Friday the 13th: The Series rewatch – Faith Healer

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

Episode thirteen, “Faith Healer,” is… directed by David Cronenberg!

Just in case you don’t believe me.

This time, the evil antique is a white glove, used by a popular TV faith healer, Stewart Fischoff. When he miraculously cures someone, the ailment is transferred to him, which he then can transfer to one of his victims. Micki, Ryan and Jack see the glove on television and quickly put the pieces together. They recruit help, Jack’s old friend Jerry, who is a lifelong debunker of the paranormal and had spent years exposing Fishoff as a fraud.

Glove of non-love.

It turns out Jerry is not interested in helping. He’s come down with a fatal disease (causing black growths all over his skin) and he wants the glove’s healing powers for himself. Armed with a gun, Jerry threatens and eventually shoots his way to a confrontation with Fishoff. Fishoff heals himself of his gunshot wound, only or Jerry to get the glove and reverse-heal the wounds back into Fishoff (this is messed up). Jerry tries to give Jack his fatal disease, but in the final fight, Jack forces Jerry to touch his own face, causing Jerry to die.

Gross.

Back at the store, Jack loses his cool, overwhelmed by his friend’s death and by all the other death and horror he’s seen. He and Micki fight about it, until Ryan reminds them that they’re not alone, they have each other.

When the show is smart: This was Cronenberg’s follow-up to The Fly, which had just debuted at number one at the box office. He’s in classic Cronenbergian body horror mode, all about disease eating people away from the inside, and how desperate and unhinged it makes them.

When the show is cheesy: The episode’s powerful, dramatic ending is undercut with a hokey gag about Ryan having a cold. Yes, it sticks to the episode’s theme, but it’s nonetheless the customary-joke-to-end-the-episode trope that was part of genre TV for far too long.

I love that the store has a wall of creepy masks.

Devilish dialogue: Jack: “I’ve known Jerry all my life. He’s my friend. He just tried to kill me. Wonderful, isn’t it? Wonderful all the things my friends have done for me. There’s Jerry, who tries to get me infected with that damn disease. And then good old Lewis. He takes all the wonderful things that I brought him here and he lets them be cursed by the devil so I have to run around for the rest of my life trying to get them back?”

Trivia tidbits:

– We learn Jack is a former merchant marine, where he collected magic artifacts while traveling the globe. Later episodes will establish that he served during World War II.

– How’d they get Cronenberg? According to Alyse Wax’s excellent book Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series, Cronenberg and executive producer Frank Mancuso were good friends, so it was a no-brainer.

Gross, part 2.

Back in the vault: It’s to no one’s surprise that Cronenberg offers one of the show’s gooiest, slimiest episodes, but he also teases out some great performances, with the regular cast feeling like a real family suffering genuine heartache, and the villains being truly vile.

Next: Monocrhome or go home.

 

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Advertisements
Posted in Friday the 13th | Leave a comment

Friday the 13th: The Series rewatch – Scarecrow

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

Things are going to get bloody in episode twelve, “Scarecrow.”

Micki and Ryan road-trip out to farm country in search of an antique scarecrow. They befriend a local innkeeper, Marge, while discovering that this town has a history of rival families, dying crops, and violent incidents. Ryan also pals around with a local kid, and we learn Ryan’s brother died when they were both children.

Knock, knock.

The scarecrow is of course coming to life and beheading folks, as revenge/sacrifice in exchange for one farm’s crops growing better than others. The scarecrow’s owner is Marge, who shows she doesn’t need a killer scarecrow by revealing herself to be a bona fide knife-wielding maniac. Micki, Ryan, and the little kid almost die in the final confrontation, until the scarecrow turns on its owner, killing Marge.

Scarecrow killah.

When the show is smart: The actual scarecrow is a wonderfully ghoulish creation, perhaps an attempt to draw in the Jason Voorhees fans, but still distinct enough to have a look and even a personality of its own. Also, this episode is a big example of the “too-gory-for-TV” controversy, with bloody severed heads shown on screen.

Crow T. Robot.

