Masters of Horror was a Genre Anthology on Showtime, created by horror film director Mick Garris.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 others 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:
Fan Disservice: Fanservice scenes often blended with gore or other horror tropes.
Fanservice: Quite a lot of episodes feature nudity or sex scenes.
Playing with a Trope: What is of much interest to us Tropers is how the series play with standard Horror Tropes. Take "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road"; at the beginning, it looks like a typical hapless-female-chased-by-a-psycho. Then it turns out she is not that hapless, being a wife of a Crazy Survivalist. And so on.
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 was trained by her survivalist husband to be prepared for anything. She proves Moonface that she's not the easiest prey and even ends up killing him in a one on one fight.
Bookends: The film begins and ends with a closeup of Ellen's eye as she drives down the road.
The Brute: Moonface is a behemoth of a man and clearly enjoys killing people.
Crazy Survivalist: The heroine's husband Bruce is so obsessed with survivalist skills that he eventually drives his own wife away. It borders on Properly Paranoid, since the things he taught his wife did end up helping her when she was actually attacked by a psycho.
Disney Villain Death: Moonface meets his end after the heroine knocks him out of his mountain cabin and he falls into a ravine.
He Who Fights Monsters: Ellen eerily takes on many of Moon's mannerisms at the end. She gives her dead husband the same treatment Moonface gave to his victims and kills Moonface's insane captive Buddy to tie up all loose ends.
Ironic Echo: Ellen echoes Moonface's signature "Sssshhhh...!" when she shoots Buddy at the end.
MacGyvering: Ellen manages to quickly fashion a booby trap for Moonface using some sticks and her own panties.
Rape and Revenge: A crazed Bruce beats Ellen up, ties her hands and rapes her. She strangles him to death in retaliation.
Serial Killer: Moonface lives on a remote mountain top where he indulges in serial murder. He attacks passerbys on the lonely nearby road (mostly women) to take them to his cabin where he cuts out their eyes and decorates their corpses around the place.
Stockholm Syndrome: Buddy became incredibly loyal to Moonface after being his captive for so long. He initially helps the heroine escape, but immediately yells at Moonface to come down and recapture her afterwards.
Talkative Loon: Buddy has clearly lost his mind after being Moonface's captive for so long, joyfully asking Moonface's new victims if they want to sing with him or brought any candy with them before Moonface comes back. Ellen eventually shuts him up with a well-placed blow to the head.
This Is a Drill: Moonface kills his victims by strapping them to a table and drilling through their skulls with an industrial drill, eyes first.
Torture Cellar: Moonface performs all his kills in his dungeon underneath his cabin. He typically carves his victims' eyes out with an electrical drill.
Twist Ending: Ellen killed Bruce and was going to dispose of his body when she suffered the accident. She ends up making it look like Bruce was another victim of Moonface.
Silent Antagonist: Moonface fits the typical mute serial killer character. His only sort-of dialogue is shushing his victims to be quiet while he tortures and murders them.
Directed by Stuart Gordon and based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. Modern-day 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).
Shapeshifting Seducer: The witch appears to Walter as his comely neighbor Frances to seduce them. The subterfuge is aided by the fact that he's keeping watch in her apartment at the moment. She eventually turns back into her regular decrepit form and laughs at him as he screams.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Just as Walter kills the witch and saves little Danny, Brown Jenkins comes out of nowhere and kills the baby.
Wicked Witch: The witch is a decrepit old woman who forces various men to sacrifice children for her spells.
Would Hurt a Child: The witch ritualistically sacrifices infants for unexplained reasons, forcing various helpless men to do so. At the end it's revealed that the house's walls contain corpses going back all the way to the 1600s.
The Dead Can Dance: A group of young people in a post-World War III future visit a nightclub where corpses are made to "dance" through the use of a nerve-gas spray.
Death by Pragmatism: Used, although the victim's pragmatic decision was unquestionably one of the coldest things on this list. A mother of two sold her older daughter, who was a strung-out junkie in the process of overdosing to a man who would reanimate her lifeless body to dance in his freak show, so that she could support her younger daughter. In the end she was killed and the surviving daughter traded the mother's body for the sister's so that the sister could be buried.
