Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts

Sep 22, 2020

DEAD DICKS (2019)


If David Cronenberg had a sense of humor, he would’ve made something like Dead Dicks. Pushing aside, of course, the obvious connection that Dead Dicks is a Canadian genre production, I’m actually focusing more on the large, otherworldly, interdimensional vagina that’s growing out of the apartment wall modeled after the opening that protrudes from James Woods in Cronenberg’s Videodrome, but which acts like Phantasm’s space gate. In the same way that the Tall Man sees his comeuppance throughout the Phantasm series and a fresh copy of the Tall Man re-enters the world through said space gate, removes his corpse, and takes over for him from there, Richard (Heston Horwin) is caught in a never-ending cycle where he’s desperate to end his own life inside his cramped apartment, but each time he does, a fresh copy of him is borne from this giant vaginal opening in his bedroom.

Written and directed by first-time feature directors Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer, Dead Dicks is a wild way to break onto the scene, and that it’s being distributed by Philadelphia label Artsploitation Films is both a minor victory for the filmmakers and a way of labeling Dead Dicks as certainly outside the norm. In case you’re unfamiliar with the label (and you should really dive deep into their catalog if you are), Artsploitation Films releases uncompromising international titles that defy genre conventions and will never be caught dead screening at your local multiplex. While some of their titles veer way outside normality at the expense of the story being told, their most successful titles are those that play with strange and wild ideas while infusing their stories with real, relatable, emotional backbones that make such wild ideas wholly approachable. Germany’s Der Samurai, a previous acquisition from the label, is a perfect example of this balance (and, honestly, is a favorite of my own), and Dead Dicks eagerly follows in its footsteps. A little bit horror, science fiction, comedy, and drama, Dead Dicks is obviously hard to categorize. What it very much is, however, is about something – in this case, mental illness, depression, suicide, and how those things can affect a family that’s not prepared to deal with it. Bearing the brunt of Richie’s burden is his sister, Becca (Jillian Harris), who has spent her adult life trying to offer support to her sullen brother but feels her patience running out and wanting nothing more than to, for the first time, focus on her own life. The giant vagina and an apartment filled with copies of Richie’s dead body certainly puts the kibosh on that.

Based on the collection of genres that it bandies about, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dead Dicks’ tone gets a little schizophrenic at times, exacerbated by inconsistencies with how “serious” the characters are taking the very surreal events of the story during certain times. Through a weakness in the writing or a strange choice to convey Becca’s initial ambivalence over Richie’s shocking reveal, it’s hard to tell, and harder still, whether or not to determine if this was intentional to maintain the film’s point about a family’s failure to notice the warning signs about suicidal behavior, but once we move beyond this initial point, the amount of seriousness over the siblings’ surreal new reality begin to take centerstage, which allows for moments of perfect humor to balance out the story’s darker themes. Indeed, unlike most genre films, Dead Dicks’ second act is the most effective in the film, allowing the audience to settle into the film’s surreal concept and also allowing them to find humor in the situation. (There’s a pretty great moment when Richie looks down at one of his own dead bodies and laughs immaturely at how it looks – you’ll have to see the film to understand why.)

Horwin and Harris are capable leads, with Horwin having to do much of the emotional work. He proves himself highly capable of carrying such heaviness in his performance even in the midst of the R-rated cartoon his life has become, while Harris struggles at times to offer a consistent performance. I wouldn’t ever describe her role as being poorly presented, but she seems more comfortable with the smaller moments than the ones dependent on dramatic bravado. (Her comedic timing, however, is perfect.) Still, being that we’re dealing with low budget filmmaking, the ensemble is up to the task in ways you might not expect from reading the plot synopsis, and that goes for every performer. In keeping with the wackiness, the last few moments of Dead Dicks are, to be honest, befuddling, and I’m not sure how the ending will land with most viewers (I’m still working it around in my head), but one thing is for sure: if the out-there breakdown of Dead Dicks’ plot appeals to the part of you that’s become bored with mainstream genre filmmaking, then you’re already the intended audience and likely more willing to put the extra work into determining what it all means. If you can and do, be sure to drop me a line and tell me because I’m still in the dark.

Dead Dicks is now on Blu-ray and DVD from Artsploitation Films.

Jan 3, 2015

ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? 1X12: THE TALE OF THE PROM QUEEN

If you were a budding horror misanthrope in your early teens during the ‘90s, then you not only remember, but cherish, this long-running Nickelodeon series about a group of variously ethnic kids meeting in the woods at night to trade spooky tales. Perhaps you remember President Gary's opening remarks during the first episode: "We're called The Midnight Society. Separately, we're very different...but one thing draws us together: the dark! Each week, we gather around this fire to share our fears and our strange and scary tales." The stories were creepy, corny, fantastic, or pretty stupid, but we all remember that nervous knot in our stomachs beginning to tighten as the legitimately eerie opening title sequence began (which includes that awful clown-doll from which I used to avert my eyes). You didn’t know if the groundwork for nightmares was being laid, but you sat, rapt, waiting to see.  So grab your weird bag of magic dust and toss it in the fire. It’s time to see if you’re still afraid of the dark.



The Tale Submitted For Approval: 

"The Tale of the Prom Queen"

The Submitter: Kristen

The Current Midnight Society Administration: Gary (President, Glasses); David (Vice-President, Administrator of the Useless); Kiki (Secretary of War/Ass-Kicker, Name-Taker); Eric (Director of the Office of Management and Budget/Minister of Looking Smarmy); Betty Ann (Ambassador to the United Nations/Gary’s Unspoken Mistress); Kristen (Trade Representative/Socialite); Frank (Intern/Socialite).

The Jist

Legend goes, 'round wherever the fuck this tale takes place (probably Toronto), that sometime in the 1950s, a girl was killed on prom night while sitting on the cemetery stone wall and waiting for her boyfriend to arrive. Another motorist, unable to see in the dark, came around the corner and smacked her thirty feet in the air, where she then landed onto the windshield of another car coming in the opposite direction. Actually, that was Meet Joe Black (that scene is hilari - I could watch it over and over), but the important point remains: prom night girl's life ended courtesy of a Buick grille and she ain't in the union no more.

Ever since then, every year on the night of the prom, it's said that the ghost of the prom girl can be seen walking through the cemetery, dressed in her white prom gown, waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up.

And this is where we meet our characters!

We meet Dede first, some gorgeous girl who looks all sad while putting flowers on a grave in a cemetery but in reality is hot enough that she should be looking all sad on the arm of a rapper who beats the hell out of her when they get home that night from Rap Awards because he wasn't recognized during the opening montage.

Mrs. The End of Summer

Then there's Jam. He's the "fun one," in that he straddles the line between being that asshole you want to stick six feet under and that asshole you'll just deal with because you don't want to make waves with your other friends who are better than him and worth all his bullshit.

