#SetTheVCR: October 11 – 17, 2021

Horror is heating up and the TV recommendations are piling up like a slasher’s body count. It’s October and it’s #SetTheVCR the most magical magic time of the year.

Monday, October 11

Now Screaming: Scary Movies on Prime Video (Anytime / Prime Video)

Amazon Prime Video is highlighting all their best horror content in one collection

Sammy Suggestion: Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol (9 p.m. / Showcase)

Follows the early adventures of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Ashley Zukerman, Succession), who must solve a series of deadly puzzles to save his kidnapped mentor and thwart a chilling global conspiracy.

Did you like The Da Vinci Code book or movie? Good: it doesn’t matter. This is young Robert Langdon who is hired by the CIA to solve a number of deadly puzzles when his mentor goes missing. It’s all adapted from Dan Brown’s 2009 novel The Lost Symbol. Ashley Zukerman is Robert Langdon. If you don’t know the name you’ll know the face: “Oh That Guy!” This premiered on September 16, 2021 on Peacock in America and comes to Canada today (which makes sense it was all shot here in Toronto.). More streamers means more IP right?

Tuesday, October 12

The Movies That Made Us: Season 3 (Anytime / Netflix)

Actors Dan Aykroyd and Daniel Stern and directors Ivan Reitman and Chris Columbus, among others, look back at the hits.

Sammy Suggestion: Chucky: Season 1 (10 p.m. / SYFY & USA Network )

You’ve got a playdate with your friend ’til the end. An idyllic American town is thrown into chaos after a vintage ‘Good Guy’ doll turns up at a suburban yard sale. Soon, everyone must grapple with a series of horrifying murders that begin to expose the town’s deep hypocrisies and hidden secrets.

I’m curious because I dunno how this can come and play out: the murderous doll is gonna kill people for 10 episodes?! This TV show serves as a sequel to Cult of Chucky, the seventh film in the Child’s Play franchise. Brad Dourif is the voice of Chucky and Tiffany Valentine, Chucky’s former lover and partner in crime is also back. “After a vintage Chucky doll turns up at a suburban yard sale, an idyllic American town is thrown into chaos as a series of horrifying murders begin to expose the town’s hypocrisies and secrets.” Well: that makes sense. (Please Note: for Canadian viewers this’ll debut on Showcase on October 19, 2021)

Wednesday, October 13

Apollo: Back To The Moon: Season 1 (Anytime / Disney+)

In the late 1960s, the United States space program neared its goal of landing a man on the Moon, but it was a journey that began years before. This is the story of Project Apollo – 12 years, 12 manned-missions, one impossible goal. With rare archival footage and audio, this remarkable documentary sheds new light on an incredible time in human history.

Sammy Suggestion: Dopesick: Limited Series (Anytime / Hulu)

Examines how one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history. The series takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Big Pharma, to a distressed Virginia mining community, to the hallways of the DEA.

Hulu has given a straight-to-series order to Dopesick, an eight-episode limited series based on Beth Macy’s bestselling book of course about the tragic Opioid addiction that devastated America. Barry Levinson directed the limited series which stars Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosario Dawson (Trevor Long plays Rudy Giuliani I’m curious to see how he pulls that off.). These are the types of one word title projects where Michael Keaton shines: Worth, Spotlight, (The) Founder. This is a fictional recreation of how one company triggered one of the worst drug epidemics in American history. 

Thursday, October 14

Another Life: Season 2 (Anytime / Netflix)

After a massive alien artifact lands on Earth, Niko Breckinridge leads an interstellar mission to track down its source and make first contact.

Sammy Suggestion: Horror Noire: Season 1 (Anytime / Shudder)

Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, Horror Noire traces the untold history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre.

In 2019 I had the distinct pleasure to check out Shudder’s horror documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror at TIFF Lightbox. (I wish we made more horror docs…). Horror Noire explored the relationship between African-American history and the evolution of horror movies; and was filled with interviews with Keith David, Tony Todd, Ernest Dickerson and many others. It’s an excellent documentary and worth checking out on Shudder. Of course this is horror, nothing stays dead. Horror Noire: Uncut a six-episode podcast premiered on Shudder on February 7, 2020. And now Shudder is releasing an original anthology series that will showcase 6 more horror stories from Black directors and screenwriters. (Blacula was previously covered in the doc. Super cheezy; super dope Black horror movie. If that’s on Shudder you need to check that out.)

Friday, October 15

You: Season 3 (Anytime / Netflix)

A dangerously charming, intensely obsessive young man goes to extreme measures to insert himself into the lives of those he is transfixed by.

Sammy Suggestion: Day of the Dead: Season 1 (10 p.m. / SYFY & CTV Sci-Fi Channel)

DAY OF THE DEAD follows a group of strangers trying to survive the first 24 hours of an undead invasion. This ode to George A. Romero’s famous flesh-eaters reminds us that sometimes all it takes to bring people together is a horde of hungry zombies trying to rip them apart.

Did you enjoy PG: Psycho Goreman? It’s a fantastic I dunno what that is…sci-fi horror comedy thriller? Something…excellent. Steven Kostanski directed that bizarre movie and here he’s directing 4 of the season’s 10 episodes. Day of the Dead is a 1985 zombie movie; the third in George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead series. In the movie the zombie apocalypse has ravaged the entire world, with zombies outnumbering humans 400,000 to 1. That sucks. The TV show takes a more local approach where the dead begin to rise in Manihawken, Pennsylvania. Now six strangers must try to survive the first 24 hours of an undead invasion. (I’ve seen reports that the first 24 hours of the outbreak covers the entire 10-episodes: so like 2 hours and a bit is revealed in each episode? If true, that’s an intriguing premise.) Steven Kostanski is more than just a director; he’s also got a makeup/special effects background so expect some GQ good looking zombies. (Please Note: this will air on SYFY for Americans and on CTV Sci-Fi in Canada same date and time.)

Saturday, October 16

Sherlock: Series 2 (Anytime / CBC Gem)

Sherlock is back with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson in three new stories. In A Scandal in Belgravia, The Hounds of Baskerville, and the penultimate The Reichenbach Falls.

Sammy Suggestion: The Velvet Underground (Anytime / Apple TV+)

Experience the iconic rock band’s legacy in the first major documentary to tell their story. Directed with the era’s avant-garde spirit by Todd Haynes, this kaleidoscopic oral history combines exclusive interviews with dazzling archival footage.

The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in New York City in 1964. That seems like a straightforward explanation of who they were. What they are is far more complicated. They served as the house band at Andy Warhol’s collective The Factory; he became their manager in 1966 and designed album covers for them. They experienced little commercial success; were critically reviled and basically had no hits. And yet…yet you know how this story goes: music fans eventually caught up to the band. They seeded punk rock and even touches of new wave music. By 2004 “ the Velvet Underground were ranked number 19 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” How did we get here? Hence a documentary directed by Todd Haynes.

Sunday, October 17

The Circus: Inside the Wildest Political Show on Earth: Season 6 (8 p.m. / Showtime & Crave)

Come one, come all to THE CIRCUS. This documentary series pulls back the curtain on the Trump era of presidential politics, revealing the stories behind the headlines.

Sammy Suggestion: The Slumber Party Massacre 1 and 2 (Anytime / Crave via Starz)

I: A female high school student’s slumber party turns into a bloodbath, as a newly escaped psychotic serial killer wielding a power drill prowls her neighborhood.

II: Courtney Bates, the younger sister of Valerie, and her friends go to their condo for a weekend getaway, but Courtney can’t get rid of the haunting feeling that a supernatural rockabilly driller killer is coming to murder them all.


Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

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