeting a teenage punk named Jak (Jonathan Tucker), Peggy ignores the advice of her mother and accompanies him to The Doom Room, a nightclub in the nearby town of Muskeet run by an eccentric manager known only as "the MC"(Robert Englund), where the main attraction is the so called Dance of the Dead.
- After the End: The setting.
- Fan Service: Many of the workers in The Doom Room go topless.
- For Science!: Used as an apparent legal cover by the MC, as he likes to remind the audience before showing them some reanimated cadavers that his assistants make "dance" with electric shocks.
- Heel Face Turn: Jak joins Peggy against the MC and helps her "rescue" her zombified sister Anna. Ironically, this act sets off the chain of events that ends with Peggy becoming one of the regulars at The Doom Room, and her dead mother becoming the Doom Room's newest "dancer".
- Human Resources: Jak and his friends are blood harvesters, who steal fresh blood from hospitals (and occasionally from live people) and sell it to the MC.
- Jerkass: Kate, hands down.
- Large Ham: Robert Englund, a master of the trope.
- My Beloved Smother: Kate.
- My Nayme Is: Jak spells his name with no C.
- Our Zombies Are Different: In this case, only vaguely reanimated corpses.
- Phlebotinum Dependence: The Doom Room's zombie dancers need to be regularly injected with fresh blood in order to "dance", preferably from older people who are unlikely to have ever done drugs or have an STD. Additionally, the MC keeps a private stash of blood for his own purposes.
- The Reveal: Kate, fed up with Anna's hard-partying lifestyle, allowed her to die of a drug overdose and sold her corpse to the MC. Trouble was, she wasn't quite dead when her mother sold her...
- Twenty Minutes Into the Future
- The Unfavorite: Anna.
- Wretched Hive: Cruising down the main drag of Muskeet at night makes Dodge City look like Disneyland.
Directed by Dario Argento and based on a comic by Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson. While parked with his partner for a different assignment, Detective Frank Spivey (Steven Weber) shoots a deranged homeless man as he is attempting to kill a gorgeous, but hideously disfigured and apparently mentally retarded woman, Jenifer (Carrie Fleming). When informed that she will be interned in a mental asylum, Frank takes pity of Jenifer and brings her home instead, something that his family doesn't take very well. It only gets worse after that, as Frank obsesses with Jenifer's body while she begins to show her true colors.
- Adaptation Expansion: The last act of the episode includes a Hope Spot where Frank seems to be getting his life back on track only for Jenifer to ruin it again.
- Boy Meets Ghoul: A quite brutal Deconstruction. Boy warms to Ghoul first out of pity, then becomes sexually obsessed with it. Ghoul pretends to love Boy to provide for it while Ghoul keeps murdering people.
- Butter Face: The eponymous Jenifer, possibly to the point of exaggeration, in that her face looks downright monstrous while still having a model's body.
- Evil Detecting Cat: A clear indication that Jenifer is evil is Frank's cat being terrified of her.
- Fan Service: Everytime they show Jenifer's body.
- Fan Disservice: Everytime her face can also be seen.
- Good People Have Good Sex: The first indication that Frank is becoming obsessed with Jenifer is when he can't stop fantasizing about her while having a bout of rough sex with his wife, which she clearly isn't enjoying.
- Gorn: Jennifer's hunger fits.
- Idiot Ball: Frank, when a lady eats your cat alive in front of you, it's time to kick her out of home.
- Infant Immortality: Averted with the neighbourhood girl and Frank's cat.
- Nightmare Face: Jenifer.
- Stuffed Into the Fridge: Literally, although it wasn't somebody important to the main character.
- Would Hurt a Child: Jenifer devours a little girl. This is when it finally gets too much for Frank.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: This is how Jenifer attracts her new caretakers, by making it seem like the previous one is a deranged psychopath who tries to brutally murder a bound woman.
Directed by Mick Garris and based on his own short story. Jamie (Henry Thomas) works in a laboratory that develops flavors for a food company. One day, he begins to suffer a series of apparent hallucinations until he realizes that he's actually living the experiences of a woman in another city as if they were his own.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Jamie falls in love with the woman before actually meeting her.
- Fan Service: A man, looking through the eyes of a woman... it was bound to happen.
- How We Got Here: The episode begins with Jamie covered in blood and being interrogated by the police.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Jamie gets through the final scene and tells the whole story with an untreated shot through the leg.
Directed by Joe Dante and based on a short story by Dale Bailey. America is fighting an unpopular war as the next presidential election is nearing. When confronted by the mother of a fallen soldier on live TV, David Murch (John Tenney), a publicity agent for the current government whose own brother was killed in Vietnam, declares his conviction that the fallen soldiers would support the war if given the choice to come back. Unfortunately for him, they're about to. And they don't.
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Jane Cleaver, played by Thea Gill.
