This week Danielle brings the tween horror with one of her favorite movies, the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie: Don’t Look Under the Bed. When teen Francis Bacon (yes, seriously) wakes up one day to find all the clocks in her completely average town have been moved forward by hours, and all the neighborhood dogs coaxed on to the roofs of the houses, she knows she’s in for a weird day. Only the weirdness comes not from those events but from how all the adults instantly blame this innocent child for the hijinks. Oh also, she starts seeing a boy named Larry Houdini (yes, still seriously) that no one else can see, and who claims to be an imaginary friend, but not her imaginary friend. Francis being the logical sort, decides to tell just everyone around her about the invisibly boy and constantly ask if people can see the boy that only she can see. To no one’s surprise but her own, this does not work. Larry reveals that he was her brother’s imaginary friend until she recently (or not recently, the timeline makes very little sense) convinced her brother not to believe in imaginary friends so he could focus on his leukemia treatments. This movie is amazingly insane. Anyway, Larry is upset by that, but also reveals that the person framing Francis for all the pranks is the Boogeyman, or rater a particular Boogeyman (Boogeyperson?), who has a vendetta against Francis. Also, she can see Larry for no reason other than that he thinks “she needs him”. Eventually, Francis and Larry construct an anti-Boogey weapon called a Temporalfuge and some Boogey bait called Boogey Goo. Now Larry and Francis need to travel into Boogeyworld to try and save her brother by venturing under the bed, but Larry is struggling with an unwanted transformation. Hopefully, Larry and Francis can make it out of Boogeyworld alive, otherwise Larry may end up dressed as a Victorian lord speaking in rhyming couplets like the other Boogeyman. How has this movie not won all the awards?
This week Danielle brings the style with the 2019 sci-fi film Paradise Hills. Meet Uma (Emma Roberts), someone who wears a metal cage on her face for her wedding veil and sings creepy songs to her new husband for a toast. But to become this perfect bride, some months ago she was shipped off to an island reform school for headstrong upper class ladies (Uppers) called Paradise Hills. There she meets the very odd head of the school known as The Duchess (Milla Jovovich) and immediately starts just telling her all about her life and secret lovers even though she doesn’t trust anyone there. She also meets fellow “students” Chloe (Danielle Macdonald), Yu (Awkwafina), and famous singer Amarna (Eiza González), and despite their strong desire to escape one night, they all fall asleep instead and never speak of it again. Uma spends her weeks on the island wandering among the many rose gardens, eating meals of two asparagus and a glass of milk, and engaging in therapy with The Duchess. Eventually, Amarna graduates and is sent off the Island, and the next that Uma sees of her on TV Amarna seems to be a completely different person; spooky. Sam grows increasingly exasperated with a movie that seems more interested in making weird looking scenes than in making sense. To wit, one day Uma is strapped to a carousel horse and lifted high in the air and then shown a looping video of her arranged fiancé—whom she does not like—proclaiming how awesome he is for hours on end. Why this is done is utterly baffling, and made only more so when the movie’s big twist is revealed. Well, one of the big twists, because the ending is so totally bonkers it nearly breaks Sam. So join us for a movie that’s fun to watch and pretty to look at, but is perhaps the most-nonsensical media we’ve covered this year.
This week Danielle and Sam are rerunning one of their favorite episodes about the 1976 pulp horror novel Night of the Crabs by Guy N. Smith. Enjoy!
When a pair of swimmers disappear off the coast of Wales it’s up to well-known botanist, and uncle to one of the missing swimmers, Cliff Davenport to uncover what happened. Why, exactly, it’s up to him is anyone’s guess, but Cliff quickly proves himself by uncovering crab tracks on the beach (is that a thing?) and concluding his nephew was murdered by sheep-sized crabs. Spoiler: Cliff is wrong, they are, in fact, cow-sized crabs; c’mon, Cliff, do better. Cliff is made to quickly forget the grief of his lost nephew in the arms of the nubile and newly divorced Pat, who is one-hundred percent on board with giant killer crabs, having seen crab tracks herself (no seriously, are crab tracks a thing?!). The two investigate and have sex in about equal measure, but it’s not until the nearby secret, but not too secret, military base is attacked by an army of giant, invincible crabs lead by, as dubbed by Cliff, the cunning King Crab, that anyone else takes notice. Cliff, now somehow a marine biologist, works with the department of defense to devise a plan to entomb the crabs in their underwater cave. This plan, predictably, fails spectacularly, and so many are killed by the enraged crab army Danielle had to give up keeping count. All Sam knows is that he has a new hero: All hail King Crab!
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.
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.
This week Danielle is dredging up the 1976 pulp horror novel Night of the Crabs by Guy N. Smith. When a pair of swimmers disappear off the coast of Wales it’s up to well-known botanist, and uncle to one of the missing swimmers, Cliff Davenport to uncover what happened. Why, exactly, it’s up to him is anyone’s guess, but Cliff quickly proves himself by uncovering crab tracks on the beach (is that a thing?) and concluding his nephew was murdered by sheep-sized crabs. Spoiler: Cliff is wrong, they are, in fact, cow-sized crabs; c’mon, Cliff, do better. Cliff is made to quickly forget the grief of his lost nephew in the arms of the nubile and newly divorced Pat, who is one-hundred percent on board with giant killer crabs, having seen crab tracks herself (no seriously, are crab tracks a thing?!). The two investigate and have sex in about equal measure, but it’s not until the nearby secret, but not too secret, military base is attacked by an army of giant, invincible crabs lead by, as dubbed by Cliff, the cunning King Crab, that anyone else takes notice. Cliff, now somehow a marine biologist, works with the department of defense to devise a plan to entomb the crabs in their underwater cave. This plan, predictably, fails spectacularly, and so many are killed by the enraged crab army Danielle had to give up keeping count. All Sam knows is that he has a new hero: All hail King Crab!
This week Sam helps Danielle up her Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game by bringing her the 1990 film Tremors. Perfection, Nevada is your typical middle of nowhere tiny town from which handymen Valentine McKee and Earl Bassett are hoping to escape to the city. Their big adventure is interrupted by a series of mysterious deaths and a landslide that wipes out the only road out of town. Couple that with some strange seismographic readings from the newly arrived graduate seismology graduate student, Rhonda LeBeck, and you have a recipe for giant, murderous, subterranean tentacle-worms. Danielle is so excited for the worms she can hardly contain herself and Sam can hardly contain his exasperation as she constantly wants to know more about them with questions he is nowhere near qualified to answer. Rhonda, however, quickly proves to be a giant tentacle-worm expert, somehow, and comes up with several plans to try and escape the deathtrap of a worm-filled valley. Unfortunately, the tentacle-worms, appear to be the smartest things in the valley and foil our heroes at every turn, while Danielle is frustrated that this rural town has a dearth of off-road vehicles they could use to just drive away and end this nonsense. In any case, after a worm briefly eats Rhonda’s pants, they make for their big escape using explosives and weapons from the local prepper couple. This movie inexplicably spawned six sequels and half a SyFy original TV show, and Sam and Danielle can only hope that all their questions about the lifecycle and origins of the tentacle-worms are answered somewhere within all that direct-to-video goodness.
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.
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.
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.