Phlebotinum Dependence: In order to "dance", the Doom Room's zombie dancers need to be regularly injected with fresh blood — 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.
Shout-Out: The bouncers at the Doom Room are dressed in the "droog" style (derby hats, white jumpsuits, etc.) featured in the film A Clockwork Orange.
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.
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 out on 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 becomes obsessed 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.
Book Ends: The begins and ends with a man dragging a tied up Jenifer to a seemingly secluded location so he can hack her to death, only for an armed stranger to notice their struggle and shoot the man before he can swing the blade. Her rescuer rushes over to her just in time to hear her would-be killer say her name with his dying breath. In the beginning, the protagonist is her rescuer. In the end, he's the one trying to kill her.
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.
Butterface: 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 Disservice: Jenifer is an ambiguously-human creature who has the body of a gorgeous woman and the face of an inhuman monster. She also eats people, including children. Several sex scenes are featured with her and the man she enchants that deliberately invoke this trope.
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.
Here We Go Again: The episode ends with Jenifer attaching herself to yet another ignorant man whom she plans to use to cover up for her continuing murders after he kills the hero to save the "helpless" woman.
The Hero Dies: Jenifer manipulates the hero into getting himself killed by attacking the cannibalistic woman in broad daylight and getting shot for his trouble by a man who thinks he's just a crazed psycho. The cycle starts anew with Jenifer latching on to another hapless puppet who tries to care for her.
Idiot Ball: Frank, when a lady eats your cat alive in front of you, it's time to kick her out of home.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Depending on one's interpretation, Jenifer could either be a Siren or some kind of demonic temptress who lures men to their doom, or she could just be a severely disfigured and severely disturbed young woman. In particular, her ability to repeatedly make men lust and obsess over her (oftentimes to the point of insanity) despite her monstrous face is something that can be interpreted in quite a few different ways. Shredding people to pieces with her bare hands (or teeth), even the armed man who was hired to catch her seems to be more supernatural than manipulating men with sex.
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 is trying 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.
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 The Vietnam War, 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.
Post Mortem Conversion: Deconstructed. The Invisible President makes a wish in one of his speeches to the nation, wishing for the dead American soldiers of the Iraq war to come back and express how they feel, implying that they would all support him. Cue the zombies! The dead soldiers are coming back, but they are not here to eat brains. Instead, they are here to vote... for the other guy!
The Reveal: Philip didn't die in the war. He was killed at home by the infant David, who was playing with his gun.
Zombie Apocalypse: Double Subverted. 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. In a hilarious turn, they settle for occupying Washington D.C. and forcing the re-elected Shelley to flee as a way to show their continuing discontent.
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).
Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: One of the Deer Woman's victims was already a bit drunk when the Deer Woman shows up to lure him to his death and then only gets more wasted.
Bittersweet Ending: It's 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.
Fanservice: 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 particularly 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.
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 byJohn Carpenter. Kirby (Norman Reedus) is the owner of a run-down cinema whose girlfriend Annie (Zara Taylor) recently committed suicide. In order to pay a debt he owns to Annie's hateful father Walter (Gary Hetherington), Kirby accepts the request of eccentric 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 Robert W. Chambers' anthology The King in Yellow.
Anti-Hero: Kirby is the "brooding hero with a dark past" type. Formerly a drug junkie who got his girlfriend addicted and eventually drove her to suicide, he still has few heroic qualities in the present day, and is only doing the job for the money and his obsession with the film. He still cares for his dead girlfriend, though.
Artifact of Death: Pretty much anyone involved in the production of La Fin Absolue du Monde killed themselves and each other because of it, as do people who go after it.
Artifact of Doom: La Fin Absolue du Monde was turned into an evil artifact whose corrupting influence drives people to murder and suicide.
Ate His Gun: Kirby eats a bullet under the effects of La Fin Absolue Du Monde.
Bald of Evil: Dalibor is a bald snuff film director. He demonstrates this by murdering someone in front of the protagonist.
Bath Suicide: Kirby's late girlfriend Annie killed herself by slicing her own wrists in the bathtub when they both lived together as heroine junkies. Kirby has to relive the event during one of his visions.
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.
