Spook Retorts ends with a bang as Danielle shares the second installment of the Happy Death Day franchise with the 2019 movie Happy Death Day 2 U. Everyone’s favorite character is back, that’s right, it’s Fine Vagina Kid, henceforth known as Ryan. He wakes in his car after being evicted from the dorm room he shares with Carter so he and Tree could get freaky. Ryan then heads to the physics lab where he’s working on a magic device that blah blah blah something about time. That’s not important, what is important is that the dean is shutting them down and then Ryan is killed by someone wearing a baby face mask, which is somehow, still, the mascot of this school. Ryan wakes up in his car, he’s in a time loop! Tree is immediately clued in on this and helps Ryan capture his would-be murder, which is also Ryan. But, like, a different Ryan from another dimension? Or the first Ryan is from another dimension? Look, it doesn’t matter, as the movie will completely forget about this entire premise mere minutes later when Ryan One activates his magic science device and accidentally sends Tree into another time loop. However, unlike when this device was apparently doing this in the previous movie, this time Tree ends up in another, slightly different dimension. At this point, Sam is just so angry at this movie for trying, and failing, to explain why all this is happening rather than just getting on with the fun parts of the movie; this is an emotion he will feel continuously for the rest of this episode. Anyway, in this universe Lori is not trying to kill Tree, Carter is dating Danielle which makes Tree jealous, and Tree’s mom is still alive. However, Tree does manage to get herself killed a few times before enlisting the help of this universe’s Ryan to help fix the magic science machine and end the loop. Why doesn’t Tree have a doppelgänger in this universe? Don’t ask questions, that’s why. So join us for another fun filled romp through time looped shenanigans, where the twists are so dumb and out of nowhere they don’t even earn the name twist. At the end, Tree must make the most difficult choice of all: Stay in this universe where her mom is still alive, or go back to the other universe for the boy she’s been dating for, like, twelve hours. I know what choice I’d make.
Danielle’s terrifying month continues as Sam brings her part two of the 1990 Dan Simmons book The Fall of Hyperion. Brawne and Kassad return to the other pilgrims with the rapidly dying body of Father Hoyt, and they decide to call in the Consul’s ship to see if the surgery on board can save Hoyt. However, as they pack to go meet the ship, Kassad’s perimeter alarms go off and he leaves to investigate. The others trudge up the valley but the ship isn’t there to meet them. It seems CEO Meina Gladstone has grounded the Consul’s ship lest they be tempted to use it to abandon their pilgrimage, so the pilgrims decide to seek shelter from the storm in the Sphinx. Meanwhile, Severn is invited to go visit Hyperion, in person, by Gladstone, as she wants a “poet’s perspective” on the situation. So Severn visits and runs into one Melio Alvarez, one time lover of the backwards aging Rachel. Severn interrogates Melio about if he still has feelings for the now infant Rachel, which seems like a real jerk thing to do to the poor man, and then he returns to the web, accomplishing not a whole lot on his trip. Back in the valley of the Time Tombs, Kassad is locked in battle with an unseen sniper he assumes is Moneta. He obliterates one of the Time Tombs, the Crystal Monolith, and then races across the valley floor to it smoldering structure, being heavily wounded in the process, but he sees a figure waiting for him high in the structure. Meanwhile, Severn goes to attend a briefing on the war with the Ousters and things are not looking good for the Hegemony. They will need to commit at least a third of their fleet to Hyperion to secure victory. When questioned about whether such an over-commitment is a prudent idea, Admiral Nashita assures everyone that while they grossly underestimated the Ousters up to this point, this time they’re super-duper sure they got it all figured out and should win the war within a week, what could go wrong? We’ll have to wait until at least next time to learn, as Danielle and Sam wrap this episode with perhaps their best business idea yet: The Dehubridifier, pre-orders are open now!
