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Name:Mairosu
Location:Belgrade, Serbia


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Monday, January 23, 2006

1.44 --- Gramma

Reviewer's note : And again...Gramma is 1.44, Personal Demons 1.45, and Cold Reading 1.46.

***

Directed by :
Bradford May
Written by : Harlan Ellison (story by Stephen King)
Starring : Barrett Oliver, Darlanne Fluegel
First aired : 14th of February, 1986.

Little Georgie (Barrett Oliver, The Neverending Story, D.A.R.Y.L.) is mortally afraid of being left home alone with his grandmother. When his mother (Darlanne Fluegel, Eyes of Laura Mars, Once Upon a Time in America) leaves for an afternoon, Georgie is adamant he won't get scared.

His self-assurance lasts exactly five minutes, until he hears grandma's ghostly wail asking for tea. He fixes her some of it and brings it to her, but her sudden jerk move scares him and he spills it all over the floor, fleeing away. Driven by curiosity, he returns to the place where he spilled the tea and finds a secret stash under the floorplank, where he digs out some books.

The books turn out to be Necronomicon (yes, that Necronomicon), and grandma's personal diaries, from which Georgie concludes grandma was a witch. He returns to her room, and finds his grandmother dead. Leaving the room, he forgets to cover her face with the sheet. He goes back there again, but grandma is all of a sudden alive, and she snatches Georgie into her bed, slowly dragging him towards her as he's kicking and screaming.

Some time later, Georgie's mother return, and Georgie, sitting at the table with a sad expression, informs her gramma's died. She hugs her little boy, telling him that he shouldn't worry, as she will always be with them - a statement which rings closer to truth than she can imagine, because all of a sudden Georgie's eyes don't look all that human anymore...

***

On a select number of occasions, this new Twilight Zone went off its beaten path and well into Tales from the Darkside / Tales from the Crypt territory. Sometimes, like in Teacher's Aide, it was awful. Some other times, like in The Elevator, and now, Gramma, it was pretty good.

First thing one notices while watching this episode is that the Harlan Ellison script is based on a short story by Stephen King, arguably world's most famous horror writer. Let this not fool you or give you false expectations - the plot is paper-thin, and the twist is predictable (probably because there are only three characters involved, and the third one is away for the whole duration of the show). King might be hogging the credit, but this is purely director Bradford May's show - May's direction, coupled with a great performance by youngster Barrett Oliver (now an accomplished photographer), makes an otherwise dull story well-worth watching, and delivers a few scares and creepy bits as well. Particularily entertaining are Georgie's internal dialogues, in which his scary self is being confronted by his more adventurous self. The wit of those "exchanges", along with May, really carry this one.

Gramma herself, played by Frederick Long, sadly looks like a wrinkled up muppet once revealed. It would have been better if they stuck with showing her hand only (which is legit creepy).

Comments on "1.44 --- Gramma"

 

Anonymous greatstar said ... (6:11 PM) : 

This episode and The Elevator were the benchmarks for fear in my youth. Surreal to revisit those memories again. Thanks Mairosu!

 

Anonymous Paul said ... (12:05 PM) : 

Barrett Oliver has decent screen presence, but his voiceover acting is just horrible... This is a shame, since we have to listen to his thoughts for about 80% of the episode.

 

Blogger Stephen Robb said ... (2:37 AM) : 

I think we have to look at the subtext a little. It's not about monsters, King wants you to remember when you were ten, and the first time you met someone really old, and it's terrifying. They don't quite look human, they don't move like humans. Adults aren't bothered by this but for kids, it's their first spooky experience.

 

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