Broken Angel: The main character encounters a pale, gaunt, vaguely male figure with healed stumps at its shoulder blades kept by a deranged art collector. It is strongly implied that this was the angel that was mutilated in La fin absolue du monde, the short film that the protagonist seeks. As revealed by the Snuff Film director Dalibor, the sheer sacrilege of this act was the key to the late Bakovic's success and turned his film into a madness-inducing Artifact of Death.
Brown Note: La Fin Absolue du Monde drives people crazy just from thinking too much about it.
The Collector: The millionaire collector Bellinger collects various films depicting extreme acts. He's also keeping a mutilated angelic creature locked up in his gallery as part of his collection of La Fin Absolue du Monde.
Driven to Suicide: Bellinger 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.
Fan Disservice: In a hallucination near the end, Annie is completely naked... and completely covered in blood.
Fingore: Henri reveals that he was the original projectionist at the bloody premiere of La Fin Absolue du Monde. When he tried to stop the film all his fingers on his left hand fused together.
The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: When La Fin Absolue du Monde is shown at the end, Kirby's dead girlfriend Annie emerges from the screen covered in blood and hungry for human flesh. Subverted when it turns out to be another hallucination.
Gorn: Quite possibly the most Carpenter has ever put into a single feature since The Thing.
The Hero Dies: Kirby ends up killing himself under the cursed film's influence.
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 turns out to be another 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 character present at the climax to survive is the angel.
Murder-Suicide: At the end Kirby kills his late girlfriend Annie's murderously unhinged father under the evil film's effects because they both keep bringing her back with their remaining love for her. Moments afterwards he eats his own gun after pleading at another vision of her that he's sorry for everything.
Only in It for the Money: Initially Kirby only takes the job offer to look for La Fin Absolue du Monde to pay off his enormous debts. Subverted later on as he becomes increasingly obsessed with the film itself due to its corrupting influence. This is lampshaded by Bakovic's widow who notes that the money is just an excuse.
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.
Kirby's late girlfriend Annie is seen only in flashbacks and periodically appears before him as an apparition during his search.
La Fin Absolue du Monde's director Hans Bakovic has died long before Kirby set out on his search. His film was so evil it even killed its creator.
Sanity Slippage: Anyone who watches or is involved with La Fin Absolue du Monde.
Snuff Film: Kirby visits a Snuff director called Dalibor while searching for the film, while La Fin Absolue du Monde features the torture and mutilation of an angel. Dalibor explains that this was the secret to Bakovic's success — blood spilled on film grants it supernatural power and Bakovic took this to the ultimate extreme by doing so to a sacred being.
Shrouded in Myth: La Fin Absolue du Monde has been buried years ago after the initial massacre at the premiere and is nearly untraceable. Kirby remarks that everywhere he goes to look there's a wall of silence surrounding the topic.
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).
Powered by a Forsaken Child: The plot involves a grieving couple appealing to an otherworldly force to resurrect their dead son. They in turn, have to feed him ten children. The child shows his um...gratitude to them in a similar way.
Room Full of Crazy: The basement Tara is imprisoned in, which is littered with the last messages of its previous prisoners.
Tome of Eldritch Lore: The couple finds out the ritual through writings on black magic that once belonged to one of their students.
Ultimate Evil: The entity signing the pact. Is it any surprise it is kind of an asshole?
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 (Erin Brown, a.k.a. Misty Mundae). That same day, Ida receives a package from Brazil containing a newly-discovered insect that is a parasite for warm-blooded animals. Hilarity Ensues.
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.
Nightmare Fetishist: Ida has a most unladylike fascination with insects and her apartment filled with various insectoid pets. It creates a lot of friction with her landlady and makes it downright impossible for her to land a date.
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.
Death by Sex: A rocker and his girlfriend unknowingly pick up Walker from the road. The girlfriend flashes her panties to Walker, pissing off the boyfriend. Walker kills them both, but the girl specifically for being skanky (and he tortures her to death whereas the boyfriend got a quick death); he actually abhors sex.
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. This is exploited by the heroine at the end when she goads them to kill each other instead of her. Taken even further at the end, when they're both killed by a pair of killer ambulance drivers.
