One of the most beautiful and unique love stories in all of TV history has been hiding behind the thrill and suspense of a drama about Russian spies. The Americans may be outwardly concerned with geopolitics and foreign relations, but at the heart of it all is love and marriage.
Crozier orders the ships abandoned, then the crews travel to setup at Terror Camp on King William Island.
The Simpsons was the first mainstream cartoon to blur the line between innocent animation and adult humor, but the 21st century is filled with cartoons that are strictly No Kids Allowed. I’m talking about shows like Archer, BoJack Horseman, and Mr. Pickles; parents would have to be crazy to lets their children sit down to…
The Riddler and the Penguin are reunited, as are Bullock and Gordon. But not every reunion is a happy one.
Poison Ivy keeps killing. Bruce tries to reconcile his fears with his destiny. Nygma contemplates suicide.
Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block
Episode Six “Sacrifice Zone”
Written by Nick Antocsa & Harley Peyton & Angela LaManna
Directed by Arkasha Stevenson
[All images courtesy Alan Fraser/Syfy]
As with previous episodes of the Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block Party, I recommend you visit Father Son Holy Gore for a full, in-depth recap of “Sacrifice Zone” (then check out the other great recaps at FSHG).
Now let’s take a deep dive into the symbolism and references I noticed in the gore-tastic, splatter-riffic sixth and final episode of Season Three, “Sacrifice Zone.” My episode recaps and observations for Seasons One and Two can be found at SciFi4Me.com, and my observations for Episodes One through Five can be found here.
The Louise Lispector (Krisha Fairchild) Giant Conspiracy Wall Mural gives some interesting background information –
*Louise’s brother David disappeared November 8th, 1985. He was last seen around 6 pm in Medallion Park and carried a portable tape deck. If you see him, please call 810-555-0198.
*The city of Garrett is located somewhere in Michigan.
*The Peach family business was a one-stop shop for all your meat processing needs. A receipt reads “Peach’s Meats Ltd. Wholesale Meat & Abattoir.” Need to find out more about the inner workings of a meat processing operation?
*Pick up a copy of the Criteron DVD/Bluray release of Georges Franju’s 1960 horror classic Eyes Without a Face. Franju’s stomach-churning first film, the documentary “Blood of the Beasts,” is included as a bonus feature. Or download or buy a copy of Upton Sinclair’s muckraking (and equally stomach upsetting) 1906 classic The Jungle.
*Grandpa Peach’s first name was Werner – perhaps he learned he meat rendering trade in Germany?
*Izzy may have cribbed the idea for her hiding place after seeing Castle Byers in Stranger Things Season One.
*Not a big reference, but Alice says her head feels “so clear … my mind is finally on my side again.” Like the Scientology concept of “going clear“?
*Joseph Peach (Ruger Hauer) may be panicked and on a (literal) deadline, but still maintains a soft sell approach with Alice (Olivia Luccardi). He dances around the reality of what they do with generalities and lies, telling Alice that the Pestilent God (Quinton Boisclair) “feeds gently.”
*Joseph describes Izzy (Allelise Pollmann) as the Pestilent God’s latest “little angel,” of which “our God has many.” Which ties in to the very direct question Zoe (Holland Roden) asks her sister; just how often does the Pestilent God need to eat?
*Aside from the need to get the entire cast in one place for the finale, why does the entire Peach clan aside from Grandma (Doreen Brownstone) go “downstairs” to find Izzy? Is time so short that everyone has to pitch in? As Evelina Peach(Angela Narth) reminded her husband, they’re up against a strict deadline to offer up the child, so perhaps “needs must when the devil drives.”
*The Peach Family descends the staircase to music either by Philip Glass or in the same musical family.
*I know the answer is ” to build suspense,” but WHY couldn’t Scissor Lady (Paula Boudreau) just yell “It’s me, the Scissor Lady! I rescued Izzy!” while she’s pounding on Louise’s front door? I couldn’t help but think of “Who’s That Knocking at My Door?” – either the 1927 song by Annette Anshaw or the 1967 movie directed by Martin Scorsese.
* Scissor Woman (Paula Boudreau) is also credited as Nora (Woods) BUT I went back and watched that scene a third time to make sure, and I distinctly heard Louise call her “Diane” as she’s delivering Izzy to relative safety. Maybe that’s Scissor Woman’s name?
