Constantine: Non Est Asylum – Episode 1 Review

Constantine gets his head shrunk.
Constantine gets his head shrunk.

The premiere episode of CONSTANTINE stumbles across the television screen rather like a loud and boisterous drunk stumbling out of a bar: it catches your attention, and you sense its charm, but half the time its incoherent ramblings make no sense. “Non Est Asylum” (“there is no asylum”) also betrays evidence of being a busted pilot that was rejiggered at the last minute when series producers Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer decided to move the series in a different direction. As unsatisfying as the episode is, it is not likely to hook audiences, but it does show enough promise to interest sympathetic viewers in checking out another episode or two.
The story begins in media res, with John Constantine (Matt Ryan) cooling his heels in a mental asylum, recuperating from the fallout of a failed exorcism, which resulted in not only the death but also apparently the eternal damnation of an innocent girl. Fortunately, some paranormal activity inspires Constantine to leave the asylum (apparently, he just checks himself out – which has the benefit of keeping the narrative going but somewhat undermines the grimy semblance of “reality” that the series affects). An angel named Manny (Harold Perrinuea) shows up to inform Constantine that there is a “Rising Darkness” on the horizon – some kind of apocalyptic threat requires Constantine to get off the sidelines and back into the game. Though unconvinced of his role in the larger war, Constantine tracks down Liv Aberdine, the daughter of an old friend, out of a sense of personal obligation – because she is being tormented by a demon. After Constantine introduces Liv to his compatriot Chas Chandler (Charles Halford), Liv demonstrates an aptitude for “scrying” – that is, marking a map with drops of blood that reveal where supernatural activity will take place. Constantine eventually identifies the demon haunting Liv: Furcifer, who has an affinity for electricity. Constantine lures Furcifer into a trap while another old associate hacks the city’s grid, turning off all electricity, thus draining the demon’s power. Opting out of demon-hunting as a career move, Liv bids adieu to Constantine and Chas, but leaves behind her scrying map.
“Non Est Asylum” establishes the tone and style of the CONSTANTINE series. Angels and demons are real, battling for the souls of individuals and for the fate of all mankind. But this archetypal fairy-tale is presented in recognizably human terms, seen through the cynical eyes of its titular character, someone who has been there and done that, many times, and would probably rather be enjoying an evening at the pub instead of hunting evil entities.
Matt Ryan makes the show work. His John Constantine is a wonderful fantasy variation on hard-boiled characters like Philip Marlowe – the cynical, boozy exterior hiding a tired and slightly tarnished knight on the inside, one who knows the score and ins’t happy about it – but, despite his griping, will do what is necessary to set things right.
Constantine Non Est Asylum angel
Manny the angel appears to enlist John Constantine in the struggling against the Rising Darkness.

