October 27, 2017

Tales of Halloween

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For the final week of the Month of Horror Anthologies, Derek and Larry sat down to watch the movie chosen by Larry, Tales of Halloween, which features ten stories, all bookended by Adrienne Barbeau as a radio deejay in a suburban town, where all the stories take place.

All ten of the stories have elements of humor and horror to varying levels, and it makes for an interesting mix. Let's have a look...

Sweet Tooth

Parents: This is why you always check your kids' candy.
When young Timmy (Cameron Easton) returns from trick-or-treating, he throws caution to the wind and starts scarfing down candy from his bucket. His babysitter, Lizzy (Madison Iseman), and her boyfriend, Kyle (Austin Falk), tell Timmy that he needs to take it easy, and in an attempt to scare him straight, Kyle tells Timmy the story of Sweet Tooth.

Sweet Tooth was once a normal child whose parents let him go trick-or-treating, but would not let him eat the candy he received. Instead, after they sent him to bed, they would eat all the candy and have lots of gross sex. It's pretty weird.

Their son also finds it weird and decides that it is also unfair, so he goes to the kitchen, gets a meat cleaver, and kills both of his parents. He then eats all the candy that is left. (Even the stuff his parents were boning on...Gross!) But his hunger for sweets cannot be sated! So he slices open his parents and eats the candy they already ate!

Kyle tells Timmy that Sweet Tooth now visits people who eat a lot of candy unless they leave him some kind of tribute...

The Night Billy Raised Hell

Todd (Ben Stillwell) and Britney (Natalie Castillo) take Billy (Marcus Eckert) trick-or-treating way too early in the afternoon, at his request. When Todd starts making fun of Billy, challenging him to egg the creepy neighbor's house, Billy takes up the challenge, only to be stopped by the home's owner, Mr. Abbadon (Barry Bostwick) and taken inside, where Billy is told he is going to be taught how a real prank is done.

What follows is Mr. Abbadon and his charge terrorizing the city--stealing kids' candy, harassing parents, carjacking Adrianne Curry (as herself), vandalizing Billy's family's Halloween decorations, and robbing a liquor store. But something...just...isn't...right...


Four friends--James (John F. Beach), Maria (Tiffany Shepis), Catlyn (Casey Ruggieri), and Nelson (Trent Haaga)--spend the evening in, watching Night of the Living Dead and passing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

When James answers the door, a girl dressed as a witch (Mia Page) just stands there, not saying anything. James says, "Trick-or-treat?" to her several times, trying to get a response. And, boy howdy, does he get one! She pulls out a big knife and stabs him, finally saying, "Trick."

Discovering that James has been stabbed, the others rush to his aid. But then more kids come into the house, all of them armed and prepared to do some damage, which they get right down to, first killing Maria, then Nelson. Catlyn, however, manages to get away and runs upstairs to hide.

The kids go looking for Catlyn, who is now hiding in the attic, going through her phone and deleting some  pretty horrific pictures before calling 911. But then the kids come in and turn on the lights, revealing a nasty scene...

Grim Grinning Ghost

Attending a party thrown by her mother (Lin Shaye), Lynn (Alex Esso) hears the story of Mary Bailey--a sort of local version of the whole "Bloody Mary" folk tale.

When the party ends, Lynn heads home, but her car stalls on the way. After saying "shit" a lot, she decides to walk the rest of the way. However, she feels the presence of someone--or some thing--following her.

As she gets closer to home, the presence gets closer to her, almost catching up to her just as she gets to her front door. Once inside, she puts on her pajamas and brushes her teeth, preparing for bed. While in the bathroom, she see the door open in the mirror, only to realize it was just her dog pushing it open. So everything must be perfectly fine, right?

Ding Dong

Oh, Lady Gaga...You're so wacky!
This one starts off the year before, where Jack (Marc Senter) tries to console his wife, Bobbie (Pollyanna McIntosh), who is having trouble dealing with children because she is barren herself. In an attempt to cheer her up, he dresses their dog as Gretel (from Hansel and Gretel). Unfortunately, Bobbie does not take it well, and she punches Jack, knocking him out.