- Casual Kink: David's phone rings while he is having a BDSM session with Jane. He answers the phone, but she keeps whipping him a bit just to embarrass him in front of his boss.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: There are references to the Iraq War, Guantanamo and the 2000 Florida voting controversy.
- Ghostly Goals: The undead soldiers only drop dead after being allowed to vote. They come back to life when the government decides to not consider their votes valid.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: President Shelly is an obvious stand-in for George W. Bush while Jane is a parody of Ann Coulter.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Talking (though it hurts), fully conscious, can't be killed and do not want brains.
- The Reveal: Philip didn't die in the war. He was killed at home by the infant David, who was playing with his gun.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Philip and, arguably, several of the undead soldiers.
- Strawman Political: Several characters, with Jane being the most notable.
- The Vietnam War: David's older brother Philip fought on it though contrary to what he has always believed, he wasn't killed there.
- War Is Hell: Invoked in the final line of the episode.
- The War on Terror: Not directly named, but clearly set during it.
- Writer on Board: Duh.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Averted. The undead soldiers make it pretty clear they aren't mindless bodies there to eat people. They're entirely civilized (though a little grumpy for obvious reasons) and the only people they are shown killing did something to deserve it.
Directed by John Landis. In a small town, disgraced detective Dwight Faraday (Brian Benben) and his friend Officer Jacob Reed (Anthony Griffith) are given the opportunity to investigate a series of mysterious deaths where the victim was apparently trampled by an unknown animal. All the victims were male and were last seen while in company of a mysterious, beautiful Native American woman (Cinthya Moura).
- Bambification: Averted.
- Bittersweet Ending: Unclear whether it's either this or Downer Ending. Reed has been killed, the Deer Woman has claimed her victims, and vanishes when Faraday tracks her down. There's no indication that she won't come back in a few years, but at least won't kill any more people for the time being.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Faraday seems like a well-adjusted guy for most of the episode, but when a guy on the street tries to rob him, he plants the guy's own knife in his shoulder after overpowering him, even forbidding him to take it out and letting the doctors do it. Makes for a great Brick Joke later on.
- Black Widow: One of the quickest examples with the Deer Woman.
- Brick Joke: "Do any of you guys know anything about this guy who claims he was attacked by a cop with a knife?"
- Butt Monkey: Detective Fuchs.
Every other character, including his partner: Shut up, Fuchs!
- Cute Mute: The Deer Woman (before she reveals her intentions).
- Death by Sex: The Deer Woman's MO.
- Fan Service: The Deer Woman always goes topless before she kills.
- For the Evulz: Just like in the original legend, the Deer Woman kills horny men for absolutely no reason. This is lampshaded by Faraday when he is first introduced to the legend.
- Gorn: The Deer Woman's victims, most notably when Faraday picks up what's left of the trucker's lower jaw at the beginning.
- Half-Human Hybrid: The Deer Woman has the upper body of an attractive Native American woman, and the lower body of a deer.
- Imagine Spot: In a particularely funny bit Faraday muses about the possible scenarios that could have resulted in the crime scene where the trucker got stamped into a bloody pile, one involving a skimpy girl beating the inexplicably helpless trucker to death with a fake deer leg ("...Stupid"), another the girl and the trucker being attacked by a Bambified deer ("...Retarded"), and the third the trucker being killed and the girl abducted by a humongous deer man ("...Fuck").
- Magical Native American: Subverted. While the person that provides the clue to solving the mystery is a Native American, he's just a casino owner who thinks that the legend is stupid.
- Mugging the Monster: The street robber who tries to hold up Faraday.
- Native American Casino: Faraday and Reed go there on their off time, but actually manage to solve the mystery because one of the staff knows about the old legend.
- Oh Crap: "Have you seen her feet?"
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: The first indication to the Deer Woman's identity.
- Shout-Out: Suspecting an incidence of animal transformation, Faraday cites the events of An American Werewolf in London, also directed by Landis, as a documented case.
- Too Dumb to Live: Reed, knowing full well that there might be a mythological monster woman running around killing hapless men, doesn't bat an eye when a gorgeous, mute, girl whose feet he hasn't seen swoons over him, and wants to come back to his place with him. When Faraday calls him up and points this out he finally realizes, but it's already too late.
John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns
Directed by John Carpenter. Kirby (Norman Reedus) is the owner of a run-down cinema whose girlfriend Annie (Zara Taylor) committed suicide recently. In order to pay a debt he owns to Annie's hateful father Walter (Gary Hetherington), Kirby accepts the request of excentric millionaire Bellinger (Udo Kier) to locate the only surviving copy of La Fin Absolue du Monde (The Absolute End of the World) for him, a film Shrouded in Myth that is said to be the ultimate Brown Note. It's sort of a contemporary version of William Chambers' anthology The King in Yellow.
- Anti-Hero: Kirby.
- Artifact of Death: La Fin Absolue du Monde. Pretty much anyone involved in the production died because of it, as do people who typically go after it.
