Halloween Extravaganza: Mark Slade: No Hockey Masks or Machetes Allowed

No Hockey Masks or Machetes Allowed
(Top 10 Episodes of Friday the 13th: The Series)

For Tim and Sarah

Friday the 13th: The Series (1987-1990) may have been the best television show of the 1980’s. It is definitely in my top ten of TV shows. There was nothing like it on the air at that time. Combining the horror of past shows like The Twilight Zone, fellow anthology shows Tales from the Darkside, Monsters, and Night Stalker—with the modern horror of the films of its day (gore and sex) was brilliant.

This TV series has no relation to Jason or the Friday the 13th films except its producers. Originally it was to be called The 13th Hour, but it was probably a better marketing idea to cash in on the films. Strangely, now there is a TV show in the works based on the films and will share the same title. That’s lazy on the part of network execs. You can just as easily use the Jason name in the title and everyone will know who you are talking about. In England, the show was known as Friday’s Curse.

This show was created by Frank Mancuso Jr. and Larry B. Williams. Shot and produced in Canada. I wonder if this was one of the shows to give producers an idea how many great locations and how much cheaper it was to film in Canada. The eerie theme music was composed by Fred Mollin.

The premise is that two cousins by marriage who never met, inherit an antiques shop after its owner, Uncle Lewis Vendredi (played by great character actor R.G. ArmstrongPat Garrett & Billy the Kid, White Lightning, Children of the Corn), dies mysteriously. Micki and Ryan soon learn that the antiques sold there were all cursed by the devil himself. With the help of Jack Marshak, the three hunt down these objects, learn the dangers of this job, even feel guilty not being able to prevent deaths.

That’s what separates this show from a lot of copy cats (Warehouse 13). It’s very human and you get to know characters.

Also the talented group of writers and directors, actors, staff that ran this show, made it look and feel like a network TV series, not a low budget syndicated show. The stars had charisma, and melded well with each other. John D. Lemay as Ryan, pop star Robey as Micki, ever reliable Chris Wiggins as Jack Marshak, and later Steven Monarque as Johnny. 72 episodes were made, three seasons. Here’s the list:

1. Stick it in Your Ear (Season 3 Episode 4)

A hearing aid that lets the wearer hear the thoughts of people around him. Adam Cole is a mentalist in a double act that is going badly because he has a hearing problem. He goes to the ear doctor and promptly steals an antique hearing aide. This enables him to hear others thoughts. The only problem is the thoughts build up inside and if he doesn’t release them onto another poor unsuspecting soul, his body could release them for him, which is like an overload.

Why is this my favorite episode? How it handles the subject of con artists working in the so called “Spirit” profession. They make people think they have supernatural powers by using old Magician’s tricks, and steal hard earned money from the working class. It’s also one of the gorier episodes and a sex scene that the producers got away with because of late night syndication. But the script, direction, and acting is perfectly executed. It also contains my favorite quote and delivery between Jack and Johnny. Johnny: You guys won’t let me write about any of this stuff. Jack: that’s because you write fiction and that has to make sense. According to Wikipedia, this episode was influenced by Magician and debunker James Randi accused (and proved) that Healer Peter Poppoff used a hearing device to receive information about his congregation that he regularly cured of all medical problems they had.

2. Faith Healer (Season 1 Episode 12)

“First the glove heals, then it kills to pay for it.”

David Cronenberg directed this gem. The story bears some resemblance to the episode above, except a white glove that can heal, and if those ailments are not rid of in good time, the owner has the problems ten folds. What a unique and great idea, one I hadn’t seen used in horror television before. Just like the episode above, the makers had to have been following James Randi’s exploits to come up with this story. It also deals with body horror, which fit right in with Cronenberg’s other films. It even has one of Cronenberg’s mainstays guesting, Robert A. Silverman as a debunker, named Jerry, who specializes in faith healing con men. Jack and Jerry go way back, never seeing eye to eye about whether supernatural exists or not. The best thing about this episode is the twist in the story, something the viewer wouldn’t expect.

