Friday the 13th: Pipe Dream

At an inventor’s seminar, a ruffled middle-aged man stays behind after a meeting breaks up to chat with a handsome, sweater-vested young man about his invention. The young man, clearly picking up on the subtext of this scene, shows him a design for a new, more efficient mini-rocket launcher. The older man lights up his wooden pipe, carved to resemble Satan, which was a gift from his uncle and the smoke dissolves the younger man. The older man then takes the plans to a weapons manufacturer and passes them off as his own, landing a sizeable amount of money and a job, which he then takes home to his shabby apartment as a prelude to proposing to his girlfriend.

Back at the shop, Ryan receives an invitation to his father’s wedding, and so now we know that all the previous was focused on Ray Dallian, Ryan’s disapproving father. After Micki talks Ryan into attending we learn that actually it was Connie, the fiance, who sent the invitation, but Ray and Ryan declare a truce long enough to go through with the wedding and at least pretend to reconcile. On the factory tour, Ray tells Ryan how, when he was growing up, Uncle Lewis was his only positive male role model, which Ryan somehow fails to take as a huge red flag that something hinky might be up with his father. Fortunately, when Micki hears the story of how Lewis used to give Ray gifts, she shows some damn sense and goes to the factory. Meanwhile, a coworker who has discovered Ray stole the weapon plans attempts to blackmail him so Ray dissolves him with the pipe, thus graduating from “guy who made a bad mistake” to “active participant in doing Satan’s work,” and Micki arrives just in time to witness this. When Ryan insists that the thing that looks, quacks, and walks like a duck is a goose, Micki calls Jack to search the Manifest.

The next day, which is both the wedding day and the big weapons demo, Jack shows up and tells Micki that Lewis recorded receiving the pipe, but never selling it, so he and Micki search for the pipe, not realizing that Ray has locked it in his desk at work. Ray almost has an attack of conscious when talking to Ryan, but then he discovers that Micki and Jack have taken his keycard for work, and rushes there in a panic, running into the Totally Not A South American Dictator that his company is planning on selling the weapons to. Micki gets trapped in the building with the pipe, but Ray manages to knock Jack out and hide his body on the weapons testing range. Ryan narrowly saves Jack, but Ray has cornered Micki in a supply closet and gotten the pipe back. With a gun pointed at his father, Ryan disowns him and demands to know where Micki is, as she’s slowly surrounded by smoke, which then turns on Ryan as he approaches. With a final pang of conscience, Ray pushes Ryan out of the smoke and is dissolved instead. And our heroes leave, letting Connie think she’s been jilted at the altar.

An only okay episode. John LeMay’s given a lot of good scenes again, but the “Ryan’s family is terrible and haunted” theme was already touched upon when we got the dead brother stuff out of nowhere, so making his father a murderous con-man feels a bit like gilding the lily. The nature of the antiques suggested here is somewhat interesting, as the corrupting influence actually plays out here, and the fact that Lewis targeted his own relatives certainly speaks to the man’s sadistic nature. It’s also another hint that Lewis was specifically crafting the situations with regards to who got what antique towards specific ends, which, again, makes him going after a relative particularly sadistic. We’re also explicitly told that Ray’s death was the result of renouncing the gifts of the curse, which is a new wrinkle and not a resolution we’ve encountered before.

A Very Robey 80s

Paperback Book Club

The Lottery, Popular Library edition, Shirley Jackson
“I’m stumped on what we should do for the cover, Bob.”
“Is…is there some way we can literally depict the story events and their metaphorical meaning at the same time?”

Friday the 13th: Badge of Honor

So, look, this episode only exists because someone on the writing staff wanted to do a horror riff on Miami Vice and the producers were apparently one script short for the syndication package. I mean, this episode has Veteran Character Actor David Proval (of every gangster movie ever fame) in it, and it’s still terrible. But we can get through this together.

The police are waiting for some back-up to bust crime boss Victor Haas on buying counterfeit money charges, when past-his-prime cop Sharko (yes really) jumps the gun and gets a bunch of people killed, notably another cop. This ends up costing Sharko his badge, so he takes the time to swipe an antique Sheriff’s star badge from the evidence lock-up before going home to his apparently invalid wife, whose condition is the result of a car bomb meant for Sharko, because apparently the greatest threat to Not Canadian Organized Crime are chubby middle-aged cops with delusions of grandeur. An altercation with the bouncer outside Haas’s club leads Sharko to discover that the curse, in this case, works by branding people to death if he pins the star badge over their hearts.