Flash forward to the current year, and Bobbie appears to have come to grips with the whole not-able-to-have-children thing, and has embraced the Halloween spirit. She dresses as a witch, and Jack dresses as Hansel, and they both have a big production for when a group of kids come to the door that involves Bobbie introducing Jack as Hansel, adding that she already ate Gretel. She proves this by pulling an entire braid (with a ear attached!) out of her mouth and showing it to them. The kids are, for the most part, fascinated.

This is repeated several times, until a single child shows up. It is a small boy, who also happens to be dressed as Hansel. Something inside Bobbie clicks, and after asking the child if he is lost, she tries to convince him to come inside the house. Jack is not too thrilled, for some reason, and makes every effort to change Bobbie's mind. When that doesn't work, Jack turns on the porch lights, drawing the attention of the boy's mother, who was looking for him.

Bobbie is livid. She rages at Jack for a few seconds, but then announces she is making cookies. She heads to the kitchen, fires up the oven, and gets to work. Jack then comes into the kitchen and tells her that he doesn't think it is a good idea for them to have kids, and he confesses he went to a doctor and got a vasectomy. Needless to say, Bobbie does not handle it well...

The Weak and the Wicked

Can't read my, can't read my...No, you can't read my poker face!
Alice (Gracie Gillam) and her two thugs (Booboo Stewart as Isaac and Noah Segan as Bart) are out on the town, terrorizing your standard, run-of-the-mill "nerds" on Halloween. But just as Alice is about to start burning the current nerd's toes with her cigar, they are interrupted by The Stranger (Keir Gilchrist), a young man who is dressed in a strange costume, and who only mutters cryptic sentences about some sort of demon.

When confronted by Alice, The Stranger hands her a drawing, which she glances at briefly and throws away. Then she and her friends give chase, following The Stranger around the park until he comes upon a burned-out trailer.

When he glances at his watch, he flashes back to when he was a child being harassed by young Alice and her two friends, and they are all standing outside the trailer, which is burning. It turns out that she, Isaac and Bart were the ones who set the trailer on fire, and The Stranger's parents were inside, burning to death.

Snapped out of his flashback, The Stranger tells Alice that he knows it was they who started the fire, and it was time for payback. Alice, unimpressed, has Isaac and Bart beat the piss out of him, and she pours alcohol all over him, preparing to set him on fire. But then, Isaac disappears...And then so does Bart...

This Means War

Boris (Dana Gould) is putting up his Halloween decorations--the traditional "tombstones and skeletons" kind--when he sees a truck pull up to the house across the street, where Dante (James Duval) and Velma (Elissa Dowling) have moved in. They are decorating, too, but their props are a bit more...extreme. There is a lot of rubbery guts and fake blood involved. It's pretty nifty, but Boris is not a fan.

Later that night, as Boris stands out front, handing out candy to kids, Dante and his pals are being loud, obnoxious, and not a little bit drunk. They are blaring metal through a huge stereo system and partying. When Boris asks them to turn down the music, they ignore him and get even louder. Boris snaps.

First, he attacks the stereo, killing off the music. In retaliation, Dante takes a huge bucket of fake blood to throw all over the decorations at Boris' house, but Boris cuts him off, tackling Dante and fighting with him. But will Boris be able to take down the younger Dante?

Friday the 31st

A young woman, Dorothy (Amanda Moyer), bursts into a barn, only to discover that her friends have been murdered. Just as she starts to react, the killer (Nick Principe) burst through the door, wearing a not-quite-trademark-infringing hockey mask.

Dorothy hits the killer with a hammer and runs out of the barn to get away, but the killer grabs a metal spear, throws it, and skewers Dorothy, killing her. When he goes to investigate (and possibly take the body back to the barn), he is interrupted by a bright light from above. It is...a UFO. Seriously. And it beams down a tiny little alien with a pumpkin-shaped bucket. It's here to trick-or-treat!

