Tonight at 10 pm/ET — in plenty of time for Halloween — Showtime will lay claim to being the deepest, darkest destination on the cable dial. The bloodcurdling begins with Don Coscarelli's "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road," the first of the network's highly anticipated Masters of Horror anthology. The 13-part series is the brainchild of veteran writer-director Mick Garris (Phantasm). The idea was simply to give a select group of filmmakers an hour episode each in which to spill their guts (and gore) on-screen with unlimited creative freedom. The only constraint: to bring each creation in under $2 million dollars. Not too shabby considering contributing master Tobe Hooper's 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre cost a mere $140,000.
"Basically, the masters of horror would get together in social groups," genre legend John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) explains to TVGuide.com. "We'd meet for dinner, sit around, bulls--t and commiserate. Then Mick Garris came up with the idea. He said, 'Why don't we all do a little movie?' We would have complete control over it. With no censorship issues, we all agreed to do it."
The aforementioned Coscarelli, Garris, Hooper and Carpenter were joined in their fraternity of fright-making by the likes of Dario Argento (Terror at the Opera), Larry Cohen (It's Alive!), Joe Dante (The Howling), Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), William Malone (House on Haunted Hill) Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer), John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), Lucky McKee (The Woods) and John Landis (An American Werewolf in London). But while these directors' visions may be single-minded, the process of making the series was definitely collaborative. In some cases, it even became a family affair.
"My son Cody did the score," Carpenter offers proudly about his entry, "Cigarette Burns." "It's his first score. He's been involved with music from a young age, so I thought to myself, 'Why not?' So he wrote a couple of scenes of music and I said, 'That's great. Let's do it.'"
Carpenter also reveals that Cody's a chip off the old chopping block. "It's a piano-synthesizer-type score, along the lines of something I would have done in the old days."
On "Deer Woman," Landis passed the torch as well. "Mine, I'm very happy with — it was written by my son," he shares with us. "Was it great collaborating? Yes and no, but he did a great job. It's certainly wacky."
These masters are quick to praise, taking on the dual role of both confident practitioner and giddy fan. When asked what installment he is most looking forward to seeing, Carpenter quickly replies, "All of them, actually. They all sound fascinating. But I'm a big fan of Dario Argento. I love his stuff."
Landis is similarly stoked. "It's a wild group of guys. I guarantee that of the 13, some are going to be absolutely insane!"
That's exactly what horror-movie devotees are counting on. Internet buzz has reached a fever pitch and expectations are high. Will a tight-knit crew of filmmakers with warm and fuzzy production experiences be able to create chills that are downright spine-tingling? If their previous work is any indicator, expect more than just a bump in the night.