Author: Krista Culbertson

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E6 “The Tale of the Dark Dragon”

Growing up, “The Tale of the Dark Dragon” was one of my absolute favourite Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes. My older sister and I were obsessed with the movie Teen Witch. And there was something so glamorous about magic that could transform you.

The magic in “The Tale of the Dark Dragon” is much darker and twisted than Teen Witch (there’s also a lot less rapping). It’s Gary’s birthday so the Midnight Society surprise him with balloons. David tells him that he has a special magic story for Gary, borrowing one of Gary’s own characters.

Keith is a young high school boy suffering from low self-esteem after suffering injuries in a car crash. He walks with a limp and needs a brace for his leg. The accident has left him with a personality that makes him virtually invisible.

The school dance is approaching, and poor Keith is trying to attract the attention of Shelly, a girl whose boyfriend’s name is Gary (why David decided to name the worst character in the story after Gary is beyond me. Happy birthday?). When he notices Shelly and Gary are not speaking to each other, he gets the courage to ask her to the dance. But Shelly politely turns him down.

Later, Keith is going through the newspaper where he sees an ad for Sardo’s Magic Mansion. The ad claims to be selling a potion that is able to “bring out the best” in whoever takes it. Keith goes to meet Sardo, who is a bit clueless as to which potion Keith is talking about. But he eventually finds it, and sells it to the boy.

Sardo tells Keith that he can only have a drop of the potion at a time. While he at least knows it’s powerful, he doesn’t exactly know what the potion does. Keith puts a drop into a rabbit’s cage to test the potion, and sees that it works instantly.  Keith walks out the shop with his potion, but doesn’t see that the rabbit turns into a literal fanged monster.

Keith takes his first drop of potion (which seems to be pretty damn painful), and in the morning wakes to find that he’s exactly the same feeling suave, doesn’t need his brace anymore, and has the ability to wear leather jackets and style his hair.

With his newfound confidence, Keith goes to the local diner and chats up Shelly. Only he introduces himself as KC, Keith’s cousin. Thankfully this episode avoids that “two-places-in-once” slapstick stuff. Alas, it’s hilarious how much this boosts Keith’s confidence. For some reason I didn’t remember this part of the episode, and I started choking on my lunch.

As all cautionary tales go, things begin going awry. Each morning after Keith takes the potion, he returns to normal. He begins to do struggle in school and finds that he’s getting strange lesions on his  skin. It’s clear that it’s all related to the potion, but it doesn’t stop him from constantly taking it. He asks Shelly to the dance again (as KC), and she accepts as he stupid boyfriend Gary hasn’t bothered to ask her.

That next morning, Keith wakes up with a furry face and fangs.

Keith goes to Sardo’s shop for help, and the two look at the potions book together. They discover that there’s a second page to the potion that says “before bringing out the best, one must fight the dark dragon within”. Neither knows what the hell the dark dragon is.

Meanwhile, Keith’s friend Mariah has been watching him. She’s clearly into the boy: leg brace or no. She sees Keith running from his house to Sardo’s, so she tries to confront him when he gets home. He won’t open the door for her, scorning her for yet another time.

But Keith doesn’t have time for fangs! He has a dance to attend! Keith goes to the school and takes his drop of potion, turning him into KC again. He enters the dance and sees Shelly, who doesn’t look too happy that Gary is dancing with another girl.

Gary wins a trophy for best athlete, and dedicates his trophy to Shelly – the number one girl in his life. He asks her to dance, and Shelly happily agrees. Not even a potion can win poor Keith what he wants.

Then a girl enters the room, and it’s clearly Mariah but she’s taken off her glasses (the 90’s, man). She explains that she loves him, and now that she’s a pretty girl, he can love her too. It’s so painful, but AYAOTD just managed to sum up being a sad, desperate teenager in one go.

Keith looks pretty happy to be dancing with her, but she begins to double up in pain. She explains that she went into his locker and drank the entire bottle of the potion. She begins to quickly turn into a monster, and Keith believes she’s dying. Begins to cry and his tears and remorse land on Mariah’s shoulder. Suddenly, Mariah and Keith both find themselves completely okay.