The killer is having no part of this, and he stomps it flat, then he leaves. The squashed alien oozes into the deceased Dorothy's body, sort of bringing her back to life so it can kill the killer. But will it be able to?

The Ransom of Rusty Rex

Dutch (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and Hank (Sam Witwer) are bank robbers who have decided that there is an easier way to score even larger amounts of money: kidnapping!

After picking their target, they swing into action, choosing the target: the son of local rich guy, Jebediah Rex (John Landis!). Their plan involves following the kid, Rusty (Ben Woolf) around while he is trick-or-treating, and then grabbing him once he is in a conveniently secluded spot.

After returning to their warehouse hideout, they call Jebediah Rex with their ransom demands, but there is one snag; Jebediah doesn't want him back. In fact, he seems positively delighted, telling Hank that the kid is their problem now, and then he hangs up.

Rusty, however, does not seem particularly concerned, and he keeps trying to get to the bucket of candy he had collected.

Hank calls Jebediah again, and tries to issue his demands. Once more, Jebediah tells them no, explaining that Rusty is not really his son, but a critter/person that showed up five years earlier and refused to leave, and then he hangs up, further confusing the kidnappers. And their problems are far from over, because while they were busy trying to figure out just what the heck is wrong with Jebediah, Rusty escapes and disappears among the crates and boxes, so Hank sends Dutch after him.

They recapture Rusty when he jumps on Dutch's back and attacks him. When they get him tied up, Hank once again calls Jebediah, but this time to beg him to take Rusty back, They even offer to pay him! However, Jebediah refuses, telling them to make sure they have plenty to feed him because he can get really hungry.

It's clear to them that this is no regular kid, so they decide to get rid of him, first trying to drown him, and then, finally, taking him back to the Rex household and setting fire to him on the front porch. Then they get in their car and get out of town, happy in the knowledge that Rusty appears to no longer be their problem...

Bad Seed

Do you feel lucky, pumpkin? Do you?
Ray (Greg McLean) and Ellen (Cerina Vincent) are getting ready for Halloween. While Ray, who is an artist, puts the final touches on the jack-o-lantern he is carving, Ellen goes upstairs to put on her costume for the party they plan to attend that evening. Once she's ready, she goes downstairs to tell Ray he needs to hurry up and get ready himself, only to find him writhing on the floor with the pumpkin trying to eat his head. The pumpkin bites Ray's head off, and then it sprouts legs and runs out of the house. Really.

When the police arrive to investigate, the only one who takes Ellen seriously is Detective McNally (Kristina Klebe), who takes the police artist's (Drew Struzan) drawing back to the station and presents it to her captain, Captain Zimmerman (John Savage). The captain is not impressed, and claims that he doesn't have time for this ridiculous case because there's a whole bunch of other weird stuff going on around town. However, Forensic Bob (Pat Healy) takes a cast of the bite mark on what's left of Ray's body, and he finds that it matches the police sketch of the pumpkin.

McNally begins her quest to hunt down and arrest a murderous pumpkin, because that's the kind of world she lives in now. Her search takes her around town, where she first has trouble finding it, but she gets a break when a mother sees her small child being eaten by it. When the woman screams, she draws McNally's attention, who gives chase as the pumpkin skitters off.

It leads her to a display that is, for some reason, in the middle of a dark alleyway, where she confronts the pumpkin after shooting two innocent ones. Unfortunately, she used up the only two bullets she brought with her, and the pumpkin moves in for the kill. Fortunately, Forensic Bob is there to save the day, tossing her a shotgun so she can turn it into pumpkin pudding.

While she is sorting through the carnage, she finds a chunk of pumpkin with a sticker on it that says it is a genetically-modified "super pumpkin". She gets a warrant and goes to the facility where the pumpkin was created and meets Professor Milo Gottlieb (Joe Dante) to question him about how the pumpkins are made. But she finds more than she expected...

