Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall's Bloody Small Screen Season

By Chris Dimick
As the leaves begin to commit suicide by leaping from their treey home and the sky loses more and more life sustaining light and heat, so does the small and silver screen follow suit with its own darker behavior.

Fall has fallen upon us, and with it television and movie theaters will begin to show its spookier side. Tis the season to be scary, and while it is always horror season at the RDHP and  in horror fan's hearts, it is still exciting to see the sideline horror fans put on their slasher mask and rejoin us blood-hounds in celebration of all things that go bump (or scream) in the night.

Those looking for a little scare with the season won't have to dislocate their remote thumbs to find it. A sweep of this year's fall TV season shows ample original horror programming oozing from both broadcast and cable networks.

Serial horror is hard to accomplish. Many shows have tired, and many have failed. For every sparkling X-Files, Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone, and Master's of Horror there is a yawn inducing Friday the 13th: The Series or Harper's Island.

Time will tell where the 2011 Fall Horror Series will land on that red spectrum, but in the spirit of a season many have come to associate with change and a fresh start, we can all hope they these new horror shows are just as great as any series that has come before it.

Below, an examination of three horror TV shows launching or returning this year that are making horror hounds howl to the pre-Halloween heavens in excitement.

Here's to a season of screaming!


American Horror Story

Cemetery Plot:
The Harmon family -- husband Ben (Dylan McDermott), wife Vivien (Connie Britton), and daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) -- move to an old Los Angeles house with a creepy neighbor (Jessica Lange) and an even creepier past.
Not much else is known about the plot, which has been tightly guarded by creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Flachuk. Yes, that Ryan Murphy, the creator of FOX's smash Glee, and that Brad Flachuk, the executive producer of the ultra-creepy Nip/Tuck. Glee mixed with Nip/Tuck?! The thought alone is scary.

 However, those who have seen previews, like Entertainment Weekly's staff, have said this show is out there weird, violent, sexy and strange. And, good. "While it (the plot) sounds like the beginnings of a fairly standard scary movie, it doesn't even begin to describe how capital-C crazy this story becomes," Entertainment Weekly wrote.
Two sexy examples; in one episode Vivien has sex with a man in a rubber fetish suit, and Ben pleasures himself while being spied on by a badly burned man, who warns Ben afterward that the house drove him to commit murder. Or, you know, a typical Tuesday night in the Rich home.

Why I'm Howling:
It can be hard to sustain a scary haunted house show week in and week out, but I'm excited to find out if they can pull it off. The cast seems top notch, as do the creators. With the show on FX, there is room to take some horrific and sexy risks. This one has promise. Bring on the rubber suits!

When It's Slaying (like playing, get it):
Wednesdays from 10 to 11 p.m. Eastern
Premieres Oct. 5 on FX



Cemetery Plot:
The Big Bad Wolf better wear gloves next time he tries to abduct a tasty little girl. Finger prints will and you in Joliet Prison, man!
Grimm is a fairy-tale police procedural from writer-producer David Greenwalk (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) about a detective who discovers he's descended from a line of hunters know as Grimms who can see past the disguises of supernatural and fairy tale creepers.
Along with his partner, he investigates cases of legendary stories coming to life -- mythical villains here in modern times, and camouflaged as ordinary criminals.

Why I'm Howling:
A second read of those fairy tales we loved so much as kids shows the stories are much more adult than we thought. Some of them are downright gruesome (Hansel and Gretel burn a woman alive after she was trying to abduct and cannibalize them! Is this a bedtime story or the plot to Hostel III?) This story has a vast potential to be lame, but if done right it will be a blast to see Grimm's tales acted out in modern times. Curl up with the kiddies!

When It's Slaying:
Fridays from 9 to 10 pm Eastern
Premieres Oct. 21 on NBC


The Walking Dead

Cemetery Plot:
 In the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse a small group of survivors travel across the desolate United States in search of a new home away from the hordes of the undead (or "walkers"). The group is led by Rick Grimes, who was a sheriff's deputy in a small Georgia town before the zombie outbreak.
As their situation grows more hazardous, the motley group's desperation to survive pushes them to the brink of insanity.
At every turn they are faced with the unbearable horrors that come from having the dead walk again, the changing dynamic of their group, as well as facing hostility from the scattered remains of a struggling human populace who are focused on their own survival, now that the structures of global society have collapsed.

Why I'm Howling:
The first season of this show, though only six episodes long, was the best television I've seen since LOST went to that great hatch in the sky.
Brilliant zombie special effects by Greg Nicotero (who worked on films like Hostel, Grindhouse, and Romero's Land of the Dead) and realistic plots based off the amazing Walking Dead comics by Robert Kirkman made this show appointment TV. It wasn't just melting zombies tearing skin off bone. Like all great zombie movies, this show is about the survivors trying to make it in a now foreign, dangerous world.

The acting, led by Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, sucks a person in and holds their attention, sometimes against their will. You are so engrossed in the story that when a zombie does strike, it freaks even the hardest veined horror fan.

Though the recent firing of excellent executive director Frank Darabont reportedly due to budget disagreements is disheartening and concerning (Darabont wanted to keep the production value top notch, AMC executives wanted to save money), I hope that the writing and acting will still save this work even if the zombie makeup and explosions get less attention.

If you missed last year's short run, rent it now and get caught up. It is easy, though scary, watching.
This is not just a great horror TV show. Season 1 was television at its best. Hopefully they keep those zombies shufflin'!

When It's Slaying:
Sundays from 9 to 10 pm Eastern
Season 2 Premieres Oct. 16 on AMC.


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