When the show is cheesy: For a “scarecrow comes to life and kills you” premise, the plot gets needlessly complicated, with feuding families, troubled kids, and a townwide conspiracy that may or may not involve the local cops. It all starts to get in the way of the killer scarecrow action.

Devilish dialogue: The episode ends on an ominous note, when Micki asks, “You know, there’s one thing still nagging at me. That scarecrow. After it killed all those people, what did it do with the heads?” (The question goes unanswered.)

“I’ll never go hungry again.”

Trivia tidbits:

– Jack is again absent this week. We’re told he’s traveling while in search of the Icarus Feather, another of the series’ untold tales.

– What did happen to the heads? According to Alyse Wax’s excellent book Curious Goods: Behind the Scenes of Friday the 13th: The Series, different folks working on the episode had different ideas as to what happened to the heads, each more disturbing than the next. It appears that none were filmed, though.

Vacation wear.

Back in the vault: An incredibly fun episode, with a memorable monster and some genuine thrills. The script has some clunkier parts to it, but the good far outweighs the bad.

Next: Not quite Brundlefly.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Friday the 13th | Leave a comment

Friday the 13th: The Series rewatch – Tales of the Undead

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

We’re watching Friday the 13th… on Friday the 13th! And episode ten is the comic book episode, “Tales of the Undead,” so the show’s talking my language.

Not bagged and boarded? Shame.

On Ryan’s weekly visit to the comic book store, the local comic book guy (pre-dating the one from The Simpsons by several years) shows off a rare, valuable comic on display, Tales of the Undead #1, the first appearance of Ryan’s favorite superhero Ferrus the Invincible. Some creepy thug then steals the comic, which brings Ferrus to life. Ferrus (an Iron Man type) trashes the store and kills the comic book guy.

Just go ahead and make all your own Simpsons Comic Book Guy quotes without me.

Ryan tracks the comic back to its former owner, Jay Star, the artist who created Ferrus back in the 1940s. He says others took his creation and made millions from it, leaving him with nothing. We then follow Star as he tracks down the thug and tries to take back the comic. The thug transforms into Ferrus, but Star kills Ferrus with a lightbolt-shaped award he owns. Star then proceeds to use Ferrus and take revenge on the rich publishers who screwed him over back in the day.

It’s alive!

Ryan and Micki eventually deduce that Star is Ferrus, finding an unpublished “Death of Ferrus” comic along the way. This informs them that the lightning award is the only thing that can kill Ferrus. Ryan does just that, stabbing Ferrus with the award during the final fight at Star’s home. As Star dies, he asks Ryan, “How does it feel to be the hero?”

When the show is smart: Star’s real name is Jacob Starinksi, a reference to comic book artist Jack Kirby, who was born Jacob Kurtzberg. The episode references all the old-school comic creators whose work was taken from them by publishers.

When the show is cheesy: The gimmick is that transformation scenes are depicted via a series of comic book panels on screen. One could argue that the artwork isn’t the best.  Similarly, I go back and forth on whether the Ferrus robot costume is cool or goofy.

Graphic novel.

Devilish dialogue: Ryan: “When you’re a kid, the whole world doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I mean, you’re either too little or too young. You’re not treated as a human. Everybody can kick you around any way they want to. But then you pick up a comic book, and they got these heroes in there that nobody can kick around. They can just do anything, you know? So you buy a comic, you read it, and you’re the hero.”

Trivia tidbits:

– Jack doesn’t appear in this episode. We’re told he’s in Singapore, but we’re not told why. Was he in search of yet another antique from the store?

Ferrus the not-so-invincible.

Back in the vault: A fun episode, more an old-timey monster movie than it is a slasher. All the comic book takes for some great novelty as well. Remember that in 1987, it was extremely rare to have superheroes/comics on screen, so we had to take what we got.

Next: If I only had a brain.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Friday the 13th | Leave a comment

Friday the 13: The Series rewatch – The Root of All Evil

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

In episode nine, “The Root of All Evil,” our heroes face not just a killer, but a personal crisis as well.

