Fang & Saucer Deep Dive-CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR Ep.2 “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”

Channel Zero

Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode Two “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”
Written by Alexandra Peachman & Nick Antosca
Directed by E.L. Katz

[All images courtesy Syfy]

For an in-depth recap of this and every episode of Channel Zero, I highly recommend a visit to Father Son Holy Gore. Check out his other great recaps, movie reviews, and in-depth essays on horror.
Now let’s take a deep dive into the symbolism and references I noticed in “Ashes On My Pillow’, the first episode of Channel Zero’s fourth season.   My episode recaps and observations for Seasons One and Two are at SciFi4Me.com, and my observations for Season Three can be found here at Fang and Saucer.

Dream Police Observations 

*”Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (aka “In the Pines”) has its origins as a folk ballad. Recorded many times, notable versions include Bill Monroe 1941 and 1952 as “In the Pines”, by blues artist Leadbelly in various versions of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”  from 1944 through 1948, and over the closing credits of an episode of Investigation Discovery’s A Crime To Remember.

*If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage (1974) and Killer Klowns From Outer Space (Dir. Stephen Chiodo, 1987) had a baby, it would look a lot like Channel Zero: The Dream Door.

*Were Det. McPhillips (Grey Bryk) and Det. Fraser (Marina Stephenson Kerr) conducting an investigative interview with Jillian and Tom? Why the heck weren’t they interviewed separately?

*Ian (Steven Robertson), such a helpful font of esoteric knowledge! This episode we learn Pugs were the favored dog breed of Chinese royalty, and Ian recommends the use of lucid dreaming as a tool of self-discovery.

*We learn a bit more about Jillian’s father Bill Hope; the name of one of his bankrupt real estate deals (Willow Courts), and Jillian was eight when he abandoned his family.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR Puts the  “Fun” in Funeral

*In between cups of macha tea, Mrs. Sherman (Mirian Smith) enjoys walking her cat. Macha is both a type of tea – and the name of a goddess in Celtic mythology.

*Tom begins – and ends – this episode in a tub. He also likes to give Gumby toys to (not so) random children in public parks. Since we saw him arguing with the child’s mother (Diana Bentley) last week, it’s probably not a random encounter.

*Dr. Carnacki (Steven Weber) recommends start on Xanax to make it through the day and Ambien to sleep at night. Besides being featured in criminal defenses, “People taking Ambien have sleep-walked, driven their cars, prepared and eaten food, made phone calls, and had sex while not fully awake without memory of these activities,” according to EverydayHealth.com.

*Unlike her husband or therapist, Ian really listens to Jillian, encouraging her to confide in him. It is not a coincidence that Ian is refilling a hummingbird feeder.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Ian (Steven Robertson) – Provider of tea, esoteric knowledge, and an oh-so-sympathetic ear.

*Jillian leans about the Laughing Shadow and interesting Portuguese words like cafune.

*But as TVTropes.com notes, Jillian is so happy to be listened to, she fails to listen to Ian. She “only refers to a “contortionist clown” before Ian says, “Pretzel Jack killed your friend.”

*2nd drink alert of the episode – Kambucha!

*Vanessa Moss (Barbara Crampton) takes advantage of Tom’s trust. Her technique is similar to Ian’s; present a sympathetic front, listening to Tom and offering her therapy pool for meditation, while surreptitiously spying on him for her own gratification.

*Pretzel Jack recreates a horror genre staple this episode – the Spider Walk.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Hey, there IS a bogeyman in the closet!

*The 80’s power pop of “Catcher In The Rain” (1985) by Van Duren and Good Question plays over the closing credits.

 

Next episode, an oft-recorded pop song reminds us that “Love Hurts”. And on Channel Zero, boy does it ever!

Until next time, Dream a Little Dream of Stabby the Murder Clown …

The first three seasons of Channel Zero are currently on the Shudder streaming service. Channel Zero: The Dream Door is currently available on demand and will join them on Shudder in 2019.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Farewell, Vanessa (Barbara Crampton) – we’ll miss your good advice and hi-tech voyeurism.

 

Fang & Saucer Deep Dive-CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR Ep.1 “Ashes On My Pillow”

Channel Zero

Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode One “Ashes On My Pillow”
Teleplay by Nick Antosca
Directed by E.L. Katz

[All images courtesy Syfy]

For an in-depth recap of every episode of Channel Zero, I highly recommend a visit to  Father Son Holy Gore . Check out his other great recaps, movie reviews, and in-depth essays on horror.
Now let’s take a deep dive into the symbolism and references I noticed in “Ashes On My Pillow’, the first episode of Channel Zero’s fourth season.   My episode recaps and observations for Seasons One and Two are at SciFi4Me.com, and my observations for Season Three can be found here at Fang and Saucer.

