Adaptations: The Horror Visible

 

As horror loving folk we are called many things, not all of them kind, One thing we are never called is optimistic. Yet I say horror-kind are the most optimistic people you will ever meet. We will watch movie after movie, hoping for that one that will surprise you. We read book after book, longing for That Feeling. You know what I’m talking about. That feeling when a book draws you in so much that you forget the time, feel yourself riveted with the characters and pages of monsters, insane asylums, and blood-stained rooms. And, if a book is working, we’re optimistic for the characters. Even when all hope seems extinguished for them and us we hope everything will be all right.

We are never so optimistic as when we hear a favorite book is being turned into a movie. We go to the theatre, pay our money and take our seats in excitement. We’re restless throughout the previews (unless a particularly good looking horror trailer catches our eye) and get absurdly delighted when the movie starts and we can finally see the world we’ve created in our hearts and imaginations be brought to full, glorious life.

  

Unfortunately, what usually follows is the sinking feeling you get when you see beloved characters acting contrary to their book counterparts. You feel a feeling almost akin to disorientation as events play out differently than you remember them and characters have inexplicably changed names and even genders. The sweetest storybook character has been turned into a ravening bitch and a hero is reduced to a petty, squabbling coward.

Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised and, in some rare cases, the movie surpasses the book. Jaws (novel) is terrible. Everyone is unlikable and, for such a short book it spends most of its time on the riveting beach argument. Peter Benchley once said that if he had known how much fear the Great White would instill in people he never would have written the book. Don’t worry, Pete. Trust me, it wasn’t the book that terrified us.

I’m sure there are plenty of good, well, bad, reasons as to how the stories go astray in transition between book and movie. The larger the book the more things are going to be left out in the quest for the run-time sweet spot. Back in the day (i.e. I’m too lazy to do actual research) studios tried to hit that perfect run-time. It had to be long enough to make the story coherent (although that wasn’t necessarily a requirement) but short enough so teens and young adults, the primary horror audience at the time, wouldn’t get restless. Titanic opened the door for longer movies but it took a trilogy of movies to make studios realize that yes, theatre goers do have an attention span longer than that of your average squirrel. And, maybe not so coincidentally, it was the adaptation of Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But we’re here to talk horror. Horror and adaptations have a long and uneasy relationship going back to silent movies and Nosferatu. Dracula is one of the most adapted characters of all time. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is probably the closest to the actual book. Except for the utterly ridiculous addition of Mina Harker falling in love with Dracula. Instead of terrifying we get Gary Oldman being all smoldering. I won’t even mention Keanu’s English accent. At least he tried. The only other literary characters with that level of staying power are Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

                                               

Through the years and various adaptations these three have undergone numerous changes. Dracula in the book is described as having long, dirty nails, hairy palms (and we all know what that means) and stinky breath. The modern Dracula is suave, attractive and sexy. Frankenstein has gone from an erudite Godwinian theorist to a large, shambling brute. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde has been changed the least but even he has undergone nonsensical changes. Jekyll in the book only wants to create Mr. Hyde not to rid himself of evil but so he can go and live it up without his friends being any the wiser. In more modern adaptations his motive is usually “ridding himself of evil” or the purely scientific. Latterly he’s been shown as a Hulk-like figure, morphing from the ‘wimpy’ scientist into a large, monstrous figure.

So what seems to be the problem? The book is there to work from. It’s all written down in detail. The only thing left for the director and scriptwriter need to do is translate it visually. When the bigger, thicker books fail it’s not so  baffling. We kind of expect it. After all, how can you fit into two hours what took two weeks to read? With shorter works of fiction like short stories, novellas and short novels this shouldn’t be a problem. Yet the same things end up happening. Important events are either left out completely or only partially shown leaving the viewer scratching their head. Readers will recognize what’s going on but it leaves the casual movie-goer in the dark. Characters are dropped or changed so much that they’re unrecognizable. Another favorite character trick they like to do is roll three different characters into one. That way they can have important lines delivered but not have to work in three different actors.

I do get that some things are almost impossible to translate from book to screen. Like the above example. Why pay for three different actors when you can just part out the important lines to the other characters. Dialogue that flows well in a book sounds strange or unnatural when said by actual people. Sets or monsters may be impossible to recreate convincingly. Sometimes it seems to be a matter of time and budget constraints. Or, the director who is a genius needs to piggyback off of someone else’s ideas in order to tell the story they want to tell. Instead of, you know, actually creating their own story from scratch.

    

I think most of the reason why book to film adaptations in the horror and fantasy genres are never really satisfying is that nothing can match up to our imaginations. When more “real-life” books are made such as romantic comedies, love stories, war and spy novels (although the reality of love stories is debatable) you don’t have to stretch your imagination very far. They are truer to actual life so the suspension of disbelief is set much lower. Horror and fantasy require a much greater suspension of disbelief. We can accomplish this much more easily in our own minds than trying to see another’s view of the same scene. Which could be a large part of why Stephen King’s dramatic stories work better on-screen than his more supernatural tales. It is much easier to share the same view of Dolores Claiborne as somebody else than it is for several different people to have the same image of the Tommyknockers or The Walking Dude.

With Hollywood clearly running out of original ideas we will probably continue to see a long string of book to film adaptations, game to film, reboots galore and sequels without end, amen. And we’ll be there. Why? Because we can’t stay away. Because we have that hope that this will be the perfect one. Because we’re optimists, masochistic optimists, yet optimists nonetheless.

  

Down below are some adaptations that I consider to be good ones. Keep in mind that these are my opinion only and I know I left off a lot of good Stephen King ones because I wanted a varied list. So let me know down below if there were any you guys particularly like or despise.

 


The Good

Horrors – A Full Year of Horror #37

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

09/16/2017 – 09/22/2017

The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Root of the MatterWilliam Marden

Synopsis:
Diana has long suspected that her dentist is doing unnecessary dental work. The next visit she comes armed with the knowledge that her teeth are just fine. She thinks he’s doing it for the money but she’s wrong. Very wrong.

Review:
Poor dentists. Everyone hates them. Well, not them personally but the drilling and pulling is not fun at all. In fact, if anyone ever told me they enjoy their dental visits I think I’d wonder about their sanity. This story would be better if it weren’t so unbelievable that she would confront him right then and there. It seems such a thin excuse to get to ‘the good stuff’.


Rosa Two-CoinsBillie Sue Mosiman

Synopsis:
Rosa walks the streets of New Orleans, peddling her flowers. some call her a saint. Some call her a demon. She can make your fortune or end your life. It’s up to you. But one thing you do not do is cheat Rosa.

Review:
I really like Billie Sue Mosiman’s short story collections so I was very pleased to see her in here. And this story is just as good as others I’ve read from the same author. I like the tiny touch of mysticism to it.