Unfortunately, the supporting cast does not fare so well, giving performances that are functional in roles that are defined mostly in terms of skills rather than personality. Liv has the ability to scry; Chas can survive apparent death. In both cases, the abilities are more interesting than the characters possessing them, and neither actor is up to the task of fleshing out the thin writing. The jury is still out on Perrineau’s angelic Manny: his strangely pointed stare and affectless body language could be an evocation of his character’s otherworldly nature, or simply a symptom of underacting.
Also, there are several absurdities in “Non Es Asylum,” which are apparent even to viewers who are not cantankerous critics. To begin with, the opening narrative gambit is a bit odd: instead of being introduced to television audiences unfamiliar with the comic, Constantine is presented as a known identity, so we never question his sanity and wonder why he even bothers talking to a psychiatrist trying to convince him that demons are unreal. In fact, the first sequence feels as if it belongs at the beginning of a second-season opener, following upon the heels of a devastating season one cliffhanger.
Liv is introduced in a spectacular special effects scene involving a city street splitting open to reveal belching flames, after which Constantine appears to offer help. Shortly thereafter, Liv is seen returning home, telling a friend how creeped out she was by the appearance of this stranger – who apparently made such an impression that she forgot the fires of hell erupting through the pavement. (The notion that this hell hole remains open is simply glossed over; later we learn the Liv has psychic visions, so we just have to assume that the conflagration took place only in her mind.)
Best of all, Constantine’s method of dispatching Furcifer requires the complete blackout of an entire city’s electrical supply. We’re supposed to cheer the clever plan, and the special effects showing Atlanta plunging into darkness are mean to be of the “ain’t it cool!” variety, but the script seems rather blissfully indifferent to the thought of hospital life support systems and airport control towers suddenly off-line and the inevitable loss of life that would result.
This silliness might be acceptable in a tongue-in-cheek romp, but CONSTANTINE affects a serious tone, in which the threat of eternal damnation weighs heavily on its title character, who suffers pangs of regret over the fatality that resulted from his previous failure. Here’s a hint, John: if you feel bad because your demon-hunting got one innocent killed, avoid plans that are likely to kill hundreds, even thousands.
Liv’s presence is awkwardly interpolated. As a newcomer to Constantine’s world of magic and the dark arts, she should act as the audience identification figure – our eyes and ears. But since we see Constantine first, this function for Liv is short-circuited; instead, the episode seems to be about bringing her into the fold. Then, having gone to all the trouble of introducing her, the episode summarily dismisses Liv at the end. Apparently, Liv was intended to be a regular character, but scenes were reshot to dispatch her so that a different character could take her place in subsequent episodes: “Non Es Asylum” ends with a woman, face unseen, cranking out drawings of John Constantine, apparently inspired by psychic visions; we meet her in the next episode, “The Darkness Beneath.”
Liv leaves behind her scrying map, which is pockmarked with a multitude of blood-spots, indicating that enormity of the Rising Darkness that is to come. Though the Rising Darkness becomes the show’s continuing story arc, Liv’s map will actually have little impact on future episodes.
CONSTANTINE: “Non Est Asylum.” Air date: 10/24/2014. Written by Daniel Cerone. Directed by Neil Marshal. Cast: Matt Ryan, Charles Halford, Harold Perrineau, Lucy Griffiths, Jeremy Davies.
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Constantine: TV Review

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If you’re not getting enough televised horror from your cable and streaming outlets (THE WALKING DEAD, PENNY DREADFUL, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, SALEM, etc), broadcast network NBC has something for you: following GRIMM on Friday nights, CONSTANTINE is an adaptation of DC’s Hellblazer comic series, starring Matt Ryan as John Constantine – a scruffy Irish scrapper who dabbles in the dark arts, rescuing victims from malicious supernatural entities and perhaps rescuing mankind as a whole (though this remains to be seen).
Midway through the show’s initial slate of thirteen episodes (no more have been ordered, though the show may yet be renewed for a second season), CONSTANTINE has established itself as engaging and reasonably entertaining, if uneven and frequently confused about its direction. Its strength lies primarily in the basic premise and the conception of its titular character, a world and somewhat cynical man, possibly damned, whose skills have made him a somewhat reluctant warrior in a battle against Evil – a battle that may save his soul not only from eternal damnation but also from the personal guilt he feels over a past failure.
From episode to episode, regardless of the strength of the stories, Ryan inhabits the role as if he were born to play it. His John Constantine walks a fine line – just enough cynicism to give the character a believable edge, just enough hint of empathy to humanize him without dulling that edge. His performance has been more than enough to hold attention while the show finds its legs, which have been a bit wobbly so far – partly because of producer uncertainty, partly because of network interference.
To date, we have seen a major supporting character introduced, dispatched, and replaced, leaving behind a plot device (a map indicating future confrontations) that figures into the stories so infinitesimally that it could easily be discarded. We have also seen some fiddling around with episode air dates, resulting in minor but regrettable continuity problems.
The only continuing story arc is the “Rising Darkness” – a suggestion that weekly phenomenon are part of build-up toward some kind of apocalyptic confrontation. So far, this idea has seen little development, coming across more like a lip-service attempt to suggest a connection between otherwise disparate story lines. It does not help that, since this is the first season, we have no baseline comparison to make between Constantine’s past opponents and his current foes – who, we have to accept on faith, are suddenly much stronger than expected.
There are a few hints that the arc is heading somewhere, including a bombshell prediction at the end of Episode 5. Unfortunately, because NBC aired at least one episode out of order (Episode 6, the Halloween-themed “Rage of Caliban,” was clearly supposed to air the month before its November 28 debut), the development seems erratic; the show seems to be treading water when Constantine causally mentions the Rising Darkness at the end of the episode, without any of the concern one would expect in light of previous events.
We have to give the producers credit for trying to craft a show that stands or falls on the strength of its individual episodes. Unlike shows (such as THE WALKING DEAD) that adopt the soap opera format to hook audiences into tuning in each week to see what happens next, regardless of whether what happened before actually warrants a further look, CONSTANTINE’s stories are largely self-contained. Though not all have been compelling, “A Feast of Friends” (Episode 4, November 14) and “Danse Vaudou” (Episode 5, November 21) have proven that CONSTANTINE has can at least occasionally reach its full potential.
CONSTANTINE is not squeamish about about delivering its weekly quotient of horror. The computer-generated special effects are nicely done, and the impact is surprisingly powerful, even visceral, for a network show. (Ironically, the character’s chain-smoking is far more circumspect, and his bi-sexuality is so far completely submerged.) We also rather enjoy the way the show’s archetypal battle of Good vs. Evil plays out in relatively human terms, lending a sort of streetwise credibility to the otherwise incredible events.

