Via Father Son Holy Gore-“We should have never come to this house”: Freud’s Uncanny & the Modern Gothic in SINISTER

https://videopress.com/embed/5DWbzC0P?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0

Scott Derrickson’s SINISTER is more than creepy, it’s an unsettling collision of the Gothic past and a modern world.

via “We should have never come to this house”: Freud’s Uncanny & the Modern Gothic in SINISTER — Father Son Holy Gore

Fang & Saucer Deep Dive-CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR Ep. 5 “You Belong To Me”

Channel Zero

Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode Five, “You Belong To Me”
Written by Angel Varak-Iglar & Lisa Long
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 You Belong to Me”, the fifth episode of Channel Zero Season Four.  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.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Beautiful use of the whole frame – making horror fans look in every corner!

Dream Police Observations 

*Morphing effect for the creation and brief life of Unfortunate Bunny Rabbit reminded me of the memory effects in No End House.

*Ian is teaching the CZ version of Creative Visualization.

*Ian “Cute bunny rabbit … comfort, gratitude, love …” Except in this case, Unfortunate Bunny Rabbit resembles a teleportation mishap from The Fly or Galaxy Quest more than any fluffy bunny.

*Jillian creates two “babies” this episode (both with help from another) that live brief, increditbly agonized existences.

*Ian assures Jillian she’ll learn to control and operate her creations “like a puppet”, which of course put this golden oldie on replay in my mind.

*Of course, there’s a long tradition of creepy puppet symbolism in horror (from the beginnings of the Gothic/Horror genre of Marionettes/puppets/ventriloquist dummies from E.T.A Hoffman‘s The Sandman) (1816), the Twilight Zone episode The Dummy (1962), to the “Orpheus & Euridyce meet Geppetto” mashup in Keith Donohue’s 2016 novel  The Motion of Puppets.

*Jillian’s opening the tiny door of the tiny house – so reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland (1865). “So she unlocked the tiny little door, and she stooped down and looked through it, and what do you think she saw? Oh, such a beautiful garden! And she did so long to go into it! But the door was far too small. She couldn’t squeeze herself through, any more than you could squeeze yourself into a mouse-hole!”

*CZ: Butcher’s Block favored red doors; Dream Door favors shades of blue.

*Ian begins to tip his hand, and his true intentions/attidude towards his creations with a dismissive “they can’t all be winners”. Like all good meglomaniacs, he can’t stop there and adds, “like your dog” . By admitting he created the pug, he paves the way for Jillian’s “Eureka Moment” later in the episode when she find her childhood pug stuffed animal.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Ian is moving into the the “IDGAF” phase of his power trip.

*Jillian’s realization flows into a classic suspense setup “I know I’m in danger but can’t let you know I know, so I’ll  pretend everything’s still ok while figuring out how to get out of here.”

*Minnesota is indeed the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

*Ian’s cottage, set amidst a blue lake and the vivid green of trees and plants, reminded me (if only in setting) of A. A. Milne’s 1922 novel The Red House Mystery.

*Ian’s stash of mummified animal husks in his basement again brings to mind the MacDonald Triad, along with theory that  experimentation and cruelty towards animals leading to similar behavior towards people. His casual dismissal of Jillian’s misbegotten rabbit ( “they can’t all be winners”) betrays his attitude of his creations as things, mindless tools to be used.

*Ian uses the vague “passed away” when describing his mother’s death “earlier this year … she was very trusting … too trusting. I think she chose not to see certain things.” What exactly did Mom choose not to see – her husband’s other family? Or her son’s sociopathy (or psychopathy?).

*I wish Ian had elaborated on this tidbit about Mom – “she deserved better than she got … my mom was the other woman and I didn’t even know”.

*Ian says Tall Boy “did some not so great things” Did that include killing his mother?

*Ian says Tall Boy “did some not so great things” Did that include killing his mother?

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
If those dogs weren’t chowing down on Bill Hope’s corpse, they’d be ADORABLE.

*Did Ian leave his front door unlocked deliberately? Who leaves the doors unlocked anymore, even in Minnesota?

*Tom greets Jillian and Ian’s return with a Channel Zero Intervention, complete with material collected from Ian’s basement. Lucky for Tom that Ian lugs all his backstory with him.

*Ian commits  Jillian’s cardinal sin in this revaltory scene  – he admits he lied to her.

*Is Ian supremely confident in showing off Bill’s corpse to Tom and Jillian, or beyond thinking of the consequences?

*All the pugs surrying around Bill Hope’s corpse wear adorable crayon-bright knit sweaters.