How do all these stories end? Will Adrienne Barbeau have anything to do with it, like maybe bringing in Swamp Thing to save the day? Also, really? A murderous pumpkin? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Larry got a kick out of this movie when he first saw it, and he really appreciates the humor aspects of it. Fortunately for him, it gets even better with each viewing, because more and more little details are noticed: a lot of the same trick-or-treaters appear in the different segments, and everybody is watching Night of the Living Dead, with the exception of Mary from "Grim Grinning Ghost", who is watching Carnival of Souls for some reason.

Derek was pleasantly surprised. All but one of the stories was really fun, and he is particularly amused by "Friday the 31st", because the whole UFO aspect completely threw him for a loop. But more than anything, he wanted to talk about his cool new Batman hoodie, which looks a lot like this:

He's BatDerek.

October 18, 2017

Trilogy of Terror

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Welcome to week three of the Here Be Spoilers Horror Anthology Month!

Back in 1975, ABC originally aired what is still considered to be the scariest made-for-television movie ever, Trilogy of Terror, starring Karen Black, Karen Black, Karen Black, Karen Black, and a few other people who are not Karen Black.

Now, forty-two years later, Derek and Larry sat down to watch it, which we assume is why it was made in the first place.

The first segment, "Julie", also features Robert Burton as Chad, a super-rapey guy who, when he decides that all of the girls on campus are "dogs", takes an interest in his literature teach, Julie Eldrich, and immediately starts ogling her in the creepiest way possible.

What can I say? Shapeless, conservative dresses get me hot!
Chad finally manages to man-up and just ask Julie out to the drive-in, and after a really weak rebuff, she finally agrees.

That night, at the drive-in, Chad slips Julie a roofie, takes her to a motel, and shoots several questionable photos of her. Then he drops her off at home and leaves, but not before leering at her a whole bunch, making both Julie and the viewer super uncomfortable.

The next morning, Chad takes Julie for a drive and reveals the photos he took to her, telling her that she is now his to do as he wishes, or he will turn the photos over to the authorities. (This seems like a pretty empty threat, largely because Chad, a student, appears to be pretty close to the same age as Julie...At worst, she might lose her job.)

Chad continues to blackmail Julie, even sharing her with his friends--pretty racy for a made-for-television movie--for a whole month. Julie's roommate, Tracy (Tracy Curtis), who up until then appeared to take very little notice in Julie's continued late-night returns, is suddenly worried, and says so. Julie assures her that everything is just fine.

Sometime later, Julie is at Chad's house, acting as some sort of combination maid/sex slave, when she decides she's had enough. As she serves him a drink, she tells him that this whole situation was arranged by her, not him, but she finds him terribly boring now and wants out. Permanently...

Good thing Chad never saw this sweet piece of ass!
In the second segment, "Millicent and Therese", Black is Millicent, a decidedly quiet and conservative woman who lives with Therese (also Black), who is absolutely none of those things. Millicent is certain that Therese is evil, and even goes so far as to warn Therese's current boyfriend about the books on witchcraft and voodoo that line her bookshelves. The boyfriend, duly creeped-out, leaves and never comes back, allowing Millicent to go back to writing terrible things about Therese in her diary.

A short time later, Millicent calls Dr. Chester Ramsey (George Gaines) and tells him about all the horrible things Therese is doing, including trashing Millicent's room, and that he has to do something about her. Dr. Ramsey promises to come by and talk to Therese the next day.

True to his word, Dr. Ramsey shows up and talks with Therese, who is not especially pleased to see him. She accuses Millicent of doing all the things she says Therese did, and then, when Dr. Ramsey does not appear to believe her, throws him out of the house, telling him never to come back.

Chad would not be interested in Therese, who appears to be a Hooters server.
Going on a rampage, Therese starts screaming at Millicent through her bedroom door, threatening to get her. Millicent decides that it's time to take action and, once she is certain Therese is not around, takes one of the books on voodoo and looks up the recipe(?) for making a voodoo doll. After gathering the necessary components, she sets to work creating a likeness of Therese and taking up a very large pin to stick in it...