Keith, having realised that there are people who loved him for who he was, managed to beat the dark dragon that was within him since the car accident. Mariah clearly remembers nothing about what happens, but the two go off together back to the dance.

Why does this episode get to me so much? Probably because I love 80’s movies and this was exactly like a horror-tv-show version of a John Hughes film. With bonus magic! Why the hell didn’t John Hughes ever put magic into his movies? Science? Fine. But we need potions, people!

It is a bit cheesy, but I love the message of self-acceptance. And even characters like Shelly and Gary were more complex than just the typical “good looking and mean” side characters.

Go and watch this damn episode now, people. Watch it now!

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Riverdale Ep. 15 recap “Chapter Fifteen: Nighthawks”

In this week’s episode, the Lodge’s do their very best to become the new Blossoms. Also, Riverdale mades sure to shatter every theory I had made from last week’s premier.

But I can’t hold it against you, Riverdale. I like a show that’s two steps ahead of me at all times.

In the wake of Fred Andrew’s shoot, Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe is struggling with business. And it’s no small surprise that Betty immediately begins a campaign to save it.

But neither Archie nor Jughead are interested in being her major supports. Archie now spends most of his time staying awake at night to watch the doors in the house. He knows that the man who shot his father is still at large, leaving Archie feeling vulnerable. He even approaches Reggie for some “jingle jangle” – a drug that will help him stay up at night.

Jughead, on the other hand, is trying to save FP from agreeing to the horrible deal that the lawyer managed to get. Juggie goes to the Serpents for help again, and is even naive enough to suggest a jailbreak. But he’s told that he can see a snake handler for help.

The snake handler in question is lawyer Penny Peabody, another Southside Serpent. The gang, she claims, paid her way through law school. When Jughead goes to see her, she tells him the obvious: the deal for FP is a shit one (20 years with the deal, at least 40 if his case goes to trial). And the only way she can see FP managing a better position is by the family of the victim to forgive FP in front of a judge.

And getting the Blossoms to do something nice for you is not an easy task. Betty and Jughead go to the Blossom women to ask for their help, but are immediately turned down. But Betty isn’t one to take things lightly. She hunts down Cheryl and threatens to make the video of Clifford Blossom fatally shooting Jason public.

Cheryl reluctantly agrees, and lies in front of a judge. Cheryl also agrees to allowing the River Vixens to help out at Betty’s Retro Night event at Pop’s.

Veronica spends much of the episode running away from her father. When she receives a call from Betty that Pop’s received an offer from an anonymous buyer, she confronts her parents about it, assuming that her father made the offer. She then shows her mother the threatening letter she received from her dad, forcing Veronica to testify for him.

But Hermione waves away the letter, and claims to have written it herself. And really, if she admits to doing that, what else is this woman capable of? Though, being as shrewd as she is, Veronica decides to simply not trust either of her parents.

Archie eventually learns of Miss Grundy’s death. He immediately connects the death of his former flame with the shooting of his father. He approaches Alice Cooper and asks her to visit the coroner to find out details.

Alice, being the nosy lady she is, agrees to see the body. The coroner tells her that Miss Grundy was killed with an object from the house, and since there was no sign of forced entry – she was most likely killed by someone she knew. The coroner also divulges that Miss Grundy had been killed in a crime of passion.

With that news, Archie goes to the sheriff. He says that he believes the killer could be Miss Grundy’s ex-husband, but Sheriff Keller says that her ex had already been brought in and had an “air-tight alibi”. So…so much for that theory.

During retro night at Pop’s, a flurry of activity happens (much to Alice Cooper’s glee). The Pussycats perform (plus Cheryl!), Archie finally is able to go back into Pop’s and Pop’s announces that his Chock’lit Shoppe has been saved.

Veronica, after a heart-to-heart with Jughead, finally forgives her parents and asks them for a fresh start. The Lodges agree to their daughter’s idea, and Hiram says he will make a large “charitable contribution” to help Pop’s.

But only when Veronica is out of earshot do the secrets pour out of Hiram. He tells Hermione that they’ve bought Pop’s (exactly what Veronica said she didn’t want). He also thanks Hermione for lying for him by claiming she wrote the threatening letter.