Eviler than Thou: Wheeler looks down on Walker for being what he terms a "poacher", a killer who roams around in another's territory surreptitiously. He also dislikes him for going after easy prey, when in fact he does much the same thing.
The Farmer and the Viper: Near the end Wheeler relays Stacia and Walker the story in the form of a snake and a blonde woman. Walker already knows the punchline because he's heard the "scorpion and the frog" version. The point Wheeler makes is that he knows full well that he picked up another serial killer and expects him to show his true nature. The subversion is only that he's also a serial killer, so it'd be a scorpion helping another scorpion.
Fate Worse than Death: Both Walker and Wheeler leave Marie alive, chained to a tree with barbed wire so she will die of prolongued exposure instead.
Flaying Alive: Walker ties one of his victims up in a motel room and cuts off large parts of her skin until she dies.
Gorn: "You sure are more confortable without all those clothes... and all that skin..."
Impersonating an Officer: If any victim asks Wheeler too many questions or questions his credibility, he just shows them a sherrif deputy's ID to convince them that he's actually an off-duty officer.
Walker walks the road looking prey to pick him up.
Wheeler drives around a truck looking for prey to pick up.
Offing The Annoyance: Wheeler decapitates one of his victims because the guy was basically annoying him with his frenzied panic after he sees the leftovers of two of Walker's victims.
Off with His Head!: Wheeler knocks one of the bus passengers out with the but of his gun and then decapitates the guy with a bus bagage compartment door. Walker, who was watching this on from a distance, is quite impressed with this creativity.
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. And the ambulance crew.
They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Walker and Wheeler both look fairly inconspicuous as a young drifter and a middle-aged trucker, respectively. Walker discusses the trope proper:
Walker: Your genuinely dangerous individuals — they almost never look crazy. They don't have any weird tattoos, they don't have any weird stitches on their face, funny-shaped heads. They are NOT predictable.
Villain Cred: Two rival serial killers called Walker and Wheeler pick off the passengers of a bus crew that they come across in the northwest. They both despise each other for their respective kill steals and treading on the other's "territory", but are also quite impressed by the other's ingenuity and brutality. Walker in particular prizes Wheeler on decapitating one of his victims with a baggage compartment door.
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 bring his love Back from the Dead. She hesitates, but when he insists she proposes to revive her if he still wants her to do so after he hears the tale of medical student Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil), that happened 50 years before.
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. Also, he shares his name with a famous German biologist noted for his racist scientific theories which contributed to the rise of Nazism .
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Wolfram and Elise, as he admits himself. Even moreso when he becomes a zombie.
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 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.
Abusive Parents: The disfigured prostitute's father was a violent drunk who beat her mother and raped his inbred daughter, prompting her to kill him.
Alcoholic Parent: The prostitute's father turned to drinking to drown his sorrows from living in poverty due to his incestuous relation with his sister.
And Show It to You: After Christopher shoots Komomo through the head in his madness, she picks out a few pieces of her brain in shock before she dies.
Bad Boss: The madame is suggested to torture her prostitutes for the sake of it, Komomo in particular. Due to the ambiguous nature of the story it's hard to tell what kind of person she really is.
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. The father and mother were incestuous siblings who lived in poverty. The father beat the mother, while the mother aborted or murdered all her inbred infants, except for the resilient girl who eventually became the prostitute. The father raped the girl during one of his violent stupors and she beat him to death in return. The mother sold her daughter into sexual slavery because she couldn't care for her anymore with the father gone. Finally, the girl has a mutant, evil twin sister growing out of the side of her head.
In a major twist it's revealed that the disfigured prostitute's parents were actually siblings. They were run out of their town and lived in poverty for the rest of their lives. The brother turned cruel and abusive towards his sister and was killed by his inbred daughter after he is implied to have raped her.
Christopher had a relationship with his younger sister. It's later implied that he raped and killed her and was driven insane due to it.
Creator Cameo: Watch for Shimako Iwai, writer of the original novel. She plays the torturer.
Dark and Troubled Past: The prostitute's backstory is composed of one trauma after the other, getting more disturbing with each revision of her story.
Domestic Abuser: The disfigured prostitute's late father was cruel and violent and constantly beat his wife because they were both cast out for being incestuous siblings.
