Fang & Saucer Deep Dive-CHANNEL ZERO: THE DREAM DOOR Ep.1 “Ashes On My Pillow”

Channel Zero

Channel Zero: The Dream Door
Episode One “Ashes On My Pillow”
Teleplay by Nick Antosca
Directed by E.L. Katz

[All images courtesy Syfy]

For an in-depth recap of every episode of Channel Zero, I highly recommend a visit to  Father Son Holy Gore . Check out his other great recaps, movie reviews, and in-depth essays on horror.
Now let’s take a deep dive into the symbolism and references I noticed in “Ashes On My Pillow’, the first episode of Channel Zero’s fourth season.   My episode recaps and observations for Seasons One and Two are at, and my observations for Season Three can be found here at Fang and Saucer.

Tonight on “So There’s a Hidden Door in Your Basement

Dream Police Detections

* Every episode title for CZ:DD is a song title. Houston-born jazz/blues saxophonist Eddie “Cleanhead” Wilson released the single “Ashes On My Pillow” (with “Hot Lips” Page on vocals)in 1950.  Credit to Father Son Holy Gore for this tidbit.

*We get  hints of trouble between Jillian and her father – although it’ll be familiar to true crime fans and/or readers of Linwood Barclay’s 2007 novel No Time To Say Goodbye.

*As they enjoy unagi sushi, Jillian advises her husband Tom in a variation on that oldest of clichés, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

*It’s probably not the same house, but the kitchen/dining area/family room in the Hodgson home sure looks like the Sleator home in Season Two, No-End House.

Those are X-Files level flashlights, folks.

*”Ashes” does a great job of laying a trail of clues from the start, starting with an adorable pug Tom and Jillian find in their new  home. Jillian notes, “When I was a kid, I had a stuffed toy animal that looked just like this.”

*Why would Tom have a copy of Jillian’s childhood flipbook? Did she give it to him when she moved away?

*Is the nickname Pretzel Jack a variation on that snack item classic, Cracker Jack?

*Jason (Nicholas Tucci) used Tinder to find his “plus 1” for dinner with Tom and Jillian.

Dr. “There’s a Rational Explaination for Everything” Carnacki at your service.

*Tom, Jillian, and her estranged father live in a fictional town (Caldecott), which is located in a real Minnesota county (Itasca). Tom and Jillian live at 48 Brahms Way, and not-so-dear-Dad lives at 249 Beverly St.

*Ian is a very affable, friendly neighbor. Almost too friendly.

*The alleged existences of a Berenstain Bears book with a differently spelled name and Sinbad starring in a Shazam movie are both examples of “the Mandela Effect.

*Jason may be a dependable friend, but a gun safety expert his is not.

*The first “dream door” opens to a sloping set of stairs and another door in a small antechamber. Along with the sloping descent and the whoosh of released air from the main chamber, Jillian’s discovery reminded me of Howard Carter opening the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1922.

*Ian is pretty genre-savvy. Tom, Jillian, and Jason showing up at his door in the middle of the night reminds him of  ” the start of a horror movie.”

*But he doesn’t know how to hold a cat correctly.

Or Fluffy may be running away for an entirely different reason


*How interesting that Friendly New Neighbor Ian just happens to be an expert of Jungian psyschology.

“The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends.”― Carl Gustav Jung

*Jillian’s therapist shares a name with the fictional “psychic detective” created by William Hope Hodgson.  Carnacki  wasn’t as determined to shoehorn arational explanation on every mystery, however.

*When we first see Pretzel Jack (Troy James), his face to the wall pose seems strikingly similar to the last image in The Blair Witch Project (1999).

*The slogan for Hodgson House and Home – “Your Complete Renovation and Landscaping Specialists”.

*Sarah Winters (Diana Bentley) should look familiar to faithful Channel Zero fans; she played Edie Peach in Butcher’s Block.

*In their argument before his Eye Scream demise, Jason refers to Bob Clark’s 1974 horror movie Black Christmas (“The calls are coming from inside the house!“), while Jillian’s “Don’t gaslight me!” harkens back to the 1944 Ingrid Bergman-Charles Boyer suspense classic Gaslight.

*The Sonic Youth  version of “Superstar” played over the closing credits is a far cry from the most famous cover version of the song; The Carpenters 1971 version reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

*Sadly, Todd Haynes’ 1987 short film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, hasn’t been available to view or purchase legally since 1990. Which is a shame, since Time Out magazine named it the Greatest Music Film Ever.



Episode Two asks “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”

Until next time, Dream a Little Dream of Contortionist Clowns …

The first three seasons of Channel Zero are currently on the Shudder streaming service. Channel Zero: The Dream Door is currently available on demand and will join them on Shudder in 2019.



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