It’s that time of year again where Danielle and Sam share the media and tropes they are thankful for. This year Sam has a special gift for the world: The word “thanker”. You’re welcome, world.
As they gear up for the holidays and their annual Winter Bizarre, Danielle and Sam are dropping some shorts so they don’t explode from being too busy. So enjoy as Sam puts Danielle through the horrors of a new game show he calls “We know your thoughts, but what do they think?” Which, aside from being just super catchy title, Danielle finds less challenge in the game itself and more in just remembering any of the titles for the media they’ve done on this show.
Fresh off of Spook Retorts, Sam pivots from the scary straight to the Disney with the direct-to-video animated movie Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. Most people know the classic fairy tale, and some even know the Disney version, but this threequel boldly asks “Hey, what if we took this simple, well-known morality tale and made it totally bananas with time travel?” Starting one year after the events of the original Disney movie, Cinderella and her nameless husband are enjoying their bliss, while the wicked stepmother and stepsisters are still living pretty much as they always have in their old mansion, only down one maid in the form of Cinderella. This is, somehow, intolerable to them. While celebrating their anniversary the Fairy Godmother reveals herself to be a wholly irresponsible possessor of magic by losing her magic wand, the apparent source of all her power, to Anastasia. The wicked stepmother seizes this opportunity to reverse time (how does she know how to do that?!) to the point just before Cinderella was to try on the glass slipper. Using further magical shenanigans, the wicked stepmother engineers it so that Anastasia is declared the owner of the slipper and is to marry Prince No-Name. Clearly distraught, Cinderella sets off to the castle to correct the record with Prince Face-Blindness. This goes about as well as you’d expect for a prince that identifies the supposed love of his life via shoe size. So now Cinderella must fight against her stepmother to set things right while the stepmother, despite having the wand, decides using magic is just too easy and largely ignores the tremendous power she possesses. While that’s all going on, Danielle and Sam are really more concerned for Anastasia, who seems the be the real tragic hero of this story. Also, the ending of this movie is so weird as to leave Danielle totally befuddled.
In the finale of this year’s Spook Retorts, Danielle shares the 1998 movie I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. If you remember anything about the first I Know What You Did Last Summer, it’s about a hook-wielding fisherman seeking bloody revenge against a group of teens that hit him with a car and left him for dead. For this sequel, just forget all that, it’s doesn’t matter. Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is now at college and trying to put the trauma of the previous summer behind her, despite her boyfriend Ray’s (Freddie Prinze Jr.) best efforts. However, when she wins a radio contest for a free tropical vacation in the middle of hurricane season, she brings her friends along to a deserted island hotel. People start predictably being murdered and Julie catches sight of the hook-wielding man who is now, for some reason, killing random people who didn’t hit him with a car. A hurricane rolls in trapping everyone on the island, and while the hotel knew this was coming, it is inexplicably still open. The murderer also demonstrates some hitherto unknown hacking powers on a karaoke machine for the sole purpose of spooking the teens, because apparently revenge is the last thing on his mind just behind pranks. Predictably, the bodies pile up as Julie and her friends try to survive and as Ray somehow magics himself onto the island to help. There is a particularly dumb twist at he end, but Sam is really more interested in the story that isn’t being told: An average day in the life of the hook-wielding murder.
In the penultimate Spook Retorts episode of this year, Sam brings the fanged action with the 2014 movie Wolves. Cayden is your average teen living an idyllic high school life. He’s quarterback of the football team, has a great girlfriend, and rad parents. Unfortunately, after having some nightmares, he finds himself turning into a werewolf and attacking his girlfriend before blacking out and apparently murdering his parents. Now on the lam, Cayden seeks answers as to his wolfy origins. Cayden is led to the very subtly named town of Lupine Ridge, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s just chock-full of werewolves. It should be pointed out that these are less werewolves and more wolf-transformers as they seem the be able to change at will, and none of the werewolf lore applies to them, much to the consternation of Danielle. Anyway, Jason Momoa plays the also subtly named Connor Slaughter, who’s been terrorizing and dominating the town for years, and takes an instant dislike to Cayden. But Cayden can’t leave yet because there’s a pretty werewolf girl with the extremely subtle name of Angel whom he just can’t stop thinking about. Anyway, when another wolf, Carter, tries to warn Cayden to leave, Connor has Carter killed and eaten for revealing too much to Cayden. At this point there are so many C-names in this movie neither Danielle nor Sam can keep them all straight. All that is before we even get to the twisted family tree that relates all these people and seems to defy comprehension. Rarely has a move had so many werewolves in it, and yet has so much non-werewolf relationship drama. So stick around to hear about Cayden’s true origins, and allusions to much more interesting sounding , but sadly never seen, imperialist werewolves. Oh, and also improvised manure mines, because there’s a little Home Alone in every werewolf, apparently.
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?
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!