As a science-fiction fan, I spent hours as a kid sitting through countless TWILIGHT ZONE marathons and creature feature flicks that ran endlessly on the Sci-Fi channel. And then at some point in my teens, the network got a makeover, changed it’s name to “Syfy”, and began primarily airing reality shows and D-grade (if I’m being generous) original movies. The one thing that still brought me back was their original television programming but I hadn’t really gotten hooked on anything in years. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, comes a little 6 episode show called CHANNEL ZERO. I didn’t know much other than it was going to be an anthology and the stories would be pulled from some of the scarier Creepypastas.
I admit I was hesitant. For one, I had heard virtually nothing about this show until a few weeks before it was set to air because I hadn’t really been paying attention to Syfy. So one day my nana asks me about something called CANDLE COVE and I’m thinking to myself, does my nana read Creepypasta? She doesn’t, but I still have the coolest nana ever.
I began my research on the show and found it was going to be an anthology which immediately perked my interest and that both Don Mancini and Nick Antosca were at the helm. Mancini is a horror legend and I trust his judgment for the most part. But what really interested me is Antosca who is an author of several books and also wrote 13 episodes of my favorite show in the past 10 years, HANNIBAL. I had to see this show, so for the first time ever I set my DVR to record a program on Syfy.
CHANNEL ZERO: CANDLE COVE centers around Mike Painter, played by Paul Schneider, a child psychologist who is drawn back to his childhood home in Irontown, Ohio after suffering a mental breakdown and strange visions. We learn that Mike was sent to live with his aunt after a series of child murders that claimed his brother (whose body was never recovered) and several other children. They were found strewn across an open field and in a tree with their teeth missing.
Once he’s back, Mike reunites with some childhood friends to try and get to the bottom of the strange visions he’s having. We find out that they all used to watch a show called CANDLE COVE that featured Percy the Pirate and his many adventures on the high seas. But it wasn’t a regular kids show. They each recall terrifying characters such as Jawbone, an evil looking skeleton who beckoned Percy to his cave, as well as something called “the Skintaker”.
The origin of the show was never known and it only seemed to be on during the disappearance and inevitable murders. When the bodies were found, Candle Cove was never aired again… Until Mike arrives back in town, that is.
CHANNEL ZERO: CANDLE COVE wrapped up its six-episode run a couple weeks ago but it still haunts me. So I’m here to tell you, dear readers and horror lovers, why you absolutely need to seek this show out OnDemand and why you should stay tuned for Fall of 2017 when the second series, titled CHANNEL ZERO: NO-END HOUSE, begins.
The Quiet Moments
Describing something as “Lynchian” has become a tad overused in describing the off-kilter but I’m going to have to do it here. CANDLE COVE is an extremely quiet show in every way. From the dialogue to the limited, and at times, lack of score the audience is doused in silence. The silence is no doubt intentional and fills every scene with the feeling of unreality that David Lynch has honed in his filmmaking. I would compare Irontown a bit to the town featured in BLUE VELVET where everything looks normal but the way people speak, carry themselves, and interact is just a bit off. It’s almost an uncanny valley situation where you are watching something that looks to be wholesome and normal but with a nagging sense of dread seeping through the cracks.
Creepy kids are a staple in our beloved genre and CANDLE COVE produces some of the most disturbing children you’ve ever met. We learn pretty early on that this unknown pirate show has a brainwashing effect on the children of Irontown. I would go as far as to say that this show did what VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and CHILDREN OF THE CORN did, but better. I say “better” because those kids, and others, can be easily recognized as evil. What makes the children in CHANNEL ZERO scary is that they are just regular children. They weren’t all born on the same day under a full moon, they don’t pray to corn gods, they are just kids. Until they aren’t. And when that happens, you better run.
Okay so I had mentioned something called the Skintaker before and at the risk of spoilers, I won’t really go into what that one is all about. We also have Jawbone the scary pirate skeleton who wields a hook, but nothing compares to the main source of nightmare fuel: The tooth monster. It’s featured in the first episode and everyone after continuously. See, he/she/whatever feeds on the teeth of children. But it doesn’t just consume the teeth, it’s entirely made out of teeth. There are certain things in horror that will always get me and nails and teeth are two of them.It has no eyes, no nose, just a mouth with which to consume more baby teeth. The worst part about this monster is the crackling and gurgling sound it makes as it slithers about on all fours.
And I would just like to add that I straight up had a Candle Cove-themed nightmare for what it’s worth.
The Cinematic Scope
CANDLE COVE was only six episodes and made for a channel that usually produces fairly cheap and CG-heavy splatter content. Each episode felt as though I was watching something that was intended to be a film. Everything felt much bigger than it was while still maintaining a tight story that never really felt rushed or slow. The amount of care and detail that fills the show pours out in volumes, much like HANNIBAL. Sure, I wanted more episodes, but the truth is six was pretty much perfect.
While this season may be over, we already know that production has wrapped on the second season titled CHANNEL ZERO: NO-END HOUSE, which will be airing in the Fall of 2017. I implore every one of you to check out the first season and tune in when it returns. As a concept, bringing Creepypasta to television is a step in the right direction for melding internet culture and tv culture. Sure, we all know Slenderman but there are so many other tales written by regular people every day who have such great talent. You can read about the original Candle Cove here on Blum and you can check out the teaser for season two below.
Listen to Blumhouse.com’s own horror podcast Shock Waves where we talk all things CHANNEL ZERO: CANDLE COVE with show creator Nick Antosca and series writer Harley Peyton embedded below!
*All Photos: CANDLE COVE: CHANNEL ZERO (Syfy)