Rosner’s HatYvonne Navarro

Synopsis:
Rosner and his buddy find a hat in an alleyway. Ros immediately claims it. And something else claims Ros.

Review:
Third week in a row with some killer clothing. I’m going to start keeping track. The only issue with it is that its a little muddled on what the Big Bad is, exactly. If it’s the hat or the alleyway where he found it. Or both. And whether or not the hat takes a piece from each ne’er-do-well that wears it or if it’s just one dominant personality that takes over whoever finds it. And I’m probably really overthinking a two page story.


Rubber-FaceBrian McNaughton

Synopsis:
Richard and Lucien grew up as childhood friends but ever since Richard won Isabel, Lucien has been working his rubber plantation like a madman, trying to shame Richard and take what’s his. But Richard has been learning the magical properties of a certain tree. a tree whose sap was used to create the first man. But magic has a price.

Review:
This one was really nothing special. If anything really stands out it is its ickiness. Not normal ickiness but an ickiness that seems quite a bit equal parts racist and sexist.


Rude AwakeningsTim Waggoner

Synopsis:
Stephen hates when his dreams don’t go away when he opens his eyes. Literally. It’s a bit jarring to be woken up by a giant, ruby-eyed lizard and to have to share the bathroom with a human-headed spider.

Review:
I liked this story. It was cute, whimsical and (in the case of the Leech Woman) a bit gross. I don’t think that I’d like to share a breakfast with her. It did surprise m that they were dreams, however. I thought the apparitions would be the product of a writer’s creativity.


Runaway Don Herron

Synopsis:
When you’re young a bit of destruction and spray paint doesn’t seem like a big deal. Just make sure the occupants of the cemetery approve of your ‘art’.

Review:
I don’t think that I would mess with a graveyard that had a tombstone bearing the name ‘Drkula’. Probably not a good idea.


Rural Legend Nancy Kilpatrick

Synopsis:
There’s a legend about Mother Rainey. But all it really is is an old tree that resembles an old woman. And stories are just stories. Right?

Review:
Ok with a nice legend flair to it. However, the Cthulhu name drop doesn’t make much sense. Neither does the end. If it just looks like a tree causing accidents then how do they explain missing women?


Favorite of the Week:
Hmm. Another tough week. Rosa Two-Coins by Billie Sue Mosiman had a very nice atmosphere of creepiness. While Rude Awakenings by Tim Waggoner was chock full of colorful and interesting characters.


Thanks for reading along with me and join us again next week for more creepy crawlies!

This is Horror, Issue 19: Friend Request, Zombie Cat, and Remake Requests

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Horror post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Horror, Issue 19 is a sampling of Horror News, including book and movie releases, and more. A little bit of everything to make the horror hound in you feel all fuzzy and warm. Or tingle with anticipation. Whatever works for you.

This is Horror’s Quote to Consider:

“Which would be worse, to live as a monster or to die as a good man?”

– Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island

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Horror Movies

Horror Movies Releasing This Week:

 Friend Request Synopsis: A popular college student graciously accepts a social outcast’s online friend request, but soon finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends.

Starring:  Alycia Debnam-CareyWilliam MoseleyConnor Paolo

Watch the trailer on Youtube

 

 

 

 

 

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Coming Soon:

Flatliners

 

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Horror Books

Featured New Horror Release

Book cover for the Haunting of Rookward House

The Haunting of Rookward House – Darcy Coates – September 22nd, 2017

She’s always watching…
When Guy finds the deeds to a house in his mother’s attic, it seems like an incredible stroke of luck. Sure, the building hasn’t been inhabited in forty years and vines strangle the age-stained walls, but Guy is convinced he can fix it up enough to sell. He’d be crazy to turn down free money. Right?

But there’s a reason no one lives in Rookward House, and the dilapidated rooms aren’t as empty as they seem…

A woman tormented the family living in Rookward House forty years before. Now her ghost clings to the building. She’s bitter, obsessive, and jealous… and has no intention of ever letting Guy leave.

Buy on Amazon.

Personal Note: While I can’t say that Darcy Coates is one of my favorite authors, I will say that she consistently delivers a good, mildly creepy, atmospheric read.

Goodreads Horror Giveaways

Book cover for The Zombie Cat Book cover for Death Pacts and Left-Hand Paths Book cover for The Demonologist

 

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Horrorific Trivia

So, has everyone seen IT yet? What did you think? With IT remade (for better or worse) I’m kind of hoping that directors will start setting their sights on other King movies that could stand a remake. Hopefully they never try to remake the good ones like Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, Dolores Claiborne or Misery. For some reason the less supernatural movies fare better than the supernatural or fantasy heavy ones. Here are a few they could redo as the originals suffered from low budgets or the constraints of television censorship.

1. Graveyard Shift: This middling adaptation really isn’t too bad. It’s not too great either, though. In fact, it’s largely forgettable. Based on a short story I think this would work better if shortened into a segment of an anthology-type movie with others from the same anthology – Night Shift.

2. Hearts in Atlantis: This is a back and forth one for me. While I do actually like the movie it isn’t a very good adaptation of that segment of the novel. They seemed to take all of the ‘supernatural’ out of it. However, with all the Dark Tower references, I can see why they did that. With The Dark Tower being an actual movie now people would get the references so they could be put back in with minimal effort. Although looking around it appears they do have a movie coming out of a later portion of the book.

3. Needful Things: I love Max von Sydow as Leland Gaunt. I love Ed Harris as Sheriff Pangborn. The movie, however, is a bit garbled and the message at the end is cringe-worthy at best. It’s not any of their fault for being greedy, no, it was the bad old devil. Ugh.

4. The Tommyknockers: If this book got the big budget (and better actors) it could be a great movie. As it is the effects have not worn well over time and some of the acting is atrocious.

5. The Stand: If there’s a book begging for a three part adaptation The Stand is it. Unlike IT, The Stand does not have a large fan following. And seriously, it would be almost impossible to not be better than the original.

6. The Langoliers: Again, the movie wasn’t bad, exactly. It was just very forgettable. It really, really suffers from being on television and the special effects were marginal back when it first came out and they have not held up over time. The acting is a bit better than most of the other television adaptations but I would like to see a big screen version with some good CGI.

Now, I could go on (and on and on and on) but I won’t. Are there any King movies in particular that you guys would like to see redone? Let me know in the down below!

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Horror on the Web

 

New Tales of the Yellow Sign by Robin Laws #BookReview

Title: New Tales of the Yellow Sign | Author: Robin Laws | Publisher: Robin Laws | Pub. Date: 08/14/2012 | Pages: 172 | ASIN: B008XLOPXG | Genre: Horror/Dark Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: Child death (offscreen) | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Self-Purchased


New Tales of the Yellow Sign

In the dying years of the 19th century, a book changed the world—or worlds. A slim, sinister text called The King in Yellow drove those who read it to madness. Despite suppression by anxious authorities, it spread through global culture, and history itself, like a virus. Now the contagion bears hideous fruit.

