Although Mick Garris has his name slapped across NBC’s Fear Itself, the series’ creator walked away from the show before it ever aired. Anyone familiar with Masters of Horror, the show’s previous incarnation which aired on Showtime with all the blood and nudity that premium cable affords a filmmaker, could probably figure out why Garris would walk away from Fear Itself. Let’s face it. Network television isn’t the best place for the horror genre to make a home.
But as uncompromising horror legends like Stuart Gordon returned to the fold despite the potential for tighter restrictions, many people wanted to know what really happened to Garris.
Fangoria recently spoke to the writer, director, and series mastermind who reveals that the writer’s strike played a big role in his decision to part ways with his baby– his freakish, morbid baby.
Prior to the writer’s strike, Masters of Horror suffered a fatal blow when Starz bought Anchor Bay and the new management decided to not go forward with a third season. As attempts to bring Masters of Horror to a network that shared Garris’ philosophies regarding censorship and creative freedom failed, Mick Garris faced a difficult decision.
“At that time, I thought, ‘OK, we had two groundbreaking years of MASTERS OF HORROR, maybe that’s enough,’” Garris tells Fangoria.
“But a little while later, Lionsgate came back and said, ‘NBC wants to buy it.’ My first response was to send out an e-mail to all the directors and potential directors we’d been talking to for the show, saying, ‘The whole philosophy of MASTERS OF HORROR was a filmmaker-friendly one, where [the filmmakers] had complete creative control, final cut, as far as we could. And with NBC, that isn’t going to be possible, so I’m going to leave the show unless you guys want to do it.’ And almost all of them said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it, let’s see what we can do.’”
But the writer’s strike put Garris in an awkward situation at the worst possible time. As both a producer and writer, Garris was allowed to move ahead with Fear Itself from a production standpoint but his loyalty to the Writers Guild took precedent.
Conflicting interests played a big part in Garris taking a step back from his show-running duties but he says the strike also allowed him plenty of time to see just how different working on a network horror anthology was going to be compared to the first two seasons of Masters of Horror.
“That strike lasted a long time, and during that period, it became clear to me that there was not going to be the philosophy of filmmaker first that there was on MASTERS OF HORROR. I have no problem at all with creating a series for network TV, but MASTERS OF HORROR really isn’t that kind of show. Now, MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION [on which Garris was a co-executive producer] also had these constraints, but science fiction isn’t nearly as much about breaking taboos and shocking and doing things that are outside the social norm, and while horror is not entirely about that, but that’s a big part of it.”
As his creation runs amok on NBC for at least one more week, Garris continues to work on serveral horror projects including a satire similar to The Player called The Director’s Cut. For more on Mick Garris and his departure from Fear Itself, check out Fangoria.