Micki, Ryan, and Jack are in search of a 50-year-old garden mulcher which a lowly gardener is using to kill the rich folk he works for. The mulcher turns people into money — the more you’re worth, the more $100 bills the mulcher produces as it chews you up. That’s not the only crisis happening, though. Micki’s fiancée Lloyd is coming for a visit, concerned about what she’s up to and the real reason she’s postponed their wedding.

Happy to see you.

While our heroes investigate, the gardener keeps killing his way up the social ladder, “making” more and more money. (Heh, “making” money.) Micki takes Lloyd down the vault and tells him everything — Uncle Lewis, the cursed antiques, the Devil, all of it. He doesn’t believe her at first, but eventually comes around. Micki decides to leave the store and go back home with Lloyd.

Engaged to be engaged.

While searching for the mulcher, Ryan is knocked out and the evil gardener abducts him. When Micki shows up to say one last goodbye, she learns Ryan is in danger and helps Jack search for him, much to Lloyd’s frustration. During the final confrontation, the gardener is the one who ends up in the mulcher. Instead of money, all the mulcher produces is good old-fashioned blood. “I guess he wasn’t even worth a dollar,” Jack says. Micki and Lloyd decide to call it quits, and Ryan hangs a “Welcome Home Micki” banner inside to cheer her up.

When the show is smart: The murders are simple but effectively creepy. We see bodies slowly slide into the mulcher, with the actual human-mulching left to the imagination.

Get mulched.

When the show is cheesy: When we’re reintroduced to Lloyd, he’s sneaking through Micki’s bedroom window at night. Later, he’s found hiding under a counter in the store. He never came back, but if he had, would it have been as an evil stalker type?

Devilish Dialogue: Ryan: “I’m starting to feel like Ryan the Lion, P.I.”

Never show your vault to your boyfriend.

Trivia tidbits:

– When Micki shows Lloyd the vault, she points out cursed antiques whose stories the audience doesn’t get, including a statue that turns people blind and a lamp that burns down houses. The killer doll from the first episode is down there, too, and at one point it spring to life and looks at Micki.

– The evil gardener is played by Enrico Colatoni, a TV veteran best known for playing the dad on Veronica Mars.

Veronica Mars never had to fight demonic antiques. (That I know of.)

Back in the vault: It’s not often the show gives us a look at the characters’ lives outside of the store, so all this character development for Micki is great, showing us just how far she’s come in just a few episodes. The “evil gardener” business is just gravy. Bloody, bloody gravy.

Next: No groaning in my store.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Friday the 13th | Leave a comment

Friday the 13th: The Series rewatch – Shadow Boxer

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

In episode eight, “Shadow Boxer,” one of our heroes goes to dark extremes to save the day.

Put up your shadow dukes.

A wannabe boxer gets a hold of cursed antique boxing gloves, which give him superhuman strength and speed in the boxing ring. In exchange, a shadowy figure — yes, a literal “shadow boxer” — appears elsewhere in the city and beats a random person to death. Micki, Ryan, and Jack investigate, easily deducing that Dunn, this disgruntled jerk boxer, is the culprit. The shadow attacks Micki while Dunn stops Ryan and Jack from stealing the gloves. Micki discovers her camera’s flash can hurt the shadow, so our heroes use a floodlight and car headlights to fade the shadow out of existence, allowing them to steal the gloves.

Shine a light.

Most episode of this show would end at this point, but not this one. Dunn shows up that night at the antique store, holding Micki at knifepoint, demanding the gloves back. Ryan does this unthinkable and actually puts on the gloves himself. He immediately becomes EVIL RYAN, beating the crap out of Jack while the shadow beats up Dunn. Micki calms him down and takes off the gloves. The closing scene has Dunn’s death ruled an accident, and a bruised and beaten Jack forgiving Ryan.

When the show is smart: The idea here is that to show if our heroes ever use the cursed antiques themselves, they’ll become just as murderous as the villains. You could argue that they go overboard by having Ryan go super-evil the second he wears the gloves, but the point is made nonetheless.