New Tales of the Yellow Sign expands the classic horror mythos of weird tales pioneer and Lovecraft precursor Robert W. Chambers into new vistas of unease and imagination. Over the course of eight troubling stories, writer and visionary game designer Robin D. Laws lures you into diseased timelines, impossible pasts, and the all-too-terrifying present.

Sterilize your suicide chamber, harken to the remorseless clicking of your black box, and whistle for the monstrous creature that lives in your basement. The pallid mask awaits.


New Tales of the Yellow Sign

It is interesting to me that some stories that are written based on classics can sometimes be more interesting than the source material itself. This always seems more likely with stories based on The King in Yellow seem to follow this pattern. While the original stories are good (particularly The Yellow Sign) most of the stories based on them are even better.

This wasn’t one that was sent to us but it seems to have an undeservedly low rating count on Goodreads. The stories are varied, interesting and not derivative at all.  They also share a light thread of interconnections that make them interesting.

Full Bleed seems to be based a bit on Repairer of Reputations but with a modern day update. The narrator is chilling in their madness.

Gaps is full of jagged, horrifying memories that seem to be missing after the narrator has been “yellow-rolled” into clicking on a link directing him to the fatal play.

The Blood on the Wall in the Fortress details “The War” that always seems to be ubiquitous throughout Chambers’ stories.

A Boat Full of Popes takes a close look at an alien race, Hasturites, that feed on the self-loathing of humans.

Distressing Notification is an app that gives you news throughout the day. Distressing news that could be likened to depressing fortune cookies but in app form. But the app may be controlled by more than is at first apparent. This is by far my favorite story.

Pendulous describes the drastic (and potentially horrifying) steps a woman takes to make sure a skyscraper never gets built because it blocks the view of the Night Gaunts and grey skies.

A revolution is brewing in The Dog that is being undermined by within by a mole. But Walker has a secret weapon in his basement.

F*** You, You’re Not Getting Out of This Car is, to me, the weakest story in the bunch. It just seems like generic psycho guy horror. I didn’t feel a connection to the other stories or even the source material. Really, if this story had been left off it very well would have been a 5 Skull read for me.


Some readers might shy away from specifically titled books like this. Sometimes they wonder if they’ll even enjoy it if they haven’t read the source material but in this case, it’s not a problem. If you’ve read The King in Yellow stories you might get a little more from it. However, if you haven’t read it, it’s not a problem. The stories are strong, well-written and stand completely on their own.


4 out of 5 Skulls

      

Twilight Zone Tuesday – King Nine Will Not Return

King Nine Will Not Return

Capt. James Embry – Robert Cummings
Blake – Richard Lupino
Narrator – Rod Serling
Psychiatrist – Gene Lyons
Doctor – Paul Lambert
Nurse – Jenna McMahon


Welcome to season two of the Twilight Zone! I’m geekily excited about it because seasons two and three have a lot of great episodes and I can’t wait to share them and talk about them with you guys.


SERLING:
This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine. B-25 medium bomber, 12th Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed. Not to return on this day, or any other day.

Scattered out from the plane is debris and ammo, leading up to a man lying in the desert sand. He shakes himself awake and looks at the wreckage.

As Capt. Embry sweats and rubs his face we get an internal monologue. He remembers the plane getting hit, falling behind and bellying in. He remembers his crew and goes to look in the plane. They don’t seem to be there and he wonders where they have gone. Did they bail out? Did he order them to bail out? No. He didn’t. They all went down in the plane together. He begins to name them. He, himself is Captain James Embry. Blake the co-pilot, Kransky the radio operator and waist gunner, Jimenez, navigator. Connors was the tail gunner and Kline the upper turret gunner. He tries to think if there’s anyone he missed. I feel bad for those guys. With the size of that plane (if it’s accurate) it had to have been cramped as hell in there.

He climbs up on to the top of the plane and hops into the cockpit. On the side the name Pilot Capt. James Embry is stenciled. There’s also a large picture of a ‘King’ playing card, the King of Hearts. There are also three swastikas (representing three enemy planes shot down) and around 28 bombs, representing either 28 bombs dropped or (more likely) 28 successful runs. Embry fiddles with his pilot glasses and his pilot hat for a minute. Amazingly they’re still in the cockpit.

He calls for Blake and Jimenez. Which is a little weird. He;s still in the lane so unless they’re hiding in the instrument panel or under the tiny little seat I don’t think they’re in there, He crawls up into the tiny upper area, calling for the rest of them. Again, it should be pretty clear that they’re not in there. He’d be better off looking outside. He calls a few more times then begins discussing the situation with himself, trying to piece it together.

He repeats that they bellied in and assumes he must have been thrown from the plane and may have been out cold for hours. It strikes him again that the rest of the crew is nowhere to be found. I will say the actor does a fair job with his facial expressions during the voice-overs. He doesn’t overdo them.

He realizes that they didn’t jump out because their chutes are all there. He says that they aren’t dead but if they walked away why didn’t they take him? At the very least I would think that they would have pulled him into the shade. He calls for them all, still inside the plane. Dude! They’re not in there!

As he calls their names a radio statics into life. He listens for a moment but hears nothing but static. He calls a Mayday from the King Nine to Firefly. Presumably base or another bomber in the area. There is no response, though. Just more static. He starts to get up quickly but calms himself. At least he’s being smart and staying in the plane, out of the sun. He tells himself not to go off half-cocked (that sounds painful). There must be reasons. They’re gone, he’s alone but there must be a logical reason behind it, behind everything. He just has to keep cool and think about it rationally. His main thought is for his crew. He’s the leader, it’s his responsibility to keep them safe and alive as far as it is in his power. He’s got to get them out of it. Well, seems like that’s accomplished at least. They are not there, thus, they are out of it. I may be poking fun a bit but I do believe that is the sign of a good leader. The desire to treat those under you well. And if you’re successful, they will do the same for you. Unless they’re out and out asses. Then nothing can help that, unfortunately.

As Embry is thinking his leader thoughts he hears a ‘thump’ that sounds like it came from outside. Embry calls for Blake again and rushes outside only to find the source of the noise is a piece of the plane banging against the outer shell. He wanders about a bit until he finds his pilot cap. Thus equipped he starts to wander again but spots a canteen lying in the sand. Embry picks it up and reads the name on it – Kline.

Embry starts yelling/laughing at/for Kline. I honestly don’t know if he’s pleased or crazy. He tells Kline that he’s a stupid jerk for dropping his canteen. Then he calls Kline a “Bronx Cowboy” and tells him that he’s in the desert, he’s going to need water. I think I’ve decided on that he’s going a wee bit crazy. He goes on to say he still has to babysit them and it’s “strictly not funny” what they’re doing. He collapses on the sand and gives a manly little sniffle.

