Riverdale ep. 3.19 “Chapter Fifty-Four: Fear the Reaper”

Why am I still watching this show? Furthermore, why am I recapping it?

Each week we get further along into season 3, I’m finding Riverdale more and more tedious. Is it a bad show? Nope. It’s just as wacky as ever. But there really isn’t something working, and it’s maybe time for a long good-bye.

Now. This week’s episode was good. It was very airtight. But, there were several things about it that only solidified why I’m increasingly over this show.

But the big one: “Chapter Fifty-Four” marks Luke Perry’s last episode on Riverdale. Perry a few great moments with KJ Apa here, and it reflects the relationship Archie and Fred had in season 1. But it also proves how much Perry was wasted for much of season 2 and 3.

As the show became more lofty, it ignored everything that anchored it to the ground. Much of Archie’s character has been rebuilt on during the latter half of the season. It’s been working well, but it’s still not the guitar-playing sweetheart to loved working with his dad. The core four are superheroes now. Not characters we can really enjoy spending time with.

A large port of it, I think, is that this show does not benefit from the 22-episode series format. Season 1 was snappy: there was a murder and 13 episodes later we solved said murder. Many of the plots here are good, but they’re stretched beyond their best-by dates.

I miss the season 1 silliness. It was teen, but it had bite. It wasn’t Veronica running around like a boss CEO. It was fun when she was more human. When she made more mistakes. Her storylines are so boring. She’s constantly swooping in and sorting messes when she should be cheering with the Vixens and wearing dramatic capes.

Josie’s send off this week was incredibly anticlimactic. We get to see her interacting with her father again, which was incredibly sweet. But she too had been stripped of everything about her character. Her Pussycats. Her mother. She was Archie’s girlfriend (which she played well) and someone who popped up for a good musical number.

Betty, as always, is chasing after The Farm. But this cult hasn’t been interesting for weeks now. I was hardly disturbed when Evelyn was revealed to be Edgar’s actual wife (let’s just pretend we don’t notice the 10+ year gap between Murray and Grand Maison). The babies are split up. The aunt takes one. I don’t know. Betty – just get a new fucking hobby.

Hopefully the escape…I mean “death” of Hal in the bus accident wakes her up. We all know this is some Michael Myers Halloween shit so let’s just move on to it already.

But I think what I’m getting to is this:

If you’re not having fun anymore, why are you still here?

And it’s question I’m asking myself every week. I love Archie comics, and will continue to support them and their zany ways, but I think it’s time for a long, long break. I’ll be finishing off season 3, and then just watching Riverdale in my own free time of my own free will.

Maybe we will have a story arch where we fall in love again. Maybe I’ll just be shipped off to the spin-off. But whatever it is, I’m so relieved there’s only three episodes left.

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Wicked Wednesday: Witchcraft (1988)

When I saw that many of the films from the Witchcraft series had been added to Amazon Prime, I thought, “Finally. This is my moment.”

I had been wanting to watch this series for ages. Or, at least I thought I did. It took me until about only 10 minutes into this movie to realise that I was confusing Witchcraft with Witchboard. You know, I movie I already watched.

But despite being a complete idiot, I rather enjoyed Witchboard for what it was. Which is simply a mash up of Rosemary’s Baby and Tommy Wiseau’s acting skill. Throw in a dash of witchcraft Satanism and you’re all set to go!

Grace Churchill (a Polish immigrant, which is obvious from her name) gives birth to a baby boy, seemingly entering him into a world of bliss. Grace and her husband, John, move in with John’s mother