Teen

The Faculty

Danielle concludes Spook Retorts this week with the cult 1998 movie The Faculty. It seems like a perfectly ordinary day at an average high school in Ohio: The coach (Robert Patrick) is raging at the football team and stomping sprinklers, the teachers are complaining about the lack of funding for everything except the football team, and a new girl (Laura Harris) joins the school which is populated with your typical cliques. While looking for a scoop for the school paper in the teachers’ lounge nerd kid Casey (Elijah Wood) and cheerleader Delilah (Jordana Brewster) seem to witness the murder of the school nurse (Salma Hayek) at the hands of other faculty members. Of course, by the time the police show up everything is back to normal, but the kids are convinced something’s up. One clue is a worm one of them finds outside and which is immediately identified by the science teacher (Jon Stewart) as a strange, aquatic parasite. The students realize the faculty have been drinking tons of water, so clearly something like this parasite is infecting them and trying to take over the world. After jumping to this conclusion, not once do they question the logic of a a creature starting its invasion in Ohio of all places. Anyway, later the students are attacked by the science teacher, but learn that if you stab one of them in the eye with a pen full of drugs made by burnout-genius student Zeke (Josh Hartnett), they die. The students, proving that if jumping to conclusions was an Olympic sport they’d all have gold, surmise that the drugs must be deadly to the parasite, and also there must be, as freaking always, a queen parasite they can kill to immediately save everyone with no repercussions. So our motley crew of unlikely friends immediately put in action a plan to save humanity by…doing some of Zeke’s drugs. Things don’t really go much better for them from there, but what did you expect from Ohio?

Check out Danielle and Sam on Rewatch Recap podcast discussing the Snick show Roundhouse. Find it on Twitter @dustin_holden, Instagram @therewatchrecap, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Blood and Chocolate

This week Danielle brings the 1997 Annette Curtis Klause novel Blood and Chocolate. It’s not even Spook Retorts yet and Danielle is bringing the werewolves! Vivian is your average teenage werewolf who just moved to a new town because her family was chased away from their previous home by an angry mob that burned down their home and killed a bunch of her pack, all because the group of teenage boys in her pack had been murdering a few of the people in that town; total overreaction. Anyway, since her dad was the pack leader (don’t worry, Sam doesn’t let that bad wolf science slide) they pack needs to pick a new one, and the expected top dog (ha!) is Gabriel, who’s also dating Vivian’s mother. As for herself, Vivian has a picture she made published in the school journal next to a story by some boy named Aiden about transforming into a wolf. Vivian is disappointed to learn that Aiden isn’t another werewolf, just a nerd who dresses like a hippie, but Vivian decides to date him anyway, much to the dismay of her pack and especially Gabriel who, in addition to dating her mother, is also kinda into her, and it’s all kinds of gross. The other problem is the teenage boys in her pack are still up to their shenanigans and not at all regretful about all the murder, so we’re sure that won’t cause any problems. Finally, in Sam’s favorite scene, Vivian decides to reveal her wolf side to Aiden and it does not go well. Distraught, Vivian blacks out from having wolfed-out too hard and wakes up the next day to learn there’s been a murder. Afraid she’s losing control, and might cause her family to be uprooted again at the very least, Vivian starts to panic. But first, she stalks her ex and then trashes the room of his new maybe-girlfriend, because teenagers. So we hope you enjoy this very out of season spooky book where the scariest part about it is the patriarchy.