Driven to Suicide: The disfigured prostitute claims first that this was what happened to Komomo, who hanged herself when Christopher failed to return. After Christopher says he doesn't believe her, she admits that she actually killed Komomo (and was also the one that committed the robbery and falsely accused Komomo in the first place).
The Ending Changes Everything: Christopher is eventually revealed to be insane and haunted with nightmarish visions due to his sister's murder. This calls into question most of the events of the story — only the opening and the ending can be said with fair certainty to be real at all and only partially so.
Evil Twin: The disfigured prostitute reveals at the end that she has a twin "sister", a mutated abomination attached to her head as a result of her parents' inbreeding (they were brother and sister). The mutant forced her sister to do evil things like steal a valuable ring and set up another prostitute to be tortured for it.
The disfigured prostitute has the features on the right side of her face stretched out.
The dwarf pimp is missing part of his nose.
Fingore: Komomo is tortured by the madam by getting needles shoved underneath her nails.
Glasgow Grin: The disfigured prostitute has half of one as a result of a genetic defect.
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The prostitute Komomo is explicitly described as this. She lingers on to the promise Christopher made to take her away from her hard life. Which makes it all the more tragic that he murdered her in his insanity.
Infant Immortality: Averted. The Woman's mother has murdered dozens of her own infants and Christopher is suggested to have murdered his little sister when they were young.
Immune to Bullets: The disfigured prostitute and her evil mutant twin shrug off being shot and taunt Christopher that they'll follow him everywhere. This is because they're part of his deranged visions.
Imperial Japan: The setting, specifically 19th century Imperial Japan.
Kill the Ones You Love: Christopher believes the prostitute Komomo to be the love his life. He ends up accidentally murdering her during his hallucinations.
Mercy Kill: The disfigured prostitute claims to have murdered Komomo to spare her the life of a prostitute and being tortured by the madam. She believes that she sent Komomo from Hell to Heaven.
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 credited as "woman".
Offing the Offspring: The disfigured prostitute's mother repeatedly threw her own infants away to drown in the river because they're inbred children — her husband is also her own brother.
Parental Incest: It's strongly implied that the disfigured prostitute was raped by her abusive father when she was a child. She was herself also a product of incest, as her parents were secretly siblings.
Platonic Prostitution: Christopher hires the disfigured prostitute for the night to learn more about what happened to Komomo, not to sleep with her. He makes it clear that her face doesn't frighten him, but he turns her down when he discovers that Komomo has recently died and is too distraught about it.
Posthumous Character: The episode begins with the prostitute informing Christopher that the girl he's been looking for, Komomo, recently died. The rest of it is spent with the prostitute telling him of Komomo's final weeks and her own life story. Subverted at the end when it turns out that the prostitute is Komomo after Christopher murders her.
Rape and Revenge: After the father raped the Woman as a child, she beat him to death when he's drunk.
Rape as Backstory: The prostitute eventually reveals that a big part of why she's so emotionally scarred is her horrific youth, where she was seperately raped by both her father and a local Budhist monk.
"Rashomon"-Style: Single character variety — the disfigured prostitute tells different versions of the same tale as Christopher continues to dig deeper for the truth. Subverted at the end when it turns out that Christopher hallucinated all the prostitute's stories and is just insane.
Self-Made Orphan: The disfigured prostitute tells Christopher how she beat her father to death after he raped her when she was still a child.
Sex Slave: In one of the versions of the story, the disfigured prostitute was sold into forced prostitution by her mother after the father died.
Through the Eyes of Madness: After all the horrible events that the disfigured prostitute tells Christopher and the revelation of a siamese Evil Twin, he shoots the prostitute and it turns out to be Komomo all along. He was actually driven completely insane from what's implied to be guilt for raping and killing his sister and the entire story was part of Christopher's hallucinations.
Translation Convention: The episode is set in 19th century Japan with a single American main character. Unlike the second season's "Dream Cruise", this episode was filmed in English but with all the characters presumed to be speaking Japanese the entire time. Christopher is first thought to be Dutchnote The story is set shortly after the end of Japan's Sakoku period, when the only Western traders allowed were Dutch.
Uncanny Valley Makeup: Period Japanese make-up is used in the brothel (specifically the bleached skin/blackened teeth style) apparently to further unnerve the audience.