*As part of Ian’s Confession Time Monologue Theater,  he admits killing the O’Connells (like Michael Haenke’s orginal version of   Funny Games) to be in the house next door.

*The address Jillian calls in to 911 seems off – “48 Brahms Bay Caldecott Street” If I recall corrrectly, the town on the envelope in Episode One was Caldecott MN, not Caldecott Street in Caldecott MN.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
“I don’t want to kill anybody else today.”

*After Ian’s carted off to jail (we think), Tom makes a basic, honest appeal to Jillian. He just wants to be with her and create a family with her. Which leads to the second short-lived, helpless suffering creature of this episode. Their first child.

*At least their child isn’t abandoned and unloved. Unlike the creature it very much resembles, the baby from David Lych’s 1977 mystifying, nightmarish masterpiece, Eraserhead.

*Poor Detectives Fraser (Marina Stephenson Kerr) and McPhillips (Grey Bryk). Many people make fun of people  wearing socks with sandals. Very few suffer horrific bloody deaths because of it. And it’s not actually  much of a fashion crime anymore.

*Minnesota, like every other state, does have a law against passing a school bus.

*Excellent slo-mo buildup with Tall Boy stalking from behind and the Dad & kid arguing by the bus in front.

*Regarding the detective’s discussion as to just what differentiates spree, mass, and serial killers. The FBI dropped the separate definition of Spree Killers in 2005, but the categories can still be  viewed as helpful references, according to Kathleen Ramsland. “Criminological researchers interested in developmental and psychological issues see value in retaining distinct categories to study their differences.”

*Tall Boy’s weapons of necessity – a pickaxe and electric saw – harken back to Abel Ferrera’s grindhouse horror classic Driller Killer (1979).

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
With Orange Crayon (Micaela Lozano), The Crayola Kids make their Channel Zero debut.

*Tom displays some genre savvy in refusing Ian entrance into his house. Not that it helps him from getting kidnapped; or save the poor cop (Bradley Sawatzky, I believe) walking out of Ian’s house from an extraordinarily bloody death.

*I think “Meet Me at the Ghost Neighborhood”, supposedly written in Poor Dead Cop’s blood, looks a lot more like colored chalk or crayon.

*Thanks to Father Son Holy Gore’s recap for identifying the episode’s closing song – “Always Wanted Your Love” by  Tony Stephens. The episode title comes from the hit written by Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers and Carly Simon. While the Doobie Brothers released it first in 1977, Simon’s 1978 version reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

*WhatSong.Com is a great resource for Channel Zero fans to find songs used in Seasons 2-4.

Next episode, the Channel Zero: The Dream Door finale narrows things down to the “Two of Us”.

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.

Fang & Saucer Deep Dive-CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR Ep.4 “Bizarre Love Triangle”

Channel Zero

Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode Four, “Bizarre Love Triangle”
Teleplay by Mallory Westfall
Story by Mallory Westfall & Isabella Gutierrez
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 Bizarre Love Triangle“, the fourth episode of Channel Zero Season Four.  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.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR — Pictured: Troy James as Pretzel Jack — (Photo by: SYFY)

Dream Police Observations 

*Time to stock up on some Japanese footwear? Pretzel Jack’s tabi shoes are available online.

*CZ now has it’s own variation on The Blue Screen of Death – the Blue Glow of Creepiness. This week, it fills young Jillian’s (Mimi-Tsega Stafford) bedroom before the first appearance of Pretzel Jack (Troy James).

*Jillian’s dad is physically gone, but her mom (Miriam Smith) is emotionally distant. Her response to Jillian’s “I miss Dad“? A curt “Get into bed.”

*Troy James, who brings Pretzel Jack to life, first came to notice on America’s Got Talent. He was Father Time in Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block, and will portray the villan “Ragdoll” on The Flash.

*This episode begins with a discussion of killing Pretzel Jack, and ends with his explosive demise.

*In between running for their lives through a sub-basement filled with exercise equipment on one side, and fill dirt & gravel on the other, Sarah Winters (Diana Bentley) delivers an info dump to Tom (Brandon Scott). He’s not the father of her child, so he can stop stalking them now.

*Like a couple recent genre movies, CZ sets a climatic confrontation in a community/high school/YMCA swimming pool. Sometimes these scenes work (Let The Right One In), and sometime they really don’t (It Follows).

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Somebody at this hospital sure loves the color blue.

*Pretzel Jack’s apparent “death” via swimming pool isn’t the first in Channel Zero. Margot Sleator’s Not!Father (John Carroll Lynch) ended up submerged for eternity in a backyard pool at the end of No End House.