He goes to take a drink from the canteen but sees something that distracts him enough to where he lets the water pour all down his face. Grrrrr. We get to see what he’s looking at. It’s a guy sitting in the cockpit giving a weird-ass laugh and fully decked out in coat and hat and everything. Embry yells, “Blaaake!” so I’m guessing the guy is Blake. Embry staggers toward the plane. Blake still looks like a laughing bobble-head then disappears. Embry yells at him to come back, he feels responsible.

A little while later Embry is calling MayDay again, trying to contact Firefly. He starts to wonder to himself if this isn’t just some hallucination. He might be lying in the desert with a cracked skull and dying. He goes into a happier train of thought by thinking that this also might be a dream and he’ll wake up back at base. Then he starts wondering if he got insanely drunk and is maybe in actuality sitting in a bar with a pretty girl. Unless he drank absinthe I think I’ll dismiss this last theory.

He gets a bit giddy but sobers up quickly. He tells himself that he saw Blake sitting there and that was no hallucination. Hmm. In theory, if he is hallucinating, why wouldn’t the disappearing guy also be a hallucination. He says he saw Blake siting there and no one can tell him different. Well, that is true. Since no one is there then nobody can absolutely say  that he didn’t see Blake. He grabs his pilot glasses because now he’s in charge, dammit!

Which he proves by ambling over to a grassy knoll and yelling at his crew that isn’t there. He keeps saying that he’s responsible and they’re being jerks by being missing. As he plays King of the Mountain by himself he hears a soft clanking noise coming from another grassy knoll. There’s nothing there but a cross with Kline’s name on it. It looks cobbled together and says he died of injuries sustained in the crash. Above, Embry hears a noise and looks up to see modern jets fly overhead. He tells himself that they’re jets but then he’s confused. It’s 1943, how does he know what jets are?

He thinks that there’s no way of knowing but he does. He knows all about jet aircraft. Embry yells at the planes. Asking where are they going? What are they even doing there? He runs back to the plane asking Blake and Connors if they know aboutjet airplanes. I actually think he’s lost it now. He’s talking to them like they’re there. Embry tells the that they’ve got to get out of there but they can’t walk out. Nossir, no way they’re doing that. They’ll have to fly. Okey dokey, Embry. Good luck with that. He tries doing something with the front of the plane. I’m not sure if he’s trying to spin the prop or lift it. Either way, it’s not working. Then Embry starts to laugh hysterically at it and calls the plane an illusion.

He goes back and forth between hysterics and seriousness for a while. He thinks he’s either dead or knocked out somewhere. Or he’s back ina ward somewhere on base. Or he doesn’t exist either. Well, I will say this for him. he certainly covers every possible theory. He tells his crew to break silence, that they can even yell at him. Or (and this would be freaking creepy) they can “all spring out of the sand like jumping jacks and stand there laughing at him.” Oh. Kay. I think Capt. Embry has left the building.

He calls Kline’s name and sees his crew, standing there and laughing at him. Then they disappear. Jerks. Embry falls on his knees, begging to know what’s going on. Now I almost feel bad for making fun of him. Almost.

Anyways, we get a close up of his hand digging at the sand, which fades to a hand, clutching sheets. A medical doctor is telling a psychiatrist that the guy in the bed is James Embry, aged 41. He was walking by a newsstand and went into shock. They have a look-see at the headline that sent him almost catatonic. The headline reads “World War II Bomber Found Intact in Desert: B-25 Mitchell Lies 17 Years in Desert, No Clue as to the Fate of the Crew”. They give a rundown of Embry’s military record. Which is what it said earlier but also adds that there was some indication of psychological problems but that he was discharged before they could figure it out. Well, nice of them to follow up on the vet with psychological issues.

the psychiatrist says that the plane found was Embry’s plane. wait, didn’t the headline say that there was no clue as to the fate of the crew? The medical doc agrees that it was Embry’s plae and Embry’s crew. It took off for what was suposed to be a routine flight. Oh, ok. Embry had called in sick that day and someone else flew the mission for him. so, following this I’m guessing that not knowing the fate of his crew was slowly driving Embry nuts. Which, to tell the truth, it would drive me crazy, too.

Embry wakes up and the doctor tells him where he is and that he’ll be ok. Embry is perfectly calm now and says he had a crazy dream. Embry says he went back to the desert. The doctor tries to stop him but the psychiatrist wants to hear about the dream. Embry tells them all about it. He says that it’s his fault, he should have been on the plane. He says he chickened out. The psychiatrist tells him that there’s no way that Embry could have known what would happen. The psychiatrist reassures Embry that now that it’s out in the open and not bottled up inside anymore. Embry says a crazy part of his dream was that he saw jets. This seems to bother the psychiatrist but if it was a dream I’m not sure why. Embry says it was crazy. 1943 in the African desert and there wee jets. Just as if he had gone back there today. Embry wants to know if that could be. Did he really go back? The psychiatrist assures him that if Embry went back it was only in his mind. The psychiatrist tells the doctor that Embry will be all right now. As they talk the nurse brings over Embry’s clothing. Tthe doctor tells her to just set them on the desk. As she does, Embry’s shoes tip over, spilling sand out of them. She calls their attention to it wondering what it could be. I know it’s supposed to call our attention to the sand but…really?! You don’t know what freaking sand looks like woman?! The psychiatrist comes over to grab a handful and let it run through his hand, which fades into an image of the sand falling on the nose of a plane. I will grant you that it’s a pretty cool shot and quite pretty but…but…but it came out of a guy’s shoe! And, if it did really happen, a sweaty shoe!

SERLING:
Enigma buried in the sand. A question mark with broken wings that lies in silent grace as a marker in a desert shrine. Odd how the real consorts with the shadows, how the present fuses with the past. How does it happen? The question is on file in the silent desert. And the answer? The answer is waiting for us in the Twilight Zone.


Even though I poked a bit of fun at the episode I do really like it. I like the sand kicked in the face of the overly smug psychiatrist. And it’s a good exploration of the survivor’s guilt people can suffer. Sometimes without even consciously realizing it. There’s also the throwaway line about Embry being discharged from the service with no follow-up, even though they suspected psychiatric issues.


Thanks for joining us this week and come back next week for another episode of Twilight Zone: The Man in the Bottle

The Lords of Salem (#Horror)

 The Lords of Salem Synopsis: Heidi, a radio DJ, is sent a box containing a record – a “gift from the Lords”. The sounds within the grooves trigger flashbacks of her town’s violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?