- Artifact of Doom: La Fin Absolue du Monde of course.
- Blood Is the New Black:
- Annie is covered head to toe in blood when she emerges out of the theater screen at the end.
- Downplayed with Dalibor after he decapitates the taxi driver.
- Brown Note: La Fin Absolue du Monde drives people crazy just from thinking too much about it.
- Dead Little Sister: Annie, Kirby’s dead girlfriend. She killed herself for reasons that are never quite explained, but her copious drug abuse seemed to have sent her in a downward spiral.
- Decapitation Presentation: Dalibor creates a Snuff Film by filming himself decapitating Kirby's taxi driver right in front of Kirby, and presenting the severed head to him.
- Driven to Suicide:
- Annie killed herself years before by slicing her own wrists in the bathtub.
- Kirby later Ate His Gun under the effects of La Fin Absolue Du Monde.
- Bellinger, who cuts out his small intestines and inserts them into a film projector. We don't see him breathe out his last breath, but not much else could have come of it.
- Eye Scream: Bellinger's butler cuts out his own eyes after seeing the film.
- Gorn: Quite possibly the most Carpenter has ever put into a single feature since The Thing.
- I'm a Humanitarian: When the film is presented at the end, Annie emerges out of the theater screen. Her father comforts her, but she's "hungry", and takes a bite out of his neck. It's a hallucination.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Annie's father. Kirby treats him like an unreasonable jerkass, but Kirby did get his daughter killed by indulging her drug habit, abysmally failed to get her on the right track despite agreeing with him to do so, is still massively in debt to him, and just evades him whenever the topic of repaying the loan comes up. It's only when he resolves to kill Kirby that he crosses the line into outright villainy.
- Kill'Em All: The only characters to survive are Kirby's theatre assistant, Bakovic's widow, and Henri, none of whom were present at the climax.
- Only in It For the Money: The search for La Fin Absolue du Monde starts out as this for Kirby, to pay off his enormous debts. Later on he becomes increasingly obsessed with the film itself.
- Our Angels Are Different: In this case, angels are corporeal creatures and can be tortured, and the one seen in the episode is quite uglier than one would expect at first. It's heavily implied that the film's evil is the result of documenting the desecration of said angel.
- Snuff Film: Dalibor, one of the persons visited by Kirby while searching for the film is a Snuff director, while La Fin Absolue du Monde features the torture of an angel.
- Shout-Out: The film playing at Kirby's cinema is Dario Argento's Deep Red.
- Shrouded in Myth: The movie itself.
The Fair-Haired Child
Directed by William Malone. 13 year-old Tara (Lindsay Pulsipher) is kidnapped by a couple of retired musicians, Anton (William Samples) and Judith (Lori Petty), and imprisoned in their run-down basement. While in there, she learns that she is to be sacrificed as part of a Deal with the Devil in exchange of resuscitating the couple's teenage son, Johnny (Jesse Hadock).
- Decapitation Presentation: The monster keeps the heads of its victims in a drawer in the basement.
- Hair of Gold: Tara, to a T.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Johnny is so sick about the whole thing that he makes another Deal with the Devil himself to take his parents in exchange of their latest victim.
- Human Resources: The garden corridor used during the ritual to bring Johnny back to life is made of human bones.
Originally going to be directed by Roger Corman, who was later replaced by Lucky McKee, and based on the short story The Feather Pillow by Horacio Quiroga. Shy Dr. Ida Teeter (Angela Bettis) is a lesbian entomologist that can't find a companion that also shares (or merely tolerates) her love for bugs before she meets the weird artist Misty Falls (Misty Mundae). Unfortunately, Ida also receives that same day a package from Brazil containing a newly-discovered insect that parasites warm-blooded animals. Hilarity Ensues.
- The Danza: Averted. Misty Mundae is credited under her real name Erin Brown.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: A synopsis in IMDb described it as a metaphor of "the dangers of moving too quickly into a relationship".
- Girl Meets Girl
- Ear Full Of Insect Wing-Wong
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Ida's partner Max constantly pokes fun at his colleague's sexuality and begs her to tell him everything about her dates in time for the morning shower. He also keeps his hand in a "special place" while talking to her on the phone.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Both Misty and Ida.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The happy music at the end.
- Strawman Political: The landlady.
- Stringy Haired Ghost Girl: While not an actual ghost, Misty fits the image several times during the episode.
Pick Me Up
Directed by Larry Cohen and based on a short story by David J. Schow. A bus containing a small number of passengers breaks down in the middle of nowhere. They are soon visited by a trucker, Wheeler (Michael Moriarty) and a hitchhiker, Walker (Warren Kole). Both of them are serial killers. When the passengers are reduced to only one left, Stacia (Fairuza Balk), the hunt also becomes a feud between the two.