Then there's Greg. He's, Asian, nice, and friends with Jam.

And now we're all caught up.

Jam and Greg spot Dede in the cemetery, whom they don't know at all, and instantly begin talking about ghosts, which, trust me, boy-readers: that don't work with the ladies.

But, for some reason, Dede is into this whole "ghost" thing (it's an anomaly, boy-readers: trust me), and so when Jam mentions that he and Greg are planning on staking out the cemetery to see if the prom night ghost really does appear, Dede's pretty into it. The three become insta-friends and ride a roller coaster, go to the beach, and enter a pie-eating contest, which according to what I have read in periodicals is what friends do.

The three kiddos waste no time in beginning their investigation, so off they go to the special creepy microfiche room of the local library to scroll through newspapers of yesteryear. At first they find an article that confirms the death of the prom queen actually happened, and in the same manner the legend stipulated, but then it gets even more depressing: turns out the boyfriend of the dead prom queen couldn't take the thought of living without her and drove his car off a bridge.

You know, for kids!

The nicest librarian in the world then offers up a fake scare by sneaking into the dark room and offering the kids tea. Have you ever even had a librarian look at you? Yeah, me neither. But whatever, this is Canada.

"Y'all motherfuckers wanna hit dis?"

The kids perform a seance on the river and under the bridge at the spot the boyfriend's car went over. They hold hands, Dede does all the talking, and Greg shifts uncomfortably to obscure his engorging shame. When Dede calls for the dead boyfriend, who according to legend resides at the bottom of the river in his car and who was apparently never found (nor his car), an air bubble bursts at the surface of the water, terrifying the kids beyond belief. Greg rows the boat ashore (hallelujah) and the air bubbles get as close as they can to the frightened kids before they check their watch and realize they're missing "Girls" because they totally forgot to set their DVR, so they vanish instantly back to the depths.

The kids go home and scream into their pillows.

The next night - prom night - has the kids back in the cemetery on a stake-out, ready to see if the ghost of the prom girl appears. They soon see a figure dressed all in white and walking through the cemetery. Greg confronts the ghost and sees that the ghost is real; the ghost kills him, bathes in his blood, and then vanquishes Jam and Dede to hell where they're forced to partake in blood-drenched, chain-whipping orgies for all eternity.

Just kidding. Turns out this is a funny prank, and the ghost is just Chuck, Jam's cousin, dressed in a ghost costume. He...agreed to do this for some reason.

Suddenly, a car turns into the cemetery, its headlights illuminating the suddenly appearing blanket of heavy fog. Dede sees it coming toward them and starts getting really sexy, pulling off her scrunchy and swishing her dark black hair this way and that. The guys gulp because all of the stuff they've seen on that lone and battered pornographic VHS that Jam found at the convenience store payphone is about to happen to each of them.

That moment is fleeting because - BAM: plot twist - Dede's actually the ghost of the girl who died all those years ago on prom night and who has been confined to the cemetery ever since, forced to wear unflattering boy clothes and put flowers on her own grave over and over while she waits for her boyfriend who looks like Adam Scott to finish his shift at the Nifty Fifty and get his fucking ass over there to pick her up so they can listen to the new Silver Platters LP, pronto.

As these hapless guys watch Dede, after whom they had all been lusting, climb into her dead boyfriend's car, her boyfriend flashes them the best "deez nuts" smile in the world. It may have taken fifty years, but he's the one getting laid on prom night, not the cemetery suckers, who have no choice but to watch them drive off into the night while experiencing the unmistakable shame of being totally, completely, and utterly shut out by a dead guy's cock.

To add insult to injury, Dede thanks them for reuniting her with her boyfriend and telling them she'll never forget them, confining them all to the friend zone for life.

"It's just, that...well, we thought—"
 

The Reaction

This episode is about eternal love? Fucking gross! Where's all the GOO?

"The Tale of the Prom Queen" is a mostly solid but not altogether original episode that somewhat sticks out like a sore thumb in the "Dark" pantheon. So far, every episode of the show has prided itself on bringing unique ideas to the table and introducing stories with very original concepts. Whether they were successful or ludicrous (yeah, I'm still looking at you, "Jake and the Leprechaum"), each presented a concept not previously seen. (Okay, so the "The Twisted Claw" was a "Monkey's Paw" riff, but come on - it's not like the age group at which this show was aimed were up to snuff on their W.W. Jacobs. I guarantee more kids, by this time, had heard at least a few iterations of the "woman in white" legend. It's appeared in every book of ghost stories and urban legends probably ever.)

Besides the unoriginality of it all, there's another minor frustration that is perhaps more concerning when considering the intended kid audience: nothing...really happens. The kids go from cemetery to library to bridge to river and just...talk. Jam says something sarcastic, Greg gives Dede doe eyes, and Dede just looks gorgeous. Oh, and that air bubble. Before you know it, the twist happens, you're all "wtf?" and the episode is done.

But still, a good episode overall. It was restrained and, dare I say it, even a little mature. Of course, I guess anything compared to an episode where monsters live in a basement closet and can make you hallucinate giant doll humanoids while entire carnivals go on right behind them will seem pretty restrained.

Because I was a young tyke during the premier of this season and even during its subsequent many years of syndication, and because I'd begun chasing girls a couple years earlier than my peers, I was pretty much madly in love with Dede by the end of this episode the first time I ever saw it. First, she was gorgeous, and second, she was a ghost. That's all I really needed.

Say, can I meet a strange beautiful girl in the cemetery and then investigate old ghost legends with her? I mean, please?

P.S. Jam's an asshole. Jamhole. Jasshole. Hugh Jasshole.

Naw, I'm forcing it. Jam works by itself. What a stupid name.

The Tale of the Ghost of the Guy from the Burt's Bees Can

Is It Scary?

Not at all, though to its credit, it's not trying to be. It more wants to prepare kids for the sad realization that they will either die on the way to prom night, or never get laid by their dream girl/boy.

Is It Corny?

Not really.

Is It Stupid?

There are actually some pretty clever "hints" thrown your way if you know what to look for, and not the kind of dumb hints they would normally put in a kid's show about ghosts where the person who IS a ghost flat-out says, "I fucking died last week." For instance, the scene where the kids use the microfiche machine and Dede says something to the effect of "Hey, this thing is pretty neat," as if to suggest she'd never seen such a thing before (since they didn't exist in the '50s). Of course Jam and Greg aren't paying attention to her because they're idiots so they miss this oddball comment.

How Bad Is The Acting?

No complaints here, even though mostly everyone vanished either into obscurity/bit-parts, or to a career relegated to TV movies and voice work that not even they have heard of.

Do The Kids Deserve Their Terror?