Tagline: The Lords Are Coming

Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Meg Foster

 

Soundtrack Available: Amazon

 

 

 

The Lords of Salem Review

Ah, Rob Zombie. How up and down our relationship has been. Well, one-sided relationship. I love your music. I haven’t heard the latest one but holy hell, What a title. Movies however, have been up and down. I loved ‘House of 1000 Corpses‘. I wasn’t too crazy about the sequel, ‘The Devil’s Rejects‘. Apparently I’m in the minority on that one. I’ll give you some leeway with the Halloween remake and it’s sequel as I know you didn’t have full artistic control. Which brings me to The Lords of Salem.

Again, I believe I’m slightly in the minority on this one, I loved it. I think people do Sheri Moon Zombie a disservice. I hear the usual snarky stuff about how she wouldn’t be an actress if it weren’t for her husband. And people love to point to the fact that she’s not been in any other movies. I haven’t heard from her one way or the other but it’s possible she doesn’t want to do any others. I would love to see her in something else, though, because I think she would surprise a lot of people. Her roles have been varied throughout the Zombie movies she’s been in and she performs each one admirably. She’s scary as the psychotic ‘Baby’ in House of 1000 Corpses. I loved her interview question. They asked if she enjoyed the stabby part of it. Her answer? “No! And I don’t think I’d want to meet anyone who would!”. In Halloween she wavers between a sympathetic mom and a mom you kind of want to yell at. I have yet to see 31.

In Lords of Salem, however, she’s someone you desperately want to root for. You can see her playfulness in the DJ scenes and her attempt to make it through her addiction problem. But you also get a sense of impending dread and doom hanging over her as the Forces That Be Evil coalesce around her. And, since it’s a Zombie movie, you can pretty much tell that things will not end well for poor Heidi.

The pace keeps along quite well. There are maybe one or two laggy parts but even they move along at a decent clip. Zombie has a flair for imagery. Some of the best parts might as well be still shots because they’re clips that are just so visual they don’t seem to be a part of a motion picture. Zombie also always has a (not too surprising considering his background) knack for joining the music well with the movie scenes. And, to give him credit, although he usually does write a song for his movies, they are never prominently displayed throughout, They are typically reserved for the credit roll.

Watching Zombie’s movies you can tell that he has a great love for the classic horror movies. His former band used to be called White Zombie after the 1932 Bela Lugosi zombie flick. The Lords of Salem definitely has overtones of the Christopher Lee movie – City of the Dead (Horror Hotel is it’s alternate title). And he can’t say he hasn’t seen it. In the intro to Dragula there’s a direct quote from Christopher Lee from the movie.

I know, I know. You didn’t come here to listen to me ramble about the music. You want to hear about the movie. The only reason I’ve gone so in-depth is because it’s rather hard to separate the two. Especially since a bit of the movie revolves around a radio station.

Heidi is very likable and really the only fault I can find in the character itself was the choice to make her an ex-junkie. It seemed kind of unnecessary to the plot as it didn’t add much to it. Her interactions with the other characters are great, particularly the chemistry between her and Herman Jackson (Ken Foree). Her chemistry with Bruce Davison is great, too and it’s a shame there’s so little of it in the movie. In fact, the only chemistry that I found lacking was that between her and Herman ‘Whitey’ Salvador (Jeff Daniel Phillips). He seemed to be a love interest, at least in the past and seemed to want to pick it up again. Heidi’s feelings seem to be a bit more ambiguous until the end. But they never seemed to click for me. I honestly couldn’t see why she liked him. And he seemed rather ambivalent throughout. Some of my favorite scenes are the three DJ’s in the radio station. They seem to be having so much fun together.

One of the main complaints I’ve heard was that Zombie didn’t use the town of Salem to full effect. I think it showed a bit grungier side that tourists overlook and the Chamber of Commerce is very happy to not have thrust to the forefront. I think it works well. It seems to me to subvert it’s current reputation for being of the benign Wiccans and Neo-Pagans. The grungy side is where you would find the true evil of The Lords lurking.

To me, the movie and it’s scenes flow together smoothly. Which might sound strange as it can be choppy at times. But the choppiness comes in only when Heidi is slowly falling under the spell of The Lords and reality is getting harder and harder to hang onto. There are also two scenes which one of them I found unnecessary

SPOILER! SPOILER!
and the other slightly giggle-inducing.

For all it’s weirdness I couldn’t help but be drawn in. And the end scene? It’s Zombie using his visual imagery at it’s best. And the music that plays through is perfect (All Tomorrow’s Parties’ by The Velvet Underground). The wrap-up reminds me strongly of the ending of Night of the Living Dead but in the light of an homage, not a rip-off.

I would certainly recommend it but it seems to be a love it or hate it type of movie so be warned. There are also two scenes that may be intense. The following is hidden for spoilers but they could also be triggering for some viewers so please take a look. Without the context they’re only light spoilers 

SPOILER! SPOILER!

It’s not a subtle movie. But when has Rob Zombie ever been accused of being subtle?


3 out of 5 Skulls

    

 

September through October Horror Reading Challenge 2017

Here we are at the next Horror Reading Challenge check-in! Hopefully this has been a productive summer for everyone. If not, Halloween is just around the corner and what better excuse to read horror than in preparation for the awesomest time of the year?

Even if you are a bit behind, don’t give up! Sometimes annoying reality intrudes and we don’t always have the time we could wish for to read as much as we’d like. So, how is everyone doing?

These are our tallies for the month and our yearly count. Please let us know how you guys are doing. If you need any suggestions just give Lilyn @scifiandscary or I @areyouscaredyet on Twitter. Between the two of us we cover quite a wide variety of horror so I’ sure we’d have something you’ll enjoy. Or drop us a comment down below!


How are you doing so far this year?

 

 

 Nervous Neophytes: You signed up to read up to 7 books

 

 

 

 

 

  Intrepid Initiates: You signed up to read 8 – 15 books 

 

 

 

 

 

  Omniscient Oracles: You’ve signed up to read 20 – 25 books

 

 

 

 

 





IF the link for some reason doesn’t work, just comment below! And remember, this is good for both September and October, so keep coming back! You don’t have to wait and list them all at once.

Horrors – A Full Year of Horror #36

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

09/09/2017 – 09/15/2017

 

The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

Counting down the days to Halloween? I know I am! So why not relax with some good old creepy stories while we’re passing the time?

 

 

 

 


Revival Meeting at the Breakfast BarGary Jones

Synopsis:
It’s been so long since the poor old woman has had anything to eat. Seeing a church-sponsored breakfast buffet she sits down with some very nice young men. When she leaves she’s not hungry anymore and the nice old men at the table are done with their breakfast. And so is she.

Review:
I really liked the subtlety of this story. It happens so gradually that at first you don’t even realize what’s going on.


The Riddle of the SphinxBrian Stableford

Synopsis:
A homeless man has struck it rich, won the lottery! But he doesn’t know exactly what to do with himself now. Or, maybe he’s been planning for some time.

