Wednesday, October 18, 2017

TERROR TEE-VEE: A Countdown to Halloween (Day 18)







 THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Taking Charles Addams’ morbid sense of humor where America wasn't quite ready for it—in the living room and loud enough for all ears to hear and eyes to see was The Addams Family.

The show aired for two seasons on ABC from September 18th of 1964 until April 8, 1966, for 64 episodes.  Vic Mizzy wrote the very recognizable theme for the show.

Very wealthy, endlessly enthusiastic and madly in love with his wife is Gomez Addams, played by John Astin.  Morticia, played by Carolyn Jones, is a very worldly, warm vamp in all skin tight black and long black hair.  Wednesday (Lisa Loring) and Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) are their morbidly rambunctious children.  Jackie Coogan’s Uncle Fester and Blossom Rock was Grandma—each also kooky residents of the gloomy mansion at 0001 Cemetery Lane.  The very large and sedate Lurch, played superbly by Ted Cassidy, was their butler.  And then the real weirdos show up in a disembodied hand known as Thing and Cousin Itt, a walking hairball round out the cast.

Like The Munsters, the humor for this series comes from the clash of their personal culture with that of the  rest of the world.  Despite their ghoulish appearance and dark view on the world, they are nice people.

My Top 6 Choice Episodes
are as follows…


“The Addams Family Tree”
Season 1, Episode 5




“Halloween with the Addams Family”
Season 1, Episode 7




“Lurch Learns to Dance”
Season 1, Episode 13




“Amnesia in the Addams Family”
Season 1, Episode 22




“Lurch, the Teenage Idol”
Season 1, Episode 33




“Halloween—Addams Style”
Season 2, Episode 7




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

TERROR TEE-VEE: A Countdown to Halloween (Day 17)







PENNY DREADFUL



One part League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, one part Exorcist.  Penny Dreadful brings together many of the pulp standards to face a great and evil threat to the entire world.  There’s the great white hunter and his man friday, there’s the sharp-shooter with a secret, an ambitious young doctor out to beat death, a hideous creature of great feeling and dread and, finally, there is a woman who is the most cursed of them all.

Yes, it’s Frankenstein, his monster and the bride, Dracula, Dorian Gray, Jekyll and Hyde, the Wolf-Man, and there were even hints at The Mummy to come… all rolled into one series.





These are all characters haunted by their pasts, by either the things they have done or by the things they’ve failed to do.  Redemption and righteousness are clearly motivating factors for these people as they battle vampires, witches and the very antichrist.  The most compelling of these is Eva Green’s Vanessa Ives—a childhood friend of Mina Harker, who has been abducted by a vampire cabal.

It is, however, Ives who becomes the focus of the creatures of the night as they recognize her as the reincarnated mate for their master, the brother of Lucifer—DRACULA.





It is truly Green’s Ives who goes on the heroes journey —in a time when women were so repressed it is her character who must ultimately liberate herself from the destiny man and myth have placed upon her.  It’s an arc any actor would dream of and the power and vulnerability with which Eva Green tackled it were something to behold.




Penny Dreadful was three seasons of macabre resplendence,
well worth seeking out for those who have yet to experience it.

Netflix and Showtime still stream it…
jump in that stream and get religion.

Some of the finest episodes of the series are…


Season 1, Episode 7
“Possession”


Season 2, Episode 7
“Little Scorpion”


Season 3, Episode 9
“The Blessed Dark”


Monday, October 16, 2017

TERROR TEE-VEE: A Countdown to Halloween (Day 16)








AMERICAN HORROR STORY

Though the seasons are very thinly linked, each year this show comes at its horror from a new angle.  Unfortunately for me, most years I come away disappointed in the show about halfway through a season because the situation or a character has taken a turn too many into unbelievability.

Most of the time, it seems the season is too long for the writers of the show and they throw in unnecessary and illogical twists and my tolerance, which is usually fairly low for things like this, goes out the window.

But I do appreciate the effort.  And, each year, I have to agree that they swing for the fences.  Its just that the batting average is a bit low by the end of the season.

Season One’s “Murder House” was probably my favorite, featuring a disfunctional family moving into a refurbished mansion that is haunted by those who have died on the property (and there have been quite a few deaths there).  It was strange, different and had the new show smell and I was up for the experience.


“Asylum”, the second season is set in the mid-60s and features the dark goings on at a sinister mental institution—meaning those running it were as bad, if not worse than the inmates.  And, considering that one of the nuns becomes posessed by a demon—nuff said.  It is an interesting season as, beyond demonic posession, alien abduction plays a heavy role.
                            
                                
“Coven” follows the last surviving witches who are descended from the few who survived the Salem witch trials as they seek safety in an all girls boarding school in New Orleans.  From there, it descends into politics and infighting and witch hunters and Marie Laveau and Delphine LaLaurie.


Set in Jupiter, Florida in the early 1950s “Freak Show” is about a struggling Freak Show and it’s leader Elsa Mars, who wants to find a place for her “monsters” so she can seek her own fame in Hollywood.  As is always the case, there are flashbacks to earlier in the Freak Show’s history.  Of course there’s a murderous clown, a demented rich boy and cruelty from the normals.


“Hotel” is another example of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.  Set in modern times at the haunted Hotel Cortez in Los Angeles, the story features a vampire, a prostitute ghost, a transgender bartender, a policeman hunting a serial killer known as the Ten Commandments Killer.  The history of the hotel leads to it’s founder who built it as a torture chamber.


“Roanoke” is more a meta thing as it features a documentary and dramatizations of supernatural events that occurred a few years earlier. It’s linked to the Roanoke Colony and where they moved, while lead by witch Scathach and Thomasin White.


This year it’s “Cult” and it features a charismatic young man, played by Evan Peters, building an army of underlngs in a very Joker-like fashion pre and post election.  So far, so good—this season.  We’ll see how it goes.


Despite how I’m 50/50 on this show, there are obviously things I like enough to stick around for  and one of them is the rich visuals, the acting, the mainstreaming of the unusual and I’m sure there’s more.

Available on Amazon Prime, Hulu or on Disc,
So here are my
Top Three Episodes
of the series…


“Smoldering Children”
Season 1, Episode 10



“The Name Game”
Season 2, Episode 10



“I am Anne Frank: Part 2”
Season 2, Episode 5