It is quite depressing that the 00’s Showtime anthology horror show “MASTERS OF HORROR” is seldomly talked about among horror fans. what gives? many of the episodes had a different famous horror director direct them (hence Masters of Horror) and they were filled with stuff horror fans could love very much. Especially John McNaughtons episode based on a Clive Barker story…”HAECKELS TALE” a period piece tale filled with black magic, Gothic cemeteries, rotten zombies, gore and a ghoulish sense of sexuality that involves a young beautiful womans love for her dead husband that “knows no bounds” if you get what im saying.
In the time when the laws of science battled the secrets of magic, medical student Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil) believes the power of life,death and resurrection lay in his arrogant hands. But on a jorney to visit his gravely ill father, he finds shelter in the home of an older man and his seductive young wife (Leela Savasta) who cannot be fulfilled by mortal hungers. Somewhere in the darkness of a nearby cemetery, a defiant necromancer (John Polito) will now summon them all to an orgy of the undead and unleash the ultimate depravity for those who do not heed the warning of “HAECKELS TALE”
Haeckels Tale is one strong episode of Masters of Horror and it will appease both horror fans who love the strong shocking stuff and horror fans who love a good Gothic sensabilities. It is directed with good pacing by John Mcnaughton, and the acting is quite good as well especially the beautiful actress Leela Savasta who plays the young wife at first as a innocent yet seductive woman only to turn into a sexually aggresive woman with a love for her dead husband so strong it positively macabre. The cemetery in which most of the “action” happens will please most fans of gothic horror for it is a well set up cemetery with old moldy tombstones and fog shrouded everywhere. And finally the most shocking scene of all, where our young Ernst Haeckel discovers what is all the “moaning” in the cemetery is from is quite a “whoa” moment for the viewer. Rarely if ever do we ever get a rotten zombie-human love making scene and then it goes further when more rotten zombies start to grope our lovelorn woman while she makes love to her dead husband! then to top it all of there even a scene where one character is then ripped apart by two cemetery zombies in gory detail. the whole scene in the cemetery is a Gothic and wonderfully ghoulish and perverse mix of horror,sex and death.
So this Halloween season if you want something gothic yet still gruesome and if you want some good horrorfying sex thrown in there (you sick depraved horrorfiends) seek out John McNaughton episode HAECKELS TALE. It is gothic story of grief,power,Sex and death all wrapped up in a ghoulish and perverse bow. – James J. Coker