CZDD Ep1
Tonight on “So There’s a Hidden Door in Your Basement

Dream Police Detections

* Every episode title for CZ:DD is a song title. Houston-born jazz/blues saxophonist Eddie “Cleanhead” Wilson released the single “Ashes On My Pillow” (with “Hot Lips” Page on vocals)in 1950.  Credit to Father Son Holy Gore for this tidbit.

*We get  hints of trouble between Jillian and her father – although it’ll be familiar to true crime fans and/or readers of Linwood Barclay’s 2007 novel No Time To Say Goodbye.

*As they enjoy unagi sushi, Jillian advises her husband Tom in a variation on that oldest of clichés, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

*It’s probably not the same house, but the kitchen/dining area/family room in the Hodgson home sure looks like the Sleator home in Season Two, No-End House.

CZDD Ep1
Those are X-Files level flashlights, folks.

*”Ashes” does a great job of laying a trail of clues from the start, starting with an adorable pug Tom and Jillian find in their new  home. Jillian notes, “When I was a kid, I had a stuffed toy animal that looked just like this.”

*Why would Tom have a copy of Jillian’s childhood flipbook? Did she give it to him when she moved away?

*Is the nickname Pretzel Jack a variation on that snack item classic, Cracker Jack?

*Jason (Nicholas Tucci) used Tinder to find his “plus 1” for dinner with Tom and Jillian.

CZDD Ep 1
Dr. “There’s a Rational Explaination for Everything” Carnacki at your service.

*Tom, Jillian, and her estranged father live in a fictional town (Caldecott), which is located in a real Minnesota county (Itasca). Tom and Jillian live at 48 Brahms Way, and not-so-dear-Dad lives at 249 Beverly St.

*Ian is a very affable, friendly neighbor. Almost too friendly.

*The alleged existences of a Berenstain Bears book with a differently spelled name and Sinbad starring in a Shazam movie are both examples of “the Mandela Effect.

*Jason may be a dependable friend, but a gun safety expert his is not.

*The first “dream door” opens to a sloping set of stairs and another door in a small antechamber. Along with the sloping descent and the whoosh of released air from the main chamber, Jillian’s discovery reminded me of Howard Carter opening the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1922.

*Ian is pretty genre-savvy. Tom, Jillian, and Jason showing up at his door in the middle of the night reminds him of  ” the start of a horror movie.”

*But he doesn’t know how to hold a cat correctly.

Or Fluffy may be running away for an entirely different reason

CZDD Ep1
FREE HUGGGGGGGGGGS!

*How interesting that Friendly New Neighbor Ian just happens to be an expert of Jungian psyschology.

“The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends.”― Carl Gustav Jung

*Jillian’s therapist shares a name with the fictional “psychic detective” created by William Hope Hodgson.  Carnacki  wasn’t as determined to shoehorn arational explanation on every mystery, however.

*When we first see Pretzel Jack (Troy James), his face to the wall pose seems strikingly similar to the last image in The Blair Witch Project (1999).

*The slogan for Hodgson House and Home – “Your Complete Renovation and Landscaping Specialists”.

*Sarah Winters (Diana Bentley) should look familiar to faithful Channel Zero fans; she played Edie Peach in Butcher’s Block.

*In their argument before his Eye Scream demise, Jason refers to Bob Clark’s 1974 horror movie Black Christmas (“The calls are coming from inside the house!“), while Jillian’s “Don’t gaslight me!” harkens back to the 1944 Ingrid Bergman-Charles Boyer suspense classic Gaslight.

*The Sonic Youth  version of “Superstar” played over the closing credits is a far cry from the most famous cover version of the song; The Carpenters 1971 version reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

*Sadly, Todd Haynes’ 1987 short film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, hasn’t been available to view or purchase legally since 1990. Which is a shame, since Time Out magazine named it the Greatest Music Film Ever.

 

 

Episode Two asks “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”

Until next time, Dream a Little Dream of Contortionist Clowns …

The first three seasons of Channel Zero are currently on the Shudder streaming service. Channel Zero: The Dream Door is currently available on demand and will join them on Shudder in 2019.