- Actor Allusion: Wheeler claims to be a cop and to have served in New York years ago.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Stacia, near the end.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Just after causing a road accident and getting rid of Walker and Wheeler, Stacia is picked up by two paramedics who turn out to also be serial killers themselves.
- Evil Versus Evil: A serial killer versus another serial killer, perfectly fitting each other's MOS. Subverted later on when they decide to work together.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Marie.
- Gorn: "You sure are more confortable without all those clothes... and all that skin..."
- Improvised Weapon: Walker strangulates a person with a dead snake and Wheeler decapitates another with the door of the bus' suitcase compartment.
- Karmic Death: Walker and Wheeler become the victims of two other serial killers.
- Meaningful Name: Walker and Wheeler.
- Properly Paranoid: Marie's first thought about Walker and Wheeler is that they are serial killers. She's right. Ironically, both of them decide not to kill her... but leave her tied to a tree with barbed wire in the middle of nowhere instead.
- Serial Killer: The drifter and the truck driver.
Directed by John McNaughton and based on a short story by Clive Barker. At the end of the 19th century, a man who has just lost his wife comes to the house of Miss Carnation, the Necromancer (Micki Maunsell) and begs her to take his love Back From the Dead. She hesitates, but at his insistence she proposes to revive her if he still wants her to do so after hearing the tale of medicine student Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil), that happened 50 years before.
- Brain Bleach: One word: Necrophilia
- Also: Pederast's juice.
- Darkest Africa: Montesquino claims to have learned necromancy from "the Shaman of Zanzibar".
- Fan Service / Fan Disservice: Elise's sex scene.
- Hollywood Atheist: Haeckel.
- Shout-Out: In the beginning, Haeckel and his teacher discuss the experiments performed by some German doctor called Frankenstein. Haeckel tries to replicate then his attempt to revive a cadaver using electricity but only manages to burn it.
- Twist Ending: Miss Carnation is Elise.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Wolfram and Elise, as he admits himself. Even moreso when he becomes a zombie.
- What Could Have Been: Both George A. Romero and Roger Corman were offered to direct this episode.
Directed by Takashi Miike and based on a novel by Shimako Iwai. In 19th century Japan, an American journalist named Christopher (Billy Drago) arrives at a remote island looking for Komomo (Michie), a woman he's in love with that was sold to a brothel by her adoptive family. While in there he comes across a disfigured prostitute (Youki Kudoh) that tells him the story of her life. This episode was filmed in Japan by Kadokawa Pictures and was never broadcast unedited due to its ridiculously high Brain Bleach quotient.
- Bad Boss: The madame.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: The disfigured prostitute's siamese "sister" is clearly the one in charge.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The nicest thing to say about the disfigured prostitute's one.
- Blood From the Mouth: The disfigured prostitute's father.
- Body Horror: The disfigured prostitute's "sister".
- Brain Bleach: From beginning to end.
- Brother-Sister Incest: The disfigured prostitute's parents were sibblings. Christopher also had a relationship with his younger sister.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Inflicted on Komomo after she is falsely accused of robbing a ring.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: The disfigured prostitute has blue hair and clothes, the other prostitutes red, and the madame greenish-black.
- Creator Cameo: Watch for Shimako Iwai, writer of the original novel. She plays the torturer.
- Dead Little Sister: Christopher's little sister, who was apparently abused and killed by him.
- Driven to Suicide: The disfigured prostitute claims first that this was what happened to Komomo. After Christopher says he doesn't believe her, she admits that she actually killed Komomo (and was also the one that made the robbery and falsely accused her in the first place).
- Fingore: Done to Komomo. With needles.
- Glasgow Grin: The disfigured prostitute has half of one as a result of a genetic defect.
- Gray and Gray Morality: The only character that is good in the episode is Komomo, and she is dead before it begins.
- Imperial Japan: The setting.
- Made a Slave: All the women (in particular, the disfigured prostitute was sold to a brothel by her mother).
- No Name Given: The disfigured prostitute, who is only credited as "woman".
- Translation Convention: Unlike second season's Dream Cruise, this episode was filmed in English but with all the characters presumed to speak Japanese the entire time. Christopher is first though to be Dutch, in fact.
- Wretched Hive: The remote island is "only inhabited by demons and whores".
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: a few scenes depicting the disfigured girl have her with dark blue hair, especially noticeable in her childhood.
The Damned Thing
Directed by Tobe Hooper and based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce. In 1981 a peaceful family man resident in a small Texan town went crazy the night of his 40th brithday and killed his wife before being killed himself by an invisible force. Twenty four years later his still traumatized son Kevin (Sean Patrick Flannery) is sheriff of the same town and nearing 40 himself when the same unknown force seems to appear again and turn his fellow countrymen against each other.
- A House Divided: Unsurprisingly, it doesn't end well.
