Spook Retorts continues with Danielle sharing the 2018 film Bird Box. Imagine a terrible, mysterious event that is causing people around the world to lose control and kill themselves. Now imagine this isn’t the Shyamalan movie The Happening; that’s basically Bird Box. Sandra Bullock is Malorie, an emotionally stunted pregnant woman in a world about to undergo an apocalypse. Mysterious creatures have appeared and if you so much as catch a glance of them they will drive you to madness and suicide. Malorie manages to find refuge in a house full of weirdos and John Malkovich, which is redundant. Meanwhile, future Malorie (yes, it’s the kind of film that jumps back and forth in time a lot) is undergoing a perilous, blindfolded journey down a river towards shelter, escorting two small children she has dubbed Boy and Girl in what Sam thinks is a stunning display of emotional abuse. Back in the past, the refuge house is infiltrated by someone…possessed? Obsessed? Infected? by the creatures, and at this point neither Danielle or Sam can explain how anything in this world works. It doesn’t matter because a couple of births and shotgun shells later things resolve one way or another. If you want answers or even the barest notion of what these creatures are so as to better grasp the stakes or struggles in this movie, boy, do we have bad news for you. There is, however, a box with some birds in it that is almost entirely irrelevant, so ten out of ten, perfect movie.
It’s time once again for Spook Retorts! Sam kicks off this year with the 1987 ensemble monster movie The Monster Squad. We start in Transylvania where Abraham Van Helsing is attempting to banish Dracula and his menagerie of armadillos using a glowing amulet and a teen girl. Van Helsing fails spectacularly, for reasons that are entirely opaque, and Dracula decides to lay low for one hundred years. That’s just enough time for a group of snarky and unfortunately homophobic kids to form a monster club in small town America. These kids are somehow very selective for membership in their monster club, even though it seems to require only the barest minimum of basic monster knowledge to join. One of the kids comes into possession of Van Helsing’s journal which immediately makes them a target for Dracula, who is assembling a coterie of monster, which is, bafflingly, not the titular monster squad. After encountering the mummy, hearing about a werewolf, and befriending Frankenstein’s monster, the children decide to form the Monster Squad to take on Dracula using the instructions in Van Helsing’s journal and, worryingly, a fair bit of sexual blackmail. So join Sam and Danielle the premiere of this year’s Spook Retorts that will having you rooting for the monsters to defeat the real evil: Human children.
Danielle and Sam are just so excited for the upcoming Spook Retorts that they need a week off to prepare. So please enjoy this sampling of two of the weekly bonus episodes only available to our Patreon supporters. We’ll be back next week with Spook Retorts, but for now please enjoy these extra tidbits inspired by The Ice Pirates and the Christopher Pike book Bury Me Deep.
This week Danielle brings us our first Sandra Bullock film with the 1995 cyber-thriller The Net. Angela Bennett is an average cyber-security employee/freelancer/contractor/thing who is a consummate recluse. She does out there things such as chatting in message groups and ordering pizza online, the horror. When a mysterious floppy disk (look it up, kids) is mailed to her house she finds it contains links to a mysterious backdoor that lets her access supposedly secure systems. The colleague who mailed her the disk flies his one-man aircraft out to see her, but dies in a suspicious crash before arriving. Unperturbed by his sudden death, or chaos at the airport due to a seemingly unrelated hacking, Angela jets off on a vacation to Mexico. There she encounters the sexy nerd Jack and they quickly hit it off on his boat, but just when Jack is about to kill her for that floppy disk (which she inexplicably brought) Angela escapes. That’s when Angela discovers her identity has been erased and replaced with a different identity that marks her as a criminal. Now Angela must find out about the shadowy organization behind her identity erasure and how their magic wizard computer powers work. Also, if she could find out what their motivations are, that would be great too, because we can’t figure that out. So dive into what Hollywood thought computers were in 1995, and join Sam and Danielle as they struggle to answer the film’s biggest question: Who is Cyberbob?
It’s Sam’s turn in the Great Switcheroo to share the 1991 Christopher Pike book Bury Me Deep. Jean is your average horned-up teenage girl who was written by an author who’s definitely human and totally understands how human girls work. Jean is excited for a trip to Hawaii with her friends, but finds herself delayed a few days for reasons too stupid to be real. Finally on the plane to Hawaii, the boy, Mike, in the seat next to Jean dies violently, leaving Jean shaken. But there’s no time for trauma when there are cute boys giving scuba diving lessons at the hotel, so Jean puts aside her experience and tires to enjoy the time with her friend Mandy and also Michelle, the random girl who just invited herself along on the vacation and now spends all her time locked in their shared hotel suite bedroom having sex with Dave, the older of the two diving instructors. Jean starts having spooky dreams about Mike, and is drawn to a particular underwater cave off the Island of Lanai. When Jean recklessly dives to the cave alone she finds a human skull and promptly freaks out. Neither of the cute instructors, Dave or Johnny, believe she saw the skull, and upon investigation Dave can’t find it in the cave. Is jean falling apart from her traumatic experience? Are Dave and Johnny more than simply cute dive instructors, and what happened to their missing partner Ringo (yes, Ringo)? What does any of this have to do with Mike? Will Mandy ever be treated with respect in this book? Help Sam solve this mystery (spoiler, it’s not that mysterious) in the conclusion of our first Great Switcheroo!