You tell me: the way Greg and Jam opt to introduce themselves to Dede is by stalking her through a cemetery and making generic evil cackling noises as she lays down flowers on someone's grave. Now, granted, these two chuckle-heads aren't ludicrously diabolical asshole kids deliberately attempting to cause mental anguish for this poor girl over her loss of a loved one - this ain't a Stephen King story and we ain't in Derry, Maine - but still, she's in the cemetery, at a grave, for some reason. Maybe she buried her mother a month ago, assholes - ever think of that? But whatever, Greg, keep it up, you stupid handsome Asian.


Why Does That One Kid Look Familiar?

If you look up the career of Katie Griffin, who plays Dede, you will see the longest list of films and television shows that you've never heard of. Plus she was also in Robocop as Young Girl. Which young girl? Only one way to find out! (I guess you could Google it.)

Holy shit, Jam (Graeme Millington) was one of the stoners in Tommyboy - the one Chris Farley pretends he's going to kiss, and who moves his head back all awkwardly. C'mon, you know who I mean. I think he's the one who says "the camera adds a few...hundred pounds." You know, this guy:


Jam was also in To Die For...with Dede! Everyone stop what they're doing and LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS.

Lastly, did anyone recognize the ghostly boyfriend?

CORRECT - it's the funny-running Dean Berkham from "Tale of the Sorcerer's Apprentice." LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS.

How Canadian Does Everyone Sound?

Nothing worth mentioning.

An Eric Douchebag-Ism

Actually, all the Midnight Societeers act like douche-bags in this episode, deriding Kristen as a group for always being late to story time. Well here's the thing about Kristen, meat heads: she's hot, too. And hot people have proven they can do whatever they want, like be late, or manipulate two horny high schoolers into solving the mystery of why her boyfriend never picked her up on prom night so they can totally drive away and leave them in a chilly, foggy air permeating with pubescent tears and the undeniable feeling of castration.

Final Thoughts

Twelve episodes in, and NOW we know that magic sand shit is called Midnight Dust? I've wasted my life entire.

How did they DO that??




On the Official Gary Creeper-Shot Rating Scale...



I Award "The Tale of the Prom Queen..."

  

  

Three Gary Creeper Shots

  

I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed. (Splash sound.)

Dec 13, 2014

ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? 1X11: THE TALE OF THE DARK MUSIC

If you were a budding horror misanthrope in your early teens during the ‘90s, then you not only remember, but cherish, this long-running Nickelodeon series about a group of variously ethnic kids meeting in the woods at night to trade spooky tales. Perhaps you remember President Gary's opening remarks during the first episode: "We're called The Midnight Society. Separately, we're very different...but one thing draws us together: the dark! Each week, we gather around this fire to share our fears and our strange and scary tales." The stories were creepy, corny, fantastic, or pretty stupid, but we all remember that nervous knot in our stomachs beginning to tighten as the legitimately eerie opening title sequence began (which includes that awful clown-doll from which I used to avert my eyes). You didn’t know if the groundwork for nightmares was being laid, but you sat, rapt, waiting to see.  So grab your weird bag of magic dust and toss it in the fire. It’s time to see if you’re still afraid of the dark.



The Tale Submitted For Approval: 

"The Tale of the Dark Music"

The Submitter: Eric

The Current Midnight Society Administration: Gary (President, Glasses); David (Vice-President, Administrator of the Useless); Kiki (Secretary of War/Ass-Kicker, Name-Taker); Eric (Director of the Office of Management and Budget/Minister of Looking Smarmy); Betty Ann (Ambassador to the United Nations/Gary’s Unspoken Mistress); Kristen (Trade Representative/Socialite); Frank (Intern/Socialite).


The Jist

Have you met Andy Carr? He's pretty sad because he's a child-of-divorce who wears pink shirts. Plus he looks like Vern Tessio from Stand by Me with all the fat sucked out of him, so it's weird. He's recently moved into a new house, which his mother inherited from a dead uncle she barely knew (until the time comes for the necessary exposition, that is), but the family still has money problems, so Andy tries to help out with bills by delivering papers, as is rite of passage for every boy.

While tossing papers one day, Andy meets his new neighbor, Koda, who looks like David St. Hubbins from This is Spinal Tap, but somehow even less bright, and who also has his own terrible rock'n'roll theme song that shreds at his every appearance. The two engage in confrontation which ends with Andy sprawled across the ground on his back while Koda stands above him and looks like a big-game hunter from a cartoon - he might as well have his hands on his hips. He's basically welcomed Andy to the neighborhood, but in the way bullies do it.

"Please don't hurt me anymore, Mr. Springsteen."


Down in the basement of his new house, Andy sees an old radio, which is connected to the power of the kitchen wall switch upstairs. After flipping on the radio, a wooden door in the basement swings open and a voice booms from the darkness, telling him to "come on in."

Andy shits every pair of pants he's ever owned and runs up the stairs screaming for his mother, who for some reason believes that there is a monster in that dark room and approaches it with a hockey stick to brain it, all while he continues screaming about his encounter.

It said, 'Come on in so I can suck your blood!' or something!" Andy totally fucking lies. Man, what a liar!

She opens the door to reveal it's nothing more than an old root cellar, and most importantly, it's monster-free. She says the "monster" was likely nothing more than rats (twice), leaky pipes, or the old radio - all in succession. Mom tsk-tsks and leaves while his bratty little sister likely says something asshole.

Andy thinks having a dark basement room that talks to him is pretty far-out, so he casually begins asking his mother about his Uncle Niles, as well as the history of the house. He learns from his mother that his uncle was a weirdo outcast whom none of the neighbors liked and who was apparently pretty well-off, financially, even though he didn't have a job. She also casually mentions that he was also found dead...in the house...in the BASEMENT. THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO HAVE.

Later, Andy's down in the basement again when that old wooden door swings open again. Out of it comes the scariest fucking thing anyone has ever seen:

"♫ It's all about my face, 'bout my face, 'bout my--"


Andy, who inexplicably still contains shit within him after his previous brush with the door, screams his mouth off and tears ass out of there, dropping even more shit into his Lees. One would think that'd be enough to not only avoid going into the basement ever again, but to also commit suicide ASAP.

Get this, though: motherfucker goes back into the basement!

What?!

What is this?!

Andy! Did you somehow miss the Suzanne Somers monster that came out of the dark toward you? It had DOLL HANDS AND A DOLL FACE.

Kids!

Well, that dreaded door swings open again and this time there's an entire carnival inside the room, complete with balloons, roller-coaster, terror, and popcorn cart. Some type of carnival showman tries to tempt Andy into coming inside the room, and it kinda seems to be working, as Andy wants all over that carnival, but then the showman really blows it by turning into a screaming skeleton.

After being near-raped by this carnival skeleton, Andy realizes that music is the trigger which calls forth the root cellar of evil. Instead of doing anything about it, he instead flees on his bike and directly into Koda's fist of fury. Because we have to REALLY develop dislike for Koda, he picks up Andy's bike and throws it under the wheels of a dump truck, forever rendering Andy a non-wheeled pedestrian.

