American Horror Story: Cult, Episode 1

This season is off to a good start.  Even though the show has politics in it, it’s not about the politics, it’s about the horror.  Political events serve as a backdrop to the horror of a bloodthirsty cult menacing a small town in Michigan and, in particular, a woman, Ally, who lives there with her lesbian lover and their child.  The show’s depiction of a cult evokes the Manson family’s slaughter of Sharon Tate and her friends in a Benedict Canyon mansion at 10050 Cielo Drive, which her husband Roman Polanski was renting from music talent manager Rudolph Altobelli, on a hot August night during the Summer of Love in 1969.

Absurdly and ludicrously, everybody goes crazy in Michigan after Trump beats Hillary in the presidential election, none more so than Ally, the Hillary supporter, and Kai, the Trump supporter.  Ally lives in constant terror and slips in and out of psychosis. Meanwhile, Kai goes bonkers, paints his face with Cheetos, and assembles a cult of murderers, which is when the killer clowns appear and massacre a family, and the horror begins.

Twin Peaks: The Return Finale–a world of horror [spoiler alert]

This eerie episode ends with a woman’s scream.  It pretty much starts with a woman’s scream when Agent Cooper is in the red room in an alternate reality where a woman approaches him and then, screaming, is yanked into oblivion.  It’s also in the red room where the one-armed man asks Cooper, “Is it the past or is it the future?”

Everyone’s isolation is made clear in this episode, where Cooper and Diane make love like zombies. They’re both so alienated they don’t even know each other’s name, even though they’re making love.  Diane deserts Cooper during the night and leaves a note for him calling him Richard, though his name is Dale, and calling herself Linda, even though she’s Diane.

This is an episode about alienation and angst, an episode depicting the world as a horrifying place that elicits screams of terror at something we can’t see, where individuals are condemned to live in the solitude of their own bodies even when they are coupling.  It is a world where paranoid people bound by horror drive laconically through the night watching endless ribbons of highway unspooling through the windshield, suspecting that the car behind them is following them.  But is it really the end?

Hopefully, it will return next year.

Creepy Clowns

There’s nothing scarier than creepy clowns.  Evil clowns have a special place in hell.  When I was a kid, I recall seeing a George Reeves Superman episode on TV that had an evil clown in it.  The evil clown unnerved me.  It was scary watching this bad clown robbing banks and threatening Superman with a gun.  To this day I can still recall that episode, but have trouble recalling any of the other ones.  It just shows what a deep impression an evil clown makes on children.  A clown is supposed to be your funny friend.  When it turns out he’s just the opposite, it’s truly appalling.  It’s like Kevin McCarthy finding out his girlfriend is now one of the pod people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers when he’s hiding in the mine shaft with her.  It’s like the kid in Invaders from Mars finding out his parents are working for the Martians . . .

Which begs the question, why are so many of these creepy clown sightings occurring?  Not a day goes by without a creepy clown sighting on the news.  Bad clowns jumping on the back bumper of a school bus.  Bad clowns wielding chain saws and terrorizing people in a park in London.  They’re all over the world.

Halloween’s approach is probably flushing these creepy clowns out of the woodwork, but who knows? The only thing I know is when funny becomes scary, it’s twice as scary.

If you see a guy dressed in a clown suit standing on the street with a shock of red hair and a big red nose and oversized shoes and a chalk white face, I say it’s a good idea to avoid him.

Damien on TV

I’ve been watching the TV series Damien.  It’s based on the classic horror movie The Omen, which starred Gregory Peck as an ambassador and the father of the Antichrist Damien.  In that movie Peck finds out that Damien isn’t really his son, who was killed by Satanists and replaced by the evil Damien, son of Satan, to grow up in Peck’s household.

As a TV series, Damien isn’t bad.  It has its share of horrific scenes.  But Damien, for some inexplicable reason, is a nice guy.  In a recent episode he saved a child from being run over by a speeding locomotive.  It seems out of character for the Antichrist to be saving children.  But that’s the premise of the TV series.  Damien is the reluctant Antichrist.  He doesn’t want to grow up to be evil, even if Barbara Hershey, his protector, encourages him to assume his true role in life–as Satan’s son.  She serves as his psychologist.  She understands his true identity, even if he, as yet, doesn’t.

I don’t know how long Damien can continue to be nice.  After all, this is the kid on his tricycle who crashed into his mother and knocked her over a balustrade down to the first floor in their mansion, where she broke her back and leg and ended up in traction in the hospital.  Now how could such an evil brat grow up to be a nice guy who saves children from being run over by trains?

It remains to be seen whether Damien will become more evil as the show progresses. Certainly, anybody who annoys him or attacks him meets with a horrible death.  His attackers tend to be members of a religious order that use special knives to try to kill him.  These relic knives were introduced in the original movie directed by Richard Donner.  Peck tried to kill Damien with one not long after he watched David Warner lose his head.  Like anybody else, Damien has the moral right to defend himself from being murdered, and, since he’s acting in self-defense, he could still be considered a good guy.

I like the creepy atmosphere that this show has, enhanced by the Satanic choir singing in the background accompanied by frenetic organ music, which worked to the same effect in the movie.  Created by Glen Mazzara, this show has potential, and I will continue watching it to see if Damien will become more evil.  Don’t forget, this guy is the Antichrist.