Author: Krista Culbertson

Wicked Wednesday: Hammer House of Horror ep. 1 “Witching Time” (1980)

Well, it’s the third week into 2018, and I’m already achieving goals.

New Year’s Resolution: watch more British horror. Check. Done.

So maybe one week doesn’t count as “more”, but either way – I can’t say this has improved perceptions. I tried to ease myself in with an episode from Hammer House of Horror, an hour-long anthology show that aired in 1980. Hammer, historically, has never worked for me as much as the Universal films. So why did I think this would work?

Two words: Patricia Quinn.

Magenta herself appears in this first episode – as a witch! Which sounds so far up my alley, I was convinced it was going to be a sure win. But of course it’s another pointlessly long, meandering piece of work.

And let’s get the inevitable out of the way: I am American and I like my entertainment entertaining. May there be unnecessary explosions, dramatic staring and baffaling one-liners.

But at least it had Patricia Quinn. And she’s so great in this.

Film composer David lives with his actress wife Mary on a rural farm in England. The two have a strained relationship, mostly because David suspects she’s cheating on him and she definitely is. With his doctor.

After getting a call that Mary won’t be returning for the night, David settles in to work. But a sudden storm knocks the power out. When he goes to the barn to check on Mary’s horse, he finds a naked lady (Quinn) in a cloak.

The cloaked nutter introduces herself as Lucinda. She seems pretty happy to be at the farm, exclaiming that she’s escaped “them.” Assuming she’s ill, David takes Lucinda to the farm house. She tells him that she was born there, so he shows her around. Her behaviour is strange, though.

She’s terrified of the lights. And wonders at the running water in the bathroom. Asks David what people do to witches in his time. Eventually, Lucinda explains to him that she was born in 1627. She escaped her would-be executioners with magic by transporting herself into the future. And with that tidbit, David locks her away in the guest room.

He calls his doctor (the man who Mary is having an affair with), and invites him over to check on Lucinda, who he merely assumes is delusional. But when the doctor arrives, Lucinda is nowhere to be found. The doctor instead treats David, who has previously suffered from nervous exhaustion.

That night, David dreams he is having sex with Lucinda, who claws her nails into his back. When Mary arrives in the morning to check on her husband, she sees the nail marks in his back.

Things begin to get worse for the couple. As David becomes increasingly erratic, Mary becomes more and more paranoid that he’s after her. After she’s nearly crushed by a bust, she begins to pack up to leave David. Lucinda uses her powers to create a wind storm within the bedroom.

Mary decides then to not leave David, but to visit a priest who tells her about exorcisms. She also finds Lucinda’s name in the church book as one witch who escaped her death. She asks her doctor-lover for help, but he’s gives that a solid pass.

Equipped with the power to remove Lucinda, Mary begins to head back to the farm. But her horse startles, and Mary is thrown and knocked out. When she awakes, she finds out that she’s been in the hospital for days.

When Mary finally is able to leave the hospital, she finds David in terrible shape. He locks her in the cellar where Lucinda was once kept. While Mary tries to escape, David begins building a pyre to burn his wife to the ground.

But Mary manages an escape, and takes Lucinda on directly. Using Lucinda’s voodoo doll, Mary begins to attack the witch, but eventually drowns her in a trough. David then wakes up from Lucinda’s spell. The couple walk away, and David throws the doll onto the burning pyre, and Lucinda’s screams are lost to them.

It’s a very convoluted ending to a rather straight-forward plot. Instead of giving any suspense, the episode mostly is shrug-inducing. It is neither good nor bad but just mostly boring. Quinn’s witch character was compelling to watch, but her story was very flat. I’m not quite sure what the episode should have focused on more, but it needed to be focusing on something.

Unfortunately “Witching Time” is ultimately a product of an over-ambitious script for a one-hour show. Too much telling, and not enough showing.

So did I enjoy this episode? No. Do I want to watch more of this show? Well, yes.

Advertisements

Wicked Wednesday: Cheerleader Camp (1988)

Going into a movie without expectations can be hard. A lot of the times, we can go into movies and get what we expect. Sometimes there are surprises. Cheerleader Camp has no surprises.

Camps. Cheerleaders. An alternate title of Bloody Pom Poms. We all know what we’re getting here.

A group of six cheerleaders and their mascot take a van out to Camp Hurrah to participate in a cheerleading competition. Why is there an important competition at a camp where there are no judges? Beats me.