When good guys go bad.

When the show is cheesy: I get that the prop department wants to make the antiques look creepy, but putting the words “killer” on the gloves might be a bit much.

Devilish dialogue: Jack: What she’s talking about is justice, and what you’re talking about is law. The second-oldest problem, Ryan. When your ideals outstrip your realities.” Ryan: “What’s the oldest?”

Trivia tidbits:

– Add lockpicking to Jack’s skills in this episode. He says he learned lockpicking from an old friend who is now in prison.

– Ryan says he traded his copy of Green Lantern #3 at the photo place in exchange for the photo guy developing Micki’s pics of the shadow boxer overnight. Green Lantern #3 (first volume) was published in 1942, and had the Alan Scott Green Lantern fighting Nazis, and meeting both Adolph Hitler and Winston Churchill.

Back in the vault: I’d always thought of this one as inconsequential, but I really enjoyed it upon this rewatch. The fight with the shadow boxer is fun monster movie stuff, and it’s impressive how dark the show is willing to go during the finale. Great stuff.

Next: Ever seen Fargo?

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Friday the 13th | Leave a comment

Friday the 13th: The Series rewatch – Doctor Jack

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

In episode seven, we’re going back to the franchise’s slasher movie roots, with “Doctor Jack.”

Someone is killing people in the city streets with a scalpel that can cut through brick and steel as well as it slices people. Micki, Ryan and Jack track the scalpel to Dr. Howlett, a renowned surgeon, who can miraculously save lives on the operating table. The more people he kills in back alleys, the more skilled he becomes as a surgeon. Also, the scalpel is rumored to have once been owned by Jack the Ripper, so there’s that.

The doctor will see you now.

Micki, Ryan and Jack not-very-convincingly pose as hospital staff in an attempt to snatch the scalpel back. After chasing Howlett through the tunnels beneath the hospital (hospitals in movies and TV always have these spooky tunnels), Jack ends up seriously injured, and only Howlett’s skill can save him. Howlett saves Jack to make himself look good, promising to “take care of” Jack later. It ends with another mad chase through those tunnels, with Howlett cutting through doors to get at Micki and Ryan. Micki flat-out kills Howlett by electrocuting him, forcing him to fall on his own scalpel.

I’m hugely distracted, trying to figure out what that graffiti in the background is saying.

When the show is smart: For those of you who miss Jason Voorhees, this episode is all slasher movie goodness. The scalpel being able to cut through anything makes for a fun complication, as the show comes up with creative ways for the killer to use the environment against his victims.

Just like Qui-Gon Jinn.

When the show is cheesy: A subplot has to do with Howlett’s surgery prowess getting good press for the hospital, leading to a bunch of reporters observing the surgery in progress. Not only do a doubt a hospital would do this, but the reporters don’t have cameras or notebooks, they’re just sitting there watching.

Operating theater.

Devilish dialogue: Ryan: “Me and my folks, we never got along. They always treated me like I had a screw loose. They never let me do anything important. Jack, he was the first one to act like I had something on the ball.”

Trivia tidbits:

– Did the real Jack the Ripper use a scalpel? As with any JTR question, the answer is “maybe.” Most sources, though, stick with the belief that the Ripper’s murder weapon was likely a knife with a six-to-eight-inch blade.

Not quite Whitechapel.

Back in the vault: A really fun episode, combining a memorable villain, a moral dilemma for our heroes, and some over-the-top B-horror cheese.

Next: Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Friday the 13th | Leave a comment

Friday the 13th: The Series rewatch – The Great Montarro

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

Episode six takes us deep into the world stage magic, with some actual demonic magic thrown in, for “The Great Montarro.”

Peek.

A magician, Fahteem, steps into a coffin, which is impaled with swords, only for him to walk out unscathed. What the audience doesn’t know is that there is an identical coffin backstage where a victim receives the injuries in Fahteem’s place. After the show, an unseen person murders Fahteem and takes both coffins. Micki, Ryan and Jack learn of the death, and read about the coffins in the store’s manifest.

