DVD Features: Widescreen Presentation improved for 16x9 TVs, AUDIO COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR JOHN MCNAUGHTON, BEHIND THE SCENES: THE MAKING OF HAECKEL'S TALE, BREAKING TABOOS: AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN MCNAUGHTON,DVD-ROM: SCREEN SAVER,DVD-ROM: SCREENPLAY, JOHN MCNAUGHTON BIO, ON SET: AN INTERVIEW WITH DEREK CECIL, ON SET: AN INTERVIEW WITH JON POLITO, ON SET: AN INTERVIEW WITH LEELA SAVASTA, SCRIPT TO SCREEN: HAECKEL'S TALE, STILL GALLERY, STORYBOARD GALLERY, TRAILERS, WORKING WITH A MASTER: JOHN MCNAUGHTON
You get three Masters of Horror for the cost of one in this episode of the popular cable anthology series: director John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Wild Things), author Clive Barker, on whose narrative the script is based, and the famous George A. Romero, who had to bail out of the production but whose contribution is noted with an "in association with" credit. Romero's history and impact likewise weighs greatly on this Gothic duration chiller, which concerns a brash young medical student (Derek Cecil), whose desire to re-animate the dead is brought into question by a young woman (hot Leela Savasta) whose interest for her hubby has actually not stopped, in spite of his recent passing.
In an interview showcased on the disc, McNaughton points out the rich visuals and melodramatic tone of Hammer Films and American International Pictures as significant influences on his technique to Haeckel's Tale, and both appear in the hothouse sexuality and splendidly overripe performances (specifically by character actor Jon Polito as a traveling magician). Of course, the gore likewise flows quite freely right here, and the zombie makeup by Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger is usually top-notch. An above-average entry from the hit-and-miss Masters series, Haeckel's Tale provides shivers and sensuality with a wry smile and an idea of the cranium to its '60s scary forefathers. The DVD consists of interview featurettes with McNaughton (which covers his profession to date), Cecil, Polito, and Savasta; McNaughton likewise provides commentary for the episode, and is gone over at length by his Haeckel's cast as well as Michael Rooker and Tom Towles from Henry. A behind-the-scenes glance, storyboard gallery, and the initial movie script (accessible with DVD-ROM) complete the three hours of extras. -- Paul Gaita