*Poor Dave From Collections (Adam Hurig)! I know he was annoying as heck, but c’mon, Alice owe $90,000 in student loans and he needs that commission! Maybe she didn’t like being reminded that eventually “you have to pay up.”
*Alice may be able to leave the Peach Mansion whenever she wants but like Dracula and other supernatural creatures, she must ask permission before entering a home.
*The Bootlegger tunnel turns out to be, if not a full-on McGuffin, a side road to the main story provide momentary drama.
*I wondered if there was some connective tissue missing after Izzy falls screaming into the darkness of the tunnel. Joseph and Smash Mouth disappear, and we cut to the Peach family taking an unconscious Izzy through Medallion Park. Something is missing between these two points.
*Cheerful, industrious, and very pregnant Edie Peach gets stuck lighting the sacrificial fires while her father in law pontificates (a woman’s work is never done). These towers are, most likely, ruins of the burnt out Peach mansion. But the also resemble parts of a meat processing plant or smoke house. I wish we’d seen how the playground area, the altar & the towers that appear behind the altar fit together within Medallion Park. Have these towers always existed, or can they manifest in the real world like the Stairway?
*Before the Cosmic Horror main event, “The Sacrifice Zone” brings on the human sacrifice portion of the episode. “We bring the offering, he’s going to be pleased, very pleased indeed.”
“Human sacrifice requires the exchange of a life – willingly or not – in return for supernatural assistance or for a greater cause.” Whether willing or not, a child or adult, from the “burnt offerings” from the Book of Leviticus (as well as the Books of Jeremiah and Judges) to the mummified remains of children in the Andes, the Peach family tradition is unusual only for it’s more overtly supernatural elements.
*Horror comes in many forms, but “cosmic horror is a specific type of terror that emerges from a human’s discovery of how small they truly are in the face of the universe.” Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan (1890) and The King In Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers laid the groundwork for the frame H.P. Lovecraft built into the Cthulu Mythos.
Even a non-horror fan recognizes Joseph Peach’s advice to Alice “close your eyes at first. Your mind is fragile.” Her first sight of their God “could overwhelm you.” Even if they’ve never read any Lovecraft, you can hear echoes of Belloq’s ecstatic cry “It’s beautiful” from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982) in Joseph’s description of a “higher power … so beautiful, it’ll make your eyes bleed.”
*Does the Pestilent God kill the Peaches – or does his true face overwhelm them?
*In his resigned, defiant last words – calling his God a “Sick F*ck” – Joseph channels both the bravado of Captain Rhodes in Dawn of the Dead (1985) “Hope you choke on em!” and Andrew Robinson’s last line in Hellraiser (1987).
*Is Alice in an actual asylum? Would any real life institution put a mother and daughter together ? The cosmic wall decorations, her mother’s “Now you’re with me,” the chess set on the table lead me to believe Alice is with the Pestilent God.
*If Alice is in an illusion, I hope Zoe, Louise, Izzy and Luke (Brandon Scott) are in a very real, fragile, but durable family.
*Smart Mouth (Linden Porco) and the other Brood children are most likely Edie’s children – when Izzy escapes Smarth Mouth cries “Grandpa, the girl!”
*Poor Edie Peach (Diana Bentley)! Left alone, abandoned by the Meat Servant to die in childbirth! I would’ve loved to see her hurrying after the Meat Servant holding the latest Peach Grandchild.
*Poor Grandma Peach (Doreen Brownstone)! She’s finally talking, but nobody’s there to listen!Doreen Brownstone Still Working After 90 “Funny, touching, and true: the story of Canada’s oldest working star of stage and screen, Doreen Brownstone.”
*The final scene’s “La La” music has the breathy 60’s vocalizing from the “Rosemary’s Baby” soundtrack feel about it.
Farewell, Garrett and all your inhabitants. Especially Edie Peach; I’ll miss your sunny-side up view of your (after)life – and your uninhibited enjoyment of dessert.
