|"H. P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House"|
|Masters of Horror episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Stuart Gordon|
|Written by||Dennis Paoli|
|Story by||H. P. Lovecraft|
|Original air date||November 4, 2005|
"H. P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House" is the second episode of the first season of Masters of Horror, directed by Stuart Gordon. It is adapted from the short story "The Dreams in the Witch House" by American horror author H. P. Lovecraft. It originally aired in North America on November 4, 2005. Ezra Godden had previously starred in another Stuart Gordon-directed Lovecraft adaptation, Dagon, based on Lovecraft's novella The Shadow over Innsmouth.
University student Walter Gilman moves to a very cheap room in an old boarding house. He hears shrill screaming and rushes to help his neighbor, Frances, to find that she was being chased by a large rat. He seeks assistance from the manager, but he refuses to help. One of the tenants, Masurewicz, asks Walter if the large rat had a human face. He becomes close with Frances the following week, and even lends her money to keep her in the boarding house.
While studying for his thesis, Walter finds Masurewicz praying and hitting his head on a chair. The old man advises Walter about a rat with a man's face and a witch that would be after him. He warns Walter that the house is evil, relating that he, like Walter, moved in at a young age in the same room that Walter is currently renting. He stays in the house only to pray to stop her. Masurewicz offers a crucifix for his protection, but Walter rebuffs the gesture.
Frances gets a job interview and asks Walter to watch her son Danny. After she leaves, Danny begins to cry if he isn't in Walter's hands. Walter notices that Danny is wearing a large crucifix. When Walter falls asleep, a cloaked witch appears as a nude Frances. Walter embraces her, and she begins to claw the skin off of his back. He becomes horrified when she transforms into an old witch, making him wake up outside of Frances's room. He rushes back when he hears Danny fiercely crying.
He goes back to his room, and it is revealed that the witch has actually carved a pentagram into his back. He lays flour on his floor to make sure he isn't sleepwalking. A scratch in the flour leads under his bed. He peers down and is snatched by a mysterious hand. He finds himself in a dark corridor, with the rat on his shoulder. The rat urges him to "sign" and bites his wrist. Walter wakes up in front of a satanic book and sees the witch and the rat. There is a ritual involving the sacrifice of a baby, Danny. The witch wants to use Walter to get and sacrifice Danny. Walter tries to warn Frances, but she tells him that he must seek psychological help.
Masurewicz comes to the aid of Walter, telling him that his soul is in peril. Masurewicz reveals that he had killed children because of her. Though he tried to turn himself in, no one would believe him. Masurewicz hands the cross over to Walter and leaves. Walter breaks through the wall in his room where the witch comes through. He finds the skeletons of previous sacrifices. The rats' voices can be heard repeating, "She's coming for you." Walter finds the sacrifice chamber with Danny caged up. The cloaked witch places a silver knife into Walter's hand and commands Walter to kill the child. Walter tries to resist and redirects the knife to the witch. She steals the knife—and Walter gouges her eyes out with his own hands, strangling her with the crucifix.
He takes Danny and escapes, landing in Frances's room. Danny starts crying, and Walter notices that the rat is chewing through Danny's neck. Frances is locked out and sees purple lights coming from under the door. Masurewicz is in his room, praying and beating his head so hard that he is bleeding. Frances, the manager, and the police finally open the door to find Walter covered in blood— with Danny's corpse in his lap. Walter is taken to a psych ward and is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
The police recover the infant remains, some dating back 300 years, the knife, and mysterious DNA from Danny's animal bites. Purple lights appear in Walter's room, and a nurse comes to his aid. He is shaking furiously. When the nurse lifts his shirt, there are huge wounds—and a rat jumps out from his stomach. Masurewicz hangs himself. The episode ends the same way it began, with a sign reading "Room for Rent."
- Ezra Godden as Walter Gilman
- Jay Brazeau as Mr. Dombrowski
- Campbell Lane as Masurewicz
- Chelah Horsdal as Frances Elwood
DVD and Blu-ray
The DVD was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment on March 28, 2006. The episode was the second episode as well as the second to be released on DVD. The episode appears on the first volume of the Blu-ray compilation of the series.
The television adaptation significantly truncates the plot of Lovecraft's 1933 short story. It also sets the story in contemporary times, updating small details while remaining relatively faithful to the original plot. For example, whereas in the Lovecraft story the protagonist is a student of quantum mechanics, in the television adaption he studies string theory. The TV adaptation features the rat-like creature with a human face, Brown Jenkin, from Lovecraft's original tale., and also the witch Keziah Mason. In a nod to Lovecraft's original inspiration for Miskatonic University, the protagonist of the television adaptation wears a Miskatonic University T-shirt featuring a design based on the seal of Brown University.