Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 1.6 “Chapter Six: An Exorcism In Greendale” (dir by Rachel Talalay)

So, I’m just going to start this review out by honestly admitting that the sixth episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina didn’t do as much for me as the previous episodes.

A lot of that, though, is because any show would struggle to follow up an episode as brilliant as Dreams In A Witch House.  The show didn’t do itself any favors by following up that episode, where Sabrina had to battle and trap a viscous demon, with another episode in which Sabrina had to battle and trap a viscous demon.  That similarity alone makes it impossible not to compare the two episodes against each other and, unfortunately, there’s no way to really top what went on in Episode 5.

Episode 6 does start out with an interesting example of psychological manipulation on the part of Ms. Wardwell.  With Sabrina confronting her about both being a witch and spying on her, Wardwell is quick to claim that she once wanted to marry a mortal and that she was an acolyte of Sabrina’s father.  Wardwell claims that she’s only been spying on Sabrina because Edward Spellman requested it.  Since Sabrina is still struggling to work out her feelings towards her deceased parents and their legacy, Wardwell told exactly the right lie to keep Sabrina from completely dismissing her.  However, Wardwell then took it too far by claiming that she had been in love with Edward.  Sabrina tells Wardwell to stay away from her but, by the end of the episode, Wardwell has once again go Sabrina confiding in her.

How does Ms. Wardwell accomplish this?

The answer is right in this episode’s title.  Wardwell helps Sabrina to do something that no witch has ever done before.  Wardwell helps Sabrina to exorcise a demon.

It turns out that Susie’s Uncle Jesse has been possessed by a demon, one who claims to be named Maerceci.  (Write it down on a piece of paper and then stand in front of a mirror.  As Ambrose puts it, demons have got a terrible sense of humor.)  Not only are Roz, Susie, and Harvey being haunted by visions of Uncle Jesse but apparently, the demon is going to possess one of them as soon as it gets finished devouring Jesse.  Despite being told that witches are not allowed to perform exorcisms, Sabrina, Wardwell, Hilda, and eventually Zelda do just that.

(It turns out that, in another case of deus ex Edward, Sabrina’s father just happened to come up with a exorcism ritual for witches, which leads to the question of whether there’s anything that Edward didn’t do before he died.)

The exorcism is a success, though Sabrina soon learns that it takes more than just successfully casting a spell to make people happy.  Even after he’s freed from the demon, Uncle Jesse still dies.  (He’s killed by Wardwell, though Sabrina doesn’t know that.)  Thanks to the demon, Roz fears that she’s losing her eyesight because her faith isn’t strong enough.  Harvey is still scared to death of going into the mines and worries that Sabrina thinks that he’s less of a man as a result.  The demon may be gone but Susie remains traumatized by the demon’s taunts and, by the end of the episode, is declaring, “I won’t be an abomination!”  In the end, that’s the main lesson of an Exorcism in Greendale.  Just because a story ends in with special effects and a temporary victory, that doesn’t erase the pain that came before.

Anyway, this was an okay episode.  It moved forward Sabrina’s relationship with Wardwell so, if nothing else, it served its purpose.  I hate to say it but I probably would have had a better reaction to this episode if the demon had been taunting Hilda, Zelda, and Ambrose as opposed to Sabrina’s friends.  The witches are just more interesting than the mortals.

Case is going to be reviewing the rest of this season so I’m going to wrap up this review by sharing my thoughts on the show as a whole.  As the first season of any show will, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has its flaws.  Overall, though, it’s a good show.  I go back and forth on whether I like Michelle Gomez’s stylized performance as Ms. Wardwell but Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto, and Chance Perdomo are all perfectly cast.  (Kiernan Shipka simply is Sabrina.)  Ross Lynch also deserves a lot of credit for making Harvey into a compelling character.  I’m looking forward to seeing where this show goes in the future.

Oh — and, of course, I absolutely adore Salem!

(photo credit: Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock)

Horror on TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.19 “The Youth Killer” (dir by Don McDougall)

Tonight on Kolchak….

There’s a new dating service in Chicago!  It’s only for the hot, single, and young!  So, why are some of the members turning up dead and suddenly old?  Could it be that the owner of the dating service has a less-than-ethical way of remaining young!?

Carl Kolchak is going to find out!

This episode aired on March 14th, 1975.  It’s not one of the better episodes but, as always, Darren McGavin is a lot of fun in the role of Kolchak.


Scenes That I Love: Sgt. Howie meets Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man

From 1973’s The Wicker Man.

Christopher Lee always cited Lord Summerisle as being his favorite of all the “horror” roles that he played.  Interestingly enough, Lord Summerisle is not a vampire or a mummy or in any way a member of the undead.  He’s just an extremely pragmatic pagan, doing what he has to do preserve his power.

In this scene, Lord Summerisle meets and speaks with Sgt. Howie (Edward Woodward), who is not at all happy with Summerisle’s style of leadership.

4 Shots From 4 Christopher Lee Films: Curse of the Crimson Altar, The Wicker Man, To The Devil A Daughter, End of the World

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we pay tribute to another great British film star with….