Karen Black really transformed herself for this last segment.
In "Amelia", Karen Black IS Amelia, a woman spending the evening at home, talking to her disturbingly clingy mother on the phone, cooking a steak in the most disconcerting way possible, and sorting out a gift for her boyfriend, whom the viewer never gets to meet.

Her mother, upon learning about the boyfriend, starts laying the guilt on pretty thick, but Amelia tries to blow it off while she opens the case to look at the gift: a Zuni doll that supposedly contains the soul of a dead Zuni warrior within. She reads the scroll that came with it, which says that the gold chain around its waist has to stay on, or the soul will get out and cause all kinds of trouble. Naturally, when she sets it down to hang up the phone and take a bath, the chain falls off. Were you expecting less?

What follows is the most slapsticky series of events that involve this tiny wooden doll stealing a knife and terrorizing Amelia.throughout her entire apartment. First, it tries to stab her under a door. Then she tries to drown it. Then it tries to stab her under a different door. Next, she traps it in a suitcase and, when it tries to cut its way out, tries to take the knife away, cutting her finger in the process.

When the Zuni doll finally quiets down, she opens the suitcase and, of course, the doll jumps out and bites her on the neck. While trying to get it off of her, she runs into the kitchen, grabs it off her back, and throws it into the oven, ruining the steak she was (for some reason) baking. The doll catches fire and is destroyed!

Amelia, bloodied, but still in good spirits, calls her mother back and apologizes, telling her that she would like to see her, and she invites her mom over...

...for dinner...?
What happens to Chad? Will Julie hook another fish with her wiley frumpiness? Will Millicent get her revenge on Therese? Will Amelia's mother notice her daughter's newfound interest in pointy things? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Derek remembers watching this when he was a kid, but only vaguely. Mostly, he remembers the Zuni doll and how goofy it seemed. He's also impressed with the range that Karen Black shows in this film, and is amazed at how goddamn hard it was to find a copy of it. Also, Chad is a creep.

Larry is new to this one, and he was surprisingly pleased with it. He also loved the Zuni doll, as well as Karen Black's ability to play four different people so well. His one complaint is the super-creepy Chad, who, it turns out, was Karen Black's husband. He's still a creeper, though.

So find a sharp knife, ready your voodoo doll, and check out this week's episode!

October 13, 2017


To listen/download, click here!

It's week two of the guys' October Horror Anthologies, and they sat down to watch XX, an anthology of stories directed and (mostly) written by women. Each of the stories is connected by animated interstitials by Sofia Carrillo.

Nothing creepy here AT ALL.
The first segment, "The Box", is directed by Jovanka Vuckovic and based on a story written by Jack Ketchum.

A few days before Christmas, Susan Jacobs (Natalie Brown) is riding the subway with her children, Danny (Peter DaCunha) and Jenny (Peyton Kennedy), when Danny, who is apparently half-magpie, notices a brightly wrapped present being held by a man (Michael Dyson) sitting near him. Danny asks if he can see what's inside the box, and the man shows him, causing Danny to clam right up and sit quietly.

Step one: Cut a hole in the box...
Later that night, at dinner, Danny's father, Robert (Jonathan Watton), notices that Danny isn't eating his food. When he asks Danny why he isn't eating, Danny just says that he's not hungry, and he asks if he can just go to bed.

This continues for five days, until Robert finally snaps and starts screaming at Danny, bringing the boy, and himself, to tears. Susan is pretty upset about all of this, and she goes to bed angry at Robert for yelling at him.

The next day, they take Danny to the doctor (Ron Lea), who tells them that Danny appears fine, aside from not eating anything at all. He suggests not pressuring the boy and letting him decide to eat when he wants to.

That night, Susan sees danny whispering something to Jenny, but when she asks what it was, Danny refuses to tell her. She sends them to bed and then spends some time seething at her husband. At dinner the next night, Jenny is also missing from the table. Robert asks Susan where she is, and Susan tells him that Jenny wasn't hungry. This causes another argument between the two of them, and Robert accuses her of not taking this seriously.