At the centre of things is Alison (Betsy Russell), a cheerleader with a tormented mind. She falls asleep each night and has disturbing nightmares. Though the real nightmare in Alison’s life is that her boyfriend Brent (Leif Garrett) has eyes for all the other girls at camp, particularly a blonde from a rival team.

The next day, Alison finds the blonde in her bed with both of her wrists slit. The counselor (owner, judge, whatever), Miss Tipton, is certain that there is no foul play, and refuses to call the police. But when Alison stumbles upon the body in the freezer, she calls the sheriff. Only the sheriff is more interested in getting into Miss Tipton’s pants than getting any work done.

Meanwhile, while Brent goes off to busy himself with other women, Alison strikes up a friendship with the mascot, Cory (Lucinda Dickey). The girls try to boost each other’s self-esteem.

When one of Alison’s teammates, Pam, begins to cozy up to Brent, Alison leaves him behind. Pam and Brent go off in the woods together, but Pam refuses to do anything with them. When he leaves her, she begins to chase after him in the woods. But the poor girl gets a sheers to the back of the head before she can find him.

That night it’s the cheerleading competition, which looks more like a talent show for cruise ship guests than an actual competition. Thankfully, the moves are as brilliantly 80’s as you’d want them to be.

Cory loses the mascot competition, despite the fact that she pulls from sweet break dancing moves (probably all learned from Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo). The gang also lose their competition after Pam doesn’t show for their performance. Though Bonnie, another of Alison’s teammates, wins Miss USA Cheer 2020 or something. So good for her.

Shame she’ll die anyway.

During the post-competition celebrations, Cory, Brent, Alison and Theresa go out into the woods to look for Pam. Of course none of them think to search as a group. One-by-one they run out into the woods alone.

Theresa finds Pam’s corpse in the woods, and begins head back to the camp. Though she doesn’t get very far when she’s smashed against a tree by a van. When Theresa’s body is found by her teammates, Brent decides to alert the camp that there’s a killer on the loose. Everyone but Alison’s team scatter, as their van doesn’t work (it’s been tampered with – surprise).

A very drunk Miss Tipton gets stabbed in the back. She stumbles into Alison, who grabs the meat cleaver from her back. Cory walks in at that moment, and catches Alison in a suspicious position. Alison becomes increasingly unsure of what is reality, and what memories are from her dreams.

Without the van, the kids begin to search the woods again. They run into the camp’s gardener, who fires his gun in the air to scare them off. Timmy, the over-weight comedic vomit of the movie, stays behind. He’s spent most of his time filming the going-ons at the camp (meaning topless cheerleaders), and decides to set up the camera for the killer.

The increasingly-small group realise that Timmy isn’t around. When Brent goes to look for him, he only finds the camera. The survivors go to watch the footage, and watch as Timmy dies on film.

This somehow convinces Brent that the gardener,Pop, is responsible for the killings. They set up a booby trap, which actually kills the sheriff. Though Cory manages to kill Pop when he goes after Brent with his gun.

The remaining kids, Brent, Alison, Cory and Bonnie, regroup in one of the cabins. Brent sends Bonnie to call the police and Cory leaves after her. With Brent and Alison alone, he tries to come on to her. Alison tells him no, but the boy is stopped when Cory interrupts, saying she an’t find Bonnie.

When Brent goes off to look for Bonnie, Cory confides in Alison that she believes Brent is the killer. Despite not having any real proof, Alison takes a gun from Cory and the two girls go to look for Brent.

They find the boy standing over Bonnie’s corpse. Alison shoots her boyfriend, seemingly ending the killings. But when the police arrive, they arrest Alison, who is in too much shock to protest.

While the police carry her away on a stretcher, Cory talks to the policeman. He tells her it’s likely that Alison will stay in a mental ward for years. Cory agrees, saying that Alison was obsessed with what others thought of her – trying to be perfect. Between the dreams and the pills, she’s obviously the murderer.

With a knowing smile, Cory flounces off to have a bit of cheerleading practice of her own.

And that, is an underwhelming ending. It’s quite clear that throughout the film Cory is the killer. She’s obviously manipulating Alison, and is the only one who cares about those who insult her. Plus no one likes Cory because she’s a stupid mascot.

But nothing about Cheerleader Camp is a surprise. It’s cheesy, skeezy, and a bit schlocky. Going into this, at least, I wasn’t expecting anything more than what I got.

If it’s a cheesy, below-average slasher you’re looking for, Cheerleader Camp will do the trick. There’s plenty to chuckle at to make it enjoyable. Though it’s of course dated, and filled with out-dated fun like slut-shaming.

