Confessions of a TV Addict #11: The Small Screen Adventures of Larry Cohen!


cracked rear viewer


I was a Larry Cohen fan before I even knew there was a Larry Cohen! Before IT’S ALIVE! , before  BLACK CAESAR , I was watching the following Cohen Creations on my parents big, bulky TV console:

BRANDED (ABC 1965) – Cohen’s first series as creator debuted as a midseason replacement for Bill Dana’s failed sitcom. THE RIFLEMAN’s Chuck Connors  returned to TV as Jason McCord, a disgraced Cavalry officer court martialed and drummed out of the service after being falsely accused of cowardice. McCord then wanders the West getting involved in a new adventure every week while trying to clear his name. Viewers welcomed Connors back to the small screen, and the half-hour black and white Western was renewed for a full season – this time “in living color”! The show featured a memorable opening theme song by Dominic Frontiere and Alan Arch…

… unfortunately, Jason McCord never did…

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Horror on TV: The Curse of Degrassi (dir by Stefan Brogren)


Can you believe that Halloween and Horrorthon are both nearly over!?  I’ve got tears in my mismatched eyes.

Originally, I was planning on posting the final episode of Kolchak tonight but I miscounted and, to make a long story short, I ran out of episodes of Kolchak before I ran out of days in October!

So, for our final Horror on TV of the 2018 Horrorthon, I’m going to share an old favorite of mine, The Curse of Degrassi!

Originally airing on October 28th, 2008, The Curse of Degrassi features Degrassi’s main mean girl, Holy J Sinclair (Charlotte Arnold), getting possessed by the vengeful spirit of deceased school shooter, Rick Murray (Ephraim Ellis).  Chaos follows!  Fortunately, Spinner (Shane Kippel) is around to save the day.  As any true Degrassi fan can tell you, only Spinner has a chance against the forces of the undead.

Enjoy!

A Blast From The Past: Peter Cushing — A One Way Ticket To Hollywood


I’m not sure if you can be a true fan of horror (especially British horror) without loving Peter Cushing.

The actor played many roles over the course of his long career.  In fact, the first film in which he and Christopher Lee both appeared was not a horror film but instead Laurence Olivier’s 1948 production of Hamlet.  (They both also appeared in 1952’s Moulin Rouge.)  However, Cushing will probably always be best known for his Hammer roles and, of course, his villainous performance in Star Wars.  Peter Cushing was not only the virtuous Prof. Van Helsing but also the far less virtuous Baron Frankenstein.

According to almost every interview that I’ve read, Peter Cushing was a genuinely nice and professional person, one who didn’t personally care for horror films but who never took it personally when he was recognized for appearing in them.  Though they regularly played rivals on screen, he was close friends with Christopher Lee.  I once read an interview with Lee where he said that, decades later, he still hadn’t recovered from Cushing’s death in 1994.

Below, you’ll find a documentary from 1989.  It was called Peter Cushing — A One-Way Ticket To Hollywood.  It’s basically just Peter Cushing talking about his life and career for 49 minutes but it’s a charming little documentary.  Peter Cushing comes across as being very nice and very British.  He discusses not only his horror films but also his work in Star Wars and his performance as Winston Smith in a 1954 production of 1984.

It’s a nice documentary and I offer it up on Halloween as a tribute to one of horror’s gentlemen.

(Thank you to VintageTreats for uploading this!)

Horror On TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.20 “The Sentry” (dir by Seymour Robbie)


Tonight on Kolchak….

There’s something on the loose underneath Chicago!  Could it be a …. killer lizard!?  Kolchak’s on the story!

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and this was the final episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker.  Darren McGavin, of course, would later go on to epitomize the ideal middle American father when he played The Old Man in A Christmas Story.

This finale originally aired on March 28th, 1975.

I hope you have enjoyed this October’s trip down Kolchak Lane!

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)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 1.5 “Chapter Five: Dreams In A Witch House” (dir by Maggie Kelly)


They say you can tell a lot about someone by what they dream about.  I certainly believe that to be true.  (In fact, I’ve got an entire site dedicated to that very concept.)  That’s certainly the argument made in episode 5 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

The plot, simply enough, is that Sabrina has unleashed a sleep demon named Batibat.  Years ago, Sabrina’s father trapped Batibat in a puzzle box.  Unfortunately, it was the same puzzle box that Sabrina had to solve to earn her right to take conjuring classes.  As soon as Batibat gets out, she announces that she has two goals: 1) revenge on the Spellmans and 2) screwing stuff up in the outside world.  Zelda casts a spell to trap Batibat inside the house.  The spell works but then Batibat casts a sleeping spell and soon, Sabrina, Ambrose, Hilda, and Zelda are all having nightmares designed to cause them so much pain and anguish that they’ll reveal how to break the spell.