 

 

F&S Deep Dive – THE PURGE S1 Finale Reveals “A Nation Reborn”

thepurge_castinfo_joe_desktop_2880x900Episode Ten “A Nation Reborn ”
Teleplay by Nick Snyder and Jeremy Robbins
Story by James DeMonaco
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
[All  images courtesy Alfonso Bresciani/USA Network]

For a full recap of episodes of The Purge on USA (and all his other cool recaps), please visit & follow Father Son Holy Gore!

Now, on to the All American Carnage of The Purge, Episode Ten – “A Nation Reborn”!

WARNING! Converging Plot Threads (and Spoilers) Ahead!  

*Miguel Guerrero (Gabriel Chavarra) and Pete the Cop (Dominic Fumusa) take out a couple of Rex’s goons before making their way to Thomas Paine High School. Inside the school, Penelope (Jessica Garza) manages to free herself and Paige (Kelly Murtaugh) while Joe the Sandwich Guy Who Turned Out to Be Quite a Jerk (Lee Tergesen) continues his seemingly endless show trial of (Hannah Anderson) & Rick Betancourt (Colin Woodell).

A year later, we meet up with the survivors.

The Purge - Season 1
Tonight on The Purge Presents “Show Trial Theater” …

Notes on “A Nation Reborn”

*Chekov’s Gun makes another appearance, in the form of an unsecured screw on the frame of the cage holding Joe’s captives. Penny later uses it to both free herself and Paige from the cage AND jab into Joe’s left eye socket.

*In ten episodes we’ve seen one character blinded in the right eye (Penny’s abusive hipster boyfriend Henry), and another blinded in their left eye (Joe the Sandwich Guy), each at the hands of one of the Guerro siblings.

*Thomas Paine High School must’ve just closed; the pool hasn’t been drained yet!

*According to Bobby Sheridan’s opening voiceover, The Purge is 12 hours or “43,000 seconds” of possibility.

*Sheridan also claims that the “risk (of participating in The Purge) gives way to unyielding reward”. This phraseology seems a bit off. Wouldn’t “unending reward” make more sense?

*After his extensive vocal presence this season, will Sheridan make an in-person appearance next season?

The Purge - Season 1
Everyone is remarkably proficient in firearms on this show.

*For all his extensive planning, Joe is undone by two things; a continued weakness for monologuing, and atrocious time management skills.

*Throughout the episode we’re reminded how much time remains until the end of The Purge. Besides being nice way to ratchet up the tension, we can keep track of how much time Joe is wasting.
*6:12 Joe orders Jenna and Rick “On stage, NOW!” then yammers on about The Purge providing everyone with “an equal opportunity, a level playing field.”
*6:25 Joe asks, “What does a signature mean, Rick?”, spends more time lecturing R&J on the elements of a contract, then lets Rick goad Joe into an extended riff on the theme of “Let me explain in excruciating detail my reasons for being pissed off.”
*6:42 Joe insists “I’m not going to waste a lot of time on this,” as he forces Jenna to aim a gun at her husband’s head. Joe now has 18 minutes to get through both the Betancourts and his other two hostages!
*6:45 Joe holds Penny at gunpoint, and for some reson gives her a chance to monologue about “Desperate people hurting each other every year because they’ve been manipulated into doing it.

The Purge - Season 1
Joe dressed for success, but forgot to read the fine print.

Here’s some information on contracts, signatures, and fine print that Joe glossed over during his blah-blah-blah bloviating.

*A signature on a contact is, well, pretty binding.

*If you read a contract but don’t understand all fancy language in a contract’s fine print, having an attorney review it for you is recommended. Or at least print out a checklist for yourself.

*Joe sure enjoys sadistically coercing confessions out of people. Too bad it’s pretty terrible way to NOT get the truth out of people subjected to it.

*”I didn’t understand what I was signing” isn’t a great thing to bring up after the fact.

*Joe’s petulant question to Penny “Where the hell were you born?” Thanks to the 14th Amendment, she’s just as American as Joe.

*Like the classic Warner Brothers cartoon starring Ralph Wolf and Sam the Sheepdog, Joe expects everyone to shake hands, go on with their lives, and meet up again next year.

The Purge - Season 1
Spoiler Alert – Joe, Miguel, Penelope (and Bartender Guy)survive!

*After all, “without rules, we’re animals.”

*Rick begs Jenna to take their daughter away and raise her “anywhere but here.” We see them living in France in the episode’s coda. But according to the news, the European Union will debate bringing The Purge to the EU. In the real world,  far-right, nationalist parties are currently gaining strength across Europe.