Michael James Shaw as Papa Midnight with Matt Ryan as John Constantine
Michael James Shaw as Papa Midnight with Matt Ryan as John Constantine

The supporting cast and guest stars have yet to make a memorable impression, except for Michael James Shaw as Papa Midnight (a voudoun priest who is alternately an antagonist and an ally to Constantine) and Emmett J. Scanlan as police detective Jim Corrigan (who all DC fans know is destined to become The Spectre, should the show last long enough).
Overall, we get the impression that CONSTANTINE is attempting something along the lines of what has been seen in PENNY DREADFUL, pitting highly flawed and tormented human characters against demons both literal and personal. It has to be said that the writing seldom if ever reaches the heights achieved by John August in the Showtime series. We should also note that, although fans may be pleased by the television show’s more faithful depiction of the comic character, the movie version of CONSTANTINE (2005) with Keanu Reeves was actually more effective screen version of the material. Still, once one wipes these comparisons from the slate, CONSTANTINE is good enough to survive on its own terms, and we hope to see it return next season.
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The Walking Dead's Greg Nicotero – The CFQ Interview

Greg Nicotero (in glasses and plaid shirt) preps a zombie for his moment in the spotlight on THE WALKING DEAD.
Greg Nicotero (in glasses and plaid shirt) preps a zombie for his moment in the spotlight on THE WALKING DEAD.

Sometimes doing the job is reward in itself. That’s what it was like for me to talk with Greg Nicotero. From DAWN OF THE DEAD to BREAKING BAD, from ARMY OF DARKNESS to OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, from HOSTEL to SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR, his vivid and creative makeup effects work has brought the fantastic, the grotesque, and the sometimes-just-plain-realistic to a dazzling kaleidoscope of film and TV projects.
That includes THE WALKING DEAD, the blockbuster TV series which scooped up a couple of primetime Emmy awards for Nicotero’s work in bringing the flesh-hungry walkers to gruesome… uh, life? Death? Anyway, in honor of the release of the complete fourth season on DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday, we got some time with Greg to talk about the finer points of zombie nurturing and care. Click on the player to hear the show.