Also. Explain me this: Why did the filmmakers cast the only dancer in the movie (Dickey) as the only non-cheerleader roll? Those last few minutes at the end hardly count. Also, it clearly establishes she’s much better than anyone else on the real team, so there’s no excuse as to why she didn’t make the team.

Obviously getting to the heart of the real problems here.

Wicked Wednesday: Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated “The Hodag of Horror” (2012)

Growing up, I was always afraid of the forest at night time. I was always convinced aliens lurked in the woods behind my parents’ house. If aliens were to invade, they’d certainly begin with rural Wisconsin.

Then my friend’s dad used to tell us stories about a mythical beast. It was seven-foot-tall man walking around the woods with a pigs head, ready to kill us if we wandered off alone. I saw visions of the man for months after that tale.

So, it’s not hard to see why the hodag story took off in the 1890’s. With endless Wisconsin wilderness, your imagination can get the best of you.

In the past few years, the hodag has become “fashionable” again. It appeared as one of the new North American beasts in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And it’s the main monster in this episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. 

This iteration of Scooby-Doo is a bit different. For one, there’s a long-running story arc along with the monster-of-the week. I found that slightly confusing (I’ve never seen a single episode bar this one). But I do understand one thing: cheese.

One day in the gang’s hometown of Crystal Cove, the “Most Haunted Place on Earth”, a travelling curio wagon arrives. Shaggy and Scooby hop inside and explore the exhibits. That’s where they meet the fearsome hodag of Wisconsin. But not convinced by the cheap-looking suit, they leave.

Later, Daphne’s sister Daisy finds the hodag in her room. Daphne gets a call, and the mystery-solving gang go to Daisy’s to investigate. She tells them that the beast stole the jewellery from her room, including an expensive ruby.

Velma begins her sketch based on the description from Daisy, and Shaggy and Scooby immediately recognise the thief as the hodag from the travelling curiosities show.

Upon returning to The Traveling Cabinet of Curiosities, the owner, Gene Shepherd shows the gang around. When they spot a locked box, he explains that he only opens it once a year. When he leaves, they all agree that he’s suspicious. Even I’m suspicious.

That night, Daphne’s family have a cheese party. I’m not actually sure what’s the party is actually for, but I’m from Wisconsin, so I fully accept the existence of cheese parties. During the party, surprise surprise, the hodag attacks again. Only this time, instead of just jewels, the hodag also steals Nova, the dog that Scooby is in love with.

The gang suspect Shepherd of the thefts, and return to his wagon where they find the loot. Even though he’s arrested, Velma isn’t convinced they’d really caught their thief. She reads up on the ability to train certain animals with the ringing of a bell. Before each theft the sound of a bell could be heard, and Nova wears a bell on her collar.

Velma and Fred agree to set a trap for the real thief. They bait the hodag with a key, which it uses to open the chest. They then lure the hodag up a tower using more bells. Eventually the hodag is trapped. When the gang take off its mask, it’s revealed that it’s a monkey named Roberto.

Because of course!

Roberto’s trainer, Mr Fussbuster, is the owner of the town’s cheese shop. He arrives holding onto Nova, and confesses that he trained Roberto to rob for him, but the monkey soon went out of control and began to steal bells. Fussbuster ultimately wanted Roberto to steal what was in Shepherd’s chest: a wheel of 500-year-old cheese.

Scooby then hurls the cheese (the package stolen from the chest) at Fussbuster’s head, allowing him to save Nova. With the real thief caught, the gang try to give Shepherd his cheese back, but he no longer wants it because it’s cracked. He mutters that the cheese told him to go to the town before leaving in his wagon.

Scooby-Doo always ticks the right boxes for me, and this weird, cheese-obsessed episode was perfect. For one, I love a celebration of strange, relatively-obscure folklore. Throw in masked monkey thefts and you’ve got me completely sold.

So sold, in fact, I think I’ll watch the first series. Scooby, you lovable buffoon, you’ve done it again.

Also, if you’re interested in reading more about the hodag, you can read up on him on the city of Rhinelander’s website. If you have any equally fun or interesting local folk legends, please share!

An American of London attempts New Year’s resolutions

I’m not big on resolutions. For the last four years I’ve only had one: buy a pair of jeans. Never happened. The problem with resolutions isn’t necessarily keeping them, but remembering that they exist. But not this year. This year these bad boys are going in a blog post! You can’t fail if it’s in writing, right? Right!