*The mortality rates for gunshot wounds to the stomach/abdominal wounds like Rick’s are – not good.

*If ALL crime – including murder – is legal during The Purge, why does the NFFA need  “Loyalty Squads” to prevent “Revolutionary Purge Night Terrorism”?

The Purge has been renewed for a second season. More official images, information, and other goodies can be found here.

Click the links for more of my deep dives into Bates Motel and The Exorcist. Channel Zero recaps and deep dives can be found here at F&S and SciFi4Me.com.

Until next season citizens, “Just remember all the good The Purge does.”

The Purge - Season 1
Since we don’t see Joe die, is he actually dead?

F&S Deep Dive Into the Penultimate Episode of THE PURGE – “I Will Participate”

thepurge_castinfo_joe_desktop_2880x900Episode Eight “I Will Participate ”
Written by Nick Snyder
Directed by Ernest Dickerson

[All  images courtesy Alfonso Bresciani/USA Network]

For a full recap of episodes of The Purge on USA (and all his other cool recaps), please visit & follow Father Son Holy Gore!

Now, on to the All American Carnage of The Purge, Episode Nine – “I Will Participate”!

WARNING! Converging Plot Threads (and Spoilers) Ahead!  

The Purge - Season 1
Why oh why weren’t these Purgers wearing ROLLER SKATES, Show?

*While Miguel Guerrero (Gabriel Chavarra) and Pete the Cop (Dominic Fumusa) spend the episode identifying, tracking, and driving in pursuit of Joe the Sandwich Guy Who Turned Out to Be Quite a Jerk (Lee Tergesen) and his van full of hostages.

*Said hostages Penelope Guerrero (Jessica Garza), Jenna (Hannah Anderson) & Rick Betancourt (Colin Woodell), Jane Barbour (Amanda Warren), Joe’s old boss Eileen (Allison King), Lifesaver Guy “Pete” (Garrett Kruithof) and another woman who may be named Paige (Kelly Murtaugh) find themselves imprisoned in a cage on the auditorium stage at Thomas Paine High School, soon to be put on trial. 

Why? Turns out Joe’s been channeling a lifetime of resentment into an elaborate, and lethal, Airing of the Grievances. From petty slights to life-scarring bulling, Joe’s collected everyone responsible for everything wrong in his life on Purge Night for some state-sanctioned revenge. Joe himself is blameless, a perpetually innocent victim.

The Purge - Season 1
Purge-weary Pete finds a new mission – helping Miguel save Penny.

Will Miguel and Pete, like Spock in the Star Trek episode “Court Martial“, save these prisoners before Joe passes judgment on them all?

Notes on “I Will Participate”

*We find out why Joe said his motives on this Purge Night were “ personal.” We already knew he blamed Eileen for the closure of the Satacoy Supply Company operation. Everyone else in the van?

LifeSaver Pete physically and publicly bullied Joe to make him do Pete’s homework and take home exams throughout their time at Thomas Paine High School.

Paige denied coverage for treatment of John Owen’s cancer as a pre-existing condition. Joe’s excellent health insurance did his father no good.

Jane had the nerve to “swipe left” in the middle of a dinner date with Joe – and pay the tab! His insufferable racism and sexism might’ve been the reason for her mid-date ghosting.

Jenna and Rick (allegedly) failed to pay Joe for the security system he installed on one of their developments.

The Purge - Season 1
If you miss Sam and Dean driving around fighting evil, here’s Miguel and Pete!

Penelope’s crime? During her Purge Death Cult days, she failed to say “Thank You” after Joe held the door open for her when she exited a restaurant.

*Revenge is a classic motivator in movies as a whole, especially in the horror genre. From Oldboy, to Freddie Krueger, to the Saw series, punishment for slights and/or crimes, whether real or imagined, is a storytelling well that will never run dry.

*And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie’s classic 1939 mystery novel, also put a seemingly unrelated group of people on trial for unpunished crimes buried in their past.

*Joe’s endless High School Misery Monologue makes him sound more like the insufferable tourist played by Monty Python’s Eric Idle than a revenging hero.

*Bobby Sheridan is the bloodthirsty self-help guru Joe’s been listening to all series.

*Joe lives at 12018 Broad St., belongs to the NFFA, and according to Pete’s inaccurate database, has no living relatives. His license plate Q4OCFP bears the NFFA motto “A Nation Reborn”.