Ambrose’s nightmare is simple but effective.  The nightmare deals with Ambrose’s inability to leave the house.  The dream starts with him performing an autopsy on a corpse who looks just like him.  Ambrose even eats the corpse’s heart, leading to Hilda asking him what it tastes like.  “Bitter,” is the reply.  The self-cannibalism is interrupted by Father Blackwood announcing that Ambrose’s sentence has been commuted and he can leave the house.  However, before Ambrose can walk through that front door, he’s stabbed by Batibat and finds himself in morgue, being cut open by himself.  Agck!

Hilda’s nightmare is finding herself sewn to her Zelda.  Meanwhile, Zelda, in his nightmare, jealousy kills Hilda and then can’t bring her back to life.  It’s an interesting dynamic.  Hilda’s greatest fear is never escaping from Zelda’s shadow.  (She’s also apparently worried that Principal Hawthorne will ask her out, just to reveal that he absorbed his twin brother in the womb.)  Zelda’s greatest fear is losing Hilda.

(It’s also interesting that Zelda’s dream opened with her mocking the biblical version of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden but then quickly turned into a retelling of the story of Cain and Abel.  Just as with Cain, Zelda’s anger was sparked by her God’s preference for her sibling’s offering.  After Zelda killed Hilda, she even asked, “Am I my sister’s keeper?”)

And then Sabrina — oh my God, poor Sabrina.  I felt bad for her because I’ve had nightmares like the one that she had.  After dreaming that her school has become a combination of Baxter High and the Academy of the Unseen Arts, she also dreams that Harvey has asked her to marry him.  Even though everyone tells Sabrina that witches and mortal can never marry, Sabrina is convinced that things will work out with Harvey.  (Though, interestingly enough, Nick Scratch shows up pretty prominently in her dream, as well.  Considering that she only met Nick three days ago, it’s telling that Sabrina is already dreaming about him as a possible rival for Harvey.)  Sabrina even tells Harvey that she’s a witch and Harvey says he doesn’t mind.  Sabrina’s father comes back to life to walk Sabrina down the aisle.  However, as soon as Sabrina and Harvey marry, Harvey’s family turns on her.  While the mortals in the church scream at her, Sabrina sees that her side of the family, the witches, are resentfully refusing to come to her aide, leaving her with no one.  Sabrina is dragged away from the altar and tossed in an iron maiden!

Fortunately, for Sabrina, Ms. Wardwell is wandering through everyone’s dreams and she gives Sabrina some advice on how to escape.  Even more fortunately, Sabrina has a familiar named Salem….

Look, I’m as disappointed as anyone by the fact that we don’t actually get to hear Salem speak in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  That said, this was a great Salem episode.  Salem not only bravely distracted Batibat but he also gave Sabrina good, if unheard (by us), advice.  I have to admit that, considering how dark this series tends to get, I was a bit worried when Batibat started chasing Salem through the house.  Well, fear not!  Salem lives!

In fact, everyone lives, Batibat is once again imprisoned, and Sabrina finally figures out that Ms. Wardwell is more than just a reclusive teacher.  At the end of the episode, Sabrina is at Wardwell’s house, demanding to know “who and what” she is.

This was the best episode that I’ve seen so far.  Not only does this episode do a great job of capturing the twisty logic of dreams but it also provides insight into whose these characters are.  Of course, we already knew that Sabrina is conflicted over being half-human and half-witch but now, we know that she’s worried that the other witches will abandon her and that Harvey wouldn’t be strong enough to stand up for her if her secret got out.  We knew that Hilda felt inferior to Zelda but now, we know just how desperate Hilda is to escape her sister’s shadow.  And, at the same time, we now understand why Zelda will never allow Hilda to escape.  Zelda needs Hilda even more than Hilda needs Zelda.  And finally, this episode was elevated by Batibat, a frightening creation if there ever was one.  Batibat not only gave people nightmares but she was a nightmare herself.

Next episode: Sabrina confronts Ms. Wardwell!

Horror on TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.18 “The Knightly Murders” (dir by Vincent McEveety)


Tonight on Kolchak….

The armor of a 12-century knight is possessed and determined to keep anyone from harming the museum in which it is currently housed.  This includes anyone who might want to build a nightclub nearby.  With the armor trying to prevent Chicago from enjoying disco, it’s up to Carl Kolchak to report the story and solve the case!

I like this episode because it features a holy ax.

This episode originally aired on March 7th, 1975.

Enjoy!