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 in a small Texas town went crazy the night of his 40th birthday 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.
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, where Protestantism is the rule.
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 have moved across the street.
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.
Mummies at the Dinner Table: A variation of this trope, whereby George Wendt's character kills random people, melts off their flesh, and uses their skeletons as mannequins to create his vision of the perfect family. This counts as an example due to the repeated conversations and arguments he holds with them, including when he "murders" his "wife".
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.
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?"
Mr. Cheney: "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.
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."
Vampire Bites Suck: The head vampire has no fangs to bite a victim's throat... so he tears out a hunk of flesh and laps up the blood. In another scene, a vampire slashes a man's throat with a piece of glass so his hungry friend can feed.
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 Session 9 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.
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...
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
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.
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. Dwayne seems to genuinely love his children as well.
Teen Pregnancy: A teenage girl get raped by an alien and has to go have it aborted. Her father (Ron Perlman) and brothers attempt to stop it and in the end, the baby alien ends up saving her life by killing her father.
Docs: How old are you?
Docs: In how many years?
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.
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 explicitly 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.
Brand X: The episode had plenty of examples, like "East Coast Airlines" and "Flazzle Cola" (in a red can, no less), and in the shop scenes they make sure to keep the camera zoomed out (though a Budweiser sign comes up in the edge of the shot, so they forgot at least one thing). They also have nameless "Kidney Beans" cans and an internet search engine with no marker at all.
Daydream Surprise: Alan heads home on a flight, and arrives there at night. He and his wife Anne put their daughter to sleep, and then have sex. Alan becomes violent, starts strangling Anne, and pulls a knife on her. Then he wakes up back on the plane.
Downer Ending: The episode ends with the last woman on earth freezing to death around a fading campfire and thinking back to her happy memories.
Hate Plague: A male-centered one, engineered by aliens.
The Hero Dies: Anne's escape to the frozen north to escape the murderous men ends up being for nought and she freezes to death.
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.
Ignored Expert: Alan and Barney have a meeting in Washington D.C. with members of the government and the military. They explain that the ongoing gendercide is a concerted attempt to exterminate the human race, that the women in the infected areas need to be evacuated, and that the men, especially those in important positions, need to take medication that will cause chemical castration to prevent them from turning into murderers. All their advice is ignored.
Pet the Dog: After the aliens at the end extract brain matter from several of the men, they are shown playing fetch with the group's dogs.
Religion of Evil: The Sons of Adam are a psychotic fundamentalist Christian cult who claim they are dedicated to 'freeing' the world of all female presence and restore it as it was in the Garden of Eden before God created Eve.
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 euthanizes female patients against their will while preaching the "fundamentally evil" nature of women.
Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: A mystery plague is causing men to become murderously violent towards women and inadvertently destroying humanity's ability to reproduce. The scientists analyzing the phenomenon graph the spread on a digital map and discover that is progressing north and south along the world's latitudes from the equator.
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 who has just gone through a terrible break up, and who 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.
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".
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. Resolved to end his wife's suffering, Cliff disconnects Abbey's life support, only to discover that her ghost has come back with a vengeance.
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 Unreveal: Cliff's fate. After taking in ice chest filled with the skin he harvested from Trish to the hospital in a crazed attempt to heal Abbey, he is informed by the doctors that she died last night. He drives home dejectedly and finds Abbey's ghost waiting for him at the door. He hesitates briefly before entering...but only to wipe his shoes on the doormat.
Directed by Tom Holland and based on a short story by John Farris. Layne (Lee Tergesen) returns to his childhood neighborhood 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.
Bad Humor Truck: It's about a demonic, undead clown who works in an ice cream truck. His method is to sell ice cream to children, who then cause their parents to melt into a colored mess not unlike that of melted ice cream as soon as they bite into it.
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) contracts tuberculosis. To make things worse, their pet black cat Pluto begins to act a lot meaner than usual.
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 founding father.
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.
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 deathly afraid of water and has recurrent nightmares about the drowning death of his brother Sean when they were children. He's also having 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.
Dark Is Not Evil: Jack's undead brother only wants to protect him from the actual vengeful ghost he stumbles upon later.