- Body Horror: The Mirror Scare.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Father Tulli, played by Ted Raimi, seems to be the only priest in town despite it being an entirely Anglo-Saxon settlement in a notorious member of the American Bible Belt.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Everyone after they get possessed.
- Drop the Hammer: One of the crazed residents commits suicide this way.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Damned Thing.
- In the Blood: Tulli suggests Kevin a confession after reminding him that he is about to get to the age that both his father and grandfather had when they died.
- Sinister Minister: Tulli, although he wasn't himself either by then.
Directed by John Landis. On the surface, Harold (George Wendt) is a friendly man that lives alone in a quiet Midwestern neighborhood. But underneath, he's a crazed Serial Killer obsessed with forming the perfect "family"... and he has set his eyes on the new young couple, the Fullers (Meredith Monroe and Matt Kesslar) that has moved across the street.
- Action Girl: Celia Fuller.
- Batman Gambit: Everything the Fullers made was part of a plan to capture Harold.
- The Bait: Celia.
- Chekhov's Skill: The Fullers' professions.
- Dead Little Sister: The Fullers lost their first daughter.
- Evilly Affable: Harold.
- Fate Worse Than Death: The Fullers keep Harold alive for two weeks, torturing him from beginning to end before they kill him.
- Imagine Spot: Harold has several when he talks to Celia. He also has full conversations with his "family".
- Fridge Brilliance: It's possible that he wasn't imagining the scenes with Celia. Think about it: the Fullers already knew Harold was a serial killer. They wanted to catch him in the act so they could find out what he had done with their daughter's body. So Celia was actually flirting with him, as a way of baiting him so that he'd try going after her next.
- Mommy Issues: Harold.
- Replacement Goldfish: The Fullers argue if they should have another child, while Harold sees Celia as a better "wife" than the one he has now.
- The Reveal: The Fuller's daughter didn't die of cancer. She was Sarah, the little girl that Harold "adopted". Everything they did was part of a plan to capture Harold and unleash their bloody vengeance.
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Harold's "mom" during one Imagine Spot.
- Serial Killer: Harold.
- Stepford Suburbia: Harold's home.
- Villain Protagonist: Harold.
The V Word
- And Starring: Michael Ironside.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: "Cut my old man's throat".
- Black Best Friend: Kerry.
- Black Blood: Only the vampires.
- Depraved Homosexual: Mr. Chaney is a (former?) ephebophile. Conveniently, he is only interested in turning male teens.
- Early Films: Universal's Dracula is playing on the TV when Justin arrives home.
- Eye Scream: Used to bring down Chaney.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Justin
- Noodle Incident: We do learn a lot more of Mr. Chaney's backstory than we ever cared to know, but we never find out exactly how he became a vampire.
Justin: "How'd you get like this? You bite the wrong dick or something?"
- Our Vampires Are Different: These have black eyes and extremely pale skin, but normal looking teeth and do reflect on mirrors. Also, staking them in the heart does not kill them but decapitation and sunlight does.
- Sophisticated As Hell:
Mr. Chaney: Anyway, he told me that your dad was a mean, evil, bastard, that he was a... (to Kerry) what'd you call him? Ah, a dickface! Yes, a dickface, how wonderful."
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: Justin commits suicide by exposing himself to the sun while being strapped to a cross-shaped table. His last words are in fact "God, make it stop soon".
- You Will Be Spared: Justin refuses to feed on his family, and makes Kerry promise he will stay away from them too.
Directed by Brad Anderson, the director of Session9 and The Machinist, and based on a short story by Mike O'Driscoll. Larry Pearce (Chris Bauer) is a supervisor in a tech support company that begins to descend into madness as his fine sense of hearing only gets better.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: "Please! Make it stop!"
- Blessed with Suck: Larry's superhearing makes him discover that his son has a cardiac affliction, but only too late to save him; it also makes him better at his job, but not good enough to meet his boss' expectations, while his subordinates hate him for it; and finally, it drives him crazy as it just keeps getting better, and better, and better...
- Dead Little Sister: Larry's dead little son.
- Jerkass: Larry comes as this several times.
- Meaningful Name: Larry Pearce. And, yes, it's pronounced "pierce". As in "ear-piercing".
- Mistaken for Gay: In a total break with his usual character, Larry acts too friendly to one new employee that he sees as a Replacement Goldfish for his son. The employee is creeped and resigns the next day.
- The Nothing After Death: Larry's main source of angst is that while he only keeps hearing better and better he never manages to hear his son's ghost
- Sinister Scraping Sound: After a while, literally everything.
- Workaholic: Larry, to the point of refusing a leave when his son dies. He also keeps mentioning stuff from work when talking to his wife.
John Carpenter's Pro-Life
Directed by John Carpenter. 15 year-old Angelique Burcell (Caitlin Wachs) arrives at a remote abortion clinic convinced that she is pregnant with the spawn of the Devil. Shortly after, her Christian fundamentalist father Dwayne (Ron Perlman) and three brothers come with the intention of getting her out and stopping the abortion at any cost.