Crater

This week Sam brings on the Disney with the 2023 direct to streaming movie Crater. In the not too distant future, humanity has just gotten kind of bored with Earth and decided to invest everything in a new planet Omega. This movie is not about that, instead we follow some kids, and specifically Caleb, living in a mining colony on the Moon. Caleb’s father recently died in a mining accident, and since his mother died a few years earlier, Caleb is awarded a one-way trip to Omega, hooray! Only Caleb doesn’t want to go to Omega and leave all his friends behind. Friends like Dylan, Marcus, Borney, and the new addition, Addison. Caleb’s father always told him about how he used to take Caleb’s mother to visit a special crater, so Caleb and his friends decide to steal a rover and take a road trip during a meteor storm lock-down. They make their way across the moon’s surface, stopping briefly to play baseball (sure), and then also to use their oxygen tanks to play jetpacks (what?!). The jetpack game, predictably, goes awry, but once everyone is back safe inside the rover, they head to an abandoned model home showcase to restock. It should also be mentioned that, although this is a largely upbeat children’s movie, this society is freaking dark. We learn that the miners on the Moon are essentially indentured servants laboring for a ticket to Omega that never comes and passing down that burden of servitude to their children. There’s also no entertainment on the Moon, no books or music, the children only learn about mining in school, and are never allowed to leave the small colony dome. And lest you think Earth is doing any better, Addison recently moved to the Moon from Earth after her parents divorced and her mom took her younger brother to Omega (a 75-year trip in stasis) so then her dad took her to the moon to spite her mom. Absolutely terrible. Anyway, the children continue their adventure to the crater, but what they find there is totally bonkers, as is the ending of this movie which left both our hosts completely baffled.

Janie Face to Face

This week Danielle concludes the Janie series with the 2013 Caroline B. Cooney novel Janie Face to Face. Janie is headed off to college and wants to use that as an opportunity to assert her independence from her family. She does this by only going back to stay with her family every weekend. Also, Janie’s Connecticut parents are now in assisted living since her father is not doing well after the stroke he had in the last book and they somehow lost all their vast wealth. Janie decides that’s a good enough reason to start distancing herself from them. At the same time, we’re introduced to Hannah and are gifted little vignettes that tell the story of how she kidnapped Janie. This sections are not kind to Hannah, and also amazingly bonkers. Meanwhile, at school, Janie meats a new boy, Mike Hastings, who quickly reveals himself to be an absolute creeper. However, Janie decides that’s all fine until she learns that Mike has been working with a supposed true crime writers to investigate her life for his latest book. In what might be her only good decision in this book, she dumps his butt. However, the rest of her family is still receiving solicitations from the writer, and some of them seem far more willing to talk than Janie is. In another disturbing trend, Stephen and Janie both reunite with their terrible exes, Kathleen and Reeve respectively. In a spur-of-the-moment decision at Janie’s departure from a visit, Reeve proposes by shouting his request across the airport (romantic) and Janie actually says yes. Wild. Anyway, it soon becomes clear that the person behind the book, and the investigation, into Janie’s life is not what he seems to be, and the revelation has the potential to upend Janie’s life forever (but it definitely won’t).

What Janie Found

This week Danielle is back to finish (kind of) the Janie series with the 2000 Caroline B. Cooney book What Janie Found. Janie’s back and more teen than ever! While rifling through her father’s office (he had a heart attack/stroke, don’t worry about it) she comes across a folder labeled “HJ” and immediately concludes it has something to do with Hannah. Also, Reeve is back in her life, trying just so hard to get back into her good graces, which, for some reason, she is allowing him to do. Reeve notices Janie looking at the folder but wisely decides not to pry this time since he’s still on thin ice. Janie discovers a checkbook in the folder and deduces that her father (the Connecticut one) has been sending money to his estranged daughter, and Janie is not on board with this. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Stephen is dating a girl named Kathleen who’s father just happens to have been in the FBI, and they are both super interested in the Janie kidnapping story, to a degree that is problematic. They grill Stephen about the story over dinner and this is in no way foreshadowing for how terrible they are. Janie, meanwhile, discovers that the checks her father was writing are being sent to, of all places, Colorado, so she concocts a plan to go there on the pretense of visiting Stephen, but with the intention of tracking down Hannah to get some answers. This is obviously a terrible plan, so of course her brother Brian and freaking Reeve come along. Unrelated, but Janie is also a bridesmaid in Reeve’s sister’s, Lizzie the Lawyer’s, wedding for reasons that are dumb. Anyway, in Colorado, Janie waffles on whether to leave a note for Hannah in the PO box, and in the meantime Kathleen, encouraged by her father, grills Janie about her experience as a “kidnapette”, and that term tells you all you really need to know about Kathleen and her father as people. The question remains: Will Janie confront Hannah and finally get the therapy she so desperately needs? All we can say is that there’s actually a fifth book, surprise!

