Mark Allan Gunnells is a horror author of several amazing titles. His new book THE CULT OF OCASTA is now available to buy at AMAZON UK and AMAZON US.
Here is the synopsis:
Years have passed since Emilio Gambrell fought the creature that lives in the Quarry on the edge of the Limestone College campus, but he remains ever vigilant. Ready in case he is called to fight again.That time has come. Worshippers of Ocasta, the name given to the ancient entity, are gathering, intent on helping him rise from his watery prison and once again torment humankind.Emilio will come face to face with his worst fears while trying to figure out who in his life can be trusted and who may be an enemy in disguise.A showdown is coming, and Emilio can only pray he is ready to battle not only the creature itself but THE CULT OF OCASTA...
Asking me to choose my top ten Buffy the Vampire episodes is a little like asking a father to choose his favorite child. Actually harder than that. In many ways, I see the entire 7-season series as one long story, building on itself and growing deeper and more complex with time. Picking out individual episodes is difficult, because all the disparate parts work together to create a beautiful whole. However, here are my personal favorites.
10. “The Freshman (Season 4) – I have never seen this one on anyone’s list before, but it’s one of my favorites. The premiere of season 4 marks a turning point for the show. Their first year in college, several familiar characters are gone, new faces arrive, the familiar settings are replaced with new ones. This is disconcerting for viewers…just as college can be disconcerting for young people. I think it perfectly captures that first year of college experience.
9. Restless” (Season 4) – Perhaps one of the most unusual season finales of the show’s history. The main story arc ended the episode before, and this one introduces its own unique story to close out the season. The episode deals with the nightmares of the main characters, and Whedon truly manages to capture the surreal non-logic of dreams in a way I’ve rarely seen captured on film, as well as throwing in some very cool foreshadowing for future seasons.
8. “I Only Have Eyes for You” (Season 2) – A resonate ghost story that packs a hell of an emotional punch. The structuring of this one is clever and flawless, and the performances from Gellar and Boreanaz are award-worthy. The storyline itself is quite impressive, but underneath there is a message about regret and forgiveness that has quite an impact on the viewer. This particular episode doesn’t get as much recognition as it deserves in my book.
7. "Earshot” (Season 3) – This episode is powerful and relevant (sadly as much today as it was when it was originally pulled from airing due to a real-life tragedy). It handles the topic of school violence tastefully and honestly. There is almost a ticking clock in this episode, and it heightens the suspense . The speech Buffy delivers to Jonathan at the end is one of the most powerful pieces of commentary on teenage alienation that I’ve ever heard.
6. “Passions” (Season 2) – The storyline took a decidedly dark turn in the show’s second season, and I thought that was never more deftly handled than in this episode. Angelus is at his most wicked, and it marks the first time a major character close to the main group dies. The show never flinches from putting its characters in great pain, which really raises the stakes for viewers. Head shines in this episode, really showing off his dramatic acting chops.
5. “The Gift” (Season 5) – The finale of season 5 is in many ways the quintessential Buffy episode, where each character has a moment to shine. The storyline is at its heaviest and most suspenseful, the dread escalating in a thrilling fashion. Gellar’s acting here is stellar, and her delivery of the line, “I just wish my Mom was here,” heartbreaking. The ending is pitch-perfect and genuinely gave me chills.
4. “Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest” (Season 1) – These two episodes originally aired together as the two-hour premiere of the series, so I’m counting them as one. This was an introduction into the world of the series that instantly familiarizes viewers with the rules and characters, as well as the balance of humor and genuine emotion that would become the show’s trademark. The characters are already fully formed right out of the gate, which is quite a feat.
3. “Once More with Feeling” (Season 6) – The much-touted musical episode does not disappoint. This could have come across as nothing more than a gimmick, but instead it became a quintessential part of the overall story for this season. The songs aren’t just random tunes thrown in, but each one advances the plot and is perfectly in character for everyone involved. The fact that the show kept taking such risks kept it fresh and relevant.
2. “Hush” (Season 4) – Another favorite among fans and critics. This episode boasts what are arguably the most genuinely creepy villains in the show’s history, The Gentlemen, and a cracked fairytale plotline that unnerves and chills. Part of the episode takes place with no dialogue, which actually makes the story even more compelling. Extra points for playing out the saying that “silence speaks louder than words” in such spectacular fashion.
1. “The Body” (Season 5) – This tops a lot of lists and for good reason. I don’t use the word “masterpiece” often, but in this case it applies. The story of the non-supernatural death of Buffy’s mother is heart-wrenching and powerful, and the off-kilter camera shots and lack of a background soundtrack lend it even more potency. Everyone in the cast is at the top of their game. This is the show at its very best.
And there you have it. I left out many of my favorites, because otherwise I’d be here all day, but this is a good sampling. My advice though, if you’ve never seen the show just watch it from beginning to end. If you have…well, a rewatch is probably in order.
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