Via Father Sone Holy Gore -[The Twisted Parallels of Cinema] Edition #7: American Horror Story (Vol. II)

Edition #10 looks at the horror movie visual references in American Horror Story’s fifth season (“Hotel”) + one from Season 2 (“Asylum”).

via [The Twisted Parallels of Cinema] Edition #7: American Horror Story (Vol. II) — Father Son Holy Gore

Fang & Saucer Deep Dive-CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR Ep. 6 “Two of Us”

Channel Zero

Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode Six, “Two of Us”
Written by Nick Antosca & 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 Two of Us“, the sixth and final 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
Tom gets an involuntary tour of an unfinished home.

Dream Police Observations 

* “Two of Us” begins with Tall Boy (Stephen R. Hart) dragging Tom Hodgson (Brandon Scott) through an unfinished house in Estates before dumping Tom in front of Ian (Steven Robertston). Channel Zero does love its unfinished homes set in desolate housing developments. Jules (Amy Forsyth) leads her Not!Father (John Carrol Lynch) to an unfinished garage “tiger trap” in No End House, Mike Painter (Paul Schneider) survives a lynch mob tribunal in an isolated, never-finished home in Candle Cove, and of course the finished (albeit unworldly) Peach mansion plays a central role in Butcher’s Block.

*Ian’s mood is both boastful and peevish. Turns out Bill Hope (Greg Henry) left everything to Jillian. The house they’re in, and the entire Willow Courts housing development, belong to her (Bad Thing). But, as Ian explains in between gulping down fast food and protein shakes, he loves Jillian in a “pure, uncomplicated way” while Tom is merely the “safe choice” (Good Thing).

*Ian’s continuing use of his abilities is also causing him to suffer some kind of internal injury or spasms affecting his stomach area.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Hey, hey, we’re the Crayons, and people say we color around…

*If the spelling on the closed captioning is correct, the Stuckey Burgers that Ian loves to chow down may be from the fictional equivalent of the Stuckey’s chain of freeway rest stop restaurants. The real Stuckey’s never succeed at the fast food business. According to Frank Stuckey,  ″Food especially, I think, was the downfall. Our snackbars really never had a good fast-food menu like Hardee’s, Waffle House or McDonald’s.″

*The fictional, 30% protein “Muscle Syrup” would be in about in the middle range of power protein drinks.

*Jillian (Maria Sten) follows Ian’s bloody directions to the ghost neighborhood. Waiting for her is a bored, newly hired security guard (Robert Borges), and Ian’s enforcer squad of Crayon Kids. Generic crayons of course, not the copyrighted and tradmark protected Crayola Crayons.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Here we see a Green Crayon in it’s unnatural environment.

*The Crayon Kids slash the tires on Jillian’s SUV to prevent her escape. But New Security Guard Man is (from the sound of it) stabbed to death and/or ripped to pieces by the colorful gang.

*Robert Borges also appeared in two episodes of No End House as “Hiding Man”, and in Butcher’s Block as “Cop” in the “Alice in Slaughterland” episode.

*Jillian slowly realizes that the injured Tom she finds hiding in another unfinished house is a simulacrum of her husband, created by Ian. One clue? He appears to have the same injury/cramp/spasms Ian displayed earlier.

*Not!Tom also bleeds white goop like the biomechanical androids from the Alien scifi franchise after Jillian stabs him with an improvised cross and Tom stomps his double’s head in.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Good to see Ian taking a break from his psychic murder spree and relax.

*Tom proves he’s the real version of himself to Jillian by using a rusty metal object to draw red blood from his palm. After everything else that’s gone on, contracting tetanus doesn’t seem to be too high on Tom’s worry list.

*Ian is ok with using a double of Tom to kiss his own half-sister, but balks at creating a doppelganger in front of Tom because “that’d just be weird.

*Tom may be the non-incestuous “safe” choice, but he’s also the smart choice. He understands Jillian’s fear of what she can do, but also accepts that everyone has a dark side. In Jillian’s case, “sometimes, it just gets out, runs around, kills people, but I can accept that …Pretzel Jack is part of you, but I brought him out”.

*Like the “something blue” worn by a bride, Jillian’s doors were that color as “a gift” from Ian. 

*The husk of herself Jillian spies in this episode reminds me of the Hollow Girl in No End House. Her portrayer, Robyn Delaney, also appears in this series as Red Murder Crayon. 

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Another brilliant, surreal image in the Channel Zero tradition.

*Speaking of our favorite murder-y clown contortionist, Jillian recreates Pretzel Jack. After making peace with Tom, Pretzel Jack (Troy James)  takes on Tall Boy and ends up sliced in half.

*Jillian conveniently pushes Tom out of Tall Boy’s path. Tall Boy the ironically kills Ian by pinning him to a wall with what looks like a power hedge trimmer.

*Ian may be gone, but in the final scene we learn the Hodgson family now has its very own version of Jack-Jack from The Incredibles. Given the warm, comforting tone of this final moment, I picture a future much like the last scene in I Married a Witch (1842, Dir. by Rene Clair).  Like that movie’s housekeeper complaing about the daughter flying her broom inside, I can see Tom or Jillian gently reminding their child to not keep creating doors all over the house

*”Animal Farm” by The Kinks plays over the closing credits. From the 1968 album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, “Animal Farm” harkens back to an idea of “Deep England” and a rural, pastoral way of life long gone.

This world is big and wild and half insane
Take me where real animals are playing
Just a dirty old shack
Where the hound dogs bark
That we called our home
I want to be back there
********
Girl, It’s a hard, hard world, if it gets you down
Dreams often fade and die in a bad, bad world
I’ll take you where real animals are playing
And people are real people not just playing

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
This is probably the happiest-ever-after ending in Channel Zero history.

Sadly, on January 16th, 2019 showrunner Nick Antosca broke the news (via Instagram) that SYFY had cancelled Channel Zero after four seasons.

Maybe I delayed writing this final deep dive to avoid saying a final goodbye to a show I’ve come to find endlessly fascinating. Farewell, Channel Zero, I’m sad to see you go.

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.