On her way to bed, Susan sees Robert talking to Danny in his room. Once in bed, she falls asleep, only to have a horrifying dream where she is being sliced up by Robert and served as dinner to the kids, who enthusiastically eat her flesh.

The next night, she is eating dinner by herself.

Christmas finally comes, and she receives a present that looks suspiciously like the one the man on the train had, which prompts her to ask Danny if he remembers what was in the box when the man showed him. Danny tells her it was nothing, and they continue on with their Christmas celebration, despite the fact that Robert, Danny, and Jenny have all lost a disturbing amount of weight.

When all three of them end up in the hospital, slowly dying of starvation, Susan visits everyday, searching for the man while she rides the subway, hoping he can tell her or show her what Danny saw...

The next segment, "The Birthday Cake", is written by Roxanne Benjamin and Annie Clark (also known as St. Vincent), and directed by Clark.

In this funny piece, Mary (Melanie Vincent) is getting ready for her daughter Lucy's (Sanai Victoria) seventh birthday. Her husband, David (Seth Duhame), is out of town, but expected back the next day, so she is stuck with David's assistant(?), Carla (Sheila Vand), to help her get things ready. Carla is not the friendliest person in the world, and it's pretty clear that Mary doesn't care for her.

One of these characters is the cause of everybody's troubles.
While bringing Mary coffee, Carla tells her that David's car is in the driveway, but she has not seen him yet. Mary takes her cup, as well as one for David, and goes looking for him in his office, where she finds him dead in his chair.

Now Mary has to decide what to do. Does she let everyone know that David is dead? Or does she try to hide David's body for the time being and go on with Lucy's party? We think you know where this is going.

What follows is a series of increasingly ridiculous situations where Mary tries to salvage the day without letting Lucy, Carla, or any of the neighbors know that David is dead.

First, there's Carla, who make sit clear that she does not like Mary, either, and is also stealing booze from David's drinks cart in his office. Then there's Madeleine (Lindsay Burdge), Mary's neighbor who weasels her way into a party invitation, despite her children being out-of-town.

When a rapping panda (Joe Swanberg) arrives at the door to rap a birthday song to Lucy, Mary bribes the guy to give up his costume, and she stuffs David's lifeless corpse into it, propping him at the dining room table just as the party guests arrive. Now all she has to do is make it through the party without anything else going wrong, which will totally happen. Right? RIGHT?

In the next segment, "Don't Fall", four friends--Paul (Casey Adams), Gretchen (Breeda Wool), Jess (Angela Trimbur), and Jay (Morgan Krantz)--are out camping in the desert, at Paul's insistence.

While checking out the view on top of what is very clearly Vasquez Rocks in Santa Clarita, Jess scares Gretchen, who storms off to pout against some rocks. However, something stings or bites her, and when they, as well as Paul and Jay, look at the rock surface, they see some petroglyphs that make absolutely no sense to them.

Is...is that an original Banksy piece?
Later, they are sitting around the RV they are staying in, and Paul is smoking a whooooole bunch of weed. Gretchen is angry again because Paul scared her by pretending to fall or get attacked by something, and the cut on her hand still hurts, so she sulks inside to put something on it and maybe go to bed.

Later that night, Gretchen awakens in a cave, where she hears a noise and turns to see some kind of creature running toward her. Shortly after that, Paul, Jay, and Jess awaken to a terrible noise, and when they look outside, they see Gretchen, who looks like she is either in pain, or in some kind of trouble. When Paul rushes to see what is wrong, he gets killed and thrown through the window of the RV for his effort. It turns out Gretchen is now whatever the creature was, and she wants to have a word with these folks who were so keep to scare her earlier.

Jess and Jay try to escape, but Jay gets locked inside the RV, and Gretchen quickly makes a messy meal of him. Jess makes it outside, but almost immediately falls down a hill, breaking her leg. And there is a growling noise coming from above her...