See, Veronica? That’s what you get for being a forgiving woman without actually having a reason to be forgiving.

As the episode closes, all hell begins to break loose (as seems to be typical of a Riverdale episode this season thus far). Cheryl gets the video back from Betty, and shows her mother the video of Jason’s death. FP calls Jughead, warning him to stay away from Peabody. Archie BUYS A GUN. And after all that theorising: both Midge and Moose are murdered.

So there are are with that. With a 22-episode season this year, I think Riverdale really needs to make this a big mystery. “Chapter Fifteen” certainly does that.

Why Midge and Moose? Was Archie just being selfish? Well, probably. Considering Midge only made her first on-screen appearance this episode, it’s hard to pin down exactly what she and her boyfriend could be guilty of, if anything at all. It’s certainly a chin scratcher. But I really can’t wait to see the kids lose it over this double homicide.

But one aside: with so many dads present in this episode, where the heck is Hal Cooper (and Polly for that matter)? At least we have time to fill the gaps. Is it next week already?

Favourite reads for the Halloween season

October, kids. It’s OUR season. The season where we can wear our pumpkin dresses without glares, be incredibly morbid and just be called “festive”, and pretend to be one of those “seasonal readers”.

So maybe it’s just me. But I’m getting into the spirit of things here.

I have to admit, I don’t read much horror or thriller novels in October. Shock, horror, but summer is typically when I gorge myself on trashy books where characters meet their grime demises. I don’t only watch horror movies in the autumn, so why save reading certain books just for October?

That being said, there are certain books which feel a bit more seasonal than the average book. These are stories that are a little bit more old school, whether they’re classics of the genre or just take on the style.

But just warning you now: there will be no Stephen King on my list. I know he’s meant to be one of those ‘staple’ authors, but it’s my not-so-deep and dark secret that I really don’t like him. Or at least I have yet to read one of his books that I enjoy. But I’m going to keep trying (if you have any recommendations, please share).

So grab your pumpkin spice arsenic teas, everyone! These are my recommended reads for Halloween:

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Is there any haunted house book that’s better? That’s a rhetorical question and the answer is no.

Shirley Jackson is the queen of twisted, psychological tales. The Haunting of Hill House shows Jackson in perfect form. If you’ve seen the classic 1963 version of The Haunting, you’ll know the gist of this one. Four people go to stay in a supposedly haunted house where strange and horrible things begin to happen. Is it real? Or is it all in their heads?

This is one of the few books has actually managed to terrify me. Don’t read it when you’re home alone (or do, and scare the crap out of yourself).

2. How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith

I have a real love-hate relationship with ol’ Seth. On one hand, he’s written this hilarious in-joke of a book, but on the other, we have him to blame for that Dark Shadows script.

How to Survive a Horror Movie is exactly what it says on the label: a step-by-step guide for navigating your way through a horror movie. Each page packs in as many Easter eggs as possible, making it a hunt for references. I read and re-read the shit out of this book as a teenager. Perhaps it’s time for adult me to give it another try.

3. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1 “The Crucible”

Archie Comics have been killing their revamped series. I think the jewel in their crown is this dark and horrifying version of Sabrina.

All of the original ingredients are here: Harvey, Salem, the aunts. Only Sabrina meets a nemesis with vintage Archie character Madam Satan. Don’t expect too many jokes with this one. Think more along the lines of blood-rituals, possessed trees and face eating.

It was announced last month that the Riverdale creators are working on turning this into a television show. You have all of my attention and all my love.

If you can’t wait, the Jughead one-shot The Hunger from last spring has been turned into a new full-length series. Issue #1 will hit comic book shops on October 25th.

4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Just give me a chance with this one.

Jane Austen often has a reputation she doesn’t deserve. The woman was fierce and clever, and wrote one heck of scathing book when she wanted to. Northanger Abbey is a parody of the gothic novel that was incredibly popular at the time. Her heroine Catherine Morland is silly and naive girl who has lived most of her sheltered life in the country. She goes to Bath and is whisked off on a journey full of ‘haunted’ homes and ‘murders’.