4 Shots From 4 Christopher Lee Films

Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968, dir by Vernon Sewell)

The Wicker Man (1973, dir by Robin Hardy)

To The Devil, A Daughter (1976, dir by Peter Sykes)

End of the World (1977, dir by John Hayes)

Friends With Benefits: Demon Wind (1990, directed by Charles Phillip Moore)

Stupid Cory (Eric Larson) has a surprisingly large number of friends and, one weekend, he drags them all out to a burned-out farmhouse.  It used to belong to Cory’s grandparents and Cory hopes to learn why they died.  As soon as they all arrive, a thick fog rolls in and, quicker than you can say Evil Dead, the farmhouse is under siege by monsters that are definitely not Deadites and all of Cory’s friends turn into demons who spits up pancake batter whenever they die.  it turns out that the demons travel on the wind and there’s nothing this demon wind can’t do.

That’s Demon Wind, which is one of the more forgettable straight-to-video horror films to come out of the 90s.  It has a cult following because it was released with one of those 3-D covers that led to a lot of people renting it but the movie itself is a drag with bad acting, bad dialogue, and not enough gore or nudity to really qualify as even a guilty pleasure.  I did like that Cory’s friends were all given one weird personality quirk to help us keep them apart.  There’s a jock with a brainwashed girlfriend and a nerd and two karate guys who dress up like magicians and do magic tricks.  I also liked that even the nerd could get a hot girlfriend.  Though that happens all the time today, that was a bold move for 1990!  When Cory starts to run low on friends, more of them drive up from out of nowhere.  Those are some loyal friends!  Too bad Cory gets everyone killed for no good reason.

Keep an eye out for Lou Diamond Phillips, who was married to the film’s assistant director and who has a cameo as one of the demons.

Halloween Havoc!: THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (Universal-International 1954)

cracked rear viewer

By the early 1950’s, the type of Gothic horrors Universal was famous for had become passe. It was The Atomic Age, and science fiction ruled the roost, with invaders from outer space and giant bugs unleashed by radiation were the new norm. But the studio now called Universal-International had one more ace up its collective sleeve: THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, last of the iconic Universal Monsters!

Scientist Dr. Maia, exploring “the upper reaches of the Amazon” with his native guides, discovers a fossilized hand that may be the evolutionary “missing link”. Taking his finding to the Institudo de Biologia Martima, he teams with ichthyologist David Reed, David’s pretty assistant/fiancé Kay Lawrence, institute chief Dr. Mark Williams, and fellow scientist Dr. Thompson to form an expedition. They charter the steamer The Rita, skippered by Captain Lucas, and head down the river into the Black Lagoon. Maia’s Indian guides…

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I Watched The Jackie Robinson Story

Since I was pretty much indifferent to who won the World Series this year (Congratulations, Boston), I’ve been watching baseball movies instead.  I just finished watching The Jackie Robinson Story.

The Jackie Robinson Story was made in 1950, back when Robinson was still playing second base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The movie not only tells the story of how Jackie Robinson became the first black man to play in the major leagues but it also stars Jackie Robinson as himself!

Starting with Jackie’s childhood in Pasadena, the movie follows Jackie as he attends UCLA, serves a brief stint in the Army, and then plays baseball on an all African-American team (Jackie played for the Kansas City Monarchs but, in the movie, the team is renamed the Black Panthers!) before eventually getting signed to join the Dodgers and integrate major league baseball.  While the movie skips over a lot of Jackie’s early life, it doesn’t gloss over the prejudice that he encountered at every step of the way.  When he wins a scholarship to UCLA, people complain that the college has already recruited too many black athletes.  Even when he’s a star player in the Negro Leagues, he still has to ask permission to enter and use the washroom in a diner.  And when he joins the Dodgers, riots are threatened if he plays anywhere in the South.  During one game, his wife (Ruby Dee) overhears the whites in the stands talking about how “the Lodge” is going to visit Jackie.  Through it all, Jackie Robinson keeps his cool and refuses to give the racists the satisfaction of getting to him.  Jackie answers every bigoted comment with the crack of his bat, leaving no doubt that he belongs in the major leagues.

Jackie Robinson was a great baseball player and a great man.  He wasn’t a great actor and, in this movie, he comes across as being stiff and nervous whenever he has to play any dialogue scenes.  But then he swings a bat or catches a ball and it doesn’t matter that he can’t act.  Jackie Robinson was an amazing player and it’s still exciting to watch footage of him today.

The Jackie Robinson Story is a rousing, feel-good baseball movie and a condemnation of racism and bigotry, in all of its insidious forms.

Jackie Robinson

The Skeletal Covers Of The Pulp Era

Skeleton and skulls are naturally creepy, especially when they’re still moving and talking!  Skulls and bones were a mainstay on the covers of pulp and especially horror related magazines.  For this Halloween, take a trip back into the bony past with a few skeletal covers from the pulp era!

by Norman Saunders

by Rafael De Soto

by Robert Gibson Jones

by Robert Stanley

by Rudolph Belarski

Horror On The Lens: The Twonky (dir by Arch Oboler)

In this 1953 satire, a philosophy professor named Kerry West (Hans Conried) buys a television.  (Remember, this was a time when televisions were still a relatively new phenomena.)  Imagine Kerry’s surprise when he discovers that his television can walk, talk, light his cigarettes, clean the house, and make money materialize out of nowhere!

Sounds great, right?

The only problem is that this TV is not only a bit possessive but it also uses its powers to brainwash people and rob them of their individuality!

Technically, The Twonky is more a comedy than a horror movie.  In fact, it’s really not scary at all.  But it is a lot of fun and it’s interesting to see how a filmmaker in the 50s dealt with television’s growing role in American society.