Monday, October 31, 2011

TV Episode Review: The Tale of Many Faces

Are You Afraid of the Dark: The Tale of Many Faces
Rated TV-Y7
2 Slimes
Copyright Cinar Productions 2000


Emma: A girl who inspires to be a model, takes up a chance at being a lead actress instead at a mysterious theater. This move costs her face for a bit, but she does it back in the end. That’ll teach her for trying to expand her horizons.

Jessie: Emma’s friend who is actually successful at getting modeling jobs. Nearly becomes a victim of Madame Visage’s face stealing ring.

Number 87: Also known as Lizzie. One of Madame’s victims, who breaks away from her evil reign to help Emma.

Number 66: Also known as Lorette. Another of Madame’s victims and one of the high up members as well. Her face was used to disguise Madame as a scout in order to lure Emma to the theater. Helps Emma defeat Madame in the end.

Madame Visage: Also known as Ilona Utrianen, a witch that steals young ladies faces to keep herself young looking. She’s obviously evil and makes no effort to mask that, so I wonder how she keeps stealing everyone’s face? Anyhow, once her old face is returned to her, she ends up aging to death. Sort of like the villain’s death in Tangled, but with less dust.

Midnight Society: A group of kids who come together and tell a new tale around the campfire. This tale is told by Vange, who seems to be a big fan of masks.

+ Model scouts with accents are not to be trusted.
+ Mysterious powder can make one more appealing despite looking the same before applying it.
+ TV is no help against witches.
+ Fire doesn’t burn books.
+ Without looks, girls feel that they are nobody.

48 sec – Where is she keeping all of those masks?
3 min – Well she seems legit.
5 min – “Piss off! We don’t like your non mask wearing kind around these parts.”
6 min – I’m detecting an incoming ham!
7 min – Well I can see no harm in putting that on your face.
8 min – I’m finding the clothing this girl has to wear at this modeling agency far stranger than what is only on at the theater.
16 min – Well they can still tell from the tone of your voice… I may be missing the point.
18 min – Doing it for centuries? Well there’s a scary thought about what she’s been getting away with for quite some time.
21 min – Why don’t you all just rush her? She can’t take you all at once!
23 min – So does that mean everyone’s out of the punishment book now? That’s kind of a loose end here.


Since Halloween is upon us and was feeling to return to familiar grounds, I decided to return to an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? This time, instead of an episode from the early seasons, I decided to hit up one of the newer episodes from their last season. It was at this time that series had fallen into hard times and was lacking the true spirit of the original seasons. Well that’s what I hear around, but when I was watching these kids when I was a kid, I was still enjoying them. This one in particular, I do remember rather well and decided to revisit it. Is it still good as I recall or is it bad like the later seasons? Let us take a look.

Our tale today is told by Vange, one of the later season members. The story is about a girl named Emma, who wants to be a model, but just doesn’t have that spark to make her recognizable or make her a hit with any of the shoots she tries out at. Perhaps a few more years of development that could do the trick and wear a ton of makeup. Beats me what a model agency looks for instead of skinny girls.

Emma pouts about not getting the part, while her friend, Jessie, gets the chance to be a model for a recent agency they tried out for. However, a chance to be a somebody appears before her from a mysterious talent scout. She offers her the chance to be a part of Madame Visage's Theatre of Many Faces. Sounding like a completely normal sounding place and having an interest in performing in the theater, Emma takes the offer.

She arrives at the place and encounters young women wearing pale, expressionless masks, who are workers and actresses for the place. Not shocked or spooked by these odd people, who seem rather bugged by her presence, Emma meets with the owner, Madame Visage. After studying her face a bit, Madame Visage decides she wants her face to be in the lead role for her new performance.

With her being casted in the lead role, Madame gives Emma some special powder substance to apply to her face. Personally, I find it suspicious that anyone that looks like they are about to break out into evil laughter would give something out to free to a young woman, but since do others think like me? Anyhow, the powder seems to be making her more appealing or something (It must be hypnotizing people or something because she looks exactly the same as before) because she starts to get more attention from others, including landing the role as cover model for a magazine issue.

Emma returns to the theater later on, happy with her recent success, to report back for more face inspection (how else would you describe it). Convinced that she is ready, Madame has her mask wearing servants enter and grab Emma. Madame pulls out this old book and then magical puts her face into it, revealing that she has none herself. She touches Emma’s face and steals it right off, putting it on her own. Now there’s the classic Are Afraid of the Dark nightmare moments for the kiddies to keep them awake all night long.

With that, Emma is forced into slavehood as one of Madame’s mask minions, all other girls who had their faces stolen. One must wonder what their families must be and why they aren’t looking for them, but that’s not something you should be thinking about at this point. The point is Emma is a slave and her friend, Jessie, has arrived at the theater to see what her friend is up. Unfortunately for her, she runs into Madame Visage disguised as Emma.

Emma is lead to meet the rest of the slaves, led by Number 87, who explains the ground rules of what goes on here and what happens to girls who act out of turn. As she shows her around the mansion/theater, Emma asks 87 about what she used to look like. The girl decides to show her what she used to look like by showing her the Madame’s face book. Well glancing over that, Emma spots a few other books, the punishment book (the book where Madame banishes girls into for their misdeeds) and a rather old book holding a very old and ugly face.

However, both of the girls are caught by Number 66 and Madame Visage, who slipped away from Jessie. The girls are chased, caring the two books with them around the house until they are trapped and surrounded. They have the two, and Jessie, brought into the parlor to receive punishment for their insubordination. However, a pep talk and pointing out that the girls are still who they are even without their faces from Emma, caused munity among the masked girls. They hold Madame down and pull out the old book, realizing that it holds the lady’s true and original face. Emma, who for some reason knows magic, is able to put the face from the book onto Madame. With her old face back, she returns to her true age over 300 years old and promptly dies. With the witch dead, the girls’ faces are returned and everyone is finally free.

So how does this episode do? Well starting with the positives, the effects used here are actually pretty good. I really like the effect or makeup job for the people without a face. Really creepy looking. I also sort of like the plot with this old woman stealing young women’s faces, in order to stay young forever. Doesn’t make sense how that works, but hey, magic and all that. The actress for Emma is also not too bad and overall decent for this series.

Speaking of acting, as we move to the bad, a lot of these people aren’t very convincing. Someone accents are pretty bad, some people are too stiff, and the first girl to play Madame Visage was overacting taking from the possibly creepy tone from the show. Also, there is the plot hole of how Madame Visage has been keeping these girls hidden away from society and how no one has come around searching for them. Lastly, why has any of the girls that had been banished from the theater (it is one of the punishments brought up) not contact the police. There are some major problems here in the script and story when you think about it, despite how interesting it could be.

That said, it wasn’t too bad of an episode for the show. I saw it is pretty average, with some genuine creepy parts, but not much worth remembering compared to other episodes. Could be worth a watch if you are interested, but there are better episodes from the show worth seeing more than this one.

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