Snowpiercer, The Signal, Dracula – Dossier Fantasitque 5:24.2

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At long last, Dossier Fantastique re-opens, offering need-to-known data regarding the latest in horror, fantasy, and science fiction cinema and television. Dan Persons makes his long-awaited return, riding the rails with SNOWPIERCER, the metaphoric science fiction film from Bong-Joon Ho (THE HOST). Lawrence French receives THE SIGNAL, an indie sci-fi flick. And Steve Biodrowski unearths Dan Curtis’ DRACULA from its new Blu-ray casket.
Also this week: commentary on SALEM and PENNY DREADFUL; a long overdue obituary for artist H.R. Giger (ALIEN); and an after-credits discussion of SANTO VS. LAS MUJERAS VAMPIRO.


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Coherence – Radio Film Review

Elizabeth Gracen (left), Lorene Scafaria and Nicholas Brendon are not quite themselves (or are they?) in COHERENCE
Elizabeth Gracen (left), Lorene Scafaria and Nicholas Brendon are not quite themselves (or are they?) in COHERENCE

There’s nothing particularly wrong with employing the time-space continuum for the pure fun of the concept. EDGE OF TOMORROW makes good sport of it, coming up with a pretty keen action film and allowing Tom Cruise to play comedy beats better than he did in KNIGHT AND DAY. But, given the mind-bending possibilities inherent in the genre, it seems almost a crime not delve for deeper meanings than just “craven coward becomes kick-ass action hero.” GROUNDHOG DAY did it. So did TIMECRIMES. So did FUTURAMA (numerous times).
And now, so does COHERENCE. The tale of a Los Angeles dinner party that goes all kinds of wrong when a comet begins warping the dimensions, the film — directed by James Ward Byrkit, the man who helped create the freaky “family” film RANGO, and starring BUFFY’s Nicholas Brendon, Emily Baldoni and Maury Sterling, among others — manages to be as much a commentary on relationships and the fragility of the social contract as it is an sf mindfreak. I delve into the film in my review for HOUR OF THE WOLF, and, as bonus, also take a look at the latest episode of the fan-produced STAR TREK CONTINUES and IDW’s first Star Trek: New Visions photo-novella, both of which, in another example of the crossing of the timelines, deal with the aftermath of the Enterprise crew’s visit to the mirror universe in “Mirror, Mirror.” Weeeeeeeird. Click on the player to hear the segment, or right-click the title below to download.

COHERENCE – Hour of the Wolf Movie Review

LISTEN TO HOUR OF THE WOLF
EVERY THURSDAY AT 1:30 AM
ON WBAI 99.5FM IN NEW YORK CITY

Samson vs. the Vampire Women on MST3K – review

Samson vs Vampire Women Main TitleSAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (the 1963 American dub of the 1962 Mexican film SANTO VS. LAS MUJERAS VAMPIRO) is perfect fodder for MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. It’s goofy, but it’s fun to watch. The absurdity of a masked wrestler (with no superpowers) facing off with the undead is inherently funny – all the more so because the film takes the collision of masked wrestler and vampire genres for granted, portraying its male vampires exactly like wrestler-stuntmen. Except for two lengthy wrestling scenes (the first of which is deleted from the MST3K version), the film moves along quickly if not logically, and there is a decent amount of atmosphere to keep the eye entertained while the ear enjoys the sarcastic comments the crew of the Satellite of Love. The result is one of the best episodes from the Mike Nelson era of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.
As in the show’s best episodes, the jokes attack not only poor production values but also dubious attitudes. SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN features a kindly old professor, who lies to his daughter Diana about the danger to her life, in order to “comfort” her, presumably because women just can’t handle the truth. Later, the police use Diana as bait in a poorly thought-out plan that seems to consist entirely of going to a nightclub where previous victims have been attacked, and then waiting around to see what happens. Our hero Samson (Santo in the original Spanish) is not around to help, because he has a wrestling match scheduled that night.

Samson (a.k.a. Santo) and Dr. Orloff (pronounced "Roloff" in the English dub).
Samson (a.k.a. Santo) and Dr. Orloff (pronounced "Roloff" in the English dub).