I’ve wanted to make American of London a bit better in 2018. It’s my baby, and I love it. And like a good mother, I think my child could always be improved. Also, bonus reading goals because I can.

Hope everyone has a great New Year and may 2018 be better than this one.

Blog Goals:

1. Focus/Improve my writing

Let’s be honest, my writing here is not great. Often when I see my published posts I wonder, “Would anyone really want to read all this sludge?” Well, no. No they wouldn’t. I don’t ever edit posts (because I know ya’ll enjoy spelling errors). This year, I’m going to at least try to read things through.

2. Incorporate writing about more things I enjoy

American of London started off as a music blog four years ago. That all changed three years ago when I branched out and wrote about horror movies. Best thing I ever did. Same goes with sharing my love for Archie comics and Riverdale. Writing here has always been about enjoying myself, but it’s time to exercise creative muscle.

3. Watch more British films (or try to)

British films are boring. Well, maybe not all but I’ve been stuck sitting through so many that never seem to end. But you know, adopted country and all. Be a good immigrant.

Reading Goals:

1. Have less than five unread books on my shelves by the end of 2018

There is an embarrassing number of unread books on my shelves post-Christmas and Christmas sales. But come December 31st, 2018, there will be less than five. No one likes a greedy bastard.

2. Finish the Farseer Trilogy

Fitz is one of my favourite protagonists in any series I have ever read. This year, I want to finish the first of Robin Hobb’s trilogies in the Realm of the Elderings this year. And, if I’m particularly ambitious, start the Liveship Traders trilogy as well in 2018.

3. Read one of the books my husband doesn’t stop talking about (and read one Science Fiction novel)

My husband loves massive fantasy books and sci fi. I’ve always been to daunted to try. But not this year! Patrick Rothfuss: I’m coming for you.

4. Join a library

Because I’m not made of money.

Wicked Wednesday: Bloody New Year (1987)

I know a lot of people who would consider New Year’s the most disappointing of all holidays. Maybe it’s meant to always be disappointing. That’s what you get for having expectations?

You know what else is disappointing? Bloody New Year.

This 1987 British horror film was directed by Norman J Warren, a director I have zero experience with, but was supposedly an unusual, but interesting filmmaker. I assume that this wasn’t a highlight of his career.

On New Year’s Even in 1959 (turning into 1960) a group of party-goers welcome in the New Year in a hotel ballroom. A girl, the last left, stands in front of a mirror before she’s grabbed and pulled through.

Some twenty years later, a group of kids are spending the day at the seaside. It’s some time in July – not December. The two girls go off to speak to a fortune teller while the three boys stroll around. The boys soon catch a girl being terrorised on a tilt-a-whirl by a group of carnies at the funfair.

The boys step in, one of them even ruining the ride to help out the girl. The carnies chase the group of friends throughout the funfair, but the kids are eventually able to escape the three angry men.

They friends learn that the rescued girl is Carol, an American visiting on holiday. As her friends haven’t arrived yet, she agrees to go with the British group out on a boat.

While out at sea, the boat begins to sink and everyone is forced to jump ship. Luckily, they are not too far from an island are able to swim to shore. Only the island is booby-trapped. Which probably isn’t so lucky.

The cold, wet sack of friends search the island until they stumble upon a hotel. The hotel is, unusually for July, done up in Christmas and New Year’s decorations. But assuming it’s just “quirky,” the kids split up into couples to search for anyone in the hotel to speak to.

While looking around, strange things happen. A magazine closes itself, snooker balls reset themselves, and a ghostly maid appears to give Carol a blanket.

Despite that this hotel has been vacant for nearly 20 years (it’s the hotel from the beginning, shock), nothing seems really gross. Someone even manages to take a bath. The clothes in the suitcases are in perfect condition.

I live in Britain. I know how damp it is. There is no way that this shit would be in good shape. Unless, that is, that Ghost Maid is super good at her job and likes to keep up her work during her after life.

Eventually, a couple are able to turn on the power. The kids all change into the 50’s-style clothes they find in the guest rooms and get changed into dry clothing. In the background, a news show from the 1959 is playing on the TV in the background. This is apparently key, but will make no sense no matter how many times you watch it: New Year’s night there will be an experiment with an anti-radar device on a plane that will make the plane become invisible. And some dude on the show is mad about this.

Me too, I guess.

