Danielle Explains

Die Another Day

Danielle brings Sam into the wonderfully strange world of James Bond with the 2002 movie Die Another Day. Although this isn’t Sam’s first James Bond film, it’s definitely one of the weirder he’s ever heard about. When your spy movie starts with James Bond and his team clandestinely surfing into North Korea only to have a helicopter they already control meet them there so Bond can replace and impersonate the diamond/arms dealer inside, you know you’re in for a wild ride. James Bond, with his usual lack of subtlety, proceeds to be captured and held for over a year by the DPRK before being released in a prisoner exchange. Bond quickly does what he does best and takes an unsanctioned trip to Cuba in search of the mole in MI6 that had betrayed him, but mostly ends up just having sex with a criminally underused Halle Berry. There’s some stuff about a de-aging clinic that turns you into the doppelgänger of whomever’s bone-marrow you get, but the movie doesn’t seem that interested in the details because it’s time for a crazy rich guy with a totally-not-evil-seriously-guys-it’s-just-for-peaceful-reasons-I-can’t-think-of-right-now space laser! There are so many crazy villain plots in this that Danielle struggles to finish her retelling in less time than it would take just to watch the actual movie. So come on and join the most famous of secret agents for some delightfully nonsensical action fun. Also, there’s a lot of setup about scorpions in the movie, but that never pays off, sorry.

Jason X

Danielle brings Sam a little Halloween in February with the 2001 sci-fi horror film Jason X. Forget everything you know about the Friday the 13th movies and Camp Crystal Lake because it does not matter. Danielle strains her own memory, and her verbal faculties, to tell Sam how Jason has been caught and is being cryogenically frozen in order to contain him. Unsurprisingly, he still manages to kill a bunch of people before being frozen, but surprisingly being frozen somehow does kills him, which is kinda the opposite point of cryogenic freezing. In any case, he’s discovered in the 25th century, and the doctor that froze him is brought back to life, mostly so she can warn them about Jason and be ignored. Jason decides he’s been dead long enough and brings himself back to life to do what he does best: Stab people who are having sex. Now loose on the spaceship (yes, this is in space) Jason will terrorize the rest of the crew which consists of a sexy android, a quippy security guard, a morally bankrupt professor, and some miscellaneous nerds. Will the crew be able to survive Jason and escape? No, of course not, most of them die, but Jason is eventually defeated which results in an ending so nonsensical that Sam and Danielle are still trying to puzzle out what the heck it means.

Beauty Queens – Part 2

This week Danielle brings Sam the explosive finale of the Libbra Bray novel Beauty Queens. The “pirates” from the Captains Bodacious reality show find our stranded beauty pageant contestants on their island and immediately do what attractive young people do everywhere. Soon, however, their fun is cut short as MoMo B. ChaCha is about to arrive to complete the arms deal the Corporation has arranged on the island. Still, the show must go on, and for reason too convoluted to go into here, the beauty pageant is back on, live from the island, with MoMo B. ChaCha as a special surprise judge. The girls, finally suspicious of the Corporation and its megalomaniacal leader Ladybird Hope, decide to stage their daring escape live on television, for some reason. There are giant snakes, tanks of piranhas inside volcano caves, and somehow still enough time to make a PowerPoint presentation. The biggest tragedy by far, though, is the loss of MoMo’s trusted confidant and stuffed lemur General Good Times, but fortunately Sam plans to open a chain of family restaurants/arcades in his honor.

Beauty Queens – Part 1

This week Danielle brings Sam the start of a truly weird novel in Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. When a plane loaded with beauty pageant contestants decides to crash land on a deserted island, the surviving contestants must fend for themselves until rescue comes. Unfortunately, the sinister Corporation that runs the pageant has no interest in their rescue, as the island is planned to be used as the site for an arms deal between The Corporation and MoMo B. ChaCha, an eccentric dictator with a pet stuffed lemur. The stranded beauty pageant contestants soon learn that there’s something off about the island, and not just the hallucinogenic berries. If you ever wanted to see a besashed Miss Texas roundhouse kicking guards and being absolutely riddled with tranquilizer darts, this book delivers. Fortunately, despite their dire circumstances, the Captains Bodacious sexy pirate crew arrives to maybe save the day!