With a film like this, the jokes almost write themselves. The comments fly fast and furious, too many to enumerate, but here are some of the best:

  • “I visited Manderlay last night.” A reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s REBECCA, which also began with a miniature of an old mansion. The joke becomes even funnier a few seconds later, when you see a portrait inside the manor, titled “Rebeca” (one “c” only).
  • “I dedicate thsi song to Thorazine.” During a somnabulistic performance by leading lady Diana, of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”
  • “Some butlers stay inside.” Said as the butler closes the door for a departing guest by following him outside (presumably because the director wanted to get him out of the scene).
  • “So the Devil’s Minions are cheap thugs!” and “It’s a vampire wilding!” Said in reference to the Vampire Women’s male henchmen, who punch their victims instead of biting them.
  • “This is what Southern Baptists think Catholic Mass is like.” During the vampires’ blood-draining ritual.
  • “It’s a Robert Mapplethorpe photo sessions.” As a topless male vampire strangles a masked but topless male wrestler.
  • “The Ultimate Battle Between Good and Evil is goofy!” In reference to Santo wrestling with his male vampire opponent.
  • “I’ll just mark it in my book as a kill.” Attributed to Santo after one of the vampires conveniently dies in the shadow of the cross, without Santo actually doing anything.
  • “What good is being the Ruler of the Underworld when you have to live in a dump like this?” In reference to the dusty basement-dungeon, where the Vampire Women reside.

Torgo the White (Mike Nelson) leads TV's Frank (Frank Coniff) to Second Banana Heaven
Torgo the White (Mike Nelson) leads TV's Frank (Frank Coniff) to Second Banana Heaven

Most of the interstitial bits are not particularly memorable (e.g., Tom talks continuously through a “moment of silence”), but the episode is historically important for MIST-ies because it features the departure of beloved bumbler TV’s Frank (Frank Coniff), one half the diabolical duo that has been forcing Mike and robot friends Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo to watch bad movies aboard their orbiting space ship. Having received a fortune cookie hinting at his impending death, TV’s Frank is visited by Torgo the White (Mike Nelson, doing double duty), an angelic form of henchman from the abysmal MANOS: HANDS OF FATE, transformed a la Gandalf in THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS. Torgo takes Frank away to Second Banana Heaven, a magical land for for henchmen and sidekicks, leaving a distraught Dr. Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) without an assistant to kick around.
Frank’s farewell is amusingly handled. The ‘bots read some inappropriate goodbye letters, except for Gypsy, who is the only one with something nice to say. An ethereal version of Frank appears to taunt Forrester beyond the grave. Forrester responds to the loss by singing “Who Will I Kill?” Unfortunately, the intended show-stopper falls flat: Beaulieu is not as adept with a song as Nelson and Kevin Murphy, and the lyrics miss the mark (Forrester never wanted to kill Frank, only to slap him around when he screwed up).
Samson Vs the Vampire Women on MST3K: The Vampire Priestess awakens Samson vs Vampire Women: unfortunate skin Samson Vs the Vampire Women on MST3K: The Vampire Queen in her coffin Samson Vs the Vampire Women on MST3K: grabbing a quick bite

TRIVIA

SAMSON AND THE VAMPIRE WOMEN was chosen as a farewell gift to Frank Coniff, who is a fan of Mexican wrestler movies.

Click to purchase in the CFQ Online Store
Click to purchase in the CFQ Online Store

The show aired on March 25, 1995. It can be found on YouTube, and is commercially available as a stand-alone title on instant view and as part of the four-disc set MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 – XXIV, which also includes THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON, FUGITIVE ALIEN, and STAR FORCE: FUGITIVE ALIEN II.
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Salem: review

