Nightmares and Dreamscapes – Revisiting TNT’s Stephen King Event Series


Horror anthology movies are blessed with multiple storylines. Audiences can find something to like even if the entire collection isn’t up to par. As with small-screen anthologies, these series are usually limited to one story per episode.

Focusing on one plot at a time has its advantages; all the attention made for better writing. Yet variety also has value in anthology shows. A multi-story episode, like the following five, can keep audiences just as engaged, if not more entertained.

The twilight zone (1985-1989)
Grandma/Personal Demons/Cold Reading

Unlike the original show, the 1980s episodes blurred area revival were split into two or three segments in the first two seasons. Season three then saw the series adapt a more standard format.

This Season 1 episode kicks off with its strongest offering; Olivier Barret from The never-ending story plays a boy deathly scared of his sick grandmother. As her mother leaves home one stormy night, Georgie stays with the namesake of “Grandmother“. Stephen KingThe novella provides the basis for this chilling chapter. Without saying too much, the opening builds up an overabundance of dread without showing too much of the sickly woman who strikes fear into her grandson’s heart.

Personal demonsnotes an aging TV screenwriter (Martin Baume) in distress when he sees demons everywhere he goes. Of course, they are invisible to everyone. Showing too many creatures gradually dulls their effect, but this in-between story is a creative way to inspire someone suffering from writer’s block.

The last tale moves away from the horror and runs towards the absurd. Remove a page from War of the Worlds incident of 1938, the humorous and imaginative “cold readingfollows a 1940s radio broadcast where everything read aloud materializes inside the studio.

Beyond belief: fact or fiction (1997-2002)
House of Shadows/A Hand in the Crate/Car of Teasdale/The Vision/The Grave

The challenge of Beyond belief: fact or fiction determined the authenticity of five different stories. The series isn’t completely horror, but the genre has appeared in just about every episode. While one thumbnail wasn’t exactly scary, it was at least weird.

The most suspenseful part of this season four episode is served first; a housekeeper lives the fear of her life in “house of shadows“. The TV continues to cut to video of a man mixing concrete in an unfamiliar room. The keeper then recognizes the location of the streak.

A hand in the box” features a case of astral projection; a father does the impossible to prevent his son from making a huge mistake. In “The Teasdale Automobilea man’s dream car becomes the source of his nightmares. “Visionis a classic case of someone trying to prevent an omen from happening. To finish, “The fallis a low-key ghost story about a wronged dead man whose graveyard plot remains grassless as long as his twisted wife and ex-partner are alive.

Of all the stories featured, the host Jonathan Frakes only two claims are based on factual events. Both of these supposed incidents happened in the 1980s, according to the show.

night vision (2001)
The Labyrinth/Harmony

After rebroadcasting on the old Chiller Network, night vision fall back into oblivion. Today, we don’t know if the 2001 show will see the light of day again. It would be a shame to forget an anthology of this caliber.

Fox simply had no faith in night vision, and therefore it was discarded without much thought. The Sci-Fi Channel briefly came to the rescue in the days before the Syfy rebrand; several stories have been compiled into a standalone feature called Shadow Realm. This collection includes “The labyrinth” and “Harmony“, which originally aired as a single episode in 2002.

Tobe Hooper does something weird in “The Maze,” and it’s not the kind of weirdness he was known for. Hooper actually gave the protagonist, played by Thora Birch, a happy ending with no dark strings attached. Her character is a shy student who is afraid to step out of her comfort zone. Yet finding herself trapped in a scary alternate world after entering a hedge maze on campus scares her into changing. Hooper and writer Steve Aspi take the road less traveled night vision; they leave on a hopeful note rather than a dark note.

Meanwhile, “Harmony” is the complete opposite of the previous short. Timothy OlyphantThe car breaks down in a small town where music is forbidden. Offenders are also unduly punished. When this stranger challenges the status quo and challenges the townspeople’s unusual beliefs, he gets the most rude awakening. The conclusion of this tale is unprecedented for night vision.

Two twisted (2006)
There’s Something About Kyanna / Finding Frank

Two twisted is a sequel to the 1996 Australian anthology twisted talesand it is produced by the actor Bryan Brown. The stories from the 2006 show are paired, with two for each episode. The first begins with a seaside ghost called “There’s something about Kyanna“.

Melissa GeorgesThe character of moved into a secluded beach house with her husband (Sandy Winton). The house, named Kyanna by its architect, has a secret under its beautiful facade. Unbeknownst to its current occupants, this secrecy is the reason the house has remained on the market for so long.

The problem with having multiple stand-alone stories in an episode is the inevitable comparison. “There’s something about Kyanna” is just average when confronted with something like “Finding Frank“, but programming it helps smooth things out first. The most glaring problem, however, is the disappointing twist.

“Finding Frank” is definitely the better of the two segments. The title character (Gary McDonald) is about to retire from his security job, and on his last night, he is threatened by an unknown threat inside the building. The result is truly shocking.

black mirror (2011-2019)
black museum

black mirror is a big reason anthologies are all the rage again. While it’s unclear if the series will return in the near future, the creator Charlie Booker helped revolutionize the way people view stand-alone storytelling on television today. For many, his work is the new gold standard.

Booker changed things up in the season four finale by having a trio of sub-stories as well as a synopsis. In “black museum“, Letitia WrightThe character has time to spare while her car charges up, so she drives around a nearby medical museum. The tourist guide (Douglas Hodge) presents its one and only guest with three bizarre cases, each more disturbing than the next.

The first piece is about a doctor (Daniel Lapaine) who tested an experimental implant; the device allowed him to sense the sensations of others. The doctor eventually becomes addicted to pain – whether it’s someone else’s or his own. From body horror to sadistic violence, this segment does everything in its power to make the viewer feel uncomfortable. The following story recalls a mother and her wife in a coma (Alexandra Roach) whose consciousness is transferred to a part of her husband’s brain (Aldis Hodge). Although this tale seems lighthearted, it still works to a sad ending.

The last case criticizes those who find pleasure in the misery of others. In this piece, the holographic image of a death row inmate (Babs Olusan Mokun) is available for torture at the Black Museum. How it all ends then only reaffirms how pessimistic black mirror is.

series of scares is a recurring column that primarily focuses on horror on television. Specifically, it takes a closer look at five episodes or stories each adhering to a general theme from various anthology series or the occasional made-for-TV movie. As anthologies become popular again, especially on TV, it’s a great time to see what this timeless mode of storytelling has to offer.


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