The kids eventually discover a cinema room in the hotel, which is playing Fiend Without a Face. When the film rolls out, a different film starts playing of three people in front of the hotel. One of the men in the film jumps out, and kills one of the boys. Since I don’t know his name, I don’t really care.

The remaining five run out of the hotel and decide to split up and look for help. The first couple, Lesley and Tom, find a home, but when they go inside, they don’t find the caretakers, but a sort of seaweed tablecloth monster that attacks Lesley, though Tom seems to kill it off?

The second couple, Janet and Rick, go into the woods where they hear laughter and see bushes shaking. A bit like Evil Dead but in the daylight (though everyone keeps referencing that it’s “getting dark”). They run to the beach where they see footprints appear then disappear. I don’t want to tell them that it’s just a trick of the film because they seem rather scared by this.

Janet and Rick see and explosion in the forest, and run to see it. They find the remains of the plane inside a burnt-out building.

Poor Carol is stuck waiting by the hotel. Thinking that being alone is a good idea. After getting freaked out, she chases after a figure that is clearly not her friends but is convinced that it is anyway. Though after getting freaking out in a similar with as Lesley and Tom (but with snow because nothing says “I’m going to kill you” like some wind), she runs back to the hotel.

Rick, Janet, Carol and Lesley are reunited at the hotel and go back to the house Lesley found with Tom. There’s a lot of this, in case you’re interested. But when they return, they find that the house has somehow ended up on the side of a cliff. That’s when they are attacked by one of the funfair men. Because that’s still a thing we care about.

The man punches Lesley in the stomach, but his fist goes through her stomach – revealing that she’s a ghoul of some sort. The three remaining not-dead-people, run away while the carny is killed by Ghoul Lesley. They fight off the other two carnies back at the hotel. Though Ghoul Lesley helps them in her own way by offing one herself.

Rick “kills” Ghoul Lesley and the three have a moment to think. That’s when Carol realises that the funfair men must have arrived by boat. She’s my favourite of this group. They decide to look for the boat when they bump into Tom, who looks badly wounded. And because they didn’t learn their lesson the first time, the leave Janet behind to take care of him while Rick and Carol go to look for the boat.

Unsurprisingly, Janet gets attacked by Tom, who is also one of these ghouls. Carol and Rick are too late to save her, and she’s sucked into an elevator wall. They decide to run around the hotel endlessly, dodging kitchen knives, carnies and various traps until they end up in the ballroom.

Some woman on the stage says something about an “Elimination Waltz” and at this point, I could care less, but the imagery gets a bit more dream-like and interesting. She tells Carol and Rick something about the plane crash and how the experiment went wrong, shattering time itself.

If that means something to you, congratulations.

The two try to leave. Are trapped in the games room where all party-goers from 1960, the carnies and their friends stand around and taunt them.

When Carol and Rick finally do think they’ve escaped, they run for the boat. Unsurprisingly, neither escapes. Rick is stupid and goes back for his clearly-dead girlfriend, and Carol is pulled into the sea like it’s a dream about Camp Crystal Lake.

In the weirdest ‘twist’ of the ending, we see the British kids dancing around the ballroom with the 1960’s folk, but poor Carol is in the mirror! WHY IS CAROL IN THE MIRROR? Why has any of this happened?

Bloody New Year is a pile of confusing shit that is a lot more boring than it should be. It’s clearly a misleading title trying to capitalise on holiday video sales, I can let that go, but it lacks on so many other levels. Where is the blood? Where is the explanation to why these people are forever stuck on this island?

Some of the scenes are rather good-looking, which might make it worth watching once. But this movie is not as good as some people would lead you to believe. And it certainly isn’t a good movie for New Year’s. While the plot certainly sounds fun, this is a lot of potential squandered by a poor script.

There is one bright side. We all know I’m a sucker for an original song. And damn do they milk the hell out of this song. If you don’t have this memorised by the end, you’re not paying attention. The band Cry No More provide a few tracks that are pretty catchy, but couldn’t be more out of place.

Thaaaaat’s a recipe for romance!

 

 

Wicked Wednesday: Elves (1989)

Oh my.

Oh my.

How does one begin to talk about Elves? This 1989 film is hands-down one of the most bewildering movies I have ever seen. “Bewildering” being one of the nicer adjectives one could use.

So let’s just jump straight into this one.

Teenage Kristen hates Christmas. She hates it enough that she gathers her two friends for an anti-Christmas pagan ritual. They gather in the woods to begin to ritual, but Kristen cuts her hand, and bleeds over the ground. The girls decide to pack it up and head home without doing the ritual. Unbeknown to them, a hand reaches out of the ground as a creature from below awakes.