Not quite Vegas.

Jack brings back his old magic act, the Great Mad Marshak, to enter a magicians’ competition in the city, where the coffins have been spotted. From there, the episode is a whodunit, with a cast of kooky magician characters among the suspects. After a few more grisly murders, the killer is revealed to be one magician’s daughter, also his assistant. She locks Micki in one coffin while the magician does his act. Jack and Ryan rescue Micki, the magician dies, and the assistant (presumably) is off to jail for killing him and the others.

Trapped.

When the show is smart: The stage magician theme means we can have murders committed by elaborate death traps, which means the show’s creators get to be more creative than just a killer with a machete.

When the show is cheesy: Being a whodunit, there are some subplots and red herrings that don’t quite make sense. Two of the deaths are only barely related to main story, and I wonder if they only happened because this is a horror show and they’ve got to keep the killings going so people don’t change the channel.

Suspicious.

Devilish dialogue: Micki: “How long did you say it takes for that rope to burn through?” Jack: “Oh, lots of time. Almost a minute.” Micki: “It took you 85 seconds.” Jack: “Well, it’s faster upside down.”

Trivia tidbits:

– The story takes place in and around the Magic Temple, obviously based on LA’s famous Magic Castle. The episode, though, like every episode, was filmed in Vancouver.

– This is one of several episodes featuring unusually large antiques, raising a question as to how they fit inside the vault beneath the antique store. This won’t be dealt with until season three.

The family that escapes straightjackets together, stays together.

Back in the vault: A stand-alone episode that almost all plot and little character. It’s entertaining enough for what it is, but it’s not the show at its best.

Next: Dear Boss…

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Friday the 13th | Leave a comment

Fantastic Friday: Installin’ Stalin

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. The gun-toting alternate timeline action keeps on keepin’ on in issue #344.

After a time travel adventure, our heroes have landed in an alternate timeline, where World War III has just broken out. U.S. President Dan Quayle and Soviet leader Josef Stalin have launched nukes, so the FF have armed themselves with ridiculously oversized cool guns to put an end to the conflict. The first couple of pages are the heroes using their cool guns to shoot down the nuclear missiles. The guns are equipped with EMP blasts, which disarm the nukes, letting them fall to the ground with exploding.

Reed contacts the White House and asks that the FF be given six to solve the crisis themselves. The Russians fire their nukes again, this time aiming for the FF’s plane. Sue turns the entire plane invisible and Ben flies it into Soviet space. The team sneak into Moscow inside a stereotypically Russian potato truck. They break into Soviet headquarters, fight some guards, and make their way into a huge science lab. There, they find Stalin wearing a King Kong-size exoskeleton. He is… the Supreme Soviet!

Stalin has prepared for a fight against the FF, and has weapons to counterattack their powers. Then, Ben reaches into his knapsack and pulls out his Thing-shaped exoskeleton. (We’re told he used Tony Stark’s shrinking tech to bring it along. Does that mean in this timeline Tony is Ant-Man instead of Iron Man?) Now with two Things on the team, our heroes knock Stalin off balance, and Reeds shoots him with an EMP from one of the cool guns. Reed then reveals that it’s not just an exoskeleton, but Stalin himself is a robot!

Reed then pulls a fast one on the Russians, reprogramming the Stalin robot to be a good guy. “Stalin” reorganizes the government so that he and his inner circle are no longer in charge, turning Russian rule over to Gorbachev, who just happens to be there.

The FF return to headquarters, where we’re told that this timeline’s FF is still on their time travel adventure from the previous few issues. We’re also told that Reed made adjustments to the time sled that brought them there, so getting home won’t be a problem this time. This timeline’s Alicia gives Ben a kiss goodbye, to say thanks for saving the world. Sharon doesn’t like seeing this, and is overcome with jealousy. The FF leave just in time for the alt-timeline FF to get home. There, they find that Ben has left behind a file he stole from the Soviets, revealing that President Dan Quayle is also a robot! Surprise twist!