"I'm gonna beat on you for the rest of your life," Koda assures Andy, and us all.

Viewing audience, Andy's had enough. He goes home, turns his basement into a murder trap, and then lures Koda there with the aid of a brick and a bit of the ol' smart-assin'. It works like a charm, and Koda chases Andy down into the basement through a bulkhead door. After promptly locking every potential exit, Andy flips on the radio from the switch in the kitchen and blasts some hardcore rock music all over the basement. Koda screams all the fucking Poison lyrics out of his brain and is eaten by the monster room.

The room thanks Andy for the meal and gives him a new bike, even offering him all kinds of additional treats, should he continue to feed the room one asshole after another.

And you just know Andy is totally into this idea, because he makes this face:

"Blowpops for dinner."

The Reaction

My reaction? Here's my reaction: Andy fucking MURDERS a child at the end of this episode - premeditated, root-cellar-terror, rock'n'roll murder - and I LOVE IT. So far the scariest thing "Dark" has had to offer was a cigar-chomping clown who sounded like Pumba from The Lion King, and that was way back in the beginning of the season. All these episodes later, we've achieved child murder. And not only that, it's pretty much implied Andy's going to murder his sister, too. Yes! Take that, everyone!

God, if I had a murder room that left no trace evidence, I'd use it ALL. THE. TIME. In you go, Shia Labeouf!

Also, I like to think that Midnight Society's Eric read my previous episode recap ("The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun"), during which he was that night's storyteller, and was so rattled by my extreme hatred for both his episode and himself in general, that he found a way to travel back in time, bump Betty Ann's dumb story about a haunted roller-rink (probably) out of the way, and butt in line so he could make it up to me with this episode's twenty-one minutes of madness.

Is It Scary?

That weird woman doll with creaky limbs is. Oh, and Koda's hair. Laugh!

Is It Corny?

More like scorny! Which is another way to say scary when you're not really putting a lot of effort into your jokes!

Is It Stupid?

To describe this episode out loud to someone makes it sound stupid, but no, it's not stupid when you watch it. It's actually kind of fucked up.

How Bad Is The Acting?

Pretty bad. TO THE BONE.

Does The Kid Deserve His Terror?

Of course he does.

Look:

Andy goes into basement, door opens, voice in darkness tells him "come in."

Andy goes back into that basement, where a door opens, a human-sized fucking creep-doll comes out of the dark and tells him to play with her.

Andy goes back into that basement, where a door opens and an entire fucking carnival, somehow, is IN that room, and a showman turns into a skeleton and grabs his wrist.

Fool Andy once, shame on you; fool Andy twice, shame on him; fool Andy three times, die from the mysterious monster room.

Unless you're asking if Koda deserves his terror. Well...of course he does. Did you not see his hair? Plus, he was kinda mean.

A romance so forbidden, it was for-boned-en.


Why Does That One Kid Look Familiar?

Graham Selkirk, as Andy, has been in precisely one thing. Try to guess what! As a bonus, I'll tell you that Leif Anderson, who plays Dickhead the Bully, has actually been in some pretty high profile films. And he played such roles as: "Sound Man," "Policeman," and "Chevy Owner."

How Canadian Does Everyone Sound?

The constant guitar shreds that complement every appearance of Koda is so fucking rock'n'roll American that I can't even hear all the non-American stuff. Hang ten, dudes!

An Eric Douchebag-Ism

Eric gets things going right away by forgetting to wait for Frank to walk him to the meeting spot because Frank's afraid of the dark, for which Eric openly mocks him using the douchebag baby voice. Why wasn't Eric killed by Yves Trudeau? He was Canadian, too, wasn't he?

Final Thoughts

At the end of the episode, Frank breaks the fourth wall, and normally I'd call him out on doing this because he's neither Jonathan Demme nor Spike Lee, but I'm gonna just let it go.

I'm...really scared of Frank.

Welcome to my nightmare.



On the Official Gary Creeper-Shot Rating Scale...



I Award "The Tale of the Dark Music..."

  

  

Four Gary Creeper Shots

  

I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed. (Splash sound.)

Nov 8, 2014

ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?: 1X10: THE TALE OF JAKE AND THE LEPRECHAUN

If you were a budding horror misanthrope in your early teens during the ‘90s, then you not only remember, but cherish, this long-running Nickelodeon series about a group of variously ethnic kids meeting in the woods at night to trade spooky tales. Perhaps you remember President Gary's opening remarks during the first episode: "We're called The Midnight Society. Separately, we're very different...but one thing draws us together: the dark! Each week, we gather around this fire to share our fears and our strange and scary tales." The stories were creepy, corny, fantastic, or pretty stupid, but we all remember that nervous knot in our stomachs beginning to tighten as the legitimately eerie opening title sequence began (which includes that awful clown-doll from which I used to avert my eyes). You didn’t know if the groundwork for nightmares was being laid, but you sat, rapt, waiting to see.  So grab your weird bag of magic dust and toss it in the fire. It’s time to see if you’re still afraid of the dark.



The Tale Submitted For Approval: 

"The Tale of Jake and the Fatman Leprechaun"

The Submitter: Eric

The Current Midnight Society Administration: Gary (President, Glasses); David (Vice-President, Administrator of the Useless); Kiki (Secretary of War/Ass-Kicker, Name-Taker); Eric (Director of the Office of Management and Budget/Minister of Looking Smarmy); Betty Ann (Ambassador to the United Nations/Gary’s Unspoken Mistress); Kristen (Trade Representative/Socialite); Frank (Intern/Socialite).


The Jist

Meet Jake. He's a young boy with a primate face who lives in a magical land of elves and monsters that looks like a $10 version of Willow. And he also happens to be in mortal danger! Some kind of long-haired pedophile with leather gloves is threatening bodily harm against him!

Please, someone help him!

Someone has heard my pleads. Some magical old man is here and has begun dueling with the pedophile, barking a bunch of corny Magic the Gathering dialogue. It seems like he might save the day!

Jake then ruins everything by tripping and falling, turning to the dueling men, and saying, "Soary." The men laugh and the bad guy says, "Can someone help me with this wig?" before just taking the fucking wig off himself without waiting for any help because it's just a fucking wig and he doesn't need any god damned help in taking it off unless he's as stupid as Ariana Grande looks but ohhhhh this was just a play??? I thought this was really happening! No wonder that man loudly specified he was wearing a wig! I'm an idiot and so are you!

Turns out Jake is not pedo-prey, but rather a shitty kid actor in what appears to be some kind of shitty leprechaun play called "Will O' the Wisp," which is about "a leprechaun who saves [Jake] from a goblin by turning [him] into a leprechaun, too."

Jake's only dialogue seems to be "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!"

And he sucks every ball at it.