In fairness to Kristen, anyone would hate Christmas with a family like hers. Her brother pervs on her when she’s in the shower. Her grandpa slaps her about. And her mother drowns Kristen’s cat! JUST BECAUSE! Not exactly the group of people who fill you with festive spirit.

Kristen’s wheelchair-bound Gramps is upset for her being in his room. When her mother finds out, she tells Kristen she’s taking away the money in her savings account. Poor Kristen works a crap job at a cafe in a department store. Despite not being able to keep anything but her tips, she keeps her job.

At the department store, former police officer Mike McGaven visits the store to ask for a job. Though he’s initially turned away, he eventually gets work as Santa after the original Mr. Claus is killed by the elf after he pervs on Kristen. In room where the former-Santa was staying, he finds a symbol on the floor and decides to investigate it.

You can’t stop a cop and he’s old habits, eh?

That night, the elf digs up Kristen’s dead cat and dances it in front of her window. Though it’s clearly trying to protect her, it’s got a sick sense of humour. Seeing an elf (which she keeps calling “troll”) is obviously upsetting to Kristen. Her grandfather becomes angry with her when he discovers her drawing of the Christmas virgin, or whatever.

Mike and Kristen become friendly with each other as Mike becomes a regular at her cafe. Mike, having been kicked out of his mobile home, begins to stay in his Santa room. Kristen plans a night with her two best friends and three boys to pal around the department store after hours.

But there are other plans being formed for Kristen. While she plans with her friends at the cafe, a man in a not-at-all subtle black coat listens in on them.

A group of Germans in similar black coats interrogate Kristen’s grandpa. They remind him that his granddaughter is key, and she will begin a new world order.

Then this fucking line drops.

“When there is no more room left in hell, the elves will walk the earth.”

….

Anyway, Mike’s research on the mysterious symbol eventually leads him to believe that the Nazis are somehow involved with the murder. While he’s out, the girls begin to prepare for their night in at the department store, and Kristen begins to contemplate whether or not she wants to lose her virginity that night. She wants it to be “special.”

When Mike, who has returned to his room at the department store, hears the girls giggling and slapping on blush, he tells them off. But Kristen, pointing out that he’s also there under shady circumstances, makes a deal with him and neither will rat out the other.

But the shady black-coat men break into the store after killing the girls’ boyfriends. The girls scatter in different directions. One girl is killed by the men in the elevator while the other is killed by the elf (again – no idea why).

Mike is able to protect Kristen using his ex-cop skills, and is able to get her to safety. Though she’s blamed for all the damage to the shop and Mike gets into trouble with the police. But that’s not nearly the amount of trouble Kristen gets into with her mom.

At Kristen’s house, Mike tries to defuse the argument happening in the family. But while talking down Gramps, he notices the murder-scene symbol carved into the hardwood floor. Mike leaves the house to continue his search, certain that the symbol has something to do with why Kristen was being targeted.

He goes to two professors for some help, and boy. Here is gets fun.

The first professor says that the symbol is the symbol of the elves. When Noah took two of each animal in his ark, he also took the creeping creatures: elves! And apparently the Nazis news his story and believed.

The second professor shares two different theories with Mike. The first is that the Nazi’s experimented with elves to form assassination teams. The second, wait for, was that elves were used in genetic experiments by the Nazis. Their sperm housed the master-race genes. Since elves were immortal, this was an ideal way to protect their Aryan ideals. The elves must consummate with a virgin on Christmas Eve because plot.

Kristen is told by her grandfather to pack, but her mother catches her. She reveals to Kristen that Gramps is not only Kristen’s grandfather – but her real father!

When she confronts Gramps, he admits that he indeed drugged his daughter and when he rapped her, she was at least unconscious. Because, sure that makes it better. Kristen’s grandpa explains that it needed to happen in order to create Kristen: the perfect Aryan specimen.

Then things get a bit worse/better: Mike manages to escape from his car that is loaded with dynamite, and Kristen’s mom is killed when the elf electrocutes her in the bathtub!

Mike arrives at Kristen’s house to protect her from the Nazis (yes), and Gramps tells Kristen that she knows how to defeat the elf because her dreams already told her stuff…or something. He also drops this little nugget: if the elf impregnates Kristen, she will give birth to the anti-Christ.

Obviously this man doesn’t believe in the woman’s right to choose.

