Haeckel’s Tale (2006, John McNaughton)

Don’t know why I saved this one for last… guess being based on a Clive Barker story made it seem like a safe bet. Might be my least-favorite episode in the series, though. I mean, “dance of the dead” was awful, but it had its apocalyptic rain scene to recommend it, and Robert Englund I guess. This one’s got mediocre actors speaking awful period dialogue in service of an awful script, and McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Wild Things) doesn’t seem to be trying too hard, treating this as the low-budget TV episode it is, instead of aiming for something better like nearly every other director did. At least he got Jon Polito.

Dude pesters old woman necromancer to raise his beloved wife from the dead, she tells him the horrible story of Ernst Haeckel, a science student who once pestered necromancer Jon Polito. Ernst spends the night at an old man’s house. The man discloses that he keeps his young, beautiful wife by paying off Polito to reanimate her dead lover some nights so she can have a graveyard orgy. Ernst fouls everything up, the old man dies, Polito gets the high hat, and back in the “present day” the old woman reveals herself to be that young woman and she’s learned the necromancy art herself and has undead sex with Haeckel, yuck!

A slog to get through, mostly because of the dialogue… if Clive is smart he’ll want nothing to do with this one. Ohhhh, I see that George Romero was supposed to direct, but dropped out due to scheduling problems. Probably either his upcoming Stephen King movie or his upcoming zombie mockumentary. Between those two and this MoH episode, it’s hard to say which is the worst idea for Romero.

The high hat, the fake mustache:

The nudity:

Another angle on that:

The gang’s all here:

So the final Masters Of Horror Season One evaluation:

Cigarette Burns (Carpenter)
Homecoming (Dante)

Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (Coscarelli)
Dreams in the Witch-House (Gordon)
Deer Woman (Landis)
Fair-Haired Child (Malone)
Sick Girl (McKee)
Pick Me Up (Cohen)
Imprint (Miike)

Jenifer (Argento)
Chocolate (Garris)

Dance of the Dead (Hooper)
Haeckel’s Tale (McNaughton)

A nice ratio, better than most X-Files seasons. On to season 2!