Friday, September 30, 2016

The Preliminaries

So yeah, you know the drill: another October, another ¡Q horror! rundown.

I think the most notable thing about this year’s crop is, for the first time in a while, there is no TV entry, which is not to say that there was no good small screen horror in the past 12 months, but rather, that the film entries were simply much more clearly “horror” than the TV Candidates.

Now, while I just did not find the time to give these shows their own Candidate posts (apologies to all involved), I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them here, so, without further ado, please consider these ¡Q horror! 2016 Candidates #19 through 21…

Season 2
(October 2015)

There was nearly a 3 year gap (!) between the initial airing of the final episode of Les Revenants’ first season, and the premiere of its second season, and though its sophomore run did answer some of the lingering questions, it also had its own fair share of mysteries and ambiguity, all cloaked in the dreary and somber atmosphere the show has always sported.
And though it did seem to wrap the main narrative up, the second season also left certain questions unanswered. But as to whether there’ll be a third season, that would be anyone’s guess at this point.
Perhaps we need to wait another 3 years to find out…

Season 3
(May 2016)

The fact that this third season also wound up being its final one was, perhaps, the biggest surprise for the show’s audience.
It was sad, and certainly sudden, to see that end title card, but those were the narrative choices made, and if the show did have to end, at least it ended on its own terms.
It was also a bummer to have the always welcome Simon Russell Beale downgraded from his Season 2 regular status to two (!) brief appearances.
That loss was partially alleviated with the upgrading of Patti LuPone to regular status, in what was also a cheeky bit of Starbucking.
And then there was Billie Piper, who continued her blazing performance as Lily, giving Eva Green a run for her money.

Penny D, ye shall be missed…

Season 1
(June 2016)

“We talked a lot in pre-production about what this was going to be and I was really keen that it wouldn’t be horror. The word we used was eerie.”

It was this quality--summed up by series creator Ashley Pharoah in the above quote--that initially made me waffle on the show’s inclusion here. This wasn’t just “quiet horror” for most of the narrative; more mute or silent horror.
In the end though, the overall tone and mood throughout its half-dozen episodes, the intriguing angles from which the idea of ghosts are approached, plus some key moments where you think, “Oh, well, things will be fine now, won’t they?” when horribly, things don’t turn out fine at all, won the day, and here The Living and the Dead is.

Plus, anything that gets the Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser back in the recording studio needs to be celebrated! (Fraser does the vocals on “She Moves Through the Fair” from episode 1, and “The Lover’s Ghost” from the episode 4 end credits.)
Though I’ve no word on the possibility of a second season, this one ends on an incredulous “Well, they can’t leave it like that now, can they?!” note.

“I was thinking a lot about what hauntings actually are. Are they echoes from the past or something else?”
--Ashley Pharoah

(Les Revenants & Penny Dreadful OS’ courtesy of; The Living and the Dead DVD cover art courtesy of

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