The Nazi’s arrive and kill Gramps. Despite Mike’s best attempts to find them off, he’s shot as well. But Kristen manages to escape with her brother Willy into the woods.

Kristen injures her ankle when she becomes stuck in the elf’s hole (ew), and she can’t run away. The elf eventually corners her. Willy runs off and collects a red gem from Gramp’s study. He brings it back to Kristen, and she uses it to kill the elf.

While everything seems peaceful, the credits begin to roll over footage of a fetus, whose heart is beating. Presumably inside Kristen’s womb. Meaning the elf managed to rape her after all.

So the Nazis win! Merry Christmas! At least Kristen said she wanted to lose her virginity to someone special. Doesn’t get any more special than an elf, right? Eh?

This movie is so wonderfully strange. It’s so horrifying (elf rape!), and straight-up nonsense, but it is truly a spectacle to behold. It has some great lines: “Are we going to be alright?” “No, Willy, Gramps is a Nazi.” And “Are you hurt? Good.” It’s certainly something I want to tell everyone about, even if it’s a bit shit. But it’s shit in a special way.

I have to admit, I don’t understand 90% of this film’s mumbo jumbo, but it certainly makes me laugh.

Elves has not had a DVD release yet, but hey, we can only hope.

And from American of London, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! May it be Nazi-free!

Riverdale Ep. 22 “Chapter Twenty-Two: Silent Night, Deadly Night”

If I had a Riverdale Christmas wishlist it would include:

  • More Alice Cooper (more parental drama overall, please).
  • Betty/Archie/Jughead/Veronica to sort their shit out. I’m so bored with the off-and-on again relationships.
  • The return of Molly Ringwald.
  • Jughead to remember that he’s a “weirdo” not a feisty gang member.
  • And a better fucking ending than we just got in episode 22.

So. This was a bit of a mixed-bag here for a mid-season finale. Apparently it’s Christmas, which means Riverdale officially has the most confusing seasons. Didn’t Archie save Cheryl from a frozen river a few weeks ago? Why isn’t there any snow on the ground in December?

Anyway, Christmas means lots of gifts and Secret Santa. It also means no one has any money.

The Blossoms are broke. And the Andrews are definitely screwed. Thanks to terrible health coverage in America, Fred receives a bill for $86,000 from the hospital. He and Archie try selling Christmas trees just to make more money, but it’s obvious that that whopper of a medical bill will make things a little more than tight this season.

But Archie has other things to worry about, namely his ex-girlfriend. Yes the two pairs are still calling it quits despite having the dumbest reasonings ever. Jughead still wants to “protect” Betty (though it’s plenty clear that every girl in Riverdale can protect themselves) by pushing her away. And well, Veronica just wants to “be there” for Archie. Of course they all still exchange gifts they got for each other before they broke up.

At Kevin’s Secret Santa exchange, things get more awkward. Veronica gets a couples message (for $20 – sure), and Betty gets a really cute gift from Archie that makes both Veronica and Jughead sweat.

Though don’t let that Christmas spirit fool you, because there’s still a serial killer on the loose! Betty and Archie both realise that Mr Svenson (aka Joseph Conway) is gone, and has been replaced by a temporary janitor. When B&A inquire about Svenson’s whereabouts, they’re told that he usually takes this time of the year off, considering he has no family.

You know, despite the fact that he was adopted and would have a family that way. But adopted families don’t count.

The two go to Mr Svenson’s house, and he doesn’t answer. All they find is a bowl of chicken soup left by the school secretary days before. Instead of calling the police about their concern, the kids just go away.

When Betty gets home that night, Alice tells her that Betty has received a Secret Santa gift, and it’s waiting in her room. But it’s something that probably wasn’t on Betty’s wishlist: Mr Sevnson’s finger.

Jughead continues this now-tedious storyline of him and his “payment” to Penny Peabody (anyone else get her and Sweet Pea confused?). FP has shouldered the blame for it in order to protect Jughead. But since Jughead has since long ditched his copy of Perks of Being a Wallflower, he’s full-on snake now.

He keeps trying to get FP to stop the drug deliveries, but FP is determined to keep the peace with Penny. After FP’s parole office stops by, Jughead realises that he needs to take matters into his own hands. To protect his dad or whatever. Obviously no one thinks any adult can handle themselves in this stupid town.

