Monday, October 23, 2017

TERROR TEE-VEE: A Countdown to Halloween (Day 21)

Since we've fallen a few days behind on our little countdown, we'll be making up this deficit over the next few days.  No need to panic, people, we've been here before.  Stiff upper lip and all that.  And on with the countdown...


Based on the comic book series of the same name, the show confronts life after the dead rise to consume the living.  Survival Horror, it's called… or what happens after the credits roll in a Romero ghoul picture.

What's interesting to me, as an avid reader of the comic, is how the tv story varies from the original—they were smart enough to alter some of the basics enough that it keeps the interest of those knowledgeable about the plot.  Just the smallest changes can result in big plot differences, some unpredictable. And while it is fairly faithful, it watches like something totally different… and new. So while remaining faithful it stands on its own.

Like a Romero picture, life isn’t cut and dry.  There are politics and pissing contests, it’s more about figuring out who you can trust in a tight spot than just about bashing zombie skulls.  It should be the latter, in a perfect zombie world, it would be, but that’s not the world Romero introduced us to and that’s not the world Kirkman has put his characters in.  Which makes it worth watching, honestly.

And these characters have been given room to breathe.  They stretch and grow and sometimes shrivel up an die.  The world pulls them like taffy as politics and situations change.  They either bend and survive or snap and break in one way or another.  It’s not a pleasant place, this post-apokalypse

Too many guys like this…


And not enough guys like this…

And thats how you keep things interesting, while doing this kind of stuff on the side…

Sunday, October 22, 2017

TERROR TEE-VEE: A Countdown to Halloween (Day 20)


E.T. meets The Thing?  ALIEN crossed with CARRIE? It’s there, the Netflix phenomenon wears its influences on its Members Only-jacketed-sleeve, but it is at its best when it simply puts one in that time and place. No, not it’s ‘80s setting in a small town—its the age of loss of innocence and before adulthood.

There is something magical about the world opening up to a child coming of age.  A wonder about the possibilities to come—how the potential is endless. It’s a naiveté even more sad than the ignorance of childhood. Of course, in the world of Stranger Things, that can get you eaten by a creature from the Upside Down.

Set in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, the nearby Hawkins National Laboratory performs scientific research for the U.S. Department of Energy—secretly experimenting on little kids and other dimensions and who knows what else.  Eleven, a little girl with telekinetic powers and little to say, is one of their experiments.  And she escapes from their facility and into the small town where she meets a small group of boys who are trying to find their friend who went missing.  Strange coincidence, eh?

Joyce Byers wakes to the nightmare of her son disappeared.  She slowly begins to unravel as it becomes clear that, while her son may still exist somewhere—it sure ain’t on the planet we know.  

Meanwhile Jim Hooper, alcoholic police chief, finds he must wake up to the terror that begins to grip his corner of the world.  And he soon musters all the small town power he has to get a grip on this strange new world opening up on top of his own.

It’s not long before all are caught up in trying to find the truth about the Pandora’s Box of crazy that was opened up at Hawkins National Laboratory.

It's not the nostalgia of this series that won me over--it was the genuine performances of the entire cast, the interesting story that seems to be going in a fresh enough direction that it doesn't reek of retread and for all of that I owe thanks to the Duffer Brothers.

Season Two looms just a short while down this October road…looking forward to what dark beast awaits there.

Friday, October 20, 2017

TERROR TEE-VEE: A Countdown to Halloween (Day 19 1/2)

Since we just did a blogisode on the current television show based on his original idea, THE EXORCIST, it felt like a good time to pay respects to the writer/director who brought it to life and perfected it.


Writer William Peter Blatty died in January of this year at age 89. He was born on January 7, 1928, in New York City—the youngest child of Lebanese immigrants.  His mother was deeply religious.

Best known as the author of the massive hit horror novel THE EXORCIST which has been translated into over a dozen languages, the book was a shift in his own career from comedy writing, as he was one of the more well established in Hollywood, having written with Blake Edwards for movies such as “A Shot in the Dark” and “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?”.

For Blatty, the unprecedented success of THE EXORCIST pretty much type-cast him with publishers.  When they were begging him for a sequel, he wrote a memoir about his mother, “I’ll Tell Them I Remember You” which the bookstores were hostile toward.

The idea for THE EXORCIST was planted in 1949, when he was studying at the Jesuit-affiliated Georgetown University and read an account in The Washington Post of an exorcism under the headline “Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil’s Grip”.

Twenty years later, the widely discussed incident, came back to him as the perfect basis for a book about the battle between Good and Evil.

His book LEGION is the true sequel to THE EXORCIST and he adapted it into the film that the studio titled THE EXORCIST III.  Another superb work of theological horror, it is a murder mystery and follows police detective, Lieutenant Kinderman, as he investigates a series of murders with disturbing religious themes.

One thing bothered him about the movie, though.  Many viewers, inculding Warner Bros. president, interpreted the climax of the film as a win for the demon who possessed the 12 year old girl.  That one of the priests was able to goad the demon into taking up residence inside himself instead, and then jumping to his own death was a win for good, not evil.

For years he asked the director, his friend, William Friedkin, to make it more explicit.  And in 2000, he put out a directors cut which portrayed it as such.  He also rewrote a few parts of the book, adding a chapter, for the 40th anniversary edition, which was published in 2011.  He wanted his audience to understand, “That God exists and the universe itself will have a happy ending.”