Review:
I really liked this story. It certainly took a turn for the bizarre that I wasn’t expecting. I do have one question though. It makes me wonder if he’s going to stay married to his mother.


Road StoryBenjamin Adams

Synopsis:
A couple are on a road trip and caught in a storm. Mona is worried about a serial killer and an impending storm. As the storm gets more fierce they take an ‘Exit’ ramp to wait it out. The state trooper who pulls up behind them just wants to help.

Review:
Ok. I’m going to ruin this one. Skip ahead to the next one if you don’t want to see. I liked the twist of Harry being the serial killer but I cannot buy him taking down the trooper. The trooper is already suspicious, sees that Mona is dead but yet an unarmed Harry is able to take down an armed cop. Ok, enough grousing, on to the next one.


The RobePhyllis Eisenstein

Synopsis:
Alison buys a robe at a secondhand store, the cashier whispers to her that someone was murdered in it. Strangled to death. It doesn’t bother Alison at all and the robe quickly becomes her favorite. But the robe has ways of keeping itself nice and clean.

Review:
More killer clothing. It seems to be a small sub-genre but a popular one. Probably because clothing is your most intimate possession.


Romance for Violin and Knife, Op. 1Trey R. Barker

Synopsis:
Carmine wants to be a world famous violinist but he just doesn’t have it in him. But Ana does.

Review:
This is an old theme but one I love. It’s creepy but true. I love stories of instruments made from people. For a good movie check out The Red Violin. They always seem to be stringed instruments, don’t they?


RomanyJanet Berliner

Synopsis:
J.J. gets his fortune read by ‘Romany’. She sees pain and blood and death. But is it for him or for her?

Review:
A good story if a little stereotypical.


Romeo and Juliet Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Synopsis:
Romeo and Juliet each keep just missing the other until finally, accidentally each tasting virgin blood they become vampires and are finally together forever. Happy ending?

Review:
I loved this story. It was a bit gory but hilarious. I would probably pay to see a short movie done of this story. And, since I’m a persnickety little bookworm, I do have to point out that Romeo and Juliet did spend their wedding night together so I don’t think they’re virgins.


Favorite of the Week:
Romeo and Juliet by Jessica Amanda Salmonson definitely takes the cake. It was hilarious. Romance for Violin and Knife by Trey R. Barker is a close second. I always love stories with a bit of ‘The Twa Sisters’ theme to it.


Join us again next week for more creepy concoctions!

Meat the Family – Erez Bailen (#Horror Screenplay)

Title: Meat the Family (Based  on Meat My Uncle) | Author: Erez Bailen |Screenplay Author: Nick Coronis | Publisher: Lulu.com | Pub. Date: 03/31/2017 | Pages: N/A | ISBN13: 9781387007349 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration


Meat the Family

This Book has the Screenplay Adaptation of Meat My Uncle the Short Story. A wacky adventure and narration of the early life of James Jones and his family. Then there is the actual two part short story called Meat My Uncle by Erez Bailen.

This was a bit of a different format for us to review. I’ve always liked reading screenplays, actually, especially ones written in a story format. I like to see the evolution between what the original screenplay was to how it ended up on-screen.

Meat the Family was a little different in that it’s a screenplay in search of a movie. I do hope it finds one. I think Meat the Family would make an interesting short.

I can’t say that the reading does it much justice but that’s not too much of a detriment, I could still hear the separate voices in my imagination. I think a chorus reading would have done it more justice.

Meat the Family is…different, to say the least. We meet James Jones and his family. His very, very odd family. It’s a very short screenplay/audio reading, around twenty minutes long. so it’s a little hard to say much without giving away just about everything.

I did chuckle at a few spots and I was interested in what in the heck was going on. I do think that in the right hands it would make a good short. It would also need the right attitude of half-serious but also half-playful to fit the tone of the narrative.

Meat the Family, I believe, could be done well. The effects needed would be minimal and with a small cast it could be done cheaply. I hope Meat the Family does, well, ‘meat’ with someone willing to turn it into one. I’d love to see it.


3 out of 5 Skulls

    

Twilight Zone Tuesday – A World of His Own

A World of His Own

Gregory West – Keenan Wynn
Victoria West – Phyllis Kirk
Mary – Mary LaRoche
Narrator/Himself/Host – Rod Serling
Elephant – Modoc


As Rod is talking we pan from the outside of a house, to the inside and then to a man. Mr. Gregory West. Mr. West is sitting and an attractive young lady is mixing him a drink.

SERLING:
The home of Mr. Gregory West, one of America’s most noted playwrights. The office of Mr. Gregory West. Mr. Gregory West. Shy, quiet and, at the moment, very happy. Mary. Warm, affectionate.

Gregory is watching Mary. she tells him he should be working. He playfully complains that she’s nagging him. She tells him that she’s only thinking of posterity but he wants her to think of him instead. She answers back, “Don’t I always?” and he responds that yes, she does. She takes a drink of the martini and he asks if it’s dry enough. She says “We’ll let the master decide” and hands it to him. He says it’s perfect, like always. She asks him if he’s describing himself. He toasts the glass to her and says, “We’ll let the mistress decide”. They cuddle up on the couch.

Outside the window, however, a very elegant woman watches them in astonishment. I’m guessing “mistress” was a little more literal than I thought.

SERLING:
And the final ingredient, Mrs. Gregory West.

Mrs. Gregory West does not look happy. Can’t say I blame her. While they’re snuggling on the couch, Gregory and Mary hear doors open and close. They look a little surprised. Then a woman’s voice calls, “Gregory?” and Gregory drops his glass. Methinks he didn’t expect the Mrs. home so soon. Mary says, “No, not again.” but Gregory replies that he has no choice. Mary asks him if he’s so afraid. Meanwhile, Mrs. West is knocking and asking if he’s working, in a very sweet voice. Gregory goes to his desk and Mary, obviously upset, stares at the fire.

Mrs. West is still knocking. She says she’ll only be a moment. She just wants to come in and…kiss him. I’m guessing with her knuckles. Or palm, since she looks like a lady. Gregory opens the door with a pair of scissors but he puts them in his pocket. So they’re not for Mrs. West. He opens the door for her and starts to say something along the lines of “I wasn’t expecting you back so soon.”

Mrs. West charges into the room and is surprised to find it empty. Gregory looks a bit smug and he asks her if anything’s wrong. He asks why she’s home so early, didn’t she like the movie? She says no, not much. I know some people enjoy it but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever gone to a movie alone. She tries to be nonchalant as she peeks behind the changing screen (why there’s one in a writing studio I have no idea) and patting the curtains down. Gregory tinkers with his Dictaphone. Heh heh.