The Voice on the Radio

This week Danielle dips back into the Janie well with the 1996 Caroline B. Cooney novel The Voice on the Radio. Taking place a few months after the previous, Janie’s boyfriend Reeve is off to college in Boston, and Sam is still irked at not getting the prom scene that was teased. While Reeve is enjoying the college life and his new job at the college radio station, Janie is back home leafing through wedding magazines and fantasizing about their future. This is all totally normal teen stuff and not at all foreshadowing. One night, Reeve gets his big break and is given the chance to DJ on the mic. Did anyone bother to help Reeve come up with a plan for this show? Apparently not, as he’s shoved in front of the mic and immediately panics. So Reeve does what any normal person would, he spills the beans on Janie’s very traumatic and private kidnapping history, in what Sam declares is the progenitor of all true crime podcasts. This horrific betrayal of trust goes over extremely well with the radio audience and Reeve has the new hit show on campus. In the meantime, Janie is dealing with her school wanting to dedicate a page to her kidnapping story, something she is not on-board with since she feels it’s far too private (hear that, Reeve, ya jerk?!). Despite momentary feelings of unease, Reeve is all-in on trading Janie’s story and trust for college radio fame, and even manages to dodge a few close calls where Janie almost uncovers it all. Alas, we all know Janie will eventually find the truth and have to deal with that betrayal, and then Reeve will have to deal with his greatest challenge yet: Exercising even a minuscule amount of willpower. Whatever happens between Janie and Reeve, there’s one thing we can all sure of: This book will for sure end on a cliffhanger. Enjoy!

Whatever Happened to Janie?

This week Danielle brings more of the Caroline B. Cooney Janie series with the 1993 novel Whatever Happened to Janie? Jenny/Janie has contacted the Spring family, which she was taken from, and they demand that Janie sever ties with her current family and friends for at least three months and come live with them in New Jersey. It has to be one of the single worst decisions we’ve ever encountered in any media for this podcast. Janie, naturally, has a hard time adjusting to life with the new family, new school, and no friends. It doesn’t help that her new siblings alternate between pitying and resenting her, and sometimes blaming her for not thwarting her kidnapping as—and this can’t be stressed this enough—a three-year-old child. It’s criminal that no one in this family is receiving the therapy they all so desperately need. Janie eventually wears her new parents down enough that they let her call her previous parents, which at least seems to help a little. Also helping is that her hunky former neighbor Reeve is still all aboard the Janie train and drives down to take her out on a date. The plot to this book is about as thin as the previous book, but Sam still gets plenty upset at all the characters behaving abominably in a situation that requires way more empathy and kindness than is on offer. It also doesn’t help that the end of this book is so inconsequential that it feels like half the pages are missing. So enjoy as Sam continues to be mad at very slowly learning Janie’s story.

The Face on the Milk Carton

This week Danielle brings Sam back to the 90s with the 1990 Caroline B. Cooney novel The Face on the Milk Carton. Fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson is your average lactose-intolerant teen who just wants to fit in and kiss the cute boy next door. However, one day at school she sees a picture of a missing three-year-old child on a milk carton and is immediately convinced it’s probably her from twelve years ago. This immediately sends Janie spiraling into an existential crisis. Amazingly, Janie starts to have flashbacks to memories of her three-year-old life, improbable as it sounds for her to have one, much less just so freaking many memories from when she was three or younger. Janie begins to question if her parents are really her parents, but instead of asking them outright anything about it, or contacting the hotline from the milk carton for clarification, Janie stalks the family of the missing girl by coercing her kinda-boyfriend into driving her to New Jersey only to chicken out before actually knocking on the door. Finally, Janie confronts her parents who tell her a story about how her mother, their daughter, ran off to join a cult and then showed up one day to dump baby Janie on them, which they raised as their own. Amazingly, the story doesn’t just end there with everyone getting a lot of therapy. No spoilers, but Sam is very upset by the “twist” that everyone just accepts and is downright angry by the end book, so you know this is going to be a good one!

