Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tales from the Darkside: Levitation

How many of us remember seeing something as a kid and loving it, but then returning to it when we're older, we find it's not as impressive as we remember? I can't count how many times I introduced friends to a movie or TV show I loved when I was little, only to slink in shame on the couch while the others sit stone-faced through what I insisted would be awesome.

"Levitation" is an attempt to build a story out of that, and it turns into a be-careful-what-you-wish for lesson. Two college students, Frank and Ernie, go to a rundown carnival because Frank remembers seeing the Great Kharma (Joseph Turkel aka the ghostly bartender from The Shining) and this amazing trick he did.

Kharma, instead, is a has-been, performing the obvious, cheap tricks that wouldn't impress a 4-year-old's birthday party (save for a guillotine trick Alice Cooper would appreciate). Enraged and feeling betrayed, Frank confronts his fallen idol backstage and then resorts to heckling during the next act, desperately trying to get him to perform that trick he remembers. Eventually, Kharma relents and agrees to perform his levitation trick, but he needs a helper.

This another episode directed by John Harrison, and it's OK. There's nothing really special about it, but I've always had a soft spot for stories in which characters meddle with forces they don't comprehend, especially when it's something like magic or the occult. It's not just some game or scheme; it's an entire world you've stumbled upon and are getting a glimpse of, and "Levitation" has some of that atmosphere.

Kharma is a man who dealt with this strange power, and it has cost him in a way that Frank doesn't realize or appreciate. To Frank, this is entertainment on demand, and he feels he deserves to be wowed. Too late does Frank realize the cost of the act, for himself and Kharma. In the end, Frank gets what wants, and it's satisfying to see how helpless he is to stop it.

No comments:

Post a Comment