In the final segment, "Her Only Living Son", Cora (Christina Kirk) is getting ready to celebrate her son Andy's (Kyle Allen) 18th birthday. Unfortunately, Andy is too busy being a horrible kid who treats his mother like garbage and nails the occasional squirrel to a tree.

He also likes to go elbow-deep when mining for nose goblins.
It seems that Andy is a bit of a problem child, and it extends to his school. When Cora goes there to speak to Principal Jenks (Brenda Wehle) at Andy's school, and we find out that he was caught pulling out another student's fingernails. However, the principal and Andy's teacher, Mr. Dayton (Morgan Peter Brown), seem pretty cavalier about the whole situation, despite both the other student's mother (Lisa Renee Pitts) and Cora thinking that maybe something ought to be done about this. Rather than punish Andy, whom they insist is "special", they choose to let the other student stay home for a few days.

Later, the mailman, Chet (Mike Doyle), hits on Cora and then goes on a weird little tangent about how he, too, as well as the rest of the town, thinks that Andy is "special", although it is becoming clearer and clearer that they don't mean "special" in the standard "nice-but-maybe-a-bit-slow" sort of way. They mean something more along the lines of "possibly-the-spawn-of-Satan", but Cora is not buying into it.

After a quick search of Andy's room, where she discovers a shoebox full of what appear to be creepy-long toenails, she sort of confronts him. First, he says he'd like to live with his father, but Cora refuses, insisting that she has dragged the two of them around the country in order to avoid his father, whom she claims was a dirtbag playboy from Hollywood. Andy, now convinced that his father is in no way the man his mother says he is, exposes his creepy Hobbit feet to his mother, and then makes her kneel and crawl to him. It's super uncomfortable to watch.

As a last-ditch effort to stop Andy from trying to find his real father, Cora tells him about when he was born and how she took him away into hiding, and she hugs him tightly. And when Andy returns the hug, something sinister crosses the screen...

Will any of these stories have a happy ending? Or will they all end horribly for everybody involved? You'll have to listen to find out!

Larry found this on Netflix, and immediately decided it had to be on the show. He really enjoyed all the stories, but was particularly fond of "The Birthday Cake" because it was funny, as wqell as kind of dark. He also liked the bloodiness and make-up effects in "Don't Fall".

Derek was pleasantly surprised, despite the unanswered questions of "The Box" and the general unlikability of the characters in "Don't Fall". He agrees that "The Birthday Cake" was hilarious, and "Her Only Living Son" was as creepy as all get out. He also loved the animated opening credits and interstitials. They were AWESOME.

So turn down the lights, hunker down, and tune in to this week's episode! And definitely see this movie.

October 5, 2017

Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders

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A Note from Derek: As you may notice, at least one of the pictures used in this post is from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode of the same name. This is because, although we watched this film completely un-riffed, finding any pictures without the familiar silhouette is (not-so-)surprisingly difficult. It's like people don't recognize this film for the cinematic genius that it clearly is.

This week, Derek and Larry started their month of anthology horror films for October with a flick Derek first discovered on Mystery Science Theater 3000: the Ernest Borgnine tour de force, Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders!

When the power goes out during the climax of what appears to be an awful movie, Grandpa Ernest Borgnine decides that now is the time to attempt to terrify his grandson (Mark Hurtado) with a story that is only marginally connected to the movie the kid was watching, becausew there was a toy monkey in it.

Oh, you want a story? I'll give you a story, you little bastard!
He proceeds to ramble his incoherent nightmares to his young grandson, telling him about Merlin (George Milan) and his wife Zurella (Bunny Summers) moving to modern day Southern California to open a curio shop, probably because there isn't much call for wizarding much these days (whichever days "these" happen to be--more on this later), and Merlin's got bills to pay.