Next up – Channel Zero reveals a Hidden Door from the Creepypasta “I Found a Hidden Door in My Cellar …“
Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block
Episode Five “The Red Door”
Written by Mallory Westfall & Justin Boyd & Nick Antosca
Directed by Arkasha Stevenson
[All images courtesy Alan Fraser/Syfy]
As with previous episodes of the Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block Party, I recommend you visit Father Son Holy Gore for a full, in-depth recap of “The Red Door” (then check out the other great recaps at FSHG).
Now let’s take a deep dive into the symbolism and references I noticed in the delectable, disturbing fifth episode of Season Three, “The Red Door.” Episode recaps and observations for Seasons One and Two can be found at SciFi4Me.com, and my observations for Episodes One through Four can be found here.
*It’s taken me a couple years, but I think I’ve arrived at a Unified Connecting Theory of CHANNEL ZERO – or at least for the first three seasons. In each installment to date, characters are trying to escape from one dimension back into “the real world” to wreak havoc (Candle Cove), are lured into an alternative dimension as a psychic food source (No End House), or trying to avoid becoming dinner for a long-dead cannibal clan living in a mansion in the sky/alternate dimension (Butcher’s Block).
At the end of Channel Zero: Candle Cove, Mike Painter voluntarily exiles himself to a netherworld to spend eternity as jailer for his murderous brother Eddie. Margot Sleator escaped from Season Two’s No End House with the help of the father recreated from her memories. At the end of Butcher’s Block, will Alice “wake up” and rejoin her sister Zoe in reality, or remain “upstairs,” content in the cannibalistic embrace of the Peach family?
*That plaintive “music to slit your son’s throat by” at end of Episode Four? Brenda Lee oh-so-sad 1962 hit “Break It To Me Gently“.
*The MCMXII on the handsome Peach fireplace mantle indicates it, or the entire place, was built in 1912.
*I might be wrong about my “Peach Family portrait changing” at theory at the end of Episode Four; there may just be portraits on each wall of the fireplace room. Although the changing portrait theory is still a horror classic.
*Use of sound in both Zoe and Alice’s centipede extraction scenes are masterclass examples of “less is more.” The sound creates more repulsion/disgust than the most explicit effects. Based on their appearance and behavior, the sister’s fears are represented by the carnivorous and aggressive centipedes and not their more mild-mannered millipede cousins.
*Watching Zoe eating the centipede to reclaim her identity reminded me very much of the Sin Eaters tradition. Although they usually only ate bread to symbolically take on the unconfessed sins of the recently decased.
*”Red Door” recreates 1821 Henry Fusili picture “The Dream” twice, first with Smart Mouth (Linden Porco) crouching over a sleeping Alice (Olivia Luccardi), then with the actual picture hanging above Smart Mouth, The Meat Servant (Thiago Dos Santos) and Joseph Peach (Rutger Hauer) during their chess match.
*Is Alice listening through the floor because she hears Smart Mouth knocking on wall? Is Smart Mouth looking for Izzy (Annelise Pollmann)? Or both?
*For a show that usually trusts the audience to connect plot points on their own, Evalina Peach (Angela Narth) is surprisingly on the nose in lecturing Joseph to find Izzy for sacrifice to The Pestilent God and the strict timetable for this sacrificial “rent payment.” Is this bit of exposition designed to explain the situation to the audience, or underscore Joseph’s arrogance and lack of urgency?
Whatever the reason, in the final scenes it is amusing to see cool and collected Joseph Peach acting like a nervous middle manager preparing to deliver bad quarterly sales results to his District Supervisor.
*We see another set of Three Doors in this episod. Like last week, each leads to a very different destination. The Blue Door in Alice & Zoe’s bedroom just connect a hallway to a (seemingly) normal room, the Red Door leads to The Pestilent God, and the White Door opens up on the abandoned park.
*The Brood-esque “children” in “Red Door” – Dolphin (Samantha Adam), Goat Cake (Yale Rayburn-Vanderhout), and Kitten (Cody Willis) – made me wonder. Are these Edie’s children? Is her unborn child destined to be another hunter in the pack?
*Farewell to Aldous Peach and actor Bradley Sawatsky. This is his third role on Channel Zero – ahe played Principal Williams in Candle Cove, and the unfortunate “Lawn Watering Man” in No End House (who kept his head, but bled out after getting stabbed in the neck with the nozzle of his own watering hose).
