Spook Retorts

Arachnophobia

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.”

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.

My Boyfriend’s Back

The month of Spook Retorts continues with Sam sharing the 1993 dark comedy movie My Boyfriend’s Back. Johnny Dingle (yes, it’s that kind of movie) has been in love with Missy McCloud since before he can remember, and he is determined to go to prom with her no matter what. When a truly idiotic plan he concocts to win her affections goes awry, Johnny learns that not even death can stop his creepy obsession with Missy and getting that prom dance. Unfortunately, now a zombie, Johnny faces the conundrum of how to control both his lust for human flesh and the equally off-putting lust Missy suddenly has for this walking corpse. Throw in some zany antics and parents who are way too supportive of Johnny’s new diet, and it’s impossible to predict where this movie is going, though Danielle tries by tossing out several excellent alternate endings, as well as a dubious new business proposition. This movie may be low on the spooks, but it’s got wackiness to spare so Sam gives it at least five severed-thumbs up.

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.