Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block
Episode Six “Sacrifice Zone”
Written by Nick Antocsa & Harley Peyton & Angela LaManna
Directed by Arkasha Stevenson
[All images courtesy Alan Fraser/Syfy]
As with previous episodes of the Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block Party, I recommend you visit Father Son Holy Gore for a full, in-depth recap of “Sacrifice Zone” (then check out the other great recaps at FSHG).
Now let’s take a deep dive into the symbolism and references I noticed in the gore-tastic, splatter-riffic sixth and final episode of Season Three, “Sacrifice Zone.” My episode recaps and observations for Seasons One and Two can be found at SciFi4Me.com, and my observations for Episodes One through Five can be found here.
The Louise Lispector (Krisha Fairchild) Giant Conspiracy Wall Mural gives some interesting background information –
*Louise’s brother David disappeared November 8th, 1985. He was last seen around 6 pm in Medallion Park and carried a portable tape deck. If you see him, please call 810-555-0198.
*The city of Garrett is located somewhere in Michigan.
*The Peach family business was a one-stop shop for all your meat processing needs. A receipt reads “Peach’s Meats Ltd. Wholesale Meat & Abattoir.” Need to find out more about the inner workings of a meat processing operation?
*Pick up a copy of the Criteron DVD/Bluray release of Georges Franju’s 1960 horror classic Eyes Without a Face. Franju’s stomach-churning first film, the documentary “Blood of the Beasts,” is included as a bonus feature. Or download or buy a copy of Upton Sinclair’s muckraking (and equally stomach upsetting) 1906 classic The Jungle.
*Grandpa Peach’s first name was Werner – perhaps he learned he meat rendering trade in Germany?
*Izzy may have cribbed the idea for her hiding place after seeing Castle Byers in Stranger Things Season One.
*Not a big reference, but Alice says her head feels “so clear … my mind is finally on my side again.” Like the Scientology concept of “going clear“?
*Joseph Peach (Ruger Hauer) may be panicked and on a (literal) deadline, but still maintains a soft sell approach with Alice (Olivia Luccardi). He dances around the reality of what they do with generalities and lies, telling Alice that the Pestilent God (Quinton Boisclair) “feeds gently.”
*Joseph describes Izzy (Allelise Pollmann) as the Pestilent God’s latest “little angel,” of which “our God has many.” Which ties in to the very direct question Zoe (Holland Roden) asks her sister; just how often does the Pestilent God need to eat?
*Aside from the need to get the entire cast in one place for the finale, why does the entire Peach clan aside from Grandma (Doreen Brownstone) go “downstairs” to find Izzy? Is time so short that everyone has to pitch in? As Evelina Peach(Angela Narth) reminded her husband, they’re up against a strict deadline to offer up the child, so perhaps “needs must when the devil drives.”
*The Peach Family descends the staircase to music either by Philip Glass or in the same musical family.
*I know the answer is ” to build suspense,” but WHY couldn’t Scissor Lady (Paula Boudreau) just yell “It’s me, the Scissor Lady! I rescued Izzy!” while she’s pounding on Louise’s front door? I couldn’t help but think of “Who’s That Knocking at My Door?” – either the 1927 song by Annette Anshaw or the 1967 movie directed by Martin Scorsese.
* Scissor Woman (Paula Boudreau) is also credited as Nora (Woods) BUT I went back and watched that scene a third time to make sure, and I distinctly heard Louise call her “Diane” as she’s delivering Izzy to relative safety. Maybe that’s Scissor Woman’s name? Or I misinterpreted the entire thing!
*Poor Dave From Collections (Adam Hurig)! I know he was annoying as heck, but c’mon, Alice owe $90,000 in student loans and he needs that commission! Maybe she didn’t like being reminded that eventually “you have to pay up.”
*Alice may be able to leave the Peach Mansion whenever she wants but like Dracula and other supernatural creatures, she must ask permission before entering a home.
*The Bootlegger tunnel turns out to be, if not a full-on McGuffin, a side road to the main story, providing momentary drama but not much else.
*I wondered if there was some connective tissue missing after Izzy falls screaming into the darkness of the tunnel. Joseph and Smash Mouth disappear, and we cut to the Peach family taking an unconscious Izzy through Medallion Park. Something is missing between these two points.
*Cheerful, industrious, and very pregnant Edie Peach gets stuck lighting the sacrificial fires while her father in law pontificates (a woman’s work is never done). These towers are, most likely, ruins of the burnt out Peach mansion. But the also resemble parts of a meat processing plant or smoke house. I wish we’d seen how the playground area, the altar & the towers that appear behind the altar fit together within Medallion Park. Have these towers always existed, or can they manifest in the real world like the Stairway?
*Before the Cosmic Horror main event, “The Sacrifice Zone” brings on the human sacrifice portion of the episode. “We bring the offering, he’s going to be pleased, very pleased indeed.”
“Human sacrifice requires the exchange of a life – willingly or not – in return for supernatural assistance or for a greater cause.” Whether willing or not, a child or adult, from the “burnt offerings” from the Book of Leviticus (as well as the Books of Jeremiah and Judges) to the mummified remains of children in the Andes, the Peach family tradition is unusual only for it’s more overtly supernatural elements.
*Horror comes in many forms, but “cosmic horror is a specific type of terror that emerges from a human’s discovery of how small they truly are in the face of the universe.” Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan (1890) and The King In Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers laid the groundwork for the frame H.P. Lovecraft built into the Cthulu Mythos.
Even a non-horror fan recognizes Joseph Peach’s advice to Alice “close your eyes at first. Your mind is fragile.” Her first sight of their God “could overwhelm you.” Even if they’ve never read any Lovecraft, you can hear echoes of Belloq’s ecstatic cry “It’s beautiful” from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982) in Joseph’s description of a “higher power … so beautiful, it’ll make your eyes bleed.”
*Does the Pestilent God kill the Peaches – or does his true face overwhelm them?
*In his resigned, defiant last words – calling his God a “Sick F*ck” – Joseph channels both the bravado of Captain Rhodes in Dawn of the Dead (1985) “Hope you choke on em!” and Andrew Robinson’s last line in Hellraiser (1987).
*Is Alice in an actual asylum? Would any real life institution put a mother and daughter together ? The cosmic wall decorations, her mother’s “Now you’re with me,” the chess set on the table lead me to believe Alice is with the Pestilent God.
*If Alice is in an illusion, I hope Zoe, Louise, Izzy and Luke (Brandon Scott) are in a very real, fragile, but durable family.
*Smart Mouth (Linden Porco) and the other Brood children are most likely Edie’s children – when Izzy escapes Smarth Mouth cries “Grandpa, the girl!”
*Poor Edie Peach (Diana Bentley)! Left alone, abandoned by the Meat Servant to die in childbirth! I would’ve loved to see her hurrying after the Meat Servant holding the latest Peach Grandchild.
*Poor Grandma Peach (Doreen Brownstone)! She’s finally talking, but nobody’s there to listen!Doreen Brownstone Still Working After 90 “Funny, touching, and true: the story of Canada’s oldest working star of stage and screen, Doreen Brownstone.”
*The final scene’s “La La” music has the breathy 60’s vocalizing from the “Rosemary’s Baby” soundtrack feel about it.
Farewell, Garrett and all your inhabitants. Especially Edie Peach; I’ll miss your sunny-side up view of your (after)life – and your uninhibited enjoyment of dessert.
Next up – Channel Zero reveals a Hidden Door from the Creepypasta “I Found a Hidden Door in My Cellar …“