- Badass Normal: Dr. Kiefer faces the Burcells alone and wins the first two assaults against them.
- Boom! Headshot!: Not one, not two, but three of them!
- Can You Hear Me Now: The Burcells cut the clinic's phone line before getting in. Still, it was very convenient that nobody was carrying a cellular.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Dwayne Burcell does this to Kiefer when he finally gets him.
- Eldritch Abomination: The baby, less so its father.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: "The Father" clearly breaks down when he sees that his baby has died, and leaves, carrying its body, without killing more people.
- Express Delivery: Angelique goes into labor less than a week after conception.
- Foot Focus: The impregnation and torture scenes.
- The Fundamentalist: Dwayne.
- Half-Human Hybrid: The baby.
- Space Whale Aesop: "Support abortion, or else Satan's child will be born."
- How 'bout this one: "If you hear a voice telling you to do things like torture a doctor or shoot up an abortion clinic, then maybe you shouldn't listen to it"?
- Strawman Political: Dwayne.
- Virgin Power: Subverted. All the survivors are non-virgins.
Directed by Dario Argento and based on a short story by F. Paul Wilson. Sleazy small time fur trader Jake Feldman (Meat Loaf) gets his hands on some priceless raccoon pelts that might be his ticket to win a fortune and with it the attention of sexy stripper Shanna (Ellen Ewusie). Too bad the furs are not just priceless, but cursed...
- Artifact of Death: The raccoon pelts.
- Attempted Rape: Feldman tries to rape Shanna in their first scene together.
- Batter Up: Jeb teaches Larry to kill the raccoons this way. Then Larry kills Jeb in the same manner.
- Bear Trap: Used by Larry to commit suicide. Head first..
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Averted. Shanna claims to have been hurt by Feldman's size when they finally get together. Then again, he might also have done it in a rather uncomfortable place rather abruptly and without any lubricant.
- Billing Displacement: John Saxon gets top billing along Meat Loaf on the DVD cover, despite playing a very minor character.
- Bi the Way: Shanna.
- Blood Is the New Black:
- Larry Jameson isn't all that disturbed about all the blood on his face and arms.
- Feldman, the twist being that it is all his own blood. He skinned himself, leavin his insided open.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Either this or Karmic Death depending on whether you belong to the "Fur is Murder" crowd or not.
- Ethnic Menial Labor: Feldman's workshop is staffed by exactly one Hispanic employee and a lot of Chinese women.
- Freudian Slip:
Feldman: I've gotta find something sharp.
- Fur and Loathing: Complete with Space Whale Aesop.
- Gorn: The inevitable result of the raccoon fur's effect on people.
- How We Got Here: The episode opens with the police looking at Feldman's and Shanna's dead bodies.
- Hunter Trapper: John Saxon's character, Jeb Jameson.
- Loners Are Freaks: Mrs. Mayter.
- Ms. Fanservice: Shanna.
- Pretty in Mink: Shanna opens to Feldman after being given the chance to wear the coat made out of the raccoons fur.
- Shout-Out: The DVD cover is reminiscent of PETA ads starring Naomi Campbell.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: La, la-la la, la laaaa....
- Temple of Doom: The ancient city is either a very ruined version of this or an Indian Burial Ground.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky: Thirteen raccoons get caught in the traps.
- Youkai: The raccoons.
The Screwfly Solution
Directed by Joe Dante and based on a short story by James Tiptree Jr.. A Michigan family tries to survive while a pandemic of unknown origin expands through the world turning the male population into woman-murdering psychopaths.
- Alien Invasion: It is revealed in the end that the plague was engineered by glowing aliens presumably as part of a plan to take over Earth without actually having to fight for it.
- All Men Are Perverts: The plague explicitely switches the men's sexual urges to violent ones. The only way for men to resist it is by different types of castration (chemical and actual, to be specific). Once all the women are dead they turn their attention to the younger boys with a man shrugging off the fact that he murdered his teenage son.
- Fan Service: The sex scenes and the strip club.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Firmly on its way by the end. By December all women on the planet are either dead or dying, leaving the men to slowly die off one by one.
- Gendercide: Of the women.
- Hate Plague: A male-centered one, engineered by aliens.
- Human Resources: Anne, disguised as a man, reveals herself to the male clients of a hunting shop when she can't hide her horror at looking at a bag made out of a woman's breast. This prompts the men to go after her.
- Instant Marksman, Just Squeeze Trigger: Used completely straight, as a mother trains her daughter to fire a gun.
- Neck Snap: Used by a male flight assistant to "control" a scared woman.
- Not Himself: Anne's husband after he becomes infected. Defied with Barney, who chemically castrated himself to prevent this.
- No Woman's Land: Quite literally in the "liberated" areas of the world.
- Religion of Evil: The Sons of Adam.
