Masters of Horror: Season 1, Episode 2

Dreams in the Witch-House (4 Nov. 2005)

TV Episode  |  TV-MA  |   |  Horror
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Reviews: 40 user | 37 critic

A graduate student questions his sanity after he rents a room in an old boarding house which was the residence of a 17th Century witch, and he figures out that the evil forces still roam within the walls.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Campbell Lane ...
David Racz ...
Nicholas Racz ...
Yevgen Voronin ...
Susanna Uchatius ...
Donna White ...
Susan Bain ...
Terry Howson ...


Walter Gilman, a college student, rents out a very cheap room in an old house, but it proves to be no bargain. One of his neighbors prays loudly and bangs on the furniture. Another neighbor, a single mother, issues a blood-curdling scream soon after his arrival. It turns out that she and her baby are being attacked by a persistent rat. Walter plugs up the rat-hole, but they still aren't safe. Walter is having nightmares - dreams that seem to have been inspired by the first neighbor, who warns him of a witch and her familiar: a rat with a human face. Walter soon suspects that the witch of his nightmare is real and that she is going to force him to kill the baby. Written by J. Spurlin

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witch | rat | nightmare | baby | crucifix | See All (62) »




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Release Date:

4 November 2005 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


In this movie it's the second time Ezra Godden has a character that wears a 'Miskatonic University' t-shirt in a Stuart Gordon film. The first one was Dagon (2001) where they both were involved. See more »


Mr. Dombrowski - Manager: No pets, no parties, no loud music. This is a quiet building.
Walter Gilman: I'm a grad student at the university doing my thesis. I just need a quiet place to study.
Mr. Dombrowski - Manager: Student! Then I'm gonna need an extra months rent in advance.
Walter Gilman: I can't afford another month's rent. You gotta... come on man, I really need this apartment.
Mr. Dombrowski - Manager: Well, I don't like renting to students. Young people, they have no respect.
See more »


Version of Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

The Best Lovecraft-Translation to-date
9 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Amazing is the only-word I can find to express how good this short-film is. Mick Garris deserves thunderous-applause for initiating what will probably be the most-important development in horror in over 20-years. While Stuart Gordon has done Lovecraft proud with "ReAnimator", "from Beyond" and "Dagon", this simply excels-them in capturing the dread and cosmic-horror. Insofar as horror goes, this is Gordon's finest-addition so far. I read the short-story 20-years-ago, and this summarizes it well. Lovecraft-purists are going to have their hackles-up, but the omissions and changes still capture the spirit of the original and do not detract from the basic-thrust its plot.

Yes, the cloven "Black Man", and a trip to the surface of another planet are not-present, which is fine. Do we really want to see Lovecraft's racism on-display, especially when he rejected-it at the end of his life? The answer is no. People also tend-to-forget that in some areas, Lovecraft gets-tedious, often going-on for too-long with descriptions of things, or he just meanders. Yes, you can actually improve-upon some of his work, I contend. Dennis Paoli and Stuart Gordon have achieved this feat, and where Lovecraft was bad at warm-characters, the writer(s) and director compensate. I truly love and care about the characters in this story, especially the mother and her child. The fears of this story are so primal and basic--everyone fears for a baby in a movie, it's true.

What excites me so-much about this short-film is how effectively it conveys many of Lovecraft's themes: the fear of losing-one's-mind, the fear of women, the fear of the unknown, the fear of a loss-of-control, the fear of mortality, and-then-some. Also very-exciting is how well Gordon and Paoli realize the Witch--I would say this is the best-depiction of what the Puritans, and Medieval Europeans thought witches were, and what they did. Usually, they try to steal-babies to sacrifice to some dark-power. But Lovecraft's true-genius was taking physics-theory to explain witchcraft, and a witch's powers.

To the uninitiated, H.P. Lovecraft's tomes seem to have appeared, fully-formed, but he was an avid-scholar of New England folklore. Much of the rule-book he uses for the witch and her powers and actions are from the writings of Cotton Mather, and other Puritanical leaders, thinkers and witch-hunters. It's likely he even consulted the witchfinder's-manual, "Malleus Malificarum". Lovecraft didn't believe in the supernatural as a reality, but did accept the possibility that odd-phenomena did exist, and could be explained by science at some point.

So, while this tale and many-others written by him seem fantastical, some elements are not-entirely implausible based on his scientific-philosophies! "Dreams in the Witch House" is not-unlike a rational-mind trying to grasp how a witch could be possible. This little crumb-of-plausibility is a component of what makes the writings of H.P. Lovecraft so scary, and contemporary. Even educated-adults can entertain their reality, and this film captures this reality in every-respect. People tend-to-forget that modern-science comes from alchemy, after-all! The story concerns Walter Gilman, a Physics-major, who has found a room at 300-year-old house in Providence. Yes, in the short-story, Walter already knows the reputation of the house, but I think it was wise for film to omit this. Walter represents we, the audience, and this is a story of curiosity, discovery, and tragedy. Walter notices that his theories on multiple-universes, and his mathematical-maps resemble the shape of a corner of his room. In-time, he begins to have-dreams of meeting a familiar--a rat with a human-face, perfectly in-keeping with witch-lore! Eventually, it becomes-clear from an older-tenant, and other-dreams, that the witch is very-much alive within the house. She wants Walter (us) to fetch her a child, the infant-son his neighbor.

There is a sense of dread, sorrow and inevitability in Walter's situation that echoes the victims of witches in lore. It is a situation without-much-hope, the only exit being death or insanity, so very Lovecraftian. Anchor Bay/IDT have done a perfect DVD, no-complaints here. The transfer is perfect, the audio is perfect, and the extras are incredibly-generous and substantial for the most die-hard-fan of Stuart Gordon. Richard Band's score is wonderful, and makes this story all-the-more timeless in its sorrow, grimness and evocation of mystery. It has been 12-years since Band has done a score for Gordon with his excellent score for "Castle Freak" in 1994. It has been too-long, and thank-God it happened. The entire Masters of Horror series promises to be superb, a great-day for true fans of horror.

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