"There's always stage crew, kid!"

This leprechaun is played by an old filthy Irishman named Erin, who demands someone bring him his special tea, which someone does, and he drinks it, and still looks just as filthy, but now satisfied. Said stagehand whispers to Jake that Erin claims this tea brings power to his performances, and her hair is as Irish-red as my nightmares. Since Jake knows he sucks as a performer, he threatens to use his face as a weapon against her until she gives him the list of the tea's "secret" ingredients.

Jake goes to see a tiny man named Sean O'Shaney, who is also Irish and who runs a greenery filled with all kinds of special herbs. Jake hands Sean the ingredients list, who takes one look and flips the fuck out, kicking his size-five shoes at Jake and telling him to piss off.

Jake stuffs his face back into the fly of his pants and sets off, dejected.

Back at rehearsal, Jake and Erin are doing a scene that calls for a bunch of whimsical rhymes and the sharing of a magic potion. Jake takes a swig before doing his lines, but then puberty hits all at once and he becomes terrified of his sudden deep voice. Erin calls Jake out on being such a puss and tells him to go with it next time, and not to be afraid of his power as an "actor."

Pardon me while my lungs re-inflate following my laugh barrage.

Jake goes back to see Sean and explain why he needed those tea herbs, and Sean, in turn, explains that a lot of the shit on that ingredients list had the potential to be used for evil magic. Needless to say, the both of them become instant best friends and Sean agrees to come see that night's dress rehearsal. The scene ends with Jake's face cracking mirrors and Sean making tiny wooden shoes for himself.

Sean comes to see the play and recognizes its dialogue as being some kind of magical incantation, so he yanks on a rope and sends one of the prop trees hurtling toward the stage, halting the rehearsal.

Jake, sadly, dives to safety.

Backstage, Sean tells Jake that play is fucked up and the two high-five hardcore and grab a couple of 'dogs from Sonic.

Later, Sean explains that Erin is actually some evil old "gort" who is tricking Jake into slowly becoming a "changeling" each time they share their scene in the play where they recite the rhyme and swig from the sack. Jake believes this pretty instantly because he's simply hideous and Sean makes for a pretty compelling dwarf of mysticism. That and the ears. Jake's ears begin to grow all pointy and shit. I don't blame him for not noticing he's beginning to turn into an animal because he looks like an animal already. (I'm not going to stop making fun of this kid's face - deal with it.)

Sean and Jake descend to Erin's room (which is below the theater, about which everyone knows and with which everyone is totally cool). They sneak into his room and locate some kind of magical herb for which Sean is all bonered up, but then they are forced to hide under the bed when Erin returns. He disrobes and reveals the giant grandmother vagina on his back.

"Sometimes I shave it into a heart."

Jake and Sean eventually escape and devise a way not only for Jake to return to his somewhat anthropomorphic self, but to turn the tables on ol' Erin. They collude and discuss their plan on how to take out this evil goblin/monster/banshee/whatever he's supposed to be.

On stage during the public performance of the play, Jake does as he's told...for about five seconds. He only has to do two things: not drink the potion, and hold Erin's gaze. Well, Jake doesn't do that second part, even being sure to spell out this failure aloud to the ten-year-old audience watching at home ("Oh no, I lost his gaze!"), because Erin has grown wise toward this plan to defeat him and breaks free of...the spell? Or, the anti-spell? Something that wards off spells, but which is also a spell?

God, I'm tired.

Because Jake is a giant waste of membrane, he finds himself in immediate danger, so Sean hops on stage, in sudden full-on leprechaun garb, and confronts Erin head-on. Because he's tiny and wearing a costume hat, the audience just goes with it, really enjoying how stupid this play has gotten.

Sean takes out a snake, throws it at Erin, and wins.

Seriously, that's it. The end. The audience claps before the curtains fall, which is really poor etiquette.


The Reaction

Man oh man, Christmas has come early. Not only do I get to tear apart an episode that I utterly abhor, but I get to tear apart an Eric story. Here it comes, you Canadian motherfucker.

I hated this episode when I was ten years old, and I hate it more now. Once "Dark" hit massive syndication when I was still a wee lad, what was once "I wonder what new adventure will unfold tonight!" became "I hope the rerun they show tonight doesn't suck!" And whenever this episode came on, I would clench my ten-year-old fists, raise my ten-year-old head to the ceiling, and bellow, in my ten-year-old voice, "God damn it!"

The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun. Where do I even start? How does one begin picking apart all the bullshit?

Let's start with the "plot."

This old banshee named Gort has it in his head that the easiest way to change little boys into frogs is by hoping he'll be cast in a play in which he'll retain zero creative control, yet still find a way to shoehorn-in a bunch of black-magic dialogue that the play's screenwriter I guess doesn't mind. And THEN he'll somehow turn the fucking boy INTO a frog in front of the entire audience AND stage crew with no one ever becoming the wiser. So, how many performances of this play has Erin done? Does no one ever notice that the kid who plays Boy Victim actually goes missing in real life? Is the play, as written, supposed to end with Boy Victim actually turning into a frog at the end, and all because he trusted the wrong leprechaun? Are we just throwing out that whole beginning where Erin saves Jake from that pedophile goblin? Would a family play really do something as dark as destroy Boy Victim's soul at its conclusion? Is this the only play these people ever produce? Does this playhouse only produce plays about leprechauns? Have they perhaps produced some variations of "The Music Man" in which someone still manages to turn into a frog at the end and the very Caucasian audience can still clap, anyway? Does that Erin motherfucker REALLY live beneath the theater? Does he own the theater? Does he get paid for his performances? Does he get a cut from the door? What name does he use on his W-2? What's his endgame? What's the point of turning a bunch of boys into frogs beyond just being a dickhead? If he wants frogs so badly, why doesn't he just drive down to Jacksonville with a big net and grab them from outside the Bennigan's? Why is everyone within ten square miles of this play Irish? (Seriously – Erin, Jake, the redheaded stagehand, the magical dwarf. This is Canada, okay? This ain't fucking Boston.) How the hell does Sean know who Gort/Erin is? Is Sean a real leprechaun? Are leprechauns immortal? Or really wise? If they're so magical and capable of creating spells and potions, why do they live in birdhouses like homeless muppets? Are they too stupid to know they could use their magic for personal gain, or too stupid not to know how to do so? Are leprechauns just really stupid? Do they just toss a bunch of herbs into a stew pot all day and hope for the best? Where the fuck are Jake's parents during all this, while he's falling victim to one leprechaun while spending way too much time with another about whom he knows absolutely nothing? Why would Jake's parents force him into the performing arts when he's both hideous looking and a terrible actor?

There is not one redeeming thing about this entire episode. Not even Warwick Davis could've saved this shite, though I would'nt've minded a little Phil Fondacaro pun not intended!

"Have you ever kissed a dwarf?"
"No."
"You will..."