*We find out how Louise Linspector (Krisha Fairchild) Lost Her Finger – turns out was her wayward brother bit it off and ATE IT during a particularly destructive sibling argument over his poor Life Choices. Louise’s reaction to her brothers disappearance,“I was relieved,” reminded me of Esther Blodgett’s from the 1954 version of A Star Is Born. At the end of her rope dealing with her husband’s alcoholism, Esther finally admits an uncomfortable truth –
“Sometimes, I hate him. I hate his promises to stop, and then the watching and waiting to see it begin again. I hate to go home to him at nights and listen to his lies … I hate me cause I’ve failed too.”
*The relationship between Chief Vanzyk (Tyrone Benskin) and his son Luke (Brandon Scott) ends this week. The elder Vanzyk now regrets choosing the Peach family over his own flesh and blood. But his loyalty ends with blood family; it doesn’t extend to the town that he’s supposed to protect. “You can’t save everyone … Compartmentalization is a psychological survival skill. Take care of the ones you know. Those you don’t are less of a priority.” Wrong answer, Dad! In response, a silent, shattered Luke kills his father.
* Jeff Russo’s score for the Red Room and Baptism hall scenes is a spiritual successor to that classical music/Halloween/horror movie favorite Bach’s Toccata & Fugue.
*Pizzicato strings crawl through this series, and especially in “Red Room.” Familiar to any horror fan, this is not so much music as the sound of scattering spiders bursting out of a hiding place and all over some unfortunate victim.
*I wonder if The Pestilent God and the horned creature haunting the forest in The Ritual (2017) are relatives?
*Zoe (Holland Roden) displays true heroics this episode. Rescuing Izzy? Impressive, yes. But even more amazingly, Zoe runs through miles of marble hallways IN HEELS while carrying the young girl!
*Alice chooses to fall into the dubious embrace of the Peach family, because“anything is better than going insane,” while Zoe decides to reclaim her life (imperfect as it may be) – “I want to go back to the way I was.” To me, Alice’s change felt rushed coming from a character who was so determined in previous episodes. Now Zoe knows what it’s like to try and help a sibling who can’t – or won’t – “wake up.”
*Only one overtly religious image this week, but it is a doozy. Alice, radiant and dressed in white, is led to the altar by The Meat Servant for a baptism in blood. The traditional interpretation of baptism in blood refers to martyrdom – not a literal dipping in a vat of blood. Is this foretelling a martyrs fate for Alice?
*Some of the CarrotHand bundles Zoe pulls from the soil look more like blind translucent worms than fingers.Do we hear heartbeats on the soundtrack during this scene, reminding us where those fingers came from?
*If the Gardner looks familiar, the actor playing him is in familiar acting territory. Julian Richings previously played Death on the CW series Supernatural.
*Watching Izzy’s’ head pushing through the Red Room wall recalls both the arms reaching through the walls in Roman Polanski’s 1965 psychological thriller Repulsion and a baby’s head emerging during childbirth.
*Will the bootlegger tunnel in Louise’s basement play a role in the finale? It could provide a route for Louise, Luke and/or Zoe back to the Peach Plantation.
*Surprisingly, it is possible for Luke to survive his father’s panicked murder attempt. There are emergency treatment options if major arteries are not damaged. It’s not for the squeamish, but the 1989 in-game injury to hockey player Clint Malarchuk may be a case of art imitating life.
*“We don’t eat children.” Joseph Peach tells a Alice – white lie revealing his family’s hypocrisy. They don’t eat children; they just turn them over to The Pestilent God as a sacrifice.
*Another mystery; Edie calms Izzy as the approach the Red Door. We hear the flies buzzing as she tells the little girl,“Let’s go home … where I live.” Is the Peach Plantation’s true appearance that of a charnel house or maybe a meatpacking plant?
*The gigantic beetle sculpture in the Peach Museum of Unnatural History looks like an very oversized representation of the Dung Beetle. Practical in life, in ancient Egypt they were beloved for their role in death and rebirth.
Next week brings this chapter of Channel Zero to a close. I hope both Zoe and Alice survive. But as the tagline for famously The Texas Chain Saw Massacre asks, I wonder “what will be left of them?”