Finally we head over to the shop, where Ryan is instantly jealous when an ex-boyfriend of Micki’s arrives, Tim. Micki, who has been out buying Ryan Jelly Babies because we are not in Canada, nope, immediately offers Tim Jack’s room while Jack is away, so that Tim can do his mysterious errands in town, which shockingly, involve selling Haas counterfeit money. Are you shocked, I know I was shocked at this amazing coincidence. In any case, Micki and Ryan investigating Tim’s mysterious behavior leads to them discovering Sharko’s killing spree. Some more digging gets the pair to witness Sharko killing his boss and the discovery that he’s pulled a Norman Bates on his wife’s body. It all comes down to a confrontation at the docks, where everyone dies, including Tim who it turns out was an undercover FBI agent. And so Micki and Ryan head home having failed to accomplish much of anything but get the badge after a bunch of people died.

It’s bad, is what I’m saying. And it’s trying so hard to be good, with much more inventive camera angles and lighting effects than we’re used to, but Sharko is just a deranged lunatic who is completely unsympathetic and the gangsters are cartoonish, and none of that is worth sidelining the main cast for most of the story. The antique is interesting thematically, and ties into the story well, but that’s the only good thing.
Besides Robey’s amazing clubbing outfit.

A Very Robey 80s

Friday the 13th: The Pirate’s Promise

On the Eastern seaboard of Not Canada, lighthouse keeper Joe Fenton is bringing a girl he’s picked up back to his lighthouse, because who wouldn’t travel out to the middle of nowhere with a strange man in order to have sex in a lighthouse, right? Before nookie commences, though, Joe sounds an antique foghorn, summoning a zombie in a rowboat, and stabs his date. He gives the body to the zombie, who tosses him some gold coins before rowing off. The next day, local historian Dewey Covington calls up the shop after receiving one of Jack’s “Did You Buy A Satanic Antique?” letters to let Micki know that the foghorn he bought from Lewis was sold on to a man who has now died. And so Micki and Ryan head up the coast to a town founded by pirates who gave up the life to become whalers because that is a thing that could have happened, sure.

Once there, they get the history of the town from the local drunk, specifically that of Angus McBride, who was betrayed by his crew who then went on to found the town, as well as four local women who have gone missing. They also meet Joe, who tells them an obvious lie about selling the foghorn on to a mysterious man who came by one day on his boat. That night Joe invites a women over to appraise his coins, and while she’s discussing investment plans, he kills her and summons the ghost-zombie-pirate of Butcher McBride. Only this time he’s witnessed by the town drunk, who alerts the town, starting with a skeptical Dewey, and only really getting a hearing from Micki and Ryan when he mentions hearing the foghorn. Joe, meanwhile, is crossing names out of an old ledger and talking to himself happily about how there is only one left. A honey-trap aided search of the lighthouse yields no clues, save old coins, and that night the town drunk unwisely decides to blackmail Joe, who summons the pirate zombie and kills him. Joe is distraught to be told, not the location of the treasure, but that “there’s one more” descendant of a crew member to kill.

Dewey is able to prove that the coin Micki and Ryan found was from a Spanish ship sunk by McBride, and a little more research shows that every woman who has gone missing was descended from the crew. Micki tries to find more descendants and hurries off after learning something terrible, barely missing Joe. Ryan, meanwhile, explores some caves and finds all of the dead descendants piled up neatly. Joe finds the same secret Micki did, which is that Dewey was adopted and is also a descendant of the crew. Micki is unable to stop Joe from killing Dewey, and Ryan is very nearly killed by McBride before the pirate ghost is summoned by the foghorn. Joe is quite upset to learn that there is actually one more descendant to kill, especially when he learns that it’s him. And so the pirate zombie guts Joe with his hook hand and drags the body out to sea.

Another of the relatively rare “total failure” episodes, as while the foghorn is ultimately recovered, the curse effectively runs its course. We even get a bit of a coda making it explicit that, yep, all those innocent people who got killed are being dragged to hell on a ghost ship by a pirate. Storywise, this is a pretty mediocre story, as the…influence…of The Fog is pretty clear here. The antique’s gimmick of summoning zombie pirates is almost interesting, but the highly specific nature of the curse means that it could only work in this circumstance and none other.

A Very Robey 80s