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_Spoiler alert for the Channel Zero: Butcher's Block premiere on Syfy. _
For horror fans, 2018 is already hitting a peak, with Syfy's Channel Zero: Butcher's Block giving fans a new season of disturbing thrills and kills. The third season plot involves two sisters moving to a new town and immediately discovering the dark and insanity-provoking secrets that lurk in and above the titular neighborhood. With many stellar influences guiding the tone and visuals, Butcher's Block swings for bigger and more bizarre fences than previous seasons. And as viewers saw in the season premiere, titled "Insidious Onset," there are more than a few curiosities that need addressing.
CinemaBlend recently spoke with series creator and writer Nick Antosca, and I was not hesitant about peppering him with befuddlement-infused questions about some of the episode's stranger moments and characters. Let's start off with what is arguably the most striking visual yet within the Channel Zero-verse: He Who Is Made of Meat.
What Is That Thing Living Above The Stairs?
When a TV season kicks off with a giant white staircase inexplicably popping into existence in the middle of a grassy field, with a giant meat man stepping through the door at the top, you know you're not watching an NCIS spinoff. So who was that veiny monstrosity? He's called the Meat Servant. According to Acosta:
Well, the Meat Servant is a helpful figure who will appear from time to time to the masses. And Smart Mouth, who was at the bottom of the stairs, you'll see him again.
At this point, it looks like Smart Mouth is a servant of sorts to the Meat Servant himself, possibly meant to lure people to the staircase to pique their interests and urges. Antosca obviously wasn't going to spoil everything the Meat Servant will be getting up to, so I also asked him about how that strikingly absurd meat costume came together.
Our costumer and I spent a lot of time talking to Francois [Dagenais], who also created the Tooth Child from Season 1, who was our mastermind about what that suit should look and feel like. It's a servant made out of meat products, basically, Francois puts his special touches on it. But yeah, we spent a lot of time thinking about what our meat man should look like.
The Meat Servant's final effect is something that would almost be cartoonish if it wasn't so beyond everyday realism. Like the stop-motion work of Ray Harryhausen, or the art of Mark Ryden, there's something simultaneous fascinating and unsettling about looking at it. The same goes for Smart Mouth, who reached the apex of ew while rubbing his tongue along the inside of that wall. (shivers)
What's Up With The Woods' Mental Issues?
While Olivia Luccardi's Alice Woods still has most of her mental facilities intact, her sister Zoe (Holland Roden) isn't quite so lucky, as she befell assumedly the same mental disturbances that made their mother do...whatever awful thing she did. I asked Nick Antosca about this narrative angle and how age played into it.
Mental illnesses really tend to manifest at a certain age. This is something I've read a lot about, and something I've seen people I'm very close to experience. Where you struggle with stuff that may be hidden deep in your brain, something you're carrying with you, and that existential question of 'Am I a ticking time bomb?' is one of the scariest things I can imagine. The idea of loss of self and loss of sanity is a theme that runs throughout all the seasons of Channel Zero, and it's explored most overtly in this one. To me, it's kind of the root of psychological horror, the most fundamental part of psychological horror. What is more scary than losing myself?
Interestingly enough, it's not yet overtly obvious how the loss of one's self, or one's identity, will play into Butcher's Block in the future. Zoe obviously has her issues that Alice will soon start to experience, but we're not yet sure how the Meat Servant and Joseph Peach will factor into it all. For the record, though, Nick Antosca did confirm to me that the family's mental illness is entirely physiological and without supernatural origins. Which isn't to say supernatural elements won't affect them...
How Much Of Joseph Peach Will We Get?
Speaking of Joseph Peach, whose final moments would get all perfect scores at the Olympics if "Super Fucking Creepy" was a sport, I also asked Nick Antosca if fans could expect to see a lot more from genre film icon Rutger Hauer's Peach-triarch. Thankfully, his answer didn't disappoint.
Oh yeah. In fact, you're gonna meet his family. There's some other cast members that I'd love to talk about, but they haven't popped up yet. Joseph's children and grandchild are gonna play a greater role, and those actors are awesome, too.
Having Rutger Hauer at the head of a domesticity of horrors couldn't sound more exciting even outside the Channel Zero universe. But with Nick Antosca's writing crew and director Arkasha Stevenson behind the camera for it, the potential expands exponentially. In fact, Antosca mentioned a dinner scene coming in Episode 2 that he absolutely loves, and he also mentioned the episode will feature, in his words, "a couple scenes that are among the most memorable that I think we've done on the show." Can anything be more memorable than the Candle Cove puppets or Jules' weird orb thing popping up in No End House?
Will Scissor Woman Be Back?
Of all the new characters that viewers met in Channel Zero: Butcher Block's premiere, none were less trustworthy than Diane the Scissor Woman, played by Paula Boudreau. She initially appeared to be on the more helpful side of utter lunacy, but once scissors entered the conversation, my confidence nosedived in her abilities to go entire episodes without trying to stab someone in an uncomfortable place. Because an unpredictable threat like that is always fun, I asked Nick Antosca if Diane would be a recurring oddity.
Yeah. Scissor Woman, a.k.a. Diane, will pop up again here and there throughout the season for sure. . . . [Her connection with scissors] will remain somewhat mysterious.
Let's just hope that whatever happens, she keeps her gloves on her hands, and that she stays the hell away from any and all pairs of scissors. For the love of all that is free from stab wounds, nobody start up a scrapbooking class in the middle of Butcher's Block.
How Does Louise's Taxidermy Fit In?
Depending on one's personal views on social civility, Krisha Fairchild's Louise Lispector is probably not the most ideal landlord to have, even if she's cool with sharing her weed. In the premiere, we see her in a gorgeously lit moment taking part in the hobby/art of taxidermy. Channel Zero fans should know that anytime we're introduced to something as distinctly macabre as that, it probably won't just fade into the ethers. When I asked Nick Antosca about this instance of "Chekov's taxidermy," here's what he told me.
Louise may have to use her sewing skills later on, yes.
Not a lot of details there, but he didn't really have to say too much to rouse interest on this front. He humorously dodged my follow-up question about whether it will be a proper animal getting sewn up, so I think we might go with the easy assumption that a human being might get to see Louise's sewing skills up close.
How Gory Will This Season Be?
While this topic isn't tethered to one specific plot point, Channel Zero: Butcher's Block did kick off in a more visceral way than previous seasons did, what with its liberal use of meat cleavers. And when I brought up how relatively non-bloody Channel Zero got in Seasons 1 and 2, Nick Antosca laughed and told me to just wait.
Season 3 is certainly the bloodiest season. It's certainly restrained compared to gory horror. But we went into Season 3 knowing that red would be a very dominant color. It's a very colorful season.
He's not just talking about red cloaks, guys! The very presence of the Meat Servant is a good indication of just how savage this season will get with its visual elements, and Antosca holds Butcher's Block up as the "most visually opulent, shocking and disturbing" season yet. He also called it the most extreme season yet. So even if there are any fans out there who felt like Butcher's Block's premiere didn't go as hard on the horror as desired, take comfort knowing that the next five episodes are going to some very dark, terrifying and absurdly amusing places.