Northanger Abbey is, yes, a romance novel, but at heart it’s really about a girl becoming a woman. Catherine as the lead heroine is an absolute gem. She spends so much time dreaming that she’s in a Gothic romance novel that she forgets she actually doesn’t live in one herself.

This is certainly the most unusual choice on this list, but if you’re not into reading this, try watching the 2007 adaption starring Felicity Jones and JJ Field. It’s that perfect balance of Gothic imagery, sweetness and sick muslin jokes.

5. Spell on Wheels vol. 1

This limited-run series published by Dark Horse is absolutely brilliant. It’s full of feminism, witches, and mystery. And hilarious mythical monster romances.

Three witches go on a road trip throughout New England to look for their magical items that have been stolen from them. They try to track down their items while thwarting evil along the way.

The style really couldn’t be better for this time of the year. It’s a seriously good-looking comic. But also: witches.

6. Dark Entries by Robert Aickman

Aickman, for me, is incredibly dated in ways that male authors often are. He lacks all ability to write fleshed-out female characters. That being said, the short stories in this collection are pretty great. More than anything,  they’re appropriate for Halloween. “The School Friend” and “The Waiting Room” are stand outs amongst the six stories included.

Most people prefer Lovecraft (there isn’t much in the way of similarities here), and I won’t argue that. But Aickman macabre stories are definitely worth checking out if you have yet to be exposed. He’s well worth experiencing.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E5 “The Tale of the Dream Machine”

If there’s one thing to take away from this story it’s this: teenage boys and their dreams are both creepy and dangerous.

It’s Kiki’s turn to tell a tale, but she arrives late with a typewriter in hand. She tells the rest of the Midnight Society that she has laryngitis and asks Gary for help. He agrees to read her story for her, a story that begins with the warning that once a writer has their story read, it no longer belongs to the author, but the story takes a life of its own.

Student Sean is a writer and a dreamer. And his favourite thing to write and dream about is his classmate Jennifer, who mostly thinks of Sean as a just a friend. His best friend Billy loves reminding Sean of his failures to capture Jennifer’s heart.

One day after school, Billy goes to Sean’s house, which is parents recently bought. The house is a bit of a disaster zone as Sean’s parents fix it up. The boys ignore a Danger sign, and Billy’s foot goes through one of the steps. The boys then discover a small room under the stairs filled with old newspaper clippings about a mystery author who disappeared and was found murdered a year later.

The boys also find an old type writer. Sean brings it up to his room. After Billy leaves, Sean begins writing a short story titled “The Halloween Dance” on the typewriter. In his story, he appears as a Dracula-style character who dances all night with the Princess Jennifer. And right before the night ends, Vampire Sean pulls Jennifer into a corner where he bites her neck.

Sean ends his story and heads to sleep, completely unaware that Jennifer has awoken from a nightmare where she’s been bitten by a vampire at a Halloween dance. The next day at school, Jennifer tells Sean about her dream.

Sean later tells Billy that Jennifer’s dream was just like his short story. Unsurprisingly, Billy doesn’t believe him. At Sean’s house, Billy gets bored and takes a nap while Billy decides to work on his short story for a homework assignment. This one is entitled “Trapped,” which stars Billy as a boy who falls into an empty grave while looking for the tombstone of the ghost Blind Paul. Billy eventually gets buried alive and can’t escape.

As Sean finished typing his story, Billy wakes up afraid. Billy begins to tell Sean about his dream when Sean shows him what he’s just finished writing. The boys come to the conclusion that the typewriter is actually a dream machine: a machine that can create someone’s dreams.

That night, Sean starts another short story in which he tells Jennifer about the dream machine and then kisses her (which is mega creepy, if you ask me). And  the following day, Jennifer is invited over to Sean’s house. She, Sean and Billy discuss the dream machine and what it could mean.

Billy grabs Sean’s “Halloween Party” story and begins to read it aloud. As he reads, the typewriter begins to glow green and Sean and Jennifer suddenly find themselves in the dream, only they’re aware this time. They try to change what they’re doing, but they keep following the pattern of the story.