3. The Inheritance (Season 1 Episode 1)

This was the pilot episode about a killer doll. The episode that explains the premise of the show and introduces Jack, Micki, and Ryan. Sarah Polley is a little girl, Mary, who hates her stepmother, and to be frank, rightfully so. The woman is overbearing and controlling, and downright mean to the little girl. They wander into the shop and discover Uncle Lewis ready to close. They talk him into letting them look around and Little Mary sees a doll she wants. Lewis has second thoughts about selling it, and tells them to leave. Turning away a customer of cursed items has dire consequences, and the Devil or evil presence kills Uncle Lewis. Next we meet Micki who is about to marry a successful Lawyer. She has the intention of selling the shop. She meets Cousin Ryan. She convinces Ryan to have a sale so she can get back to her life, but Ryan really has nothing else going on. During the sale, Mary’s father buys the doll for her. The doll begins to talk to her, and they make a pact to rid themselves of the stepmother just as she wants to take the doll away. One late night they catch Jack Marshak sneaking around, and this is where Jack relates his story that he was the one that travelled the world collecting the antique oddities for Lewis to sell. They discover the manifest and the contract between the Devil and Lewis. The show is off and running.

4. Shadow Boxer (Season 1 Episode 8)

The cursed item is boxing gloves. When used, literally the shadow of a boxer appears on walls or buildings and beats their victim to death. A never- was been sweeps the floors and is prodded by fellow trainees at the gym, gives him cause for vengeance and builds an even bigger bloated ego. He first discovers the gloves in the manager’s office tries them on, and when the manager catches him, the shadow beats the manager to death. This definitely could have fit into the Twilight Zone. At one instance even Jack gets caught up in a tangle with that shadow.

5. Wedding Bell Blues (Season 2 Episode 22)

This episode is about a cursed pool stick. Danny is a talented pool hustler who is up to win 5,000 dollars in a big match. His fiancé Jennifer believes that he is the man who of her dreams. Jack and Ryan go off to find cursed snow shoes, leaving Micki to mind the store and eventually team up with that kid Johnny who is helping locate that pool stick. This is where we meet Johnny who ended up replacing Ryan as one of the main pursuers of cursed objects. This episode is notable for Lolita Davidovich guest starring as the sister of a woman who would do anything to make her boyfriend a success. Full of characters who care of nothing but themselves and pay the price for it.

6. Tattoo (Season 1 Episode 16)

This one is about a cursed tattoo kit. Gambler Tommy Chen can’t win for losing. He sees a rival gambler using a tattoo kit that not only gives good luck, but the tattoos he places on his victims come to life to ensure death as the price. Tommy kills the rival and takes the tattoo kit. His grandfather notices the writing on the box, he knows its evil and also the name of Lewis’s shop. He calls Jack and asks to return it. Which turns out that the kit is listed in the manifest. Tommy also owes quite a bit of money to the mob. He is given 24 hours to bring in a lot of money in a short time. An excellent episode that brings the gang into Chinatown and introduces the idea that they are a family, whether they believe it or not. The animation in this episode is tremendous, must have cost a fortune for TV.

7. Hate on Your Dial (Season 3 Episode 6)

Cursed 1950’s car stereo that can take you back to a simpler time, before you had to give people of color their rights. A poignant episode. Very well written (notable for replacing the adage of the N word with colored), extremely well-acted episode. You can see the influence of the 1988 film Mississippi Burning here.

Robert A. Silverman guest stars again, this time playing slow-witted Archie who buys the cursed car radio for his Brother Ray’s 1954 Chevy. When blood is drawn, the car can take whoever is in the vehicle back to that year. It’s no surprise that Ray hate’s black people, because his father (a member of the Klan) had murdered a black man and a mysterious witness put him in prison and eventually put to death by the state. Ray is enamored to be back in the past and see his father, whom he never met.

A ballsy episode, and frankly, I don’t think they can produce such a story these days in this PC world. Terrible times, no one should have to go through any kind of racism, or torment for their skin color or for any reason. But when dealing with villains of any kind, you can’t water it down (as in the last season of American Horror Story with Kathy Bates character). When you watch this episode, you come away informed and again, the villains in this episode have reason for the things they do, and the show doesn’t apologize, because they are villains. The ending is just and satisfying, the scenes with the Klan a lot scarier than anything the show has ever produced.

8. The Great Montarro (Season 1 Episode 6)

A pair of Houdin cabinets is the focus of this one. We get to see Jack discuss his early days as a magician. There is death as payment as always, and the victims get locked in the cabinets to guarantee magic works. Jack and Micki enter a magic contest. One of the few episodes where the owner doesn’t know about the curse. A very bloody episode. Once again we see Jack converse with people he knew back in his days as something other than a pursuer of cursed objects.