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SALEM, WGN America’s historical horror television series, comes across in its initial episodes as an unholy hybrid of THE CRUCIBLE and THE SCARLET LETTER, lacking the sophistication of either, but with just enough dramatic interest to hold attention. Moody and sinister, with eruptions of sex and gore (apparently obligatory on cable series these days), SALEM is effectively horrifying at times and occasionally compelling soap opera entertainment, if one can overlook the egregious liberties it takes with the historical record it pretends to depict. However, those disturbed by the show’s assault on the truth, which often plays like pandering to the fever dreams of the religious right, will find much to fuel their outrage.
As envisioned by creators and executive producers Brannona Braga (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION) and Adam Simon (THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT), the Salem Witch Trials were not merely the product of superstition, ignorance, and Puritan fanaticism; there really were witches, seeking to get a toehold in the New World and make it their own. Religious ravings about a Satanic war for the soul of Salem turn out to be accurate, though the fanatics espousing the views are corrupt and vile in their own right. Meanwhile, the secret coven members, far from persecuted innocents, are devious conspirators, manipulating the witch hunts to advance their own agenda, using their powers to target victims who stand in their way.
With this “plague on both your houses” setup, there would be little rooting interest if not for the presence of John Alden (Shane West), a soldier return from war to find Salem in the midst of hysteria and hangings. Agnostic, at least initially, on the subject of witches, Alden is tagged as the good guy by virtue of a sensibility that sounds more appropriate to the 21st century than to 1692 Salem.
On the other side of the aisle is Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), who was in love with Alden before he left for war. Since then, she aborted his unborn child with the aide of her Mephistophelean servant girl Tituba (Ashley Madekwe); in exchange for the rendered service, Mary has surrendered her soul and now presides as the head of the coven. Also, she has married former nemesis George Sibley, who is now a mute and paralyzed wreck of a man, involuntarily allowing Mary to wield his considerable political power to her own ends.
SALEM’s dramatic tension flows from the relationship between Mary Sibley and John Alden, who still love each other but now find themselves antagonists (though Alden is initially unaware of this). Though eager to crush her enemies and see her coven take over Salem, Mary yearns for John and sometimes contorts her plans to avoid hurting him. Alden, meanwhile, seeks her help because of the power she wields, gradually realizing that her intervention is counter-productive.
Also on hand is witch hunter Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel), who resolutely believes in his purpose, though occasionally he doubts whether those he has hanged were truly guilty. In a sense, Mather and Mary are the true warring parties in SALEM, with Alden caught in the middle, at various times forming alliances with either of them as he tries to stop the rising hysteria.
The problem with SALEM lies in its confused point of view on the subject of witchcraft and witch-hunting.  Witch-hunters, whom we should rightly regard as at least misguided, turn out to be correct in their basic belief, even if their methods are faulty. The witches are even worse, if not in an absolute moral sense, then at least in their ability to do harm.
To some extent we are supposed to sympathize with Mary Sibley, because she was driven to her fateful decision by the patriarchal social order that would have condemned her, had she brought her unwed pregnancy to term. We can almost see witchcraft as the shadowy alter ego to the Puritanism of the Salem elders – an outgrowth they have unwittingly brought into existence by their belief in it. Unfortunately, the existence of Tituba and other witches, even before Mary went to the Dark Side, undermines this interpretation, validating the fears of the Puritans.
Typical for contemporary horror, Evil is portrayed as a real, supernatural force, but there is no counteracting supernatural force for Good. (As Chris MacNeil noted in THE EXORCIST, it seems the Devil keeps a higher profile.) SALEM is somewhat cagey about the exact nature of the sorcery on display; some of it could be hypnosis or hallucinations, perhaps psychic power erroneously designated as Satanic. Whatever the source, it is definitely used as Black Magic, resulting in the deaths of innocent victims.
There is an unpleasantly reactionary attitude in the show’s depiction of “Evil,” which often seems to be associated with lesbian sexuality. Mary’s abortion, with Tituba rubbing oil on her skin and lips, plays out with orgasmic intensity; shots and staging often emphasize the intimacy between the two women, and a later ritual involves a large black phallus. Charitably, one might assume that these images are intended to tweak viewer sensibility, to make us identify with the sensuous females as opposed to the uptight males running Salem. More likely, they included as gratuitous exploitation, serving to excite prurient interest while simultaneous conforming to a conservative view that non-traditional gender roles lead inevitably to damnation.
Unlike Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, which understood both the benefits and harm in Puritanism, SALEM is one-dimensional in its depiction. Even the occasional apparent voice of reason turns out to be a hypocrite or, worse, an agent of the Devil. The result pushes the show in the exact opposite direction of Miller’s THE CRUCIBLE, which sought to condemn witch-hunting hysteria. Here, the message seems to be: all those not for us are against us, and someone expressing an interest in finding the middle ground is probably an enemy in sheep’s clothing.
Fortunately, the show manages to maintain interest thanks to its depiction of innocents caught in the crossfire. The situation is not dissimilar from that seen in Hammer Films’ TWINS OF EVIL (1971), which also showcased religious fanatics in a spiritual war with genuine supernatural evil. That film resolved its dilemma thanks to an agnostic but educated protagonist, who managed to find a middle ground that exonerated the innocent while dispatching the guilty. John Alden has been set up in a similar role. Hopefully, as the show progresses, he can rise to the occasion and find some way out of the sordid sorcery and morbid melodrama plaguing SALEM.
SALEM (WGN America, debut on April 20, 2014). Created by Executive Producers Adam Simon and Brannon Braga. Cast: Joanet Montgomery, Shane West, Seth Gabel, Tamzin Merchant, Ashley Madekwe, Elise Eberle, Xander Berkeley, Iddo Goldberg, Stephen Lang.
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Doug Jones – The CFQ Interview