Sean and Jennifer only escape the story when Billy stops reading, right before he gets to the ending where Vampire Sean bites Jennifer. They realise that they were transported into the dreams. It all seems fine, until Sean remembers that he turned in “Trapped” for his homework.

The three children run to the school to shop their teacher from reading the short story. But when they arrive, she’s nowhere to be found (she’s on an exercise bike while reading pastries – girl is living the dream). Billy suddenly disappears back into the dream graveyard. The teacher continues writing the story, and she still can’t be found.

In a panic, Sean sits own at the typewriter and begins to type. He pulls the paper from the machine and has Jennifer read it aloud, making it come true. Sean’s paper says that none of the dreams in his stories came true, which pulls Sean out of the coffin and back into the real world.

They’re caught by their teacher, and they play it off. But Sean has defeated the machine, for now. The Midnight Society enjoy Kiki’s story, but when Gary finishes, they notice that she’s gone, with the typewriter in her place. They read the short story and see that it’s about each of them getting chased be a headless warrior. Creeped out, they end the meeting and leave in silence.

The best part of “The Tale of the Dream Machine” is that it’s something you almost wish could happen. Granted, having grizzly ends for every short story wouldn’t be ideal, but who hasn’t wanted to live one of their dreams? As long as there is dream police, it could work out, right? Har har har.

Riverdale Ep. 14 recap “Chapter Fourteen: A Kiss Before Dying”

WHAT an episode. WHAT. AN. EPISODE.

Ladies and gentlemen: Riverdale is back.

Last season’s cliffhanger was a tough one to deal with. Fred Andrews was shot in the middle of Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe, leaving everyone in a state of panic for the last several months. Or just me, but seriously. The death of Luke Perry will NOT be taken lightly.

Much of the episode revolves around the gang as they gather at the hospital to support Archie. I think literally everyone at Riverdale High is there, and it’s a hilarious way to bring back all the characters.

The second season still continues with Jughead’s voiceover. Despite it being ages for us, in the Riverdale world it really is only the day after the mayor’s jubilee. The happiness promised that night are clearly vanquished that next morning.

Juggie tells about Archie’s race through Riverdale (deemed by Juggie “a haunted town”) to get Fred to the hospital. Once there, Fred goes straight into surgery. Archie calls Betty, who sends out the Bat Signal and we see the wholesome quartet together again. Archie makes his excuses and goes to call his mom. He tells her to come to Riverdale “incase we have to say goodbye” which brings up all the feelings.

In the waiting room, Alice Coopers immediately begins stirring up trouble. Betty continues to be insanely honest with her mother. Over breakfast, Betty told her mom that she almost slept with Jughead and that he’s considering becoming a Southside Serpent.

But Alice’s concerns are not entirely misplaced. Despite the sheriff thinking otherwise, many people in the hospital waiting room suspect that there was an actual hit on Fred. Both Fred and Hermione Lodge had fired the Serpents that were working for them on the construction site. It wouldn’t be completely out of the question that one of them wanted revenge.

Jughead goes to his Serpent protectors and asks them to do some digging for him. He isn’t as convinced as Alice that the Serpents are involved, but sensibly doesn’t rule out that it could have been an individual acting alone.

After Archie gets the news that Fred is out of surgery, he’s convinced to go home with Veronica where they “clean up” and “take care of things” as young couples do. But Archie loses it when he realises that his father’s wallet is missing.

Betty and Jughead go to Pop’s together to look for the missing wallet. There they also question Pop Tate about the shooting. He tells them that the hooded man didn’t steal any money from the register. That eliminates the robbery excuse from the sheriff’s list.

At Pop’s, Jughead and Betty have a conversation about his alliance to the Serpents. He admits then that he’s not staying with the foster family, but will be staying at his dad’s vacant trailer. Despite not understanding initially, The Incredible Betty eventually tells him that she understands and will support him. But she’s probably be less happy when Jughead returns to the trailer and finds a bloodied man tied up.

Two of the Serpents tell him that they wanted to prove that they would do whatever he asked. The tied-up man is innocent, but they’d do anything to prove their loyalty to Jughead’s papa. Grim, but nice?