*Starting a security company as his second career allowed Joe the means to easily disarm Eileen and the Betancourt’s Sandin Security systems.

The Purge - Season 1
It’s just like The Warriors, except with bedazzeled neon.

*The aerosol tracking spray Joe used to stalk and capture his victims isn’t as implausible as I initially thought.

*His Stalker String Theory Wall of Crazy is a conspiracy theorist classic.

*If Lars Von Trier ever decided to direct a “black boxDogville style production of Our Town, it would look like the setup at Thomas Pain H.S..

*I previously misread a character  like Joe once before, in the person of Pierre ( Jean-François Sivadier) from the French cult series The Returned. If you haven’t watched it yet, I won’t spoil further for you.

*For all his meticulous planning and flawless execution, in the end Joe is just a small, sad man. Instead of looking inward for the answer to “why” he looks outward for someone to blame. Instead of being happy with the life he rebuilt, he lashes out at those who (in his eyes), destroyed the Way Things Used to Be. Who gained their position in society at his expense.

*Pete the Cop embodies that American cinema classic, the weary yet noble antihero.

Next Week:  Episode Ten “A Nation Reborn” brings The Purge on USA to a close.

The Purge airs Tuesdays on USA at 10/9c.

More official images, information, and other goodies can be found here.

For more of my deep dives into Bates Motel, The Exorcist . My Channel Zero recaps and deep dives can be found here at F&S and SciFi4Me.com.

Until next week citizens, “Just remember all the good The Purge does.”

Maria Sten Opens THE DREAM DOOR on SYFY’s CHANNEL ZERO

Channel Zero

 

Channel Zero: The Dream Door
[All images courtesy SYFY]

Producer, Writer, Director, Actor – Maria Sten makes her mark in every aspect of the creative life; from producing, directing, and writing short films (Wild Things Run Free and When It Burns) to acting on the big (Straight Outta Compton) and small (DC’s upcoming Swamp Thing) screen. Tonight, Sten joins CZ veteran Brandon Scott (CZ: Butcher’s Block), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), and Steven Weber (Wings) on the fourth season of Channel Zero’s Creepypasta-inspired trippiness, The Dream Door.

Below are some non-spoilery questions and answers on Maria’s thoughts about her character Jillian Hope Hodgson, working on genre projects, and how Channel Zero approaches filming each season. (Along with my goof in referring to Jillian as Hope!)

How much did you know about your character’s history at the beginning of the process? Did Nick and the writers/showrunners clue you in early on?
I had read the first episode when I auditioned and then I read the rest after I got the job so I was all the way in the know from the beginning. We were blockshooting (shooting all episodes at once and out of sequence) so it was quite necessary to know all of the material before we started shooting.

Hope is very interesting in the way she keeps things to herself, even though she and Tom have known each other most of their lives. How did you approach Hope’s trust issues with her husband? I assume you mean Jillian? Jillian definitely has trust issues that stem from her childhood and she struggles with the feeling that any man she allows herself to love is gonna screw her over somehow. I think anyone who’s ever been cheated on can relate to what it feels like to have that deep trust betrayed by someone you love. Tom is different in that he’s supposed to be her only ally, but there’s this notion of a woman’s intuition that comes to play a lot throughout the show. Jillian’s line to her therapist “Just because you love somebody doesn’t mean you really know them” very much encapsulates this issue of trust/distrust.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
On the plus side, Tom and Jillian a LOT more square footage now.

After Channel Zero, is the DC series “Swamp Thing“. How are  the superhero & horror genres different – or the same – as non-genre work? It’s different in the way that it’s a higher form of suspended disbelief. It’s not just every day human problems, it’s the supernatural heightened version of them so you have to really make your imagination do a lot of the work, which can be both challenging and fun. And of course, working with puppets, visual effects and special effects always spices things up a bit as well.

 What did you think about having the same director for the entire series? Did it help shape your character’s journey? Channel Zero – and this season in particular – is really an extended movie, and I think maybe that’s why the producers choose to shoot it accordingly (blockshooting). So I don’t think it would have been logistically possible to do with more than one director, but furthermore, I think it’s also helpful because not only do you develop a shorthand in the collaboration, but that director has been with you from the inception so can very much speak to the arc and growth of the character as much as the actor can.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door begins tonight (Oct. 26) on SYFY as part of their 10th annual “31 Days of Halloween”.

Maria Sten’s official website can be found here.

And SYFY.com has much more on Channel Zero: The Dream Door and the 31 Days of Halloween.