Fang & Saucer Deep Dive-CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR Ep.3 “Love Hurts”

Channel Zero

Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode Three “Love Hurts
Written by Leonore Zion & 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 Love Hurts“, the third 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.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Questions In A World of Blue”, Channel Zero style.

Dream Police Observations 

*As he relentlessly made his way through Vanessa Moss’ (Barbara Crampton) home, Pretzel Jack became a smiling, white-goo dripping CZ version of the implacable, deadly, and silent murderer Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame.

*Turns out “floating meditation” is quite the hot trend in some circles.

*Hopefully Ms. Moss was a certified doula. Not quite a midwife, doulas act as a helper/coach for expectant mothers.

*How many Americans can drive a manual transmission vehicle? Five percent of all cars sold in the US are stick shift, and the late Ms. Moss was owned one of them.

*Det. McPhillips (Grey Bryk) describes Pretzel Jack as a “Dr. Seuss character gone wrong.”

*Pretzel Jack’s hibernation in, and eventual emergence from, a suburban crawlspace reminded me of Not!Dad (John Carroll Lynch) lurching through a quiet suburban neighborhood in Channel Zero’s second season, No End House.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Tom (Brandon Scott) starts telling part of the truth to Jillian.

*The crawlspace has a special place in horror fiction and movies, including –

– A 1971 novel by Howard Lieberman, adapted into a 1972 movie directed by John Newland and (unofficially) Buzz Kulik.

-The related-only-by-title 1986 movie starring Klaus Kinski and directed by David Schmoeller. The filming of this version was apparently so traumatic it inspired a documentary about the experience called Please Kill Mr. Kinski.

*Jillian mentions “thinking about all the bad things that could happen” (emphasis mine). Wonder if the late Dr. Carnacki (Steven Weber) had a chance to address Jillian’s generalized anxiety, expressed as worrying about future events.

*Jillian and Tom will sure need that trauma therapist Dr. Carnacki recommended after witnessing his (off camera to us) murder at the hands of Pretzel Jack.

*The mummified husk of Pretzel Jack (did Jillian take it from her old childhood home) resembles both a South American mummy and the false mother created from Margot Sleator’s memories in No-End House.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
This is the weirdest couples therapy session ever.

*It’s true that Carnacki and Tom are not listening to Jillian – and she isn’t listening to them. I heard their reactions as a mix of “mansplaining” and expressing reactions to Jillian’s story that attempt to rationalize the impossible; seeing Pretzel Jack as a symbol (Carnacki) or a real human being wearing a disguise (Tom).

*This events in Dr. Carnacki’s office reminded me of Nola Carveth in David Cronenberg’s 1979 movie The Brood. Like Nola, Jillian creates a physical expression of her emotions that acts both as her protector and avenger. What would’ve happened if Jillian had gone to Dr. Hal Raglan’s Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmatics for therapy?

*Spoiler Alert – Dr. Carnacki’s description of a lover’s vulnerability in a relationship (metaphorically asking their partner if they’ll “cut me open and spill my guts”) turns out to be all to real for several characters.

*Ian presents himself as a wise Obi-Wan type to Jillian and Tom. In relating a very PG-rated version of his story and how it relates to Jillian, Ian may be more like Luke Skywalker’s mentor than they realize.

*Technically the psychic pair in John Farris’ 1976 novel (and 1978 movie) The Fury aren’t related, but their powers, and the people who hope to use those powers for their own ends, reminded me a lot of Jillian and Ian this episode.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door - Season 2.5
Ian has a creepily impressive collection of vampire skulls.

*Ian describes their power as both a Bat-Signal and a kind of tumor.

*Since there isn’t a National Science Museum (that I could find at any rate), maybe Ian is misremembering the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C..

*The Pretzel Jack in Jillian’s childhood flipbooks is a creepypasta version of Bing-Bong from Inside Out. Ian’s description of the very thorough process required to permanently destroying their creations (“fully smash the head, cut his  head off, use a meat grinder, incinerate him …”) makes Pretzel Jack into (as mentioned earlier) an indestructible boogeyman out of horror franchises like Halloween or Friday the 13th.

*Lykoi cats are real, and in their own way, really adorable.

*Jillian’s dad Bill (Gregg Henry) makes his audio-only debut via that old time classic “I can’t tell you some very important information over the phone” cliche.

*Credit to Father Son Holy Gore for catching the name of the end credits music. “Love Song” by The Damned.

 

Next episode, Channel Zero brings a “Bizarre Love Triangle” to life as only it can!

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.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 “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, 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.

 

 

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.