Featuring a promo for the book discussion podcast Touch Your Shelf; find them on Twitter @touchurshelfpod, Instagram @touchyourshelfpod, and at https://touchyourshelf.libsyn.com/

Serendipity

In the final installment of this year’s Winter Bizarre, Danielle brings out the big guns with the John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale rom-com Serendipity. A chance encounter in a New York department store brings Sara and Jonathan together. Even though they’re both happily seeing other people, Jonathan seems determined to find a way to be with Sara. Sara dodges his advances by setting up elaborate tests of fate that will tell them if they are meant to be together. Sam has exactly zero patience for Sara’s fate-based abdication of personal responsibility, Danielle, meanwhile, is mostly just amused by his frustration. Regardless, see our “heroes” eventually brutally dump their perfectly lovely partners to be with each other because apparently fate told them to. Danielle and Sam are forced by this movie to grapple with some existential questions that are, honestly, pretty stupid. Luckily, the leads have enough charisma and charm to make everyone forget the bad philosophy and enjoy their lovelorn shenanigans.

Snowmageddon

Danielle kicks off this year’s Winter Bizarre with the Syfy original film Snowmageddon. A mysterious steam-punk snow globe, which has a perfect representation of their home town, is left at the door of a rural Alaskan family. Abruptly, a lava spewing chasm opens in the middle of the town, and in the snow globe the same chasm appears in miniature. Soon ice shards are raining from the sky, people are trapped on an electrified school bus, and a hunky snowboarder sees his friend killed in an avalanche, but isn’t that bothered about it. How the snow globe is responsible for all these non-snow related disasters remains unclear to the characters, our podcast hosts, and likely the film’s writers as well. The solution to all these problems lies with a poorly named board game that is a ripoff of The Lord of the Rings and also, somehow, Pandora’s box. Sam demands more murderous snow and less nonsense; he is disappointed.

Nancy Drew: Sleight of Dan

Danielle brings another Nancy Drew mystery to Sam with the graphic novel Sleight of Dan. The girl detective is back! Nancy Drew has a brand new mystery to solve, well, not so much a mystery as ruining everyone else’s good time. When a magician, Dan Deville, comes to town and makes his assistant really disappear, Nancy won’t rest until she’s figured out the trick and spoiled it for her friends. There’s a giant boa constrictor that doesn’t really matter, and a bunch of weird magicians who really should matter more, but Sam is focused on the real mystery: Where does Nancy keep getting all those phones, and is she the worst?

In the Tall Grass

Half-way through this year’s Spook Retorts Danielle pulls out the big-guns of horror with the movie adaptation the Stephen King and Joe Hill novella In the Tall Grass. While on a cross-country road trip, pregnant Becky and her brother Cal make a pit-stop in the middle-of-nowhere of Kansas, and you know things aren’t going to go well. Lured into a field of, predictably, tall grass our two luckless travelers find themselves lost in a world of shifting geography and unmoored time. This very cool concept quickly gets wacky when they meet a lost child and his rock obsessed father. Throw in weird grass people, Becky giving birth next to a massive hole of writhing bodies, and a wormhole finding dog, and both Sam and Danielle are so lost they might as well be in the tall grass themselves. Don’t worry though, none of these question will be answered by the end of the movie. Still, the concept of the flutewolf is born, so we think overall that’s a win.

House of Wax

This week Danielle kicks off our first ever Spook Retorts with the 2005 horror movie House of Wax. On their way to a football game a group of college friends camp overnight on a deserted stretch of road. Though a putrid smell emanates from the woods, they inexplicably stay overnight, and in the morning find one of their cars has been sabotaged. The only place to find help is the nearby town containing the 100% creepy Trudy’s House of Wax. That may sound like the setup to the most generic horror movie ever, and it is, but this movie quickly goes off the rails with the delightful addition of encasing people alive in molten wax. Sam can’t understand how the evil wax-working brothers can be everywhere at once, Danielle can’t remember any of the characters, referring to them solely by their actors’ names, and neither of them has any idea how long it takes to make a wax figure. Danielle gives this movie a solid 6.5 spooks out of 10.

Red Riding Hood

In this episode Danielle shares a bizarre take on the classic fairy tale with the film Red Riding Hood. If you thought that Red Riding Hood would be improved with the addition of a werewolf and a lackluster love triangle, than have we got a movie for you. While an adult Red Riding Hood descending into paranoia because anyone in her village might be the werewolf terrorizing her is pretty great, it pales in comparison to the crazed werewolf hunter Gary Oldman and his giant iron elephant oven (that was not a typo). There’s not a lot of plot to cover, but the abundance of insanity more than makes up for it. To understand any of this Sam and Danielle could really use the expertise of an astronomer, an anatomist, a cryptozoologist, or really all the help they can get.