Archie later admits to the gang that he froze while at Pop’s. He didn’t even do anything when there was a gun to his head. He believes that while he was frozen, the hooded man stole his dad’s wallet. But why, kids? Certainly it wasn’t for the money.

So who’s the next likely suspect? Veronica thinks it’s her mother. With her father’s impending arrival, Veronica is convinced that her mother was trying to do away with Fred, whom she had an affair with. She straight up confronts her mom with it – saying that Hermione could have hired a hitman.

Probably not a great idea, poor girl. When her father does arrive it’s to a very frosty environment. But welcome to Riverdale, Hiram.

Ah, and Cheryl Blossom. Don’t worry. The crazy lady is back in her full glory. Remember her burning down her house? Her mother suffered third-degree burns from the fire. At the end of season 2, both women are seen standing outside the house, so why did Penelope go back into the house? Cheryl tells everyone that her mom went in to save her from the fire. But later, Cheryl threatens her mom: keep silent or she reveals what really happened to her father in the barn.

But it seems to be Cheryl who makes the different in Fred’s life when she gives him the “kiss of life”.

Throughout the episode, Fred has dreams of Archie telling him to move on. Fred sees Archie at different points in his life: graduating, taking over the company, his proposal and eventual marriage to Veronica. When Fred awakes, Archie begins to tell his dead that he will do anything to keep him safe. But Fred tells his son that he only came back to protect him.

And all seems well…relatively. The folks of Riverdale begin to settle down. But across the river in Greendale, Archie’s Angel of Death is ready to strike again. Poor Ms Grundy Jennifer sends off her latest prey, only to fall victim to the green-eyed man. He kills her off with her own bow. And this raises all sorts of questions.

Why Ms Grundy? Is it to get to Archie? That’s pretty unlikely. So what about Jennifer’s abusive ex-husband she was trying to escape? If it was personal, it’s a strange way to kill someone. But boy, has Riverdale opened up another good mystery.

At MCM Comic Con in London last May, Archie actor KJ Apa spoke about how close he was with Perry, and it’s incredibly evident throughout the episode. Apa is great in this episode, particularly when Perry is in the scene with him. I’m so happy Fred Andrews lives, because I’m not sure I could handle the show without his boyish charms.

Bonus points for the use of Rosemary’s Baby “Lullaby” at the end of the episode. Chills everywhere.

Wicked Wednesday: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a film with a pretty abysmal reputation. What’s a Halloween film without Michael Myres, eh? Well, it turns out, it’s all okay, folks. This is a movie that can stand on its own two legs.

As someone who is not personally attached the masked man, it doesn’t bother me that the great oaf doesn’t make an appearance. Though, in my mind, it’s a film that should be approached as a separate entity. It certainly can’t even touch the glory of John Carpenter’s original (but then again, not much can).

Eight days before Halloween, a man trying to run away and hide from a car. He manages to escape from the men pursuing him and ends up in a gas station, where he seeks help. While waiting inside, a Silver Shamrock commercial begins to play. The man begins to shout “they’re coming” and collapses to the floor.

That night, Doctor Dan Challis visits his ex-wife and his two children. He gives them the gift of two plastic masks, but they tell him that their mom already bought them Silver Shamrock masks, which they show off to him. Before he can feel too bad, he gets a call that brings him back to the hospital.

The patient awaiting his care is Harry Grimbridge, the man who fainted in the gas station. Dan examines the patient when Harry grabs him and says, “They’re going to kill us.” After the little episode, Dan has Harry moved to a private room.

Later in the night, a man goes into the hospital and presses his thumbs into Harry’s eyes. The nurse catches the murderer before he can leave the room. But the murderer manages to escape. Dan chases after him, but the man gets into the car and blows himself up before anyone can get near to him.

The next day, Harry’s daughter Ellie arrives to identify the body. She later follows Dan into a bar to question him about her father’s last moments. He finally tells her the truth about the vague “going to kill us” statements. He also tells her that Harry was holding onto a Silver Shamrock pumpkin mask.

Ellie drags Dan into the investigation of her father’s death. Together they go to Harry’s shop, where she tells Dan that her father had gone to a town called Santa Mira to pick up an order of Silver Shamrock masks.