Unstable molecule: Reed is also a hacker in addition to scientist and engineer, because he’s abel to override the White House’s security system and place a phone call directly to the Oval Office.

Fade out: Sue mentions several times that her powers aren’t at their strongest because she’s exhausted. I guess this is to explain why she doesn’t destroy the Supreme Soviet with force fields the second she sees him, but it still feels out of character.

Clobberin’ time: Ben gets to show off his piloting skills, as we’re told he flew all the Moscow 20 feet off the ground to avoid radar. (Is that even possible?)

Flame on: Johnny makes a wisecrack about the New Warriors, whose series had just debuted. The New Warriors had already participated in the Acts of Vengeance crossover, and in their first issue they fought a villain on live TV, so it makes sense that Johnny knows who they are.

Fantastic fifth wheel: While Sharon has been a trusted member of the team for almost 40 issues now, her bout of jealousy in this issue is setting up her upcoming exit from the series.

The Alicia problem: Again, there’s no of knowing whether the alternate timeline Alicia is Lyja the Skrull in disguise. She has a line where she says it’s as if she’s know our timeline’s Ben all her life. Perhaps this is a reference to how Lyja studied the FF thoroughly before infiltrating them.

Commercial break: I love how “Drug Lord” is a proper noun:

Trivia time: So in the alternate timeline, the leaders of both Russia and America are robots in disguise. Who built these robots? And for what purpose? We’ll never know, because, according to the Marvel Wiki, we never return to this timeline.

Fantastic or frightful? So the “Fantastic Four use guns now” controversy ends as soon as it began, as the guns are non-lethal and not used that much. What’s left is a fun, action-packed issue that’s surprisingly apolitical given the subject matter. The message is merely “don’t drop bombs on people.”

Next week: We’re still not done time traveling!

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Fantastic Friday | Leave a comment

Friday the 13th: The Series rewatch – Hellowe’en

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

Episode five is the big Halloween episode, which is of course titled “Hellowe’en.”

Life of the party.

It’s Halloween night, and Micki and Ryan are throwing a party in the antiques store to show the neighbors that it’s under new management. While everyone is having a good time, two party dudes sneak into the basement and mess with a glowing crystal ball in the vault. The power goes out and the whole building starts to shake. The party guests flee, leaving Micki and Ryan alone to confronted by the ghost of their Uncle Lewis.

Lewis gives them a sob story about how he’s suffering in hell. He reveals a hidden room in the store, which was his wife’s bedroom. There, they find the preserved body of Lewis’ dead wife Grace. Lewis says he needs an antique from the vault, the Amulet of Zohar, to be reunited with his wife. Micki and Ryan actually believe him and give him the amulet. This gives him physical form and superhuman strength, allowing him to throw Ryan across the room. Lewis flees the store.

Uncle Lewis don’t need no hockey mask.

Outside the store, Jack encounters a bizarre trick-or-treater, who transforms from a child to a little person, and who uses magic to trap Jack behind some iron bars. Jack uses reverse psychology on some street thug passersby to free him.

The face of evil.

Micki and Ryan pursue Lewis to the nearest morgue. Despite having physical form, Lewis isn’t truly alive, and needs a new body to possess, to truly live again. The trick-or-treater is revealed to be a demon (!) named Greta. With the combined powers of telekinesis and mind control, Greta traps the cousins in coffins and puts them on a conveyor belt headed for the cremator. Jack rescues them just in time. Jack confronts Lewis, attempting a counter-spell to prevent Lewis from completing his possession before dawn (when Halloween ends, apparently). Micki and Ryan distract Greta, who knocks out the electricity before tripping and impaling herself on a scalpel (!). Lewis doesn’t know the clock has stopped, fails to complete his spell before sunrise, and vanishes.

And to think 1980s parents’ groups had problems with this stuff.

Back at the store, Jack says that Grace’s body isn’t really in the hidden room, and that it was all a trick by Lewis. He then reveals that he loved Grace as well, but couldn’t be with her because she married Lewis. Jack finally states that Halloween may be over, but in two weeks it’ll be… Friday the 13th.