Is It Scary?

The fact that my last bowel movement looked like that of a rabbit's is more terrifying.

Is It Corny?

Dear god – under, over, backwards, frontwards, in and out of the butt. Fucking so much corn in this vicinity that the corn-obsessed people who made Food Inc. are going to make a sequel called Food Inc, Too - Fucking Seriously, The Corn Around Here Is Out Of Control.

Is It Stupid?

Your half-sister whose brain fell out one day when she was bending over to tighten her Velcro shoe straps is smarter than this thing.

How Bad Is The Acting?

The politically correct way would be to say Jake likely walked into an audition and the show-runners said, "He has just the look we're going for!" But since I'm in no way politically correct, those show-runners in all likelihood actually said, "He's just as fucking weird looking as we hoped! Cuz he's gotta turn into a frog later, ya know?"

Huh?

Oh, the acting.

It's terrible. Everything terrible becomes less terrible when shit-smeared across this kid's performance.

"Leave him alone, he's just a kid!"

No, fuck that. Kids aren't forced at gunpoint to become actors (unless they're Macaulay Culkin), so if said kid is going to choose to be in the public spotlight, elbow himself to the front of the line, and be all up in my face, then I am going to call out that kid whose weird head offends me, and whose acting "skills" offend me more.

Does The Kid Deserve His Terror?

Morally? No. But spitefully? Because I hate hate hate Jake? If you ask me, he wasn't terrorized enough. Maybe he should have suffered a real Irish fate and died of skin cancer.

Why Does That One Kid Look Familiar?

Because:


Jake will return in eight years to do another episode of "Dark." Here's hoping with a different face.

Also, the little boy who plays Sean, the "adult" dwarf, is from—

Oh. Right.

How Canadian Does Everyone Sound?

Eric says "aboot." There could have been more Canuckisms during the actual story itself, but I was so distracted by how much in hate I was with everything that I probably missed some.

An Eric Douchebag-Ism

Eric's insistence on mimicking an awful Irish brogue resulted in an assemblage of healthy mental face-punching.

Final Thoughts

This episode starts off all emotionally with Eric explaining that his grandfather died earlier that week, and that night's tale was directly inspired by his grandfather's heritage and stories. It's for this reason only, I'm sure, that the episode ends with clapping and hugs, rather than Eric's face being held over the campfire to melt Raiders style.

Kids, make sure your grandparents are well-stocked with Lipitor and Crestor and other things old people will die without, because I can't go through this again.

The end is extremely fucking nigh.



On the Official Gary Creeper-Shot Rating Scale...



I Award "The Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun..."

  

  

Zero Gary Creeper Shots

  

I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed. (Splash sound.)

Sep 28, 2014

ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?: 1X9: THE TALE OF THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE

If you were a budding horror misanthrope in your early teens during the ‘90s, then you not only remember, but cherish, this long-running Nickelodeon series about a group of variously ethnic kids meeting in the woods at night to trade spooky tales. Perhaps you remember President Gary's opening remarks during the first episode: "We're called The Midnight Society. Separately, we're very different...but one thing draws us together: the dark! Each week, we gather around this fire to share our fears and our strange and scary tales." The stories were creepy, corny, fantastic, or pretty stupid, but we all remember that nervous knot in our stomachs beginning to tighten as the legitimately eerie opening title sequence began (which includes that awful clown-doll from which I used to avert my eyes). You didn’t know if the groundwork for nightmares was being laid, but you sat, rapt, waiting to see.  So grab your weird bag of magic dust and toss it in the fire. It’s time to see if you’re still afraid of the dark.



The Tale Submitted For Approval: 

"The Tale of the Sorcerer's Apprentice"

The Submitter: Betty Ann (Oh great, here we go.)

The Current Midnight Society Administration: Gary (President, Glasses); David (Vice-President, Administrator of the Useless); Kiki (Secretary of War/Ass-Kicker, Name-Taker); Eric (Director of the Office of Management and Budget/Minister of Looking Smarmy); Betty Ann (Ambassador to the United Nations/Gary’s Unspoken Mistress); Kristen (Trade Representative/Socialite); Frank (Intern/Socialite).


The Jist

"Dean Berkham was the kind of guy who blended in," Betty Ann explains. "He didn't have many friends, he didn't do sports, and he never joined anything. He just kinda...was."

So, since that sounds exactly like me when I was in high school, we can determine that Dean is a fucking loser.

It's also really important that we establish right away one thing: Dean sucks everything hard at chemistry. Like, so hard that his teacher, Dr. Crenshaw, becomes physically incensed at the sight of him and nearly rains blows down upon him right in the middle of class.

Hang in there, Dean!

But things aren't a total loss. Dean is friends with a cute black girl named Alix, who is his "total opposite," which implies that Dean is not a cute black girl. I wish he was! Two for the price of one, amiright?

Huh?

Oh, right – the episode.

"My cancer's back..."

Later that day, an archaeologist named Dr. Oliver does a guest lecture in Dean's world civilizations class. She looks really uptight and well-dressed, so when it turns out she's British, I'm not surprised. During her lecture, where she shows off only the items used in conjunction with mankind's most fucked up history (there's a lot of that!), a snake scepter found in an ancient Babylonian temple captures Dean's attention because he's really into rhinestones. The scepter apparently once belonged to Goth, an evil sorcerer, enslaver, and precursor personified of all sad kids at the mall everywhere.

After the lecture, Alix writes off the whole evil sorcerer follow-him-find-fortune/denounce-him-die-hard thing, but Dean's pretty interested. He goes back to see Dr. Oliver and her collection of relics, and she gives him permission to...ahem...touch anything he wants. :D

Naturally he goes right for the scepter, which – no bullshit – you can hear rattling around like crumpled soda cans since it's clearly made of cheap aluminum. But those rhinestone eyes begin to glow, and before you can say Arnold Vosloo, the scepter puts the whammy on him. He walks down to the old pool room that no one uses anymore and goes right to the filter, where thirty years prior, other kids had hidden some kind of probably-essential talisman that looks like a dehydrated scrotum and half-shaft while they were fooling around with snake scepters.

Dean, now totally taken over by this Babylonian force inside him, uses his new-found abilities the same way ancient Babylonians did – by really getting the upper-hand on crabby old Crenshaw, his chemistry teacher. He also becomes a raging tool. You can tell by the new motorcycle leather jacket. Hey Dean – way tougher dudes called: they want their jacket back.

Alix spies him stealing chemicals from the chemistry lab one day and follows him to the pool room, where apparently a bunch of other students are already bewitched by the scepter in the same way he is. He says a bunch of bullshit about Goth, the aforementioned Babylonian god, and gets a total boner for him, but then Alix knocks something over like a dumb-ass and flees from the pursuing kids. She manages to evade them and them doubles-back to Dean because she is dying to know why he's acting like such a b-hole. She sees him take out his ball-sack and put one of his balls in the scepter's mouth.