She notes that he’s dropped a glass. He agrees but doesn’t move to clean it up. She checks under an end table that I highly doubt would hide a kid, let alone a full-grown woman. Then she starts rapping on the wall a bit, checking for a secret room or something. I’ve always wanted to build one of those and put some really freaky stuff inside to scare the hell out of the next owners. Anyways, Gregory wants to know if she’s looking for something. She says no, she’s just checking for dust and seeing if the walls are ok. Gregory tries to sneakily put away his scissors but she catches him. Why he’s even trying to be sneaky about it is beyond me. They’re just scissors. She flat out asks about a secret door and he asks why on earth would he need a secret door. She peeks around the desk where he’s sitting. She looks pretty cute and funny with how casual she’s trying to look.

He asks again if anything is wrong. She says she might be hallucinating things. She says that she was standing outside of the window a bit ago and he’ll never believe what she saw. Or what she thought she saw. This gets his attention and breaks his smugness a bit. He asks what it was. She says that she thought she saw a woman in his arms. They both have a chuckle at this. She goes on to describe the woman who handed him a drink and canoodled with him on the couch. She was a blond with a frumpy shirt and tacky little peasant skirt. As she’s speaking she takes off her gloves and sits by him on the couch. She says that for a hallucination it had a remarkable amount of detail. Then Mrs. West goes on to say that the funniest thing was that a man of his taste could be attracted to a drab and ugly little creature.

While I kind of agree with her on the clothes there’s no way that woman could be described as drab and ugly so she’s clearly trying to get a rise out of him. Which works. He says that she’s not so drab. A-ha! the Mrs. exclaims. She starts (justifiably) leaning over him with righteous indignation. She says she’s been watching him for some time now. And now she wants to know where she is. He says that he can explain and it’s not what she thinks (it never is, is it?).

He asks if she remembers an early play of his called ‘Fury in the Night’ and a character called Phillip Wainwright. She rolls her eyes and says yes. Then she pops up and asks the woman’s name. When he plays dumb she thwacks him with the end of her stole and insists on the name. Gregory says that her name is Mary. She says what a surprise! How common of a name! Gregory has her sit down to listen to him. He says that while doing that play the characters come so alive, so vivid that they take on minds of their own. The playwright might work out things for them to do but the characters are so alive that they refuse to do it. She tells him, more patiently than I probably would be, what the heck this has to do with Mary. He begs her to bear with him to which she shoots back, “I’ve born with you for years.”

He tells her that the character of Phillip Wainwright was the first character he wrote that behaved that way. She tells him to stop trying to change the subject. He says this is the subject. He tells her that one evening, while working on the play, Phillip Wainwright literally walked through his office door. She scoffs a bit at this but he says she’s got to believe him. He tells her that Phillip Wainwright walked in, sat down and was a real flesh and blood man. Victoria starts to walk toward the phone to call for a psychiatric ambulance. He insists that he has seen his creations, spoken to them. Even shaken their hand. That would be quite handy for a playwright or author. Well, maybe not a horror author. I don’t think I’d want Cthulhu bopping in through my front door or The Dunwich Horror smashing it flat. She says yes, and even made love to them, too. He says yes and she slams the phone down on the fingers that are holding the cradle down. He quickly says no, that she knows how he works. He describes the characters, dialogue and stage ideas. If he describes the character well enough they literally came to life. He says he doesn’t even have to describe characters in his plays anymore. Now he can create any character that he likes. Victoria says that he should be put away and starts to head for the door.

He stops her and says that Victoria saw Mary there, correct? She says yes. He asks where she could have gone. Victoria says that’s what she’s trying to find out. Gregory points out that she could not have gone out of the window, she could not have gone out of the door and there are no secret compartments. He says that what he does is describe Mary into the Dictaphone (snicker) and when he wants her gone (which seems slightly icky) he snips off the piece of tape on which she is described, rolls it into a little ball and throws it into the fire. Now we know why Mary was looking so despondent at the fire earlier. Victoria stares at him for a moment then declares she’s going to have him committed. She goes for the door but he beats her there and grabs the key from the door. She wants to know what exactly he’s doing and he says, very nobly, that he’s trying to save their marriage.

Gregory grabs the Dictaphone and says he can describe any animal or character he wants but he’ll describe Mary as he’s described her so often that she’ll be readily available. “I’ll bet”, chimes in his wife. Then demands the key. While he’s describing Mary and waxing rhapsodic about her his wife snatches the key from his pocket and heads for the door. As Victoria opens the study door Gregory is describing Mary’s actions of coming through the front door. Victoria is startled by hearing the doors open and close exactly as he describes. Although, if he’s trying to convince Victoria that it is ‘magic’ I would think it would be better to have her appear right in the room. Mary comes through the door, pleased at seeing Gregory again. Then she looks at Victoria behind the door and Victoria looks back they both give Gregory a goggle eye look that’s pretty funny. Mary graciously says hello to Mrs. West and the looks they each give Gregory are kind of amusing. Mary looks at him like, “Wtf is going on?” and Victoria seems stunned. Whether from Mary’s visit or from Gregory’s boldness at summoning her there I’m not sure.

Gregory smugly twirls his Dictaphone (snicker, I’m sorry, I can’t help it!) and then plucks the key from Victoria’s hand and asks, “Well?” Mary asks why he’s brought here there, now. She’s still standing in the doorway so he invites her in. So, what? She’a a vampire and a Tulpa? Mary enters and tells Mrs. West that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Victoria isn’t buying it, though. She thinks Gregory is trying to drive her crazy. See? It would have been better for Mary to materialize in front of Victoria. She says he wants to have her committed. He protests that he only did it because she was going to have him committed. She says he wants to have her committed so he can hare their property with this…this…and makes a couple of wild gestures at Mary. Mary asks if this is why he called her there, just to show Victoria? She looks pretty bummed and I don’t blame her. I also feel bad for Victoria. Technically (I suppose) cheating with your imagination isn’t technically cheating but if that ‘fantasy’ is turned into a full-blown woman then there’s some ethical gray areas there that are somewhat uncomfortable. To me at least. Plus, Gregory is so damned smug about it that I kind of hope the Mrs. and the Mistress run off together, leaving Gregory to play with his Dictaphone alone.

Gregory asks Mary to try to understand, after all, Victoria is his wife. She says “Not anymore I’m not!” not after the diabolical plot against her to gaslight her. He asks Victoria that she couldn’t possibly believe that he wants Mary (right in front of Mary, ouch). Victoria says yes and heads for the door. Gregory says here we go again and rushes to lock the door. Although I’m not sure when he got the key back. Victoria took it and opened the door and I don’t recall him getting it back. Must have been Plot Magic. He locks the door and Victoria demands to be let out. Gregory goes to his Dictaphone to snip his tape. Mary says, “Again? Why does he do this to her?” I kind of want to hug her. She looks so sad. I’d hug Victoria also but she seems much more self-confident. Greg just keeps saying, “What else can I do?” and she replies that that’s all he ever says.

