By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This week, I look at “I’m Dangerous Tonight” and “The Sloan Men”. One is good; the other one is blah. And the goodness is due to superior writing. In this case, the writing of David Nickle, who penned the story that “The Sloan Men” adapts. But I’ll follow the DVD’s order and begin with “I’m Dangerous Tonight”.
“Dangerous” is based on a story, by Cornell Woolrich, which has been adapted multiple times. The problem is that the original story is a bit of a mess, though it has one really great concept, which has obviously caught the imagination of more than one person: a killer dress. You can do a lot with a killer dress. But the show doesn’t.
It starts poorly, with an awful sequence featuring a demon prancing around the rooftops. When a show can’t show a decent demon, it’s best to leave it to the imagination. Hey, Rosemary’s Baby did it and it’s a classic.
The demon drops a piece of red cloth into the studio of a designer, who fashions a godawful dress. And that’s another issue: If you’re going to have a killer dress that inspires violence and desire, it had better be one hell of a good-looking dress, not something that looks like you can pick it off the $5 rack.
An assistant of the designer wears the red dress and starts feeling…I dunno. The editing and camera movement might signify possessed; it might signify sleepy. What the hell do I know? She has a boyfriend involved in criminal activities. Violence takes place.
With this kind of story, we need to see a clear contrast between the evil and the good personalities of the women involved with the dress. Sadly, the actress playing the assistant does not give us much to see that contrast. The plot plods on. The violence is not even interesting. It feels tired.
“The Sloan Men” is a wonderful short story and, thus, it’s pretty hard to frak it up. The show stays close to the original and, thus, avoids any major potholes.
A young woman goes on her first visit to meet her future mother-in-law. But this is no ordinary visit. Do you recall what it was like being in a bad relationship? How, when you were in it, you couldn’t see anything wrong with it? But once you looked back, you couldn’t believe how you stayed with that awful person? Well, this episode is exactly about that.
The Sloan men are not what they appear to be. They are ugly and deformed (twelve fingers, a horrid gash down the bellybutton), but women don’t seem to notice this because the men mesmerize them with some sort of bizarre mindpower. The protagonist of the story is quite shocked to discover this, but when her mother-in-law produces photographs, showing them in all their ugly glory, and when she prods her with certain questions, the young woman realizes she’s been mind-frakked by a monster.
The young woman and the mother-in-law join forces to destroy the Sloan men by hacking to pieces the source of their power: an underground lair filled with giant, red mushrooms which bear more than a passing resemblance to penises. The scene where they cut down the mushrooms, white goo raining down on them as they gleefully inflict damage on the fungi, is probably Freud’s wet dream of symbolism.
The show concludes on the same note as the short story, though the story seems to make the whole ending more pointed with its bitter, depressing last paragraph.
The acting is good, courtesy of Margot Kidder as poor Mrs. Sloan, who has been forced to live with a monster for all these years. However, the show suffers in two departments: special effects and some sexing that could be trimmed off the screen. The glowing blue eyes of the Sloan men are idiotic and the mushroom cavern will have you giggling, but even with an extra slab of nudity thrown in, The Hunger manages to not pound the episode into suckdom. A short story needs to have a tough backbone to endure that.
Though “The Sloan Men” deserved a more elegant adaptation, the episode does decently, especially when you compare it to some other turkeys that have flapped their wings through the series.
“The Sloan Men” is available as an audio download from Pseudopod. It appears in David Nickle’s collection Monstrous Affections. It’s worth purchasing, and I’m not saying it because David is also Canadian.
As for “I’m Dangerous Tonight”, it appears in several collections, including Magical World of Fantasy: Devils.