In the first of our Great Switcheroo episodes, Danielle shares her pick of the 1984 movie The Ice Pirates. What do you get when you can’t decide between being a goofy lampoon of Star Wars or just a knock-off? It might very well be The Ice Pirates. The galaxy has inexplicably run out of water, the remaining bits of ice from comets are controlled by the Templars, a group of chain-mail wearing space knights. The annoyingly rouge pirate captain Jason (really) finds himself captured by the Templars and at risk of castration at the hands of the Castratomatic machine. Luckily, he’s saved by the princess Karina who wants his help to find her lost, and possibly dead, father the King of something, who knows what. At this point, some of Jason’s crew also escape with him, but run into a robot pimp with a TV showing scantily ladies in its stomach. The robopimp doesn’t really matter to the movie, but Sam thought it important to mention that it’s basically a horny Teletubby. Anyway, the crew and the princess escape to the pirate moon, there’s a space herpie on the ship but it doesn’t matter. Really, the thing that matters most is that the group eventually makes their way to possibly the best named character of all time; a lover of baby donkeys and teenage ducks, the one, the only, the indomitable Lanky Nibs. There’s a bunch of stuff after that about finding Karina’s father and the Seventh World, but after Lanky Nibs it’s all just a blur until a finale that screws with time in ways that make our heads hurt. Also, did we mention Anjelica Huston has a minor roll in this movie, as well as Ron Perlman in his second ever film credit? So come enjoy Danielle grapple with explaining why she didn’t love a movie that seems to have it all, and tune in next week for Sam’s turn on The Great Switcheroo!
This week Sam brings along Danielle on a trip through the Nic Cageiverse in the 2009 film Knowing. In 1959 a little girl scrawls a bunch of mystery numbers on a paper placed in a time capsule. This note is acquired by John (Nicholas Cage) fifty years later in the undetermined time period of “present day”, who, as a depressed astrophysicist, immediately cracks the code. The paper details the dates and locations of every massive disaster (supposedly) in the last fifty years. The real problem is that there are three disasters that are scheduled for the future in the next few days. John sets out to stop the disasters and utterly fails to prevent the first two. He then decides to learn more about the writer of the note by spending some time stalking a woman and her young daughter; a plan that works about as well as you’d expect. Suddenly there’s an apocalypse coming and the government knows but doesn’t seem to care and John can only think about how to save his son, who has started hearing mysterious whispers and seeing strange men following them. None of this really matters as the ending is wild and seems to render the whole movie pointless. However, Sam did manage to find a description for the movie that seems to have come from a parallel universe, and that really excites Danielle.
In this special bonus episode Danielle and Sam pick out weird media which the other person will have to explain, while still not having seen or read the media they’re suggesting. Given the choice would Danielle rather watch the animated film The Elm-Chanted Forest or the sci-fi comedy The Ice Pirates? And which Christopher Pike book will Sam pick to read: See You Later or Bury Me Deep? Listen to find out, and be sure to stay tuned as Danielle and Sam cover their choices in a future episode.
This week Danielle takes Sam through the 2012 dark comedy film It’s a Disaster. When Tracy (Julia Styles) brings her new boyfriend (David Cross) to a regular brunch to meet her friends, they all quickly find themselves trapped inside the house together as a series of disasters threaten the world around them. However, they won’t let something like the end of the world get in the way of their interpersonal drama. This one is short, weird, and really needs to be experienced to be fully understood, but Sam is nonetheless impressed by the cast’s comedy chops, and the way the story makes life-threatening circumstances funny. Danielle really only cares that the cast contains America Ferrera. But the thing the two of them agree about the most for this brunch-pocolypse is “don’t be late”.
This week Sam takes Danielle on an adventure through the 2004 made for TV movie The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. If you take Indiana Jones, mash it up with Warehouse 13, add Noah Wyle and a touch of historical mysticism, you’ll get something akin to The Librarian. Flynn is a perpetual student with an unbelievable 22 academic degrees, a fact Sam refuses to accept. When he’s forced out of school by his teacher, for some reason, he struggles to find purpose until a magic letter invites him to a job interview at a library. At the interview, Flynn spouts some nonsense and then a magical Bob Newhart as Judson appears from a wall to tell him he’s hired. Bob shows Flynn around the library, which is really more a heavily guarded museum of mystical artifacts, and also the Mona Lisa for some reason. This “secure” facility is immediately broken into by a librarian splinter group—which must the be the least intimidating kind of splinter group—and a piece of a powerful spear artifact is stolen. Instead of actually trying to recover the stolen spear piece, Flynn is instead sent to track down the two other spear pieces which, until now, have been safely hidden in other locations because the spear was too powerfully dangerous to be kept in one piece. Predictably, things don’t go smoothly as Flynn and his sexy bodyguard Nicole go to the Amazon to recover the spear, but Sam is more upset that they even lunched this unnecessary quest to begin with. Things only get more ridiculous as stupid evil plans collide with stupid good plans and no one seems to do any actual librarian work. All we can say is: Snake, Snake! Snake, Snake!