Jughead eventually rallies the young Serpents and asks them to join him in getting rid of Penny. They eventually kidnap her and take her to Greendale where they cut off her Southside Serpent tattoo. Well, if we can have Dark Betty, I guess we also get Sadistic Jughead. GREAT!

Living the free and single life, Veronica has nothing better to do than dig up dirt on her parents. She asks them for help paying Fred’s medical bills, but they insist they can’t, and don’t want to. So when you don’t get what you want, just dig through your father’s files!

Veronica learns that her parents did buy Pop’s after all, despite lying to her about their “charitable donation” earlier. In revenge, she calls the hospital and pays of Fred’s bills with her mom’s black American Excess card. When she confronts her parents, they finally tell her to grow up (kind of), and that she needs to be all in or get over it.

So Veronica finally learns the truth about Lodge Industries. Shame is, we don’t. Which really kills any interest I had in this story line.

Speaking of killing! Archie and Betty decide to go to Sisters of Quiet Mercy, where Mr Svenson lived after his family was killed. They learn that as a boy, he pointed out the wrong man who committed murder of his family. The group of people who killed the man came in only once, and all the Sister can remember is that one of the women had white hair with a red streak.

Nana Rose Blossom.

When B&A go to speak to Nana Rose, she tells them that the man wasn’t hung, but rather buried at the foot at a tree called the Devil’s hand. Oh and the man wasn’t hung – he was buried alive. Also, Betty’s grandfather was involved.

Betty becomes upset about her grandfather’s involvement, and Archie does his best to rally her. She takes this as her moment to make a move on Archie, which doesn’t seem to be either a good or bad thing. It just happens.

The two then go to the Cooper’s house where all of Betty’s grandfather’s photos are. They eventually find one of her grandfather in front of a tree, with small mound in front of them (and somehow no one has noticed that this was weird before, huh?).

They realise that the tree is the one in Pickens Park. When they arrive, they find a head stone with Conway’s name on it. They begin to dig and eventually find a coffin, only to discover no one is inside.

Then the Black Hood arrives. He holds the kids up at gunpoint, and demands that Archie get into the coffin. Archie complies, but then Betty is ordered to close the cover and start to bury Archie herself.

In the nick of time, the police arrive, successfully distracting the Black Hood long enough that Betty can hit him with the shovel. She gets Archie out, but the BH is already running away. Thankfully, the fool has dropped the gun. Archie and Betty corner the Black Hood at a bridge, that the Black Hood is about to jump off of.

Before Archie can shoot the Black Hood, Sheriff Keller does. With the Black Hood dead, Betty removes the hood, and learns that all along, the Black Hood was Mr Svenson.

Yes fucking really.

Later, then the gang is all together talking about the events, they all seem to easily believe that Mr Svenson was completely capable of being the Black Hood despite only being a character for about three episodes.

If there is one thing I have learned from reading a lot of mystery novels it’s this: never, EVER choose a small side character as your culprit – especially if they show up late in the book.

Well, you know, janitors! They’re everywhere! They see everything! He was repenting for his own sins! That totally explains away the green eyes, the Nancy Drew reference, AND EVERY OTHER CLUE GIVEN TO US ALL SEASON.

God.

There’s some shit after this about exchanging gifts, but I could care less. Veronica and Archie are together again after Veronica realises she’s jealous of Betty actually loves Archies.

Betty then burns her evidence from the case, but not her own black hood because she’s dark. Ooooh. You know what they say, “When one because a stripper, it’s a slippery path to becoming a serial killer.”

Ugh.

Cheryl has a really weird subplot this episode. But she was nuts and that’s how we like her best. She goes on a Christmas rampage, buying a tree without her mother’s permission. She then tells her mother that Mrs Blossom needs a job, probably from the Lodges by 2018. Then she catches her mom with the Christmas tree salesman. Because of course.

So the Black Hood is Mr Svenson? Well, I hardly believe it. Or maybe I just don’t want to believe it. The first season absolutely stuck the landing with the reveal of Jason’s demise, and I have complete confidence that the writers would be able to do the same thing with the Black Hood.

My theory is, is that the Black Hood has been making Mr Svenson be his puppet. We’ve never seen the BH not in total control. Why would he drop his guard now? Wouldn’t he even consider that Betty and/or Archie would have called the police?

Either way, this mystery definitely isn’t over. Whether Svenson was the Black Hood or not, there’s clearly a bigger problem on the horizon: the Riverdale Reaper.

I for one am looking forward to a break from Riverdale. The show will return in the third week of January (the 17th in the US, the 18th internationally on Netflix).