Needless to say, we're all aroused.

"I'm gettin' hiiiiiiiiiiiigh!"

The whole ball-in-mouth thing seems to be like calling collect, because Goth appears in floaty-head form above the bucket of magical ingredients and begins to provide Dean with the final steps needed in order to fully resurrect him, and luckily he provides all of this info to Dean in modern English, which ancient Babylonians definitely knew.

As Alix runs from unused pool room to college-size chemistry lab to majestic amphitheater with balcony seating, I hope you've by now noticed that your own high school was actually really shitty.

Alix tries to convince Dean to fight the evil force inside him, but he ain't havin' that. He runs away without swinging his arms and it's hilarious.


Dean reconnects with his evil band of after-school cult members and they all pedal away to eat some really evil Bagel Bites at Dean's mom's house. Even though Alix is not on a bike, she does a great job of catching up with them. And just kidding about the Bagel Bites – they're actually at that old pool room again. She blows it kind of instantly since she's seriously the worst at sneaking around and she's captured.

Dean does a LOT of talking to the camera, courtesy of guest scene-director Spike Lee, and lays out the whole plot. They're using the school's empty pool to create the "cauldron of mystic vapors" on which Goth is depending to be reborn and wear, like, real golden scarves and collars and stuff – not that smoky kind he's been rocking the last thousand years.

- "So then she's like, 'I'll have the large!'"
- "Get the fuck off the stage!"

Dean fills the pool with all the necessary magical bullshit, despite Alix's best intentions, and Goth is successfully resurrected. Alix breaks Dean's magic balls and wakes him from his asshole trance. Dean wakes up pretty quickly from his brainwashing and realizes he's been acting like a heel for most of this episode and orders Alix to pour a random bucket of chlorine into the pool to dilute the ingredients, which she does.

"Ha ha! Your human science cannot–" Goth hilariously begins, but then oh snap, human science DOES defeat him. He screams, falls into smoke, and goes back to limbo, aka waiting on hold for Comcast customer service.

So, not only does Dean save the day and all his friends, but he also proves that he knows some chemistry shit, which apparently is the REALLY important thing to take away from this episode.

"It was on Crenshaw's chemistry exam!" he said.

Use chlorine to defeat Goth, an ancient Babylonian god. True/False.

Sure it was.

They both have a BIG laugh over this and Alix forgives Dean super-quick for trying to sell her unfettered sex to an evil god dressed like an underpaid greeter at Harrah's Casino.

Oh, by the way: Dr. Oliver was totally a bad guy this entire time. You knew that, right?

 

The Reaction

You know…I feel absolutely nothing toward this episode. I mean, I’m pretty sure I liked it, and I’m pretty sure when I was a wee-boy it used to be one of my favorites, but…I dunno. I got nothing.

Pretty weird, right?

My biggest gripe might be this entire episode is rising action. Dean becomes possessed way too quickly before he can establish his likeability, and then he spends most of the episode snarling, making the lemon face, and just being kind of a fuck. I mean yeah, I get it, I’d be prickly too if I had the evil force of a snake scepter all up inside me, but it feels like nothing happens here except: Alix sees Dean do something fishy, Alix follows him and immediately gives away her position, Alix flees. Repeat. Repeat. Oh quick, throw some of that shit in the pool we win the end.

But after having said all that, I still liked it.

Man, what gives?

Is It Scary?

All Dean does is make mean faces and steal bottles of acid, so, no, it's not especially scary. The entire fucking episode is chemistry. For real. The scariest thing about chemistry is that I had to take it twice in high school.

Is It Corny?

Not too bad. I appreciate the whole ancient Babylonian thing. I'm sure a lot of it was made up, but some of it actually depended on a real history. I liked that.

- "So then she's like, 'Better make that the small!'"
- "Get the fuck off the stage!"

 

Is It Stupid?

Naw.

How Bad Is The Acting?

Acting's just fine.

Do The Kids Deserve Their Terror?

No way. The evil Dr. Oliver totally bewitched Dean, who was only trying to enhance his education by wanting to learn more about ancient civilizations. And Alix deserves her terror even less because she's a total ten, and she was still willing to be friends with Dean, who is a four at best. He's like a Gary, but without glasses, and less punchable.

Why Does That One Kid Look Familiar?

Matthew Mackay (Dean) pulls a hat trick and does another episode of "Dark" this same season. And sadly, Staci Smith (Alix) never acted again after this, at least according to IMDB, which is a shame because she was actually decent – that and I like to look at her, which sounds even creepier once you realize she was probably fifteen when she did this show.

Oh well!

Her only other acting credit is in something called Prehistoric Bimbos in Armageddon City, which, needless to say, I have to track down immediately.

How Canadian Does Everyone Sound?

We get one lousy "aboot" from Betty Ann. Rip-off.

An Eric Douchebag-Ism

"Ah, another bore-fest?" he inquires when Betty Ann says she'll be telling that night's story. (Take that, Betty Ann. I hate you.)

Final Thoughts

This show has a real problem with allowing everyone equal story-telling time. Fucking Betty Ann told the previous meeting's story, too! I mean, Gary's the leader of this social group and he's only told one story so far and it sucked an entire bag of balls.

How does she keep getting away with this? I bet it's because she threatens to Betty Ann them all to death.

The end of everything.



On the Official Gary Creeper-Shot Rating Scale...



I Award "The Tale of the Sorcerer's Apprentice..."

 

4 Gary Creeper Shots

  

I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed. (Splash sound.)

Sep 6, 2014

ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? 1X8: THE TALE OF THE NIGHTLY NEIGHBORS

If you were a budding horror misanthrope in your early teens during the ‘90s, then you not only remember, but cherish, this long-running Nickelodeon series about a group of variously ethnic kids meeting in the woods at night to trade spooky tales. Perhaps you remember President Gary's opening remarks during the first episode: "We're called The Midnight Society. Separately, we're very different. ... But one thing draws us together: the dark! Each week, we gather around this fire to share our fears and our strange and scary tales." The stories were creepy, corny, fantastic, or pretty stupid, but we all remember that nervous knot in our stomachs beginning to tighten as the legitimately eerie opening title sequence began (which includes that awful clown-doll from which I used to avert my eyes). You didn’t know if the groundwork for nightmares was being laid, but you sat, rapt, waiting to see.  So grab your weird bag of magic dust and toss it in the fire. It’s time to see if you’re still afraid of the dark.



The Tale Submitted For Approval: 

"The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors"

The Submitter: Betty Ann

The Current Midnight Society Administration: Gary (President, Glasses); David (Vice-President, Administrator of the Useless); Kiki (Secretary of War/Ass-Kicker, Name-Taker); Eric (Director of the Office of Management and Budget/Minister of Looking Smarmy); Betty Ann (Ambassador to the United Nations/Gary’s Unspoken Mistress); Kristen (Trade Representative/Socialite); Frank (Intern/Socialite).