Doug Jones demnstrates the difficulties of being a wandering minstrel in the post-apocalyptic US in DUST OF WAR.
Doug Jones demonstrates the difficulties of being a wandering minstrel in the post-apocalyptic US in DUST OF WAR.

The speaker of the Louisiana State Senate. An agoraphobic starfish. Two copies of Playboy with their centerfolds torn out. These are probably the only things actor Doug Jones hasn’t been in his variegated career. In makeup and out, whether playing an amphibious scholar, a benevolent alien, or a mute, demonic organ harvester, Jones has managed to create roles that have been at once vivid, evocative, and memorable.
It happens to be a good time for Jones. Not only was there the recent video release of the ultra-violent grindhouse action film, RAZE — in which Jones plays the entitled overseer of an all-female death-match — but the complete third season disc set of FALLING SKIES, where Jones is the alien ambassador Cochise, has just come out, and now Jones appears as a wandering (and canny) minstrel in the dizzyingly eclectic post-apocalyptic/ROAD WARRIOResque/alien invasion/western, DUST OF WAR, which just became available on VOD. We’re thrilled to be able to talk with Doug Jones about all of this, and more, as we kick off our second season of THE CFQ INTERVIEW. Click on the player to hear the show.

In Your Eyes; Deadbeat; Devil Doll – Dossier Fantastique 5:17.2

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Dossier Fantastique Volume 5, Number 17.2 opens to reveal capsule comments for IN YOUR EYES and DEADBEAT. The former is a Direct-to-Video film written and produced by Joss Whedon, about a man and a woman on opposite sides of the country who share a psychic link; the latter is a new Hulu original television series, about a sorry excuse for a human being who “helps ghosts” but “can’t help himself.” After that, the Cinefantastique Podcasting crew of Lawrence French, Dan Persons, and Steve Biodrowski delve into the details of this week’s home video release, for Tuesday, April 30 – including THE LEGEND OF HERCULES, DEVIL’S DUE, and several collectors sets of GAMERA titles. Finally, there is a 50th anniversary look back at DEVIL DOLL, a 1964 black-and-white British thriller the mixes the old ventriloquist dummy scenario with elements of Svengali.
Dedicated Dossier Fanatics are advised to continue listening in after the closing credits for meandering comments on everything from TORCHWOOD to THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES to Tashen Books’ “The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey” to TOKAIDO YOTSUYA KAIDAN (GHOST STORY OF YOTSUYA) – a colorful 1959 Japanese classic, rarely seen in the U.S. until it became available on Hulu plus.


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