Fear Itself: The Complete Season 1 (2008)
Directed by: Brad Anderson, Breck Eisner, Darren Lynn Bousman, Eduardo Rodriguez, Ernest R. Dickerson, John Dahl, John Landis, Larry Fessenden, May Harron, Rob Schmidt, Ronny Yu, Rupert Wainwright, Stuart Gordon
Written by: Ben Sokolowski, Daniel Knauf, Drew McWeeny, Jonathon Schaech, Kelly Kennemer, Matthew Venne, Max Landis, Mick Garris (Creator), Richard Chizmar, Scott Swan, Sean Hood, Steve Niles, Victor Salva
Starring: Brandon Routh, Clifton Collins Jr., Cynthia Watros, Doug Jones, Eric Balfour, Eric Roberts, Molly Hagan, Rachel Miner
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What is it all about?
The Hughes Verdict
After a four year absence, fans of TV Horror Show Fear Itself can rejoice by the sight of their show finally hitting the DVD market, but as time served the 13 episode show well?…..
Anthology horror has been around for a long time. The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits often had tails that would chill the bone, while the much loved Tales Of The Crypt took the genre to the next level, thanks to the dark tales by the Cryptkeeper himself.
For years though the genre had slowly slipped away from the land of TV and the film world, but thanks to the huge success of the quite stunning Masters of Horror, fans have seen the format start to resurface again, especially with the likes of V/H/S and The Theatre Bizarre all gaining critical acclaim at the box office!
Fear Itself was released way back in 2008, on the back of Masters Of Horror. The idea was to take the format and move into prime time, not too dark or gruesome, something that maybe the older teens and a family can watch. The trouble with that notion, is by diluting the format and the ideas of such directors like Brad Anderson (Session 9), John Landis (An American Werewolf In London) and many more who put their hand to create these 13 tales, you lose the edge of what these directors can create.
The only way I can describe Fear Itself, is by looking at the land of literature. While the adults have the likes of Stephen King to scare them, the teenagers have a delightful section of books from Point Horror, designed just to entertain them and not to give them too much nightmares. Sadly this is what Fear Itself plays like from the very start. Its too tame to get the horror juices flowing an nowhere near in the same dark and twisted class as Masters of Horror, but while I sound like I am criticising the show, its actually not that bad, just don’t expect to be scared.
That’s not to say the show itself does not have its gore moments. In typical style of the director of Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon delivers one of the best tales with his superb “Eater”, about a bunch of cops who are stalked by a strange man in their prison cell. Its a blast from start to finish and is easily the best of the entire show. The rest are more miss than hit, but each serves as a guilty pleasure.
John Landis serves up a low entry with his “In Sickness and In Health”. A bride gets a message that her husband to be may well be a serial killer and spends the next 60 minutes trying to work out if he is. The lack of suspense and thrills make the premise seem born from the 80’s and yet I was totally swept away by the twist at the end, even though it was so in your face and on reflection, does not make much sense at all.
Brad Anderson’s “Spooked!” is a great little hour of a man (Eric Roberts) staking out a Haunted house, while the opening episode of the show “The Sacrifice!” by Breck Eisner (The Crazies) has a good score and an ok plot thread, but fails to add anything new to what we have seen before.
One of the better tales and worth a watch is “Skin and Bones!” directed by Larry Fessenden who goes back to his Wendigo roots. A Ranch Owner (Doug Jones –Hellboy), comes back from a hunting trip possessed and wants to eat his family for dinner. Jones is superb in the role, very thin and creepy and its easily the stand out performance from the entire run.
Others on show, well we have the Evil Dead inspired “The Circle” which has a clever sting in the tail. “Community” which stars Superman himself Brandon Routh about a couple who think they have moved into the perfect home. American Psycho director Mary Harron directs a fun tale that doesn’t thrill or scare, but has enough dark wit to make it an enjoyable hour of your life. Another enjoyable story is the offering by Saw director Darren Lynn Bousman and writer Steve Niles entitled “New Year’s Day” . Its Zombie theme is another highlight, but some may moan at the crazy shake of the camera use that Bousman displays.
Like most American Shows these days, Fear Itself never got the chance to get going. Its run was interrupted in 2008 thanks to the Summer Olympics and no one knew if it was ever going to return. Now Five years later, its safe to say that the series is dead and buried, with just this DVD release to remind ourselves of the memories of a 13 part run that was nowhere near the class of Masters Of Horror, but still had enough few good stories to please some horror fans.
If you are an Anthology horror junkie then you cant go wrong in purchasing Fear Itself, it does enought to please and entertain in its own right, just lacks the bite at times to make it stand out from the rest!
FEAR ITSELF: The Complete Season One is available from Amazon