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

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.

 

 

CHANNEL ZERO: BUTCHER’S BLOCK Lands in the “Sacrifice Zone” for a Cosmic Horror Finale

Channel Zero

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.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Study up Izzy – there’s  going to be a quiz later!

Meaty Musings

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?

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
So helpful! So cryptic!

*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?

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Joseph Peach has the resigned look of a man about to be fired before he can collect his pension.

*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.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Smart Mouth, couldn’t you have brought Aldous along too?

* 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? Or I misinterpreted the entire thing!
*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, providing momentary drama but not much else.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Alice lands child sacrifice collection/kidnapping duty.

*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?

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Izzy! It’s right behind you!

*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.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
The newly formed family that taxidermies together … stays together?

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.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
I wonder if Alice is lost in this dream forever

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 …

The Rent Is Too D*mn High On CHANNEL ZERO: BUTCHER’S BLOCK – “The Red Door”

Channel Zero

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 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.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Just a relaxing game of Chess between Cannibals, Cronenbergian Brood Children, and Meat Servants.

Meaty Musings

*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 (so far), 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.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Edie Peach could sell coals to Newcastle – if she wasn’t leading children to their doom.

*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.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Capes are a must for blood baptisms to The Pestilent God.

*Alice enjoys some post-baptism  beef carpaccio, a more refined haute cuisine version of that sometimes risky Wisconsin classic “cannibal sandwich” (aka steak tartare).

*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 Fingerturns 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.”

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Not quite a Red Wedding of the Billy Idol or Game of Thrones variety.

*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.

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Tonight on CHANNEL ZERO –  a Very Special Father and Child Reunion!

*“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?

Channel Zero: Butcher's Block - Season 2
Manicures in the Peach Summer House are … a bit on the bloody side.