Welcome to the Friday The 13th The Series rewatch. Each day throughout October, we’ll watch one episode of the seminal 1987 television series and tackle the highs, the lows and Micki’s hair (of course). Now step into Curious Goods and peruse our cursed antiques, won’t you?
Wikipedia Plot Summary: The evil spirit of Uncle Lewis (R.G. Armstrong) crashes a Halloween party at the shop and seeks to re-enter the living world.
- Director: “The Poison Pen” helmer Timothy Bond returns for his second episode
- Writer: Bill Taub tackles his second Uncle Lewis episode after penning the pilot
- Famous Guest Star: Outside of Armstrong, the only other guest star is midget Victoria Deslaurier as Greta, who doesn’t have a lot of acting credits to her name
Cursed Antique of the Week: There are kind of two — the crystal ball and the Amulet of Zohar — though by default of being the only item that leaves Curious goods, I suppose the Amulet is the main object
Setting: A mortuary
Best Death: There’s actually only one death in this episode, so Greta the midget demon wins by default, even if her accidental death by chair leg is patently ridiculous and underwhelming
Quirkiest Add-On: Greta’s trap for Jack (Chris Wiggins) — a gated prison located in a generic-looking alleyway — fills me with so many questions
Character Bits: Jack was secretly in love with Uncle Lewis’ wife, Grace
80s Fashion Closet: OMG I’ve been so excited for this episode because of the fantastic 80s Halloween costumes and “Hellowe’en” did NOT disappoint. Obviously I preferred Micki (Louise Robey)’s Bride of Frankenstein look the most because it is all dramatic eye make-up, chunky silver belt, plunging neckline and sheer puffy sleeves
Kissing Cousins Incest Watch: Thankfully the outdated gendered comment flirtation that began last episode is put to rest here. In reality, the looming threat of Uncle Lewis basically eliminates the sexual tension between the cousins, aside from some very tight clutching when his ghost first appears
Following on the heels of the series’ best episode yet, “Hellowe’en” is another fun entry in the Friday The 13th The Series canon. It’s got a fun hook with the opening Halloween party, a nice returning guest in Armstrong’s Uncle Lewis and a large enough threat that everyone winds up playing a role in its resolution.
At this point in the series, it’s clear that the cast and crew are settling into their roles. The writing is starting to play to the actors’ strengths and the visual aesthetic of the series that Fruet established in the pilot episode has gelled (in addition to the recent inclusion of the slasher movie POV shot, which is now consistently incorporated in).
“Hellowe’en” also brings back the more sophisticated visual effects from the pilot. Uncle Lewis’ transformation from ghost to physical manifestation after touching the amulet is well done and there’s even a brief glimpse of a fireball right before his final showdown with Jim in the mortuary.
Plus: the sight of Louise Robey geting stunned by Greta’s demon powers before she levitates horizontally in the air to wind up in that coffin? <chef’s kiss>
What Doesn’t Work…
The episode’s biggest sin is that it starts off incredibly strong and then squanders its potential with a fairly middling second act. The Halloween party offers us a glimpse of the broader community, introduces a few potential new clients/characters and has loads of atmosphere (particularly the sequence where the mist oozes out of the crystal ball and the entire foundation of the building shakes like an earthquake). And then…Jim goes on a loooooong walk with a little girl and winds up locked in the most makeshift alley prison you’ve ever seen.
I get that Friday The 13th The Series is working on a fixed budget (and the special effects in this episode probably aren’t cheap), but damn if that alley prison isn’t the worst looking thing the show has ever created! And then leaving Chris Wiggins stranded in this sub-plot for a whole act — dealing with idiot passerbys and talking aloud to himself? It’s unforgivable! It also feels perfunctory, as though writer Taub couldn’t think up a more creative way to sideline Jim long enough for Uncle Lewis to pull a fast one on the dumb cousins and get the A-plot going.
The other complaint — which also likely relates to the budget — has to do with the endless chase scenes around the mortuary. By this point in “Hellowe’en” the action has picked up and everyone is back in the mix, but the lack of set dressing in the mortuary and the repetitive chase scenes are boring. The formula is as follows: Uncle Lewis directs Greta to take out the cousins, she wanders the halls, opens doors, and either captures them or they run away. Rinse/lather/repeat.
The fact that Greta is killed in a bizarre accident (she fatally impales herself offscreen on a broken chair leg) is especially disappointing. I’ll concede that part of my sadness is due to the fact that I liked Greta as a character and hoped that she might recur as a villain. RIP Greta.
Stream of Consciousness Musings
- Ryan’s friend Larry (David Matheson) is an idiot, but a lovable idiot. I do appreciate the visual reference to the opening of Carpenter’s Halloween in this first scene in Micki’s bedroom
- Let’s dish on these costumes: as previously discussed, Micki is the Bride of Frankenstein. Jack is Merlin, I’m guessing? And Ryan is, what…a court jester?
- It is unsurprising that Jack can perform magic and knows how to read Tarot Cards. Alas, the scene where he pulls a plum out of a partygoer’s cleavage has NOT aged well. That’s basically sexual assault, Jack, so maybe don’t, ok?
- Upon discovering the crystal ball, Larry says: “Well if it had three holes, I could bowl with it.” I hated myself for it, but I did chuckle
- I do enjoy how much Micki assumes Ryan is at fault. The minute that the shop begins to shake, she blames him. “What’s going on, Ryan? What did you do?”
- The description of Ryan’s punch made me physically gag: “He made up something orange and brown.”
- Hey, the black cat from the pilot briefly reappears!
- There’s a bit too much exposition in the (maybe made up?) story about Uncle Lewis’ role in the accidental death of his wife, but I could barely pay attention because THERE’S AN ENTIRE SECTION OF THE STORE THEY’VE NEVER SEEN BEHIND THE BOOKCASE?! The secret room reveal is one of the greatest, weirdest, funniest parts about “Hellowe’en”
- Directly from my notes: “Jack baits a couple of local idiots to pull open the gates using their pickup truck, then uses his “magic” to disappear”. The fact that this whole storyline takes 15 minutes is unforgivable
- My favourite line of the entire episode (and maybe the series to date) is Micki’s lament that Uncle Lewis set them up because “he knew we’d have soft hearts!” I still don’t know how Robey managed to deliver that both earnestly and with a straight face
- Micki’s levitation by Greta works not only because Robey’s facial expression is hysterical, but because it is genuinely unexpected. I’m always down for a midget pulling pranks on fully grown adults (see also: Don’t Look Now)
- Two ridiculous moments: There is clearly no one inside the coffins when Jack pulls them off the conveyor belt. And then — in another moment that hasn’t aged well — Jack full-on smacks Micki across the face to knock her out of her trance
- It occurred to me during the climax that this is the first time that we’ve seen Uncle Lewis and Jack interact! I would have liked more fireball tossing and less dramatic line reading, but as a first time encounter, this suffices
- The “it’s secretly already dawn” twist feels like a hammy horror movie resolution, so I approve of its use here to dispel Uncle Lewis. Hopefully that’s not the last we’ve seen of him
- The suggestion that there’ll be more shenanigans in two weeks when Friday the 13th occurs is enough to prompt an eyeroll from me, but I’m still kinda psyched? What’s coming next?!
I’m taking a quick one day breather to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, so I’ll see you back here Tuesday for Friday The 13th The Series episode six: “The Great Montarro” (whatever the hell that means)