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.
This week Sam shares the insanity that is the 1991 movie Highlander II: The Quickening, and to deal with it Danielle calls for backup in the form of Emily from I Drink Your Podcast. In the year 2024 the world has been encased in a shield to protect Earth from the intense rays of the sun now able to ravage to planet due the destruction of the ozone layer. For some reason, Connor MacLeod, now mortal and old beyond his years, was involved in the creation of the shield. How exactly his previous career as a sword wielding immortal translates to large scale engineering projects is a question beyond answer. It’s also revealed that Connor is from the past, or an alien from another planet depending on if you watch the director’s cut of the film, and was sent to the future/Earth with the other immortals as punishment for their participation in a rebellion against Michael Ironside as their evil ruler General Katana. All that crazy is before Sam even gets to the plot (such as it is) or the resurrection of Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, played by Sean Connery. About the only thing this sequel seems to retain from the first film is the baffling accent choices, so dive in as we discover there can be only one…again.
Check out more of Emily and I Drink Your Podcast on Twitter @IDYP_Podcast, Instagram @idyp_podcast, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.
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.
In the first full episode of the new year, Sam shares with Danielle the 1999 Antonio Banderas film The 13th Warrior. When Ahmad, an Arabic poet, is caught canoodling with a courtier’s wife, he is exiled in the form of being sent out of his home as an ambassador. An ambassador to where? That doesn’t matter, because he immediately hooks up with a band of Vikings who are called on a quest to stop an ancient evil from destroying some other Vikings. Sam doesn’t really get it either. The point is, Ahmad will have to learn to get along with his new friends if they’re to accomplish their mission. In his journey, Ahmad will get to know the Viking people, more than Sam at least, who still can’t remember a single one of their names. Ahmad will find love, hear tales of dragons, and deal with Viking political intrigue, and if you think all of those things aren’t immediately discarded by the movie as irrelevant, then this movie will surprise you. Don’t worry though, the film has plenty of cave bear-people who love retreating through the mist while hissing to keep things wacky.
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.
This week’s Winter Bizarre lives up to the name as Sam explains the 2017 movie Pottersville. If you love holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life then Pottersville really wants to trick you into thinking it’s going to be your new favorite. Maynard Greiger is a general store shopkeeper living in Pottersville, a small, economically depressed town. When he discovers his wife is having an affair, of sorts, Maynard deals with this in the only rational and healthy way possible: By dressing up as a Sasquatch to try and win her back. The side-effect is that now the town’s prospects are looking up as news spreads and Bigfoot tourists roll in. Maynard must struggle to keep the ruse up to save the town, and maybe his marriage, as more attention, and monster hunters, focus-in on him. What, exactly, this has to do with the holidays, or really anything, is spectacularly unclear. Just remember: Whenever a bell rings a Sasquatch gets its feet.
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.
With the winter holiday season upon us, Book Retorts is scaling back our release schedule to every other week through the end of the year so that Danielle and Sam can retain some shred of sanity in this busy time. However, we wouldn’t leave you with nothing, so please enjoy some excellent Book Reshorts in the off weeks. First up, Danielle and Sam probe what media elements each other are thankful for, and it quickly gets ridiculous as they determine which rom-com clichés and monologuing villains hold a special place in their hearts. Of course, what they’re most thankful for are all the wonderful listeners and supportive friends, family, and podcast community that help make this show possible.
Be sure to check out I Drink Your Podcast, especially the Southland Tales episode featuring Danielle. You can find them on Twitter @IDYP_Podcast, Instagram @idyp_podcast, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Sam concludes this year’s Spook Retorts with the 1990 thrill-omedy film Arachnophobia. When a hitherto unknown species of giant, deadly, Venezuelan hive spider is transported to a small West Coast town things are going to get creepy-crawly. Impressively quickly, the Venezuelan spider breeds with a common house spider which raises for Danielle all sorts of questions about spider reproduction that Sam is ill-equipped to answer. Mismatched spider breeding sizes aside, Dr. Ross Jennings, played by the always delightful Jeff Daniels, is a new transplant to the town looking to set up a medical practice, but finds himself in every doctor’s worst nightmare when all his patients start mysteriously dropping dead. Will Dr. Ross be able to unravel this mystery and protect his family all while overcoming his intense fear of spiders? Maybe, but not until suspiciously after his medical practice competition is eliminated. Luckily, John Goodman, playing a goofy exterminator, is there to be the hero we all want in our lives. As for how the spiders feel about all this, I’ll let renowned spider lover Jimmy Buffett’s end-credits song lyrics speak for them: “I’m fakey, real flaky, eight legs and one pea brain, so don’t bug me.”