- Shout-Out: In one scene, a group of test subjects is shown different types of porn to investigate the development of the disease. The violent porn movie is actually footage from season one's Imprint, an episode that was censored from broadcast in the US.
- Sinister Minister: The priest in the Canadian hospital.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Anne disguises herself as a man to prevent being murdered on sight by the next infected man.
- Too Dumb to Live: Amy is oblivious to the situation from beginning to end, to the point of abandoning her mother in the forest to come back to her already deranged father, who promptly murders her.
Valerie on the Stairs
Directed by Mick Garris and based on a short story by Clive Barker. Rob Hanisey (Tyron Leitso) is a young man just gone through a terrible break up that is struggling to publish his first novel when he is accepted in the Highberger House for aspiring writers. Soon after moving there, he begins to have repeated encounters with a mysterious woman, Valerie (Clare Grant), who pleads him to save her from the demon-like creature known as The Beast (Tony Todd). However, none of the other residents believe him and think that he's just crazy... although a small group led by the oldest resident, Everett Neely (Christopher Lloyd), seems to know more than they say.
- Author Appeal: In-universe example, since the story is set in a boarding-house for aspiring writers.
- The Brute: The Beast.
- Cruel Twist Ending: Rob takes Valerie out of the house, upon which she vanishes. Rob realizes then that he is a fictional character and everything he did was written by the boarding house residents. He dissolves then in a pile of written papers, whose last line is "And so it came to pass that Rob Hanisey never became a published author".
- Distressed Damsel: Valerie.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Rob and Valerie.
- Fan Service: Valerie's nude scenes.
- Hair of Gold: Valerie.
- Halfway Plot Switch: It begins as your average Haunted House story but turns out to be a Refugee From TV Land plot.
- The Hero: Rob.
- Interspecies Romance: Valerie and The Beast.
- Mars Needs Women: The Beast collects women and is particularly interested in Valerie.
- Mirror Scare: Valerie's first scene.
- Neutral Female: Valerie NEVER does the lesser attempt to free herself, and just stares at Rob and The Beast during the final battle.
- Old Shame: Everett's only published work was the script of a B-Movie starring a Man in A Rubber Suit.
- Refugee From TV Land: Valerie, The Beast and Rob himself are fictional characters created by the house residents.
- Self-Deprecation: Rob tells Everett that he is crazy, prompting him to reply "You too! We are writers"
- Tomato in the Mirror: See Cruel Twist Ending above.
- Writer's Block: After moving, Rob can't write beyond the first line.
Right to Die
Directed by Rob Schmidt. The marriage of Cliff Addison (Martin Donovan) and his wife Abbey (Julia Benson) is going through dire times when the couple suffers a dramatic car accident. Cliff only gets minor wounds but Abbey is burned alive completely, losing all her skin and senses and falling into a coma. Resolute to end his wife's suffering, Cliff decides to disconnect Abbey's life support, only to discover that her ghost has come back with a vengeance.
- Amoral Attorney: Ira.
- Bandage Mummy: Abbey after the accident, for good reason.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Cliff.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Ira burns alive after being stuck to a supermagnet, Trish is skinned and quarted while still alive, and we can only speculate about what happens to Cliff in the end.
- Death by Sex: Trish. In a twist of events, it is Cliff who murders her, not Abbey. And not in a tame way.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: It's hard to watch this episode and not think on the Terri Schiavo case.
- Eyes Are Unbreakable: Averted.
- Fan Service: Abbey's actress has some very spectacular assets and is completely naked when her spirit first appears to Cliff. However, this image switches rapidly to Fan Disservice when her skin begins to fall off.
- Grey and Gray Morality: None of the characters is genuinely good.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Cliff is carrying Trish's dismembered corpse in a bag on top of his car when some pieces fall off. He stops to pick them and a police car immediately appears... only for the driver to scream him to get off the way and disappear as quickly.
- Jacob Marley Apparel: Present or averted depending of Abbey's wish.
- Man On Fire: Abbey, Ira.
- Medical Horror: Trish's death.
- The Mistress: Trish.
- Nightmare Face: Abbey after the accident.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Abbey's mother.
- Only in It For the Money: Ira, Cliff.
- Spooky Photographs: Trish sends some erotic photos to Cliff's cell phone, with Abbey appearing behind her.
- Strapped to An Operating Table: Trish.
- Twist Ending: The car's combustion wasn't spontaneous. It was actually done by Cliff with the explicit purpose of murdering Abbey — who, to make things worse, was pregnant with his child at the time. This completely changes the viewer's opinion about Cliff and his early actions, as it is now obvious that his intention to disconnect Abbey wasn't because of her will, but his.
- The Un-Reveal: Cliff's fate.
- Woman Scorned: From the grave!