This week Danielle brings the laughs to Spook Retorts with the 2017 time-loop movie Happy Death Day. One day, a sorority sister wakes up after a night of blackout drinking in a random dorm room. So far, so college. The young woman, whose name is Tree (seriously), makes her way back home to her sorority house where her roommate offers her a cupcakes, since it’s her birthday. Tree, being a jerk at this point, tosses the cupcake and seems determined to be mean to everyone around her, except the professor/medical doctor she’s boning on the sly. That night on her way to a party, Tree comes across an apparently magic music box that plays Happy Birthday and is immediately stabbed to death by someone in a baby-face mask. It’s important to take a moment here to explain that this college has a baby as their mascot, and they are apparently so proud of this fact they practically force everyone who even looks at the campus to take one of these masks. Both Danielle and Sam agree, it’s the most horrifying part of the movie by far. Anyway, immediately upon her death Tree wakes up back in that dorm room and relives the day again, this time avoiding the music box, but still being killed later by a killer who is somehow the most impressive stalker of all time. Seriously, best, most dedicated murderer ever. So Tree spends the rest of her loops trying to uncover who is murdering her and how to stop it. She also undergoes some character growth, but that seems mostly incidental to the whole not being murdered motivation. As the movie goes on, you can enjoy Sam becoming increasingly frustrated at a time loop that makes no sense, capped off with a twist that somehow just makes everything more confusing. When all is said and done, however, Danielle and Sam think one thing is clear: Tree is definitely going to prison.
This week Sam kicks-off Spook Retorts by bringing Danielle’s greatest fear: more Hyperion! Get ready to dive in to the 1990 Dan Simmons novel The Fall of Hyperion. The Hegemony is going to war. At a party to see the armada off, we meet a man who claims to be Joseph Severn, the one-time friend of John Keats. He has a meeting after the party with CEO Meina Gladstone, where it’s revealed that he’s not only another cybrid persona retrieval project of John Keats, but also has been dreaming the events of the Shrike pilgrims through his psychic link to the other Keats persona currently residing in the Schrön loop embedded in Brawne Lamia. If that sentence made no sense to you, you should really listen to the first Hyperion book; it won’t help this make any more sense, but you’ll at least know who those people are. Anyway, Gladstone wants Severn (née Keats) to report to her the progress of the pilgrims through his dreams. The pilgrims haven’t really done much since the last book, having been unable to find the Shrike they set up camp and squabble about what to do. Eventually they go to bed, but Brawne wakes up to find Father Hoyt has wandered off to the now glowing Time Tombs, which can only mean one thing: DJ Shrike is in the house! Back in the Hegemony, Gladstone has bafflingly brought Severn to all her war briefings and given him the highest clearance. The Hegemony is supremely confident they can defeat the Ousters and defend Hyperion, though Severn thinks that’s hubris given how little the Hegemony actually knows about the Ousters or their capabilities. Unsurprisingly, things start going south in the war fast. Meanwhile, Severn gets himself seduced, kidnapped, and interrogated all by the same person. In his drugged, expository ramblings, Severn helpfully reminds us that the Hegemony orchestrated the war with the Ousters to get to Hyperion, the only variable that the TechnoCore cannot account for, and thus may save humanity from otherwise certain extermination by the AI civilization. Back on Hyperion, we see that Hoyt, mad with pain, has entered the Jade Tomb where Brawne sees him get his throat slit by the Shrike. Will Hoyt survive? Find out next time (maybe) in part two!
Be sure to check out the Authorized Novelizations Podcast, especially The Starlight Barking episode featuring Danielle and Sam. You can find them on Twitter @authorizedpod, Instagram @authorizedpod, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Also, a shout-out the excellent Dustin Can Read and Watch podcast, you should check it out on Twitter @dustin_holden, Instagram @therewatchrecap, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Partial Recall is back! This week Sam challenges Danielle to recap the recent Spook Retorts episode about the movie Wolves. While Danielle does admirably well on the start of the plot, when it comes to the character names, especially the “Three C’s” she just can’t seem to get it right. So join us for this not-too-distant trip back into our catalogue!
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.
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.”