Masters Of Horror: Dreams In The Witch House

Masters Of Horror: Dreams In The Witch House (2005)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Ezra Godden, Chelah Horsdahl, Jay Brazeau
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Interviews, Biography, Trailers, Still Gallery

After seeing John Carpenter's "Cigarette Burns" I simply HAD to also check out Stuart Gordon's entry in the "Masters Of Horror" series. His entry in this anthology is entitles "Dreams In The Witch House" and hardly surprising for Gordon, it is a film based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story of the same name.

A student rents a room in a dilapidated old house hoping to find the peace and quiet there to dive into his studies in advanced physics. He is working on theories that prove that parallel universes exist and that at intersections of their planes of existence, one can cross over from one world into another. Interestingly enough in the corner of his room, one such gateway exists and soon he has nightly visitors from another world – an evil witch and her familiar.

Before he realizes what happens the witch casts a spell over the student and despite warnings from a neighbor, he soon finds himself completely under the witch's control who has only one thing on her mind… murder… but not of just anybody. She needs fresh, untainted souls.

Stuart Gordon dishes out a full-throttle horror nightmare with his episode in the "Masters Of Horror" series. Dark, ominous, scary and gruesome, this film, like "Cigarette Burns," certainly explores the limits of what you can do on television and pushes the envelope a quite notch. The story is well plotted and under Gordon's sure-handed direction, the viewer is quickly drawn into this dark world of nightmarish haunts. Ezra Godden puts in a remarkable performance as the young student on the brink of losing his sanity and fighting it every waking second. His character has dimension and emotions, making him lovable and ultimately so tragic.

Anchor Bay is presenting "Dreams In The Witch House" in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio in a transfer that is enhanced for 16×9 television sets. The print is absolutely clean and not a hint of a speckle is evident. There is no noise or grain visible either and the image reveals an incredible level of detail that is never lost or washed out. Color reproduction is vivid with vibrant hues that bring out the best of the scenes, especially those that are lit for effect. Black levels are rock solid, rendering deep shadows that are firmly rooting the image and never break up. The resulting image wonderfully serves the movie, making it ominous and menacing at many times, as it reveals just the right amount of image detail. No edge enhancement or compression artifacts are visible.

The audio on the release comes as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track and an option Dolby surround track. The audio is incredibly effective with a good balance. Frequency response is wide with a good bass extension and spatial usage of the surround channels is equally impressive, creating an engaging sound field throughout.

Stuart Gordon has contributed great commentary track to the release. Gordon is very open in his comments, discussing not only the story's background and his love for Lovecraft in some detail but also the actual production of the film – which is somewhat different from the feature film approach he is better know for.

The commentary is complemented by an interview featurette that covers many of the same aspects but in an abbreviated version, adding to it, conversational information about Gordon's career as a whole, his start as a horror film director with "Re-Animator" and his subsequent films.

"The Making Of Dreams In The Witch House" is a nice little featurette giving viewers a look behind the scenes. With interview snippets as well as a lot of footage from the set of the production, here we have a chance to see Gordon at work. In addition to that, the featurette "Working With a Master" gives many of his collaborators, including, of course, Jeffrey Combs, the chance to discuss in detail their experience with Stuart Gordon. The stories and anecdotes are interesting and exciting and help to draw a much clearer picture of the man behind the camera, and what makes him tick.

A featurette on the movie's special effects, a photo gallery, biography and trailers are also included, making this a solid release altogether. Owners of a DVD-ROM drive can even dive into the screenplay of the movie and explore some more bonus materials.

It has been hailed the biggest genre event, and I begin to agree. "Masters Of Horror" has so far been delivering some spectacular movies on DVD and I am eager to see more. The second season has just been announced to go into production, serving up even more horror nuggets created by some of the genre's guiding lights. Not since "Tales From The Crypt" have fans of the horror genre been treated so royally and given the quality of the series' DVD releases so far, fans are definitely in for a wild ride for the months and hopefully years to come.