Gregory is a bit angry at Victoria for making him summon Mary just to make her leave again. Just to prove that he’s telling the truth. Mary begs Greg to not bring her back again, please. It hurts her every time he makes her leave. Poor Mary. Gregory says, blah blah, Victoria is my wife. Then tosses the Mary tape in the fire, where it It poofs into a shower of sparks. Would celluloid do that? I would think it would just melt.

Mary slowly fades from sight. Right in front of Victoria. Victoria is confounded and keeps asking where Mary went and Gregory just keeps saying “I told you”. Gregory says he ‘uncreated’ Mary. Victoria says “Oh, dear” and rubs her eyes. Gregory comes to her and puts his arms around her and says he will never do it again. The first time he did it he did it because he was lonely. He tells Victoria that she’s flawless, impeccable and he felt inferior. Well, goodness knows you can’t talk about that with your wife! As he’s pouring out his excuses, er, feelings, Victoria sneaks the key from his pocket again. He says he didn’t create Mary to hurt Victoria’s feelings. He just wanted someone he felt more comfortable with. and since all we have seen of Mary is that she serves him drinks, calls him Master, and only wants to be by his side then I guess the only kind of woman he feels comfortable with is one whom isn’t above or an equal to him but adores him.

Victoria gives a very insincere “Awww” as Gregory goes on with his woes. He asks if she understands and she says oh yes, in the tone of someone humouring a lunatic. He says he guesses that it’s his own fault…but trails off when he sees Victoria has moved toward the door. He asks what she’s doing and she responds that she’s going for the nearest lawyer and don’t try to stop her. She’s going to have him put away for the rest of his unnatural life. Shetells him that she’s going to live in perfect harmony in this house, away from him and his Dictaphone. “No, Victoria!” “Yes, Victoria” she replies. I rather like Victoria. She’s witty and (for the time, I’m guessing) quite stylish. I do like Mary also, but she brings out sympathy rather than applause.

She stops outside the door and hears him Dick-tating into his recorder that a large, red-eyed elephant is standing in the hall and will not let her pass. why the red eyes? I think an elephant in the hallway would be startling enough. She yells through the door at Gregory to not be ridiculous. But when she turns around there, indeed, is an elephant in her way. It’s black and white film so I can’t tell if it’s eyes are red or not. Victoria is duly shocked and screams.

She whips back into the study and to give the actress credit, it does not appear to be an integrated scene so I give her props for being that close to an elephant in a closed in area. Gregory looks quite pleased with himself. She calms herself quickly and asks Gregory, politely, if he will please remove the elephant from her hallway? He teasingly asks if she will stay and she nods. You hear one last trumpet that is quickly cut off when Gregory snips the tape and chucks it into the fire. Poor Mumbo. Victoria peeks back out to check to see if the elephant is really gone. She sees nothing but an empty hall. Then, oddly, she calls him stark, staring, raving mad. Um, you just saw an elephant in the hall and he’s the crazy one?

I think part of why Gregory rubs me the wrong way (besides the obvious) is he seems so damn smug about it. He tells her with a very creepy smile that she should not say those kinds of things. Then he asks if she’ll stay. She tells him that she’s leaving and turns to go. He threatens her with the elephant again and she stops and says that she’ll stay…for now. She says, though, that the first chance she gets she’ll see that he gets put away. He throws up his hands and says, “I know, There’s nothing else to do then.” He goes to the bookshelf and moves some fake books to reveal a safe. Which is freaking cool. And I must admit that I’m jealous. I’ve always wanted an honest to goodness library, complete with the cool rolling ladder. His isn’t quite that grand, however. She asks how long that’s been there and he says since they were married.

He takes out an envelope with the name ‘Victoria West’ on the front. She asks him what it means. He opens it and pulls out some tape, hinting that Victoria herself is a creation of his. He wants to know whether he should put it back in the safe or throw it on the fire? Which I think he means in a divorce sense but it sounds rather like a death threat. She, of course, does not believe him. I will say that she seems a little thick-headed by now. Even if she could pass off Mary disappearing as a trick how in the heck does she explain the elephant? He tells her to look at herself. Beautiful and regal and could have any man in the world she wanted. Hasn’t she ever wondered what she’s doing with him? She gives a nod. He tells her that she is everything he used to think he wanted in a wife.

Victoria asks if this is another of his tawdry little tricks. He asks why does she think he was upset that she came back early? It wasn’t because of Mary but  because it was the first time Victoria had done so against his will. The very first time. She wants to know if he thinks he’s frightening her. He says no, she’s beyond that, he made her too strong. He says he forgot to add a little human frailty. He says he’ll put the envelope back into the safe. She snatches it from his hand and asks him if he’d like to know what she thinks of his foolishness? Then she flings the envelope into the fire. He freaks out and tries to grab it out. She looks rather pleased with herself. But as she walks away she feels strange and says “Oh, Greg”.  She feels so strange and is now asking him if he means to tell her that he was telling her the truth? Um, yeah? The elephant didn’t convince you? Then she disappears.

Gregory mutters to himself that he warned her, he told her, and rushes to the Dictaphone. He starts to recreate Victoria but changes his mind. Then he decides to leave “well enough alone” and begins creating Mary again. Except that now she is Mrs. Mary West. So, how long before you get tired of Mary and create another woman? As he walks around with the Dictaphone I kind of wish he would trip over the cord.

SERLING:
We hope you enjoyed tonight’s romantic story on the Twilight Zone.

SERLING:
At the same time we want you to realize that it was, of course, purely fictional. In real life such nonsense could never…

Gregory: Rod!

Gregory clucks his tongue and says “You shouldn’t say that. I mean, you shouldn’t say such things as ‘nonsense’ and ‘ridiculous’.”

As he speaks he pulls an envelope from the safe marked ‘Rod Serling’, pulls some tape from it and tosses it on the fire.

SERLING:
Well, that’s the way it goes…

Gregory sits back on the couch to take his martini glass from the new Mrs. Mary West. I can’t help but wonder if anyone has cleaned up the broken glass yet.

SERLING:
Leaving Mr. Gregory West, still shy, quiet, very happy and, apparently in complete control of the Twilight Zone.


This is a somewhat different Twilight Zone. Very meta for it’s time and Serling actually looks happy and relaxed. I can’t help but think if this was Rod thumbing his nose a bit at the studios since I’m sure they wished they could get rid of him just as easily. It also has a weird vibe to it. Slightly comedic and slightly off-putting. One more thing that makes it stand out. Mostly the hapless people that get caught up in the Twilight Zone have no choice in the matter. They are stuck there until either failure or rescue. Not Gregory, apparently.


So ends Season One of The Twilight Zone. Stay tuned next week for Season Two’s first episode: King Nine Will Not Return

I’m quite excited to be moving on to season two as seasons two, three and four have some of the best episodes ever aired on television.