FAMILY: Masters Of Horror (John Landis)

John Landis returns to Season Two of Masters Of Horror and he’s bringing Norm from Cheers with him! (Actually George Wendt, along with Dawson’s Creek’s Meredith Monroe and Scream 3’s Matt Keeslar) I really enjoyed DEER WOMAN from Season One, so I was hoping that Landis would be able to deliver a similar themed episode here with FAMILY. While it’s slightly different from his MOH debut, it’s definitely twisted and humorous in that trademark John Landis kinda way.

FAMILY is about Harold Thompson (George Wendt), an odd-ball from town that has an even odder… err… family life. In fact, all his family members are actual skeletons. And not just any skeletons but the skeletons of people he’s sought out and murdered. Yep, he’s got issues. And he’s also got the hots for his new neighbor next door played by Meredith Monroe. (Who doesn’t?!) Slowly but surely, he’s plotting to replace his nagging wife with the new beauty on the block.

All around, the acting is fun in this episode, in particular with George Wendt. It’s just fun to see him play such a sicko character in the vein of Norman Bates. (And everyone knows how I feel about PSYCHO.) There are a few surprising moments/scares through-out the episode. There’s a particular moment where Harold is scoping a local high school to look for a new young girl to add to the family when he’s slammed by a driver pulling out of her drive-way and ripped out of his morbid fantasy. (In which his victims ASK him to kidnap them.)

Ahhh, Harold’s imagination. It’s also quite humorous when suddenly people say very unexpected things to Harold, such as Meredith Monroe’s pleas to sexually please him. (God bless you, Landis!) Despite enjoying elements of the episode while watching it, I wasn’t sure if I really liked it. But then there’s a knock-out of an ending that I didn’t see coming which totally MADE the episode. It’s one of those things where after seeing it, you want to watch it again immediately after to see if you can pick up on the ending. It wasn’t until after I watched it that I realized this episode was written by Brent Hanley, who scripted Bill Paxton’s FRAILITY. (One of my personal favorites.) Overall, with a solid cast, solid script (unlike other episodes of this season) and solid FX, this episode is definitely one of the highlights of Masters Of Horror Season Two.

Special Features: Yet again, the features on this disc are a bit different then we’ve seen for previous Masters Of Horror releases. “Skin and Bones” is a nice making-of featurette featuring interviews with director John Landis and most of the cast. “Terror Tracks” is a featurette focusing directly on the music and score of FAMILY. It’s the first time I’ve seen a featurette devoted to the score for one of these episodes and it was neat, so I hope it’s not the last time we see something like this. The disc also features a commentary track with writer Brent Hanley which I haven’t watched yet, but am intrigued to. –Robg.

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