Can of Worms

This week Danielle returns to her comfort zone with the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie Can of Worms. Mike is your typical angsty teen, he doesn’t feel like he belongs on Earth and no one understands him, especially his parents. He’s on the football team at his dad’s insistence, but he doesn’t like it and isn’t very good at it, though it does give him a chance to ogle the cute cheerleader Katelyn. Mike is also a massive computer nerd, but he gets bullied by Scott, the much more popular computer nerd/football player at school. After a series of insane, and quite lame, computer pranks, Katelyn takes a shine to Mike and asks him to make fancy, electronic Halloween decorations for the school dance. Oh also, Mike likes to tell stories and give PowerPoint presentations in his tree house about an alien baby that was launched into space after his home planet was invaded and the alien baby crash lands on Earth where it grows up and feels out of place. The alien baby is obviously supposed to represent Mike, and everyone knows Mike tells this story and freaking loves it. Anyway, the dance is a disaster and Mike runs home and steals his family’s satellite dish to send a message into space about how he doesn’t belong on Earth and wants to leave. What follows is a parade of absolute nightmares as a variety of grotesque aliens with horrific human teeth answer Mike’s call. One, a dog that speaks out of a mouth on its collar, invites Mike to live on its home planet of Puppis (ugh) to escape the onslaught. Mike refuses, and eventually a series of maddening sit-com level misunderstandings leads to Mike’s best friend’s brother being kidnapped by a frog-like alien for its exotic zoo. Mike, Katelyn, his friend, and even his former enemy Scott all team up to save the brother, though Scott is really more tricked into it than anything. Will they succeed and save they day? Who cares! So long as we can end the movie and get away from the insane, eldritch abominations this movie considers fun aliens for kids, Danielle and Sam will put up with pretty much anything, except maybe Mike’s useless prophetic alien dreams, that is.

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The Thirteenth Year

This week Danielle returns to the Disney Channel Original Movie well with the 1999 TV movie The Thirteenth Year. The movie opens with a mermaid being chased by a far too enthusiastic fisherman and abandoning her extremely human-looking child in a basket on a boat in a reverse Moses situation. We later learn that this may, or may not, be a natural part of the mermaid lifecycle, and already the first few minutes of this movie would require years of study to unpack. The baby is found and claimed by two humans who own the boat, they name him Cody and raise him to help them administer their fiscally unsustainable $5 boat tours. Cody is also on the swim team, and boy does Danielle have opinions about swim meets in this episode. Cody is eventually partnered up with the school nerd, Jess, on a marine biology project when he discovers his body is going through changes. The kind of changes every young man deals with: scales on his hands, Sith lightning from his fingertips, being able to tell fish to do circus tricks, and the ability to climb walls; you know, the classic merperson things of lore. Cody’s mom negligently avoids taking him to a doctor, and his kinda girlfriend Sam (no relation) at first doesn’t care, until she sees him with arm fins later (seriously, this movie has no idea how merpeople work). Cody struggles to understand his new identity while trying to hide his changes from Jess’ dad, the same fisherman who chased his mer-mom all those years ago and is now obsessed with finding proof of fish-people. Sam (yes relation) wonders if there’s some common heritage between merpeople and centaurs, and then makes a bunch of terrible fish puns which Danielle does not appreciate. Anyway, Cody tries to reconcile his burgeoning mer-identity with his human upbringing, and also just absolutely crush it at the most well attended state swim meet ever. However, a time comes when he must make a very difficult choice between his human life and and mer-heritage. Kidding! This is a Disney movie, so it goes completely bonkers trying to make it a happy ending for everyone. So get ready for an Olympic-sized swimming pool of aquatic nonsense!