9. Bottle of Dreams (Season 1 Episode 26)

A bottle traps victims in their worst memories. This was an end of the season flashback episode, to help hype the coming season and help newcomers to find out more about the show. According to Wikipedia, this was also the result of a writers strike during production. Micki and Ryan are trapped in the vault with the cursed items. Rashid makes an appearance as does Uncle Lewis. It was an ingenious way of reintroducing Lewis, adding a possible helper and showing the audience all of the previous cursed antiques and backstory. Remember when shows used to use flashbacks? A thing of the past.

10. Cupid’s Quiver (Season 1 Episode 3)

This episode holds a special place in my heart. Not only was it the first episode I had seen, but on a Saturday night, watching TV with my brother and Father, trying to find something on at ten pm. I’m not sure why my Father stopped on the syndicated channel (the newly dubbed Fox 35 affiliate of Fox network) we thought this was a Fox show. I’m not even sure why it was on at ten pm, when usual time slot was eleven pm(on another channel, a CBS affiliate, it was on at eleven thirty and even spurred the local newscaster of the area to film a short commercial urging parents not to let their children watch this show). My brother and I were hooked( later to involve our younger sister in our obsession over Cursed antiques show), and our Father watched one or two more, then he didn’t care to watch anymore, probably the late hour and silly premise did it for him.

The Cupid of Malek makes women fall in love with the owner of the little statue. The three of them tear around a college campus looking for the statue and the person who owns it. You get to see some great animation with the use of the statue shooting arrows and his evil facial expressions. Denis Forest was great as both funny and a creepy would-be rapist. This episode was masterfully directed by Atom Egoyan, best known for such indie films as Exotica, The sweet hereafter, and Felicia’s journey.

It was hard to pick the top ten. I even had five more picked when I realized the article would be too long. I know I skipped fan fav’s as The Scarecrow, or Vanity’s mirror, The Quilt of Hathor, but these are my favorites. My list is way too long to include in its entirety.

Mr. Zero

Barry London is a Fixer by trade, lent out by his boss to other crime lords. He is sent to his hometown of Geneva, New Jersey to deal with corrupt cops at war with each other over a missing video, dealing with an ex-girlfriend who happens to be a cop, the wife of a good friend who also wants to sleep with him, both looking to tame the wild and rough London. On top of all that, London finds himself looking several murders and Firebug who torched a nightclub. The key to it all is cracking the mystery of Mr. Zero.

Witch for Hire

Do you need a potion? How about a spell? Maybe… murder someone? Evelina Giles is a witch chosen by magic, just like her father. She operates a shop in a sleepy college town in Virginia. When a businessman approaches Evelina for a spell so he can steal a project from his boss, Evelina’s practical joke turns deadly. Or did it? Now, along with her assistant Mungo and her Journalist-friend Jeanie, Evelina must investigate not one, but multiple murders.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Mark Slade

Meghan: Hi, Mark. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mark Slade: Not a whole lot to tell. Been writing off and on my entire life. I am the author of A Six Gun & the Queen of Light, Blackout City Confidential, Witch for Hire (An Evelina Giles book), and Mr. Zero (A Barry London Novel). I also write and produce audio dramas Blood Noir and Daniel Dread.

I first wanted to write after seeing the Twilight Zone episode Mr. Denton on Doomsday. I loved how cowboys and weird stuff was happening. I wanted to know who did it, who Rod Serling was. Plus, my older brother had tons of paperbacks and the Twilight Zone magazine. That’s where I learned about Serling. From there it was Bradbury, Ed Mcbain, and Richard Matheson.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Mark Slade: Those secrets are buried with anyone who knows them! I don’t know. I think people know a little more than I want them to, but I can’t shut up. Well, my favorite movie isn’t Crime or fantasy or horror related. It’s a British film about WWII called Hope & Glory. John Boorman film. People may not know that. I am controlled by a Chihuahua through his psychic powers. I’m a Brit TV enthusiast. I love British Television programs, especially old ones. I’m a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, but I think the world knows that. I’m also a jazz fan, but I love Rock n Roll. Guitar music, big Waylon Jennings/outlaw country fan… You know, I don’t think many people know I like Sade’s music.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Mark Slade: Where the Wild things Are. I saw a guy on PBS reading parts of it. I loved the art. But he left the ending. I think I got it from a school library and read it or maybe thought I read it. I probably made up my own story in my head. Second book, was an issue of Spider-Man. The death of Gwen Stacy, I think. Holy cow, it brought me to tears.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Mark Slade: Jim Thompson’s After Dark, My Sweet. And a biography of Ross Macdonald. Ross Macdonald was another writer that has cast a HUGE shadow over my life. Everywhere I go, his stories stay with me.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Mark Slade: Well, when my sister was reading Anne of Green Gables, I read it, too. I really liked it even though I wasn’t a young girl. Just a good story.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Mark Slade: Well, like I said before, I attempted when I was ten after that TZ episode. But at 14 I saw a movie on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark and thought “Yeah, I can do better than that!” So I wrote a story about a father who threw his kids down a well. Naw, I couldn’t do better than that.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Mark Slade: Convenient place is more like it. Dining room, Dining room table.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Mark Slade: I think about what I’m writing way too much. Takes over my life. I also try to listen to music that might inspire stories and characters.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Mark Slade: Definitely Richard Matheson, Ed McBain, and Ross Macdonald. Sparse style, lots of dialogue. Get to the story as quick as possible. Writers I see in print now that I am influenced by a lot are Paul D. Brazill, ever since I discovered his story Drunk on the Moon – I’ve always wanted to write a story as good as that – and G. Wayne Miller. Everything he has written, non-fiction, or fiction, especially We Who Are His Followers. Great stuff.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Mark Slade: Let the characters tell the story. Who cares about literature or styles of putting words on a paper. Lit, that’s a made up marketing tool. Best stories and writers come from the pulps. No lie.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Mark Slade: Flaws. If they are truly a well-rounded character they can’t be completely a good person all the time, nor a bad person.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Mark Slade: Oh, crap! I hope none of them! They do some awful things. Might be some interests that are the same, other than that, none.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Mark Slade: No. Not at all. If the plot on the back interests me, I’ll read it.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Mark Slade: Ah man. Some sex scenes are hard, or they were. Now its not as big a deal. I think in my new book it’s a scene The Klu Klux Klan chase somebody. And its set in 1956. That was tough.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Mark Slade: That I do not know. We all feed off each other. No ego or lack of can change that. I just want people to like or give my stories a chance.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Mark Slade: Short story is definitely an art form. I just started novels. Getting it done and hitting a word count, plus making the story work. I write crime mysteries now. That’s a tough nut to crack.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Mark Slade: Not sure if I have a target audience. I’d like to have a general or mass audience, if that’s possible. Maybe people who enjoy Crime, Horror, and fantasy stories. Taking away from my stories, I think good characters. I hope. A story that sticks to your ribs, like good food. A story they’ll never forget.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Mark Slade: For Blackout city Confidential, two scripts and one story was left out and some artwork by Lissanne Lake. Lots of murders, lots of great art left in the cold. Too bad.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Mark Slade: A collection of all my short stories would be nice. One huge book. In the audio drama world, I’d like to do two projects: One an adaption of the Lew Archer books or Ed MacBain’s 87th Precinct. That would be really great. Another, Dangerous Duos, would be the title where unlikely fictional/or historical characters get involved in some sort of action story. The other part of the series would to take fictional characters who would go together and have adventures, like Mrs. Peel and Honey West. Or in the case of real people, Bruce Lee and John Holmes break up a white slavery ring. Or Jim Brown and Truman Capote investigate Ted Bundy.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Mark Slade: I have a book being edited by Next Chapter called Strange Corridors. Illustrated by Cameron Hampton. Its about a little girl taken by a mysterious Jester into weird lands. And I’m writing a book called Yardbird about a man doing the bidding of an oil tycoon, such as investigate murders, blackmail payoffs, get rid of dead bodies.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Mark Slade:

Amazon ** Facebook ** Twitter
Daniel Dread ** Blood Noir

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Mark Slade:

“This whole world is wild at heart and weird on top.”
—-Lulu from David Lynch’s Wild at Heart.

Mr. Zero

Barry London is a Fixer by trade, lent out by his boss to other crime lords. He is sent to his hometown of Geneva, New Jersey to deal with corrupt cops at war with each other over a missing video, dealing with an ex-girlfriend who happens to be a cop, the wife of a good friend who also wants to sleep with him, both looking to tame the wild and rough London. On top of all that, London finds himself looking several murders and Firebug who torched a nightclub. The key to it all is cracking the mystery of Mr. Zero.

Witch for Hire

Do you need a potion? How about a spell? Maybe… murder someone? Evelina Giles is a witch chosen by magic, just like her father. She operates a shop in a sleepy college town in Virginia. When a businessman approaches Evelina for a spell so he can steal a project from his boss, Evelina’s practical joke turns deadly. Or did it? Now, along with her assistant Mungo and her Journalist-friend Jeanie, Evelina must investigate not one, but multiple murders.

Blood Noir
Daniel Dread: An Audio Drama by Mark Slade & Lothar Tuppan