 

The Jist

A boy named Dayday (?) is home one night watching scary public domain television, snacking on some popping corn, and looking appropriately terrified. His big sister, Emma, pops up out of nowhere and accuses him of doing nothing but watch TV all day. "If you don't knock it off, you'll end up just like Dad," she says of her father, who apparently watches movie/eats popcorn all day, and whom we never see on-screen. She then dumps the popcorn on Dayday's head, which is weird because, come on, you have two options: clean it up immediately after, or be such a dickhead-daughter that when your parents come home, be like, "I spilled that on purpose and I left it for you to clean up." And I thought Canadians were supposed to be all polite?

Some noise outside confirms that new neighbors are moving in across the street. They are pale, wear black clothes, it's night time, and you know exactly where this is going. The next day, the kids do some snooping next door, utilizing the help of a delivery man unloading some very large crates, and who is way too willing to share the new owners' private information, like their names (the Brauns), or where they're from (the Ukraine, on the run from Putin).

"Is that near Disneyworld?" asks Dayday, who is clearly joking.

"No, you dip, it's near Russia," Emma responds with murder in her eyes.

Later they run into the mailman, who despite looking to be roughly 137 years old, still somehow unsettles them by looking tired and worn down. He explains that those new neighbors stopped by his house the other night, "and it was a night [he would] never forget." When pressed to explain what that meant, he says, "it's the night I started getting sick," which doesn't strike me as particularly memorable, but, what do I know.

After Emma has a nightmare in which Mr. Braun breaks into her room covered in spooky smoke and does his best Bela Lugosi, she becomes convinced her new neighbors are vampires. She pledges to break into their house that night and do some investigating.

"Chazz Palminteri, no!"

A quick cut to the Midnight Society, so they may discuss the events of the story thus far, also sees them sharing a thermos of red juice, and yeah, I get it, blood joke, but instead I am completely taken aback by these charming innocent kids telling spooky stories at night, and to top it all off, are all passing around this thermos of juice that one of them has brought for the sole intention of sharing with everyone else.

It's perfectly endearing.

We're back in the episode and the Brauns (Mr., Mrs., and boy-son Lex) have come over to introduce themselves. Dayday attempts to keep them at bay by purposely not inviting them in (vampire lore, 'member?) but his mom totally blows it and tells them to enter.

The Brauns explain that they have come to America (Canada?) to observe emergency response teams so that they may bring their inner-workings back to their country and implement the procedure over there. All of that seems like an unnecessarily complicated cover story, but, whatevs. I didn't write it.

(Also, at this point, I am immediately struck by how much I'd like to lay in a bed with Mrs. Braun.)

"Who wouldn't?"

During this and every scene, the Brauns talk exactly like Dracula.

Across the street, Emma has successfully broken into one of those large crates to discover a refrigerator filled with blood.

Pale skin? Black clothes? Nocturnal? And now jars of blood? It's safe to say our protagonists are definitely dealing with libertarians.

Hearing the Brauns enter their home, the kids fuck off as quick as they can.

The next day, now that Emma full-on believes her new neighbors really are vampires, she creates an arsenal of garlic necklaces and stick-crucifixes, pretty much intent on storming back into the Brauns' house and laying waste to their vampiric non-lives.

But then everything seems to unravel very quickly when Emma and Dayday see Mr. and Mrs. Braun outside in broad daylight showboating around a large cooler filled with blood.
 
"Bitch, I know you ain't lookin' at my blood cooler."

The Brauns explain that they work at a hospital, where they have such a large surplus of blood that the Brauns have volunteered to store some of it at their house. That and, Emma's stupid twig cross doesn't work.

"Ha ha!" Dayday is right to say, and then mocks his big sister for ever having believed that their new neighbors really were vamps.

The episode ends with Lex baring his vampire fangs and tearing out the throats of Emma, Dayday, their mother, and the newborn baby next door. Then, neck by neck, Lex turns the entire town into blood-drinking, flesh-craving creatures of the night. Eventually, the entire world devolves into one bloody fabulous orgy of the undead.

Technically we see none of that past the fang-baring shock ending, but come on, all of that is pretty much implied, isn't it? Let's stop shitting ourselves.

The Reaction

While I did like this episode, man, we have seen this before. New neighbors are always ripe for "something's wrong with him/her/them!" and this particular episode's twist is that only one of them is a vampire instead of all three of them. That should actually seem like somewhat of a relief by default. However, I do like the moral of this particular episode, which comes during the first few lines of Emma's dialogue: "There's a lot going on in the world, and if you're not looking, you're going to miss it." Meaning, if you don't make yourself aware of the dangers around you, you're doomed to fall victim to them. And that can be applied to pretty much every single thing plaguing our society, environment, government, etc. (It also works for terrorism!)

Is It Scary?

Only if you're scared of vampires. And, even then...probably not. The whole affair is one overlong "Scooby Doo" episode where it's all lead-up and nothing really creep. I guess people walking dumbly around town with bandages on their necks is as far as the show-runners could get to bloodletting without, ya know...bloodletting.

Is It Corny?

Anyone doing the Dracula accent is going to come off as Captain Corn, but, it's not all that bad.

Is It Stupid?

The name "Dayday" is. Seriously, what the fuck?

How Bad Is The Acting?

No complaints here. Mr. Braun is especially and effectively creep, and Mrs. Braun makes my pants feel tighter.

Do The Kids Deserve Their Terror?

Not this time. The only unlikable thing Emma does is throw popcorn at her brother, and the only unlikable thing Dayday does is look like the guy in The Silence of the Lambs who says, "Sometahms, when a body comes out of a river, there's leaves and thangs in the mouth."


Why Does That One Kid Look Familiar?

Suzanna Shebib as Emma was somewhere in Billy Madison. There's no character name listed for her, but I like to think she was in the O'Doyle car that went off the cliff, simply because that scene gives me a case of the chucks. Dayday's Noah Godfrey looks like the guy in The Silence of the Lambs, remember?

Also, he once played a character named "Ratface" in something. I'm not even going to say in what, because it doesn't matter.

"Ratface."

How Canadian Does Everyone Sound?

"Why is it that the Brauns are never ote during the day?"

"I woon't."

"We gotta tell Moom and Dad."

An Eric Douchebag-Ism

"You always tell the same kind of story. It's kind of gross, but everyone lives happily ever after. BORING."

Final Thoughts

The story ends, and back with the Midnight Society, they are still holding that juice! They even douse the flames with it! What a strange group of children!

Make peace with your God.



On the Official Gary Creeper-Shot Rating Scale...



I Award "The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors..."

 

4 Gary Creeper Shots

 


I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed. (Splash sound.)