Together, the pair head off to the Californian town. When they arrive, they find that the locals are super strange (they like to stare) and they’re all gushing with praise of Conal Cochran – the founder of Silver Shamrock.

While checking into their hotel, Dan sneaks away and looks at the log book, quickly discovering that it is the same hotel where Harry had stayed. As they finish their check-in, another shop owner and a family arrive, all having with business with Cochran.

The shop owner, Marge, finds a silver button that has fallen off the back of one of the Silver Shamrock masks. While examining it at night, a beam of light from the button strikes her, and her face begins to peel open.

Dan and Ellie (who apparently are having sex now because romance) hear something outside their room. Outside, a group of men in white coats are gathered around. Marge’s body, covered in a sheet and on a gurney, is removed from her room and put into a van. Ellie begins to become distressed, but a man, introduced as Cochran, says that Marge will be receiving good care.

The following morning, Dan, Ellie and the other family in the hotel all go to the Silver Shamrock factory where the popular masks are produced. Cochran hints that there is a “final process” that happens behind closed doors, but no one is allowed to see it due to the volatile chemicals involved.

When the group leaves their tour, Ellie spots her father’s car. She eventually leaves it alone, but not before catching the attention of the supremely-stoic black-suited men hanging about. It’s no surprise that the girl goes missing that night.

After realising that Ellie is gone and that he cannot connect any calls, Dan goes back to the factory. He’s obviously never seen the never-been-made classic Don’t Go in the Factory… Alone! This is clearly a bad idea, and he gets caught by Cochran and his robot lackeys.

Dan’s taken to the “final process” room where a stone from ancient sacrificial site Stonehenge sits. Men are slowly chipping away at the rock. Cochran explains that they use the stone in their masks.

Dan’s attention is then drawn to a video of the family from earlier. They’re all dragged into a testing room where the Silver Shamrock commercial begins to play on the television. The little boy tugs on a pumpkin mask, but struggles to take it off once it begins to hurt him. The boy collapses and his head turns to bugs, worms and snakes. His parents are then killed by the creepy crawlies emerging from their son.

Children all over America are waiting to wear their Silver Shamrock masks. As it’s Halloween, they’ll be everywhere. The twisted company plan a giveaway at 9 that night. Cochran’s plan is for all the children to gather around to watch the commercial, and then die. In his mind, it is merely celebrating Halloween in the old, pagan fashion: with lots of scarifies! Oh and to bring back the age of the witches.

He’s an ambitious fellow.

Dan is then tied up and left in a room wearing a mask. He’s placed in front of a television where the countdown to his death begins. But when he’s left alone, the doctor manages to smash the TV in. He uses a shard of the broken glass to cut himself free. When he manages to escape through a air duct, he calls his ex-wife to warn her about the masks. She refuses to believe him, and thinks he’s drunk.

So the man moves on to saving Ellie, who has been tied up inside the factory. The two manage to dump a box of the Silver Shamrock’s computer chip/Stonehenge bits around the computers, which end up killing the workers when the commercial is triggered. Even Cochran himself is killed by the power of the stone.

Ellie and Dan seemingly escape together, but Ellie attacks him while they’re driving away. The two crash into a tree when Dan discovers that Ellie has been replaced by a robot. He manages to fight her off and go to the gas station from the beginning of the film. He calls the television channels and manages to convince channels one and two to take the commercial off. But he watches in horror as channel three goes away with airing the commercial – seemingly to kill all the children.

It’s a wonderfully chilling ending. Sure the robots don’t make any sense (why wasn’t a coven written into this?), but Halloween III is a deliciously wicked movie. I mean, the evil plot revolves around sacrificing children to a television commercial!

I can’t really see why this film is slatted so much. It’s certainly a flawed film. The soundtrack is abysmal, and the plot is a bit convoluted, but the imagery is great, it’s pretty sick, and it stars Tom Atkins! I recently watched the excellent Profondo Rosso, and if there’s one thing I can swear by, it’s that a creepy children’s song will always make me uncomfortable in a horror movie.

