Masters Of Horror: Chocolate

Masters Of Horror: Chocolate (2005)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Henry Thomas, Matt Frewer, Lucy Laurier
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Interviews, Still Gallery, Trailers, Biography

Mick Garris was one of the initiators and driving elements of the "Masters Of Horror" undertaking and although his name may not be as legendary as those of some of his fellow-Masters, his body of work encompasses some interesting films, including lengthy collaborations with Stephen King on some of his more recent movie adaptations. For the "Masters Of Horror" series, Mick Garris provided a film called "Chocolate," based on a short story he wrote and considered for adaptation for some time.

Creating artificial flavors for the food industry, XXX is a young man trying to get his life back on track. After a divorce he is trying to cope with his loneliness and his being apart from his son. Things are looking bleak for him as he struggles along. Then one day something remarkable happens. He awakens from his sleep one morning with the distinct taste of chocolate in his mouth. It is so remarkable because he didn't eat chocolate and yet the taste is right there on his taste buds – not in his mind. Over the next days, more strange things happen. In random, sudden flashes he tastes, hears and sees what another person is experiencing at that same time. He can even feel what the other person is feeling. Trying to find out who that person is he catches a glimpse in the mirror one day and sees that his sensory flashes com from a beautiful young woman. Instantaneously he falls in love and give the connection they share he tries to located and contact her. But then something happens that binds him to her in a way he did not expect.

Despite the horror label, "Chocolate" is a surprisingly sensitive film that is also very well-acted. Garris also makes good use of his vocabulary as a director and makes great stylistic choices, I thought, that sometimes catch the viewer completely off-guard. Some of the sudden flashes of sensations are just one of the examples that make the viewer jump as much as the afflicted protagonist in the film. But also some plot points and twists are coming over nicely and unexpected. For a TV movie, like all "Masters of Horror" segments I have seen so far, once again, this film shows a lot of class and style. It is a film that is not overproduced and thus feels edgy at times, which is great for a horror film.

The film itself is presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio that is enhanced for 16×9 TV sets. The image is absolutely clean and clear without any blemishes or a hint of grain. Color reproduction is very rich and vivid and black levels are rock solid. Making frequent use of shadows for effect, the deep black levels help the movie significantly as they reveal – or hide – just the right amount of detail at any given time. No edge-enhancement is visible and the compression is also free of artifacts.

The audio on the release comes as a full-bodied 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track. It has a good frequency response with good bass reproduction and clear high ends. No distortion or sibilance is audible and the dynamic range of the track helps drive the film home. Surround usage is good and very effective. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable.

As extras the DVD contains the regular fare of "Masters Of Horror" releases, such as a commentary track by director Mick Garris and DVD producer Perry Martin. The track is insightful and interesting, especially because Garris is one of the initiators of the "Masters Of Horror" series and has a lot to say about the concept as well as his entry.
It is complemented by "The Sweet Taste Of Fear," an interview featurette with Garris, in which he elaborates his career, his movies, the Masters and his own entry, "Chocolate." I find the "Masters Of Horror" interview featurettes extremely enjoyable. And here's why. Unlike most other interview featurettes we are seeing on DVD these days, these do not feel like Electronic Press Kits or simple publicity gigs that the people had to do. In the "Masters" featurettes every one of the directors appears very candid, very personal and very forthcoming. It is great to hear in their own words how their past films came together and retell stories that would maybe not be suitable for the respective DVD version of that film. And so here, Mick Garris truly comes to life in this featurette as we get to know him better and learn to appreciate his efforts.

This featurette is followed up by a "Working With a Master" featurette in which many of Garris' collaborators and stars talk about their experience with him. Again while it is, of course, a laudation, it never feels too much of a shoulder padding because the comments appear very sincere and are often accompanied by little anecdotal bits that give them great personality.

Two on-set interviews are also included. Henry Thomas and Lucy Laurier talk about the production of "Chocolate," how they got involved and what work on the production was like.

A great and entertaining "Making Of" featurette is also included, giving viewers a first hand look at the shoot of the film.

As a special treat the DVD contains a vintage clip in which a young Mick Garris interviews Roger Corman on his "Fantasy Film Festival" TV show. It is great in so many ways because it shows just how much of a horror buff Garris is while it also gives us a very interesting look at Roger Corman.

The DVD is rounded out by a Photo Gallery, Trailers and a Biography of Mick Garris.

Once again, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment is dishing out a real treat for horror fans. For TV productions the "Masters Of Horror" segments are absolutely amazing. They have depth and production values, a great cast, cool scripts with interesting stories and most of all they have style! This style translates very well to the DVDs that Anchor Bay is preparing and once again I can only recommend this release with the highest of praise.