A small boy wanders into Merlin's shop, only to be accosted by a relentlessly cheerful Zurella. When the boy's mother comes in to get him, she is followed by Madeline (Patricia Sansone), a woman who is clearly trapped in a loveless marriage with her sterile and self-important husband, Jonathan Cooper III (John Terrence), a critic for the local Penny Saver who acts like he works for the goddamn New York Times.

Ladies and gentlemen...LEON REDBONE!
Jonathan is unimpressed with Merlin's shop, and loudly proclaims so into a small tape recorder, causing Zurella to drop her facade of cheerfulness; she wants to tear him a new one. Merlin, however, decides that the best way to show Jonathan what the shop is all about is to lend this puckered sphincter of a man Merlin's personal book of spells. He does so with one simple warming: if there is part of a page missing, do not perform the spell.

Jonathan agrees, and he takes Madeline and the book home. Madeline, upset because Jonathan blames their inability to conceive a child together, skulks off to pout in their bedroom, while Jonathan goes to his office in the garage to read the spellbook and mock it relentlessly.

He quickly discovers that the spells are real, accidentally setting his desk on fire in the process, and when he tries to turn his cat into a familiar, he burns it to a crisp, as well. Friggin' muggle.

Accio BOTOX!
As he continues to experiment, he discovers that using the magic causes him to age rapidly (another detail that Grandpa Borgnine pulls directly out of his butt in the middle of the story), so he looks up a spell to reverse the aging process. When he finds one, he discovers that it requires the blood of another human, and pulls Madeline, bed and all, through the ceiling to get some. This could have been super gory, but he basically pokes her with his fingernail and takes a few drops, even taking the time to magically heal the tiny scratch because scar make-up is, apparently, beyond this production's budget.

Chugging the potion, Jonathan goes a little too far and is turned into a baby. Madeline, who only wanted a baby, seems okay with this and decides that she will raise the baby to hopefully not be half-assed blowhard critic for the local paper.

The grandson interrupts Grandpa Borgnine's rambling to point out that there was no toy monkey in this story, so Grandpa pretends like he did that on purpose and starts a new story, making sure to cram a monkey in there, no matter how pointless it will be.

Good news, everybody! It's Michael's (Struan Robertson) birthday! To celebrate, his father David (Bob Mendelsohn) and mother Susan (Vicki Saputo) are throwing him a birthday party! All of Michael's friends--both of them--come over and enjoy playing with Michael's new Star Wars toys, while Michael prefers to play with the gift his mother bought him from a junk shop: one of those creepy mechanical monkeys that screech and crash cymbals together. Even out of the context of a horror movie, those things are just plain disturbing. it also doesn't help that the monkey was, in fact, stolen from Merlin's shop by a homeless guy, who took it to a junk shop to resell.

Anyway, Michael loves his new monkey, and makes it sing the haunting ballad, "Rock and Roll Martian". Over and over again. Really, it can't be done enough.

Aside from being bought from a filthy junk shop, the one big problem with the monkey is that it is super evil and wants to kill everybody. First, it murders a fly, but its bloodlust cannot be quenched, and it slowly starts moving its way up the food chain, killing some plants, a goldfish, and the family dog. And now it wants to taste human blood.

David, suitably concerned his wife bought their some a murder monkey toy, consults with a psychic friend (not endorsed by Dionne Warwick), who says she thinks the monkey is posessed by Satan himself, and the only way to get rid of it is to do an exorcism.

After a near-miss between Michael and a car, David tries to sneakily stuff the monkey into a bag so he can take it to the desert and bury it. Will he be rid of the monkey? Or will it somehow find its way back to them? You'll have to tune in to find out!

Curious George is only curious about one thing: MURDER.
Derek picked this one, and he regrets it. Sure, it was picked because it was awful, but he didn't realize just how much he would hate it without the MST3K guys making fun of it. It was...it was just bad.

Larry is of two minds about it. He agrees that it was bad, but he also thinks it was fun to make fun of. He may have been doing this too long. One thing he certainly agrees on is that "Rock and Roll Martian" should sweep the nation.

So put on your wizard robe, give up on joy, and listen to this week's episode!