Masters of Horror: The Ultimate Shockumentary Collection

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 3-May-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production ?
Running Time 180:00 (Case: 338)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Masters of Horror: The Ultimate Shockumentary Collection DVD collates a trio of information-rich, one-hour documentaries encapsulating the careers of three highly influential torchbearers of the horror genre: Dario Argento, Mario Bava and John Carpenter.

    During the '60s, '70s and '80s either Argento, Bava or Carpenter chiselled away at the jagged edge of mainstream cinema to sculpt modern horror classics on impossibly tight budgets. Their dark fantasies captured the imaginations of thousands of aficionados world-wide and assured them a place in the horror hall of fame, regardless of major studio indifference.

    A common theme evident throughout each documentary is how each “Master” adopted the technical aspects of filmmaking and shaped them into images and sounds that produced a deep emotional response in viewers. Who can forget, for example, the subjective camera shot when Barbara Steele is about to be ‘spiked’ in Black Sunday or the haunting atonal score to Halloween and shrieking, hair-raising symphony that defined Suspiria.

    Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror

    Unlike the disjointed nature of the previously released Dario Argento’s World of Horror (1985), Eye has a cohesive rhythm that moves along at a satisfying pace. Fans of Argento will find probing ruminations and insights gleaned from those who know him intimately. Holding it all together is British film critic Mark Kermode, who champions Argento’s work through voice-over narration.

    Like the other two documentaries on this Region 4 disc, Eye was originally produced for broadcast on European TV in 1997. However, Eye was updated to include some behind-the-scenes footage from Sleepless before the official release of the DVD in the United States. The footage is inserted without any reference to its title, but fans will immediately recognise the gory murder sequences.

    My only real gripe is the lack of any discussion on the intriguing Stendhal Syndrome and the rather dismal Phantom of the Opera.

    Interviewees include Asia, Claudia and Fiore Argento, John Carpenter, Luigi Cozzi, William Lustig, George Romero, Claudio Simonetti (Composer), Tom Savini, Jessica Harper, Brad Dourif, Alice Cooper, Harvey Keitel, and Argento biographer Maitland McDonagh.

    Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre

    After the curious have had their imagination whetted by Argento’s dark visions in Eye, Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre offers more of the same in a similarly appealing format. Interviews with family members Fabrizio, Georgia and Lamberto Bava provide some fascinating observations, while Tim Burton, Sean S. Cunningham, John Carpenter and Joe Dante talk about how Mario’s innovative style informed much of their work.

    Although the documentary places a lot of emphasis on Black Sunday and Black Sabbath at the expense of his two unsung masterpieces Kill, Baby…Kill! and Blood and Black Lace, his other lesser known works such as the Girl Who Knew Too Much, Danger:Diabolik and Lisa and the Devil are given a few moments in the sun.

    Bava died on the 27 April 1980.

    John Carpenter: Fear is Just the Beginning

    Since the ambitious, shoe-string budgeted space opera Dark Star (1974), John Carpenter has given the horror community some of the most memorable horror films ever created by a western director. With classics like Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, Christine, Vampires and the brilliant Cigarette Burns segment for the recent Masters of Horror series, Carpenter should be in the same league as Peter Jackson or Steven Spielberg. However, he has remained on the lunatic fringe, only choosing to branch out occasionally into the science fiction arena garnishing mixed reviews with films like Escape from New York, Starman and the dreadful Ghosts of Mars.

    As a brief overview of Carpenter’s career, Fear is Just the Beginning is an entertaining and informative one-hour filler. We are even privy to the tension between Halloween producer and ex-bride of Carpenter, Debra Hill and how uncomfortable she was with his new squeeze, Adrienne Barbeau, during the filming of The Fog.

    Similarly constructed like the other two documentaries, Fear flows along at an engaging pace and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Each documentary is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    For the most part images are pleasing to the eye. Clips from each of the films mentioned within their respective documentary vary from being quite sharp to faded and rather beaten.

    Picture resolution during interview segments is reasonably crisp, while most of the behind-the-scenes footage was shot either on video tape or 16mm film, so it's understandably very grainy.

    Video artefacts such as aliasing and low level noise crop up now and again during film clip playback. This isn't too much of a distraction as the segments are brief.

    The prints used are quite clean, with only the occasional hair line and dirt mark making an appearance.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix is satisfactory, but a more aggressive 5.1 could have helped to enhance some of the points participants made about each film. For example, if you’ve heard the powerful 5.1 mix for Suspiria on the Region 4 special edition, the footage replayed in Eye via the two-channel mix certainly doesn’t showcase how important the role of the soundtrack was in the film.

    Furthermore, the audio in Eye (and Fear as well) is quite flat and tinny. However, the mix in Master of the Macabre sounds much fuller and makes the most out of the two-channel output.

    The ambient score used as a filler between interview segments is suitably creepy without being melodramatic.

    Being mono mixes the surrounds and subwoofer were silent.

    The spoken word was generally audible and easy to understand. It was only slightly problematic in the Eye documentary. At times, the audio effects threatened to swallow up dialogue. Dario Argento spoke in his native Italian and the subtitling was easy to read.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Not one drop of blood. A few trailers for some of the films spotlighted in the documentaries would have been nice.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror

    Also available on Umbrella Entertainment’s releases of World of Horror (Dario Argento's) (1985), 2-disc special edition of Suspiria...and Deep Red.

    Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre

    Available on Masters of Terror - Vol. 1: Mario Bava (5 Disc Box Set) released locally by Umbrella.

    It is also available as a stand-alone disc in Region 1, but unlike both local releases, it’s 16x9 enhanced.

    John Carpenter: Fear is Just the Beginning

    Available in Region 1 as a supplement-free, stand-alone disc. It has the same format and sound mix as our Region 4. You can also find it as a bonus feature on the French Region 2 Collector’s Edition of Vampires.

    All three documentaries were available on a now out-of-print 3-disc Region 2 French edition titled Les Maitres de Lepouvante.

    No competition for this release as the Region 4 is the only way to own all three on the one disc. However, if you want to track down the best version of Master of the Macabre then go for the Region 1 release for its 16x9 enhancement. While aficionados of Argento and Bava will already have the documentaries on various Region 4 releases, the biggest selling point here is the inclusion of the Carpenter one. However, with an RRP of $30.00 it is an expensive buy for those who only want the Carpenter doco.

Summary

    Masters of Horror: The Ultimate Shockumentary Collection is an excellent trio of appraisals for three of the most creative minds who helped shape the look and feel of the modern horror film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Robert Winter (read my dead sexy bio)
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output
DisplayYamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
Amplificationget a marshall stack, and crank it up.
Speakers2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Umbrella - subtitle your gdamned product! - Neil