We All Scream for Ice Cream
Directed by Tom Holland and based on a short story by John Farris. Layne (Lee Tergesen) returns to his childhood neighbourhood just as his former friends begin to disappear one by one, leaving nothing but their clothes soaked in a milky substance. The reason seems to be linked to an ice cream delivery clown, Buster (William Forsythe), who died around that time.
- The Alcoholic: Toot.
- Back From the Dead: Buster is back... somehow.
- Batman Gambit: Buster is defeated by making a voodoo ice cream of him.
- Bring My Brown Pants: The young Virgil pissed his pants when he discovered that Buster had no real nose under the fake one.
- Depraved Bisexual: Virgil.
- Ghostly Goals: Buster wants to kill the children (now grown men) that killed him.
- Monster Clown: Buster.
- Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Virgil.
- Team Dad: Papa Joe.
The Black Cat
Directed by Stuart Gordon and based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. Set in Philadelphia around 1840, Edgar Allan Poe (Jeffrey Combs) is going through a bad case of Writer's Block as he begins to hit the bottle more than usual and his young wife Virginia (Elyse Levesque) caughts tuberculosis. To make things worse, their pet black cat Pluto begins to act a lot meaner than usual.
- The Alcoholic: Poe.
- All Just a Dream
- An Axe to Grind: By the end, Poe tries to kill the cat with an ax. It doesn't end well.
- Answer Cut: "Really, Mr. Poe, where does all the money go?" Glug glug glug.
- Back From the Dead: Virginia, the cat.
- Blood From the Mouth: Virginia, coupled with Incurable Cough of Death.
- Body Horror: Poe accidentally hacks Virginia on the head. She doesn't die instantly.
- Color Wash: Red is very bright, while other colors are toned down.
- Eye Scream: Poe attacks the cat with a cutter.
- Historical Domain Character: Poe and his wife.
- Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Poe goes through one when talking to his editor.
- Jacob Marley Apparel: No matter what happens to the cat, it just comes back with the mark of it.
- Jerkass: Poe.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Virginia.
- Kissing Cousins: One of the men attending Virginia's funeral remarks that the Poes are first cousins. "Something perhaps acceptable in Richmond, but not here".
- Living Shadow: The cat, when he follows Poe to his second home.
- Meaningful Name: In Greek mythology, Pluto is the king of the Underwold and raptor of Persephone.
- You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Poe tries to use this at the bar, and fails... because everybody knows who he is. And that he doesn't pay.
Directed by Peter Medak and based on a short story by Bentley Little. Mike Franks (Johnathon Schaech) moves with his family into his late grandmother's house in rural Virginia. There he finds an ancient portrait of George Washington, and hiding behind it a fork made of human bone and a letter where the first president of the United States declares his love for eating children. Soon they are the target of The Washingtonians, a secret society devoted to keep alive and hidden the "tradition" set by their founder father.
- Ancient Conspiracy: Parodied.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: George Washington was a cannibal. Also, the secret clique he founded ate John Adams.
- Big Damn Heroes: At the last minute, Professor Harkinson (Saul Rubinek) brings a three-person SWAT team to rescue the Franks family and kill all the Washingtonians.
- Cannibal Clan: A whole village of them.
- Child Eater: The Washingtonians price children as a meal.
- Corrupt Hick: The two cops that answer Mike's call are Washingtonians themselves.
- Human Resources: Washington's special cutlery.
- I'm a Humanitarian: George Washington as well as several other founding fathers and their descendants. This was due to Washington and the founding fathers eating some of the troops (causing an acquired taste for human flesh) during the Valley Forge incident in 1777.
- Rock Beats Laser: Averted.
- Slasher Smile: The Washingtonian by the window.
Directed by Norio Tsuruta and based on a short story by Koji Suzuki. Jack Miller (Daniel Gillies) is an American lawyer in Tokyo who is deadly afraid of water and has recurrent nightmares about the death of his brother Sean by drowning when they were children. He also has an affair with Yuri Saito (Yoshino Kimura), the wife of his colleague Eiji (Ryo Ishibashi). When Eiji invites Jack to a cruise on his yacht, he finds soon that Eiji already knows about the affair, but that's not the biggest of his and Yuri's problems.
- Can You Hear Me Now: One of the first signs that something's wrong is that the yacht's radio stops working.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Jack's undead brother only wants to protect him from the actual vengeful ghost he stumbles upon later.
- Drowning Pit: Yuri is trapped in the yacht's bathroom as it fills with water.
- The Reveal: The vengeful female ghost was Eiji's first wife. He murdered her in that same spot of the sea, haunting it ever since.
- Translation Convention: Averted. The Japanese characters only speak Japanese between themselves.
- Undead Child: Sean.
- Walk On Water: The ghost near the end.
- Your Cheating Heart: Yuri cheats on Eiji, while Eiji cheated on his first wife and killed her before marrying Yuri.
- The story is set shortly after the end of Japan's Sakoku period, when the only Western traders allowed were Dutch