*After joining forces with Ian (Steven Robertson) to defeat Pretzel Jack, Jillian (Maria Sten) suffers the ear-bleed variation on the “Psychic Nosebleed“, common (at least in genre fiction) to anyone displaying psychic powers.

*Ian is again overtly courteous and informative. He informs Maria that using their ability “depletes you.” Yet despite her symptoms of vomiting and dizziness, Ian doesn’t bother getting her anything to eat besides tea.

*Ian’s magic herbal tea includes turmeric, cinnamon, lemon balm, red raspberry leaves & ginger. Ostensibly healthy, it sounded to me more like something from the kitchen of Mrs. Castavet (Ruth Gordon) in Rosemary’s Baby.

*Especially after we see how Ian replenishes himself at the anonymous fast food joint. Truly on of the revolting meals since the dinner scene since The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), or Mr.Creosote enjoyed a wafer-thin mint in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983).

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Not Pictured – the Puppy in the Cone of Shame.

*Poor Tom – the only shirt the hospital can find for him features a puppy wearing a cone of shame.

*Girl talk between Sarah & Jillian servers as a turning point in Jillian. She’s listening, and being listened to, a woman displaying empathy for the underlying issue in Jillian’s life – trust. Sarah’s made a conscious choice to trust, Jillian not sure if she can.

*As much as I love seeing Diana Bentley back in the CZ universe, the whole Tom/Sara/baby subplot did not, for me, fit into the main storyline. It seemed to serve as “Tom’s Secret” more than as an integrated part of the story, at least to me.

*Ian borrows from the Obi-Wan Kenobi Crappy Mentor Playbook to draw Jillian in; helpfully guiding her through this new world, but omitting key facts that might send her away.  Like Luke Skywalker, she commits to training without fulling knowing what’s involved.

*The Obivously Empty TV Coffee Cups cliche makes it’s Channel Zero debut. Is an Empty Cup Award in CZ’s future?

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Here’s a better look at the Cone of Shame puppy!

*Bill Hope repeats his “I Have to Tell You Something SO Important It Can’t Be Said Over the Phone” routine, calling both Tom and Jillian. “I’d like to tell her in person.” Too bad Ian snooped around with Jillian’s phone and intercepted the call.

*I wish more characters in books, movies, and TV would read “The DON’T LIST” from Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader’s Companion. Rule 1 – “Don’t go for lonely cliff-side walks with those you’ve just disinherited.” Or leave phone messages for your disgruntled son to easily intercept.

*The Bill Hope’s ghost neighborhood development Willow Courts advertised houses starting at $899,000. “Welcome Home … Homes for Families … Opening late 2016

*Ian arrives at Room 105 at the Mill Road Inn and delivers the Wham! Line of the delivers the Wham!Line of the series; “Not the kid you were expecting, Dad?”

*Bill dealt with his son’s behavior by protecting Ian from the consequences of his actions, and/or thinking up rational explanations “when the dog disappeared or that bully from school went missing.” Which sounds familiar to true crime fans reading about Jeffrey Dahmer, or anyone reading the 2003 novel We Need To Talk About Kevin (or watching the 2011 movie version starring Tilda Swinton).

 

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Enjoy some herbal tea with a side of incest.

*Bill seals his fate (at least as far as Ian’s concerned) with a dismissive “You always were a bad seed.” William March’s 1954 novel became a 1956 movie (Dir. Mervin LeRoy) starring  Patty McCormack as the oh-so-determined (and oh-so-amoral) Rhoda Penmark. Less said abut the Rob Lowe 2018 remake the better.

*Bill advises Ian, “for once in your life, do what’s right.” Unfortunately for Bill, Ian decides that involves bringing his childhood friend Tall Boy (Stephen R. Hart) to life. Ian, through Tall Boy, pulls a variation on the Oedipus myth and Bill’s eyes are crushed into his skull.

*This season of Channel Zero does love its Eye Scream.

*Though we must commend (I guess) Ian’s thoroughness in Post-Patricide Crime Scene Cleanup. Better than Norman Bates!

*”Bizarre Love Triangle” includes an homage to another creepy-in-retrospect Incest Kiss.

*This episode’s title comes courtesy the New Order single off their 1986 album Brotherhood.

 

“Every time I think of you
I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue
It’s no problem of mine
But it’s a problem I find
Living a life that I can’t leave behind.”

 

*Another great choice from the New Order back catalog? “Blue Monday” (featuring flipbooks in the video below!)

“How does it feel
To treat me like you do?
When you’ve laid your hands upon me
And told me who you are
I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me, how do I feel
Tell me now, how do I feel”

Next episode, Channel Zero promises “You Belong To Me”; who will belong to whom though, and what will be left of them?

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.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uEBuqkkQRk