Halloween III should be regarded as a separate entity from its predecessors. Judge it on its own merits. Hate it or love it for the right reasons.

 

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S2E4 “The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor”

You know, usually I like to start with a bit of an intro or anecdote before jumping into these recaps. But really, all I came up with for this week was when I was little, my sister used to play this game in the pool where she pretended to be George Washington.

So, on that note. “The Tale of the Thirteenth Floor.”

It’s Betty Ann’s turn. She’s a fun, twisted little one. Her story is about the the strangers amount us, those who we see every day but maybe don’t know as well as we think we do.

Brother and sister Billy and Karin like to play on the empty thirteenth floor of their apartment complex. Karin, who is adopted, lacks her brother’s sporting abilities. He’s agile and has great hand-eye coordination. And Karin…well, lacks.

While playing hockey on the abandoned floor one day, the room begins to shake and the siblings see a bright flashing light through the windows. The two decide to leave, but when they reach the elevator, they see that their usual elevator operator has gone and has been replaced by a tall man in his best Black Lodge outfit.

That night, Karin’s television turns on by itself. A man appears telling Karin that “they came for a little visit”. The girl shrugs it off, thinking she’s having a dream, but in the morning, she and Billy are told that new tenants have moved into the thirteenth floor and they can no longer play up there.

Karin receives a letter without any postage or mailing address. Inside the envelope is a invitation for her to visit the new Toy Factory that has opened up on the thirteenth floor. She seems a bit reluctant because the games are all sports-related. But Billy insists that she goes – and brings him with.

Again while Karin sleeps, the television turns on, begging Karin to go to the factory. In her sleepy state, she agrees. In the morning, Billy and Karin go up to the top floor together. They find in place of the empty, dusty room is a brightly-coloured maze of toys.

Billy and Karin are greeted by Olga, who looks less than happy that Billy has joined. Olga tells the children that they need only one child for testing, but Karin insists that Billy stays or she leaves. Olga reluctantly agrees, and leads the children into a room filled with more games and toys where the man from Karin’s “dream” awaits them.

The man, Raymond, looks as annoyed as Olga when he sees Billy. But nevertheless sits the children down to a sort of Simon Says-style game. Karin loses the first few rounds to her brother, but after each round, Raymond turns a wheels. Billy gets slower and Karin becomes more agile.

When Karin wins the game, she is brought to the next game while Billy takes a snooze on the Simon Says game pad. In this game, Karin is strapped to a chair. Raymond tells Karin to move a ball on the other side of the room with her mind. Karin, clearly thinking it’s a bit silly, tries any way and succeeds.

Raymond turns the wheel again, and it begins to hurt Billy. Karin protests, but Raymond says she needs to get used to the atmosphere so she can be sent back to the ship. As Karin tells him she doesn’t want to go, Raymond removed his face revealing a blank alien face.

Freaked, Karin tries to wake Billy to escape with him, only she finds he is unresponsive. She uses her new telekinetic powers to escape from Raymond. She freezes Raymond with a button from the control device she finds. Though while hiding in the air duct, she’s discovered and chased by the un-frozen Raymond.

Karin finally manages to get to Billy and begins dragging him through the factory. When they get to the elevator, they’re stopped by the elevator operator. He tries to persuade Karin that she needs to leave on the spaceship. She still declares that she doesn’t want to go.

Meanwhile, Olga and Raymond panic. They have only so much atmosphere left until they will be forced to leave Earth. They continue to try to get Karin to join them, but she eventually escapes with Billy.

The brother and sister collapse in Karin’s bedroom, where the television turns on by itself yet again. Olga appears and says that they were only trying to rescue Karin, who had been left behind on Earth 10 years before. They needed 10 years to gain enough atmosphere to go to Earth, and it will be another 10 years before they can come back and try to save her again.

Billy looks to his sister and asks what Olga is talking about. Only Karin doesn’t seem to be there anymore, but a face-less alien sits in her place.

This was a fun little episode. It’s certainly one of the more ambitious ones, trying to set up an entire alien reality in less than 20 minutes.  The twist ending is pretty great, too. Though I’m not entirely convinced of Betty Ann’s message. Be careful because adopted kids might be aliens?