When the show is smart: When we last saw Uncle Lewis, he’d had a change of heart and wanted to be good again, only to be sucked into Hell. In this episode he’s pure evil. I suppose we could argue that his experience in Hell has left him with a “whatever it takes” motivation to become human again, even if he does seem to enjoy his own villainy. On the other hand, the inconsistencies don’t matter, because Lewis is an effective baddie because he’s so mysterious.

When the show is cheesy: I’m not clear on how the two party dudes find their way into the vault, which has been shown to be opened by a hidden brick on the wall. Also, there’s no explanation of the weird crystal ball that sets all this in motion, other than some mumbo jumbo about how spirits roam more freely on Halloween night.

Devilish dialogue: Jack insults the street thugs: “I’ve seen your type before. You’re peasants, aren’t you? All mouth and no action, because you’re too small where it counts.”

That hair, though.

Trivia tidbits:

– For costumes, Jack is Merlin and Ryan is a Robin Hood type. Micki is either a witch or a rock star. Or maybe a G.L.O.W. wrestler.

– The hidden bedroom on the store’s first floor is never seen or referenced again. Perhaps the entire room was part of Lewis’ illusion?

– This is the only time in the show’s history that the date “Friday the 13th” is spoken out loud, or even referenced for that matter.

Back in the vault: This episode packs a lot into its hour runtime, with a lot of over-the-top B-horror/monster movie action. Also, the series didn’t do “mythology” episodes often, normally content to stick to killer-of-the-week shows. Establishing Lewis as F13’s baddest bad guy and filling in gaps in our character’s histories just adds to the fun.

Next: Not quite The Prestige.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Friday the 13th | Leave a comment

Friday the 13th: The Series rewatch – Cup of Time

It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.

“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”

In episode four, “Cup of Time,” our heroes are in pursuit of an antique China cup that grants its wearer eternal youth. The cup’s owner gets someone to drink from it. The victim dies and the owner stays young. The owner in this case is up-and-coming rock singer with the unfortunate name of Lady Die, keeping her youthful good looks to keep her hits on the charts. Ryan goes undercover as an entertainment journalist (with his own limo, no less) to get the cup back.

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

What follows is a lot of running around a city park, conveniently located within walking distance from Lady Die’s big music venue, where Lady Die preys on innocent homeless folks. Along the way, a kindly social worker with a crush on Jack gets a hold of the cup, but chickens out before actually killing someone. A rapidly-aging Lady Die gets the cup back, only for Jack to steal it away from her again. Lady Die becomes a creepy old lady before getting the crumbling-to-dust treatment.

She chose… poorly.

When the show is smart: It would have been easy (and inexpensive) for the creators to have the cup kill people by poisoning. The F13 writers, however, take a more creative approach. The cup has an ivy pattern on it, and it kills by bringing the ivy to life and strangling people with it in a stop-motion effects sequence.

Ivy league.

When the show is cheesy: Fans have debated over the years where this filmed-in-Vancouver show is supposed to take place. Some think it’s upstate New York, where the characters can go from the city to the suburbs to farm land with relative ease any week. Others believe the takes place on the outskirts of Chicago, because of various Chicago-related T-shirts Ryan sometimes wears. “Cup of Time,” with its concert venue next to a woodland park, doesn’t help the confused geography.

Flirting.

Devilish dialogue: Ryan: “You have a problem with Lady Die?” Micki: “I have no problem with her. It’s deafness I’m concerned with.”

Trivia tidbits:

– Add forgery to Jack’s list of skills, as he’s the one whips up Ryan’s phony press credentials.

– Hilary Shephard, who plays Lady Die, was the singer of the short-lived ‘80s band The American Girls. She allegedly beat out Moon Zappa to get this part. (!)

The face of ROCK.

Back in the vault: A fun episode, but not really the show at its best. It promises cool MTV rock star stuff, but then everyone spends all their time wandering around a park. We’ll get to the good stuff soon, I promise.

Next week: The good stuff.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

cine-high_v3

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment