Sunday, April 25, 2010

When Death Comes to Town

Greetings and condolences my fellow travelers. My journeys have indeed taken me from the might banks of the great Styx for a prolonged spell, but it is good to return. Here in the darkness little dramatic happens and passers by are not overly common, but that is not the case everywhere. In my recent journeys I have had the pleasure to observe comings and goings in two otherwise small communities. Insignificant as these locations are to the greater preoccupations of the living, it is somewhat ironic that the fates would choose these hamlets to play out the greatest of dramas, between good and evil, life and death.

The first of these would be the little town of Little Tall, a fictitious coastal community located just of the shore of Maine. It was this setting that legendary author, Stephen King, would base his story "Storm of the Century". In a three part television miniseries first aired in 1999, residents of Little Tall find themselves at the mercy of a great storm threatening their quiet island home.

While for many an author such a reckoning would be enough to build a story on. King himself has used storm stayed inhabitants successfully in his tales of horror before in "Misery" and the iconic "The Shining", but here it is simply background for a greater trial. Evil descends on the town in the form of a mysterious stranger by the name of Linoge who brings with him murder death and an unprecedented demand for the inhabitants. Before he will actually tell them of his demands, Linoge first chooses to torture, and literally as well as physically manipulate the residents to commit horrific murders. In a small town idle gossip is cheap and plentiful, thus one's wardrobe-skeletons are dear and well hidden. Naturally the mysterious Linoge mater-of-factly shares the towns peoples past transgressions and darkest secrets in the most public venues he can find, illustrating that innocence is lost as childhood is left behind. The implications are left obscure and presented for the most part as a vehicle for Linoge to demonstrate his supernatural omnipotence, but to an attentive and thoughtful these indiscretions make the story's eventual outcome more poignant and meaningful as King exposes this is as much a morality tale as it is a simple supernatural horror.

I myself have never been a big follower of Stephen King's novels, and even less so the eventual film treatments, but in this format really allows King's tale to be told as it should be and the viewer to digest all the nuances that studio executives tend to lack enough appreciation of the genre to see. Undoubtedly if you are a Stephen King fan, this is preaching to the choir, however if you are not familiar with this work "Storm of the Century" is a must see.

Not more than four of five hours away and a bit north from Little Tall Maine, is another fictitious community called Shuckton Ontario. Now in gaudy electric neon contrast to the events that occurred South of the border, infamous Canadian comedy troupe Kids In The Hall, tell this hamlet's tale of what happens when "Death Comes to Town". Here in series of eight half hour episodes, a Reaper is stuck on this the shittiest of routes with a job to do and a personal grudge (and a thing for chubby red-heads).

Like the townsfolk in Little Tall, the citizens of Shucton too have their secrets. Alcoholism, infidelity, lust, greed, as in Little Tall it's all there, but where other than Canadian television could one explore homosexual necrophilia and get by the network sensors.

Now I'll admit that I was hoping this little gem would have a bit more bloodshed and mayhem, but the subtle comedic jabs and the outlandish characterizations and situations that The Kids in the Hall are known for are extremely entertaining and satisfying to watch in this macabre tale of what happens when Death comes to town.

G. Macabre