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Though AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD has horror fans’ pulses
racing, eagerly anticipating the season three premiere, fright fans of a
younger persuasion have an equally good, far less bloody and downbeat year
three premiere to thrill to the night prior. Hub’s R.L Stine-penned series THE
HAUNTING HOUR returns for its third season, bringing more dark, scary and
disturbing kid friendly terror to the small screen, and its opening episode is
Let me preface this review by noting that I recently
inflicted older episodes of THE HAUNTING HOUR on my kids, aged three and five
and was astonished by how unsparing and serious the show is about creeping
children out. This isn’t some dumbed down, teeny bopper series. These are
classic, classy and often terrifying EC Comics-tinted tales of the macabre
geared towards younger people. Even though my brood is used to seeing monsters
around the house, and have indeed witnessed a few iconic horror pictures
already, THE HAUNTING HOUR held them hard and even unsettled them a little bit.
For parents who love this stuff, the show is about as top notch a gateway into
terror as I’ve ever seen. And it never resorts to cheap gore or shocks to sell
its often mind bending scares.
The season three opener, GRAMPIRES, is no exception. In it,
the great Christopher Lloyd (BACK TO THE FUTURE, THE ADDAMS FAMILY) plays a
loving Grandfather who welcomes his two darling grandchildren Mike and Cristen
into his private retirement community – benignly called Sunset Estates – with
more than a bit of trepidation. It turns out Sunset Estates is actually a
secret coven of ancient senior citizen vampires whose tenants are exclusively
undead. As the not-so-genteel old ghouls set their sights on sinking their
fangs into the juicy youngsters, “Grampire” must curb his own bloodlust and fight
his fellow bloodsuckers off to defend his still living brood.
What’s so fantastic about the show is that it never pulls a
“Scooby Doo.” That is, the monsters are monsters, the threats are real threats
and no villain has an 11th hour epiphany. The innocent don’t always come out
unscathed either, and although anything but nihilistic, there’s a mild streak
of moral cruelty that keeps the show serious.
Stine has made a cottage industry with ‘tween horror that
actually bites back and THE HAUNTING HOUR is even eerier than his previous TV
outing, GOOSEBUMPS (itself based on the long running Stine book series).
GRAMPIRES is funny and absurd but the vampires – outside of Lloyd’s lovable
gramps – are blood hungry savages who only take five from feeding to play
bingo. You laugh sure, but you’re never sure if our heroes are going to get the
geezer chomp and there’s bona fide suspense.
GRAMPIRES plays October 13th on The Hub. Make the time to
sit with your creepy kids and have some shuddery fun.
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