Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nightmares and Dreamscapes TNT 2006

Nightmares and Dreamscapes was done as a mini-series by TNT.  This was an extraordinary series which did Stephen King's stories justice in my opinion.  The filming was wonderful throughout the entire series.  Unlike a lot of other made-for-TV series, it was done with quality in mind.  This series likened the crispness of Storm Of The Century.

Keep in mind that during the entire episode there is no speaking whatsoever. Battleground begins with a guy named Jason Renshaw played by William Hurt  (which you don’t find out his character’s name until later) driving in a car going to a place called Morris Toy Company. There is a guy lovingly handling and looking at 2 toys, a spaceman and a limited edition fairy figurine that he removed from a box. He delicately handled it, as if it were valuable to him. The guy in the car sits in wait outside of the toy store and is planning his attack. After using binoculars to see what was happening in the building he pulls out a gun, rubber gloves and a mask. At first you get the impression that he is a burglar but later something else is revealed. When he gets into the building he sends in a quacking cell phone that reads that it is a bomb and is going to detonate and then a countdown begins. When a security guard sees and attempts to get rid of the cell phone he is attacked by him. Then a second security guy is also taken down by him by shooting him many times in the chest. That is when Jason shuts off the security system. A third security officer is taken down and pulled into a room. When the hit man is in the CEO’s office, the camera pans around the room and focuses on certain toys in the room. (This is important because these toys show up later in other unassuming places.) When the burglar finally gets to the owner of Morris Toy Company, Hans Morris begins to cry when he realizes he was going to die. The hit man shoots him in the head and in the chest, that’s when his head smashes down onto a signed photo. When the burglar/now known as a hit man goes over to the victim, he picks up a bloodied and shattered photo of a signed picture from Hans’ mom with a pointy headed happy face (which IMO utilizes the letter “M” in Mom to make the face) that reads( this is the best I could decipher) “Best from your number one ideas giver, love, Mom.” Jason Renshaw then steals the fairy figurine.

 After that, it cuts to Jason sitting on a plane, wiring funds from the Airphone.   The phone itself says watch NEWS then he puts in his number and name. That's when the person he is sitting next to “asked” for gum because he was chewing some gum. I say “asked” because he was wearing earphones and she pointed to her mouth and lipped the word gum (but not out loud). While in the airport, he sees some toys that are sort of making him feel uncomfortable.  He sees a news clip about Mr. Morris of Morris Toy Company being murdered but again, you can only read the news because the sound is turned down. Throughout the entire episode toys show up. In a child’s backpack, at the penthouse desk another toy and then…..

When he arrives at his penthouse in Dallas you can tell that he is somewhat of a neat nick. He seems to be a methodical person. He picks up a rubber duck that is near his pool (obviously not where he had left it) and placed it on a counter connected to a grill. He then took the musical fairy and placed it on display in a glass cabinet. He seems to be a collector of trophies from all of his kills. He goes to his computer and there is an email:

To: Jason Renshaw
Subject: Money wired

Money wired.
Something came up on the London job.
Usual Fee.

Let me know….

He then falls asleep until he gets a ring from the door. He received a package that was addressed to:

To: Jason Renshaw
      6734 Bayview
      San Francisco, CA 94108
                                            With a little drawing of a pointy headed happy face.

He painstakingly opens the package and finds that it is a Jungle Army Footlocker filled with Little Green Army Men.

20 Infrantrymen
  3 Helicopters
  2 Barmen
  2 Bazookamen
  2 Medics
  2 Jeeps
  2 Howitzer Cannon
(Plus Bonus Surprise!!) This was printed on the back of footlocker which he did not notice.

He looks at the figures and questions the strange package. He goes to take a drink of Coca Cola and that is about when the foot locker falls off of the counter. He walks over to the foot locker and all of the figures have vanished.  This is where the real story begins.... That is all that I am going to reveal about Battleground but let me tell you this is one you DO NOT want to miss. This story is for the child in everyone.
Now, William Hurt did an excellent job playing this character. Since he was unable to use words as a way to express emotion, he proved to be quite an extraordinary actor.

Crouch End
Crouch End begins with a woman (Mrs. Doris Freeman) visually shaken, crying and dirty sitting in a police station giving her account of what happened. She is sobbing and telling them about her husband that is missing. The policeman asks her, “Here in Crouch End?” She then shakes her head yes.

A newly married couple named Mr. and Mrs. Lonnie Freeman arrive at a hotel in London on their honeymoon. They were given a note that was left for them at the front desk but neglect to read the note until the next day. (I wanted to mention that the flower arrangements were so beautifully done for the scene in the hotel suite, kudos to whomever created them.)

The next day while eating breakfast, Lonnie Freeman reads the note from the day before. It is an invitation for dinner at 6:30 PM from a John Squalls, whom he explains to his wife that he is their lawyer in London. He calls back and accepts his invitation. He writes the address on a napkin which he later forgets. He is told to catch a cab to Crouch End. That is about the time when three loud motorcycles go by. Doris takes particular notice to them while looking uneasy. He then asks a stranger on the street how long it would take to get to Crouch End from the hotel. The stranger tells him that is no place for strangers. He says gravely, “Do not go to Crouch End.”

Once in the cab going to Crouch End, Mrs. Freeman observed a sign that stated [60 Lost In Underground Horror]. She got goose flesh after reading that sign, she explains that her grandmother says that goose flesh is someone walking over what is about to become your grave. The cab driver Archibald, spoke of thin spots and other dimensions. Archie said there are things that cannot be explained between that what we see as our world and things that are other dimensions.

When they arrive at the entrance to Crouch End the motorcycle crew is parked nearby. A strange thing happens when Doris looks at the faces of the motorcyclists, at first their faces appear to be human, then werewolves with black eyes and then human once again.  Lonnie notices he has no cell signal or battery charge left on his phone.  Her husband gets out to make a call.  When the camera pans around the area it seems to be a dark and desolate gothic town.  She asks the cabbie if Crouch End is a nice place to live he says that they tried to make it nice, but it is not easy. He proceeds to tell her that they used to have a tube station rail. During a repair to the station platform there was a terrible accident. “They, well, let’s just say they moved on”, he said. He tells her that they stopped using it in the late 1930’s, when they found a mass grave. He then tells her that the streets were paved over the real streets of Slaughter, Towen. (Towen-is a druid word meaning a place of ritual sacrifice in this story) Archie tells her Crouch End  was built over sacrificial barriers which is a place between what is rational and what is not. And he mentions that fresh bodies were found and not bodies from centuries ago, as you might expect . The cabbie says Crouch End is not a nice place; he explains that this world is like being inside a large leather ball which has scuffs and nicks that eventually rip, tear, and seep into our world to breathe and lust. Archie warns them by telling them they should not be here.

When the Freemans get out of the cab to use the payphone, strangely the cabbie leaves without being paid. That's when they are then left high and dry in Crouch End, a place that is feared by people in the surrounding areas of London. Discover for yourself the many gifts of this film.

There is wonderful balance of humor and suspense in this short film. The cinematography was out of this world and special  effects were amazing. They used an ominous bluish-black style of filming in the town of Crouch End. Awesome! I can't say enough about this film. Lonnie , Doris, and Archibald play their characters so well. The loving relationship between the newlywed couple was also believable. You'll want to watch this one many times, as I already have.

Sidenote: Stephen King's short story, "Crouch End", where Crouch End is an interdimensional portal. He chose the location because of a number of fantasy authors have lived there, including Clive Barker and Peter Straub source Wiki.

(I will partially review the rest of these short stories as I have more time to devote to this post, I wanted to add them as I complete them.)

Umney's Last Case  
The End Of The Whole Mess

The Road Virus Heads North

The Fifth Quarter

Autopsy Room Four

You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band   Roseburg, Oregon  Umpqua State Park


  1. I've been meaning to check these out for some time now. They look pretty good, most made-for-TV King is pretty lacking. They've been in my netflix queue for some time now, but the queue has ground to a halt since the introduction of "On Demand".

    I wish those were available instantly! Thanks for the rec. though, I may just have to bump them up to the top.

  2. Some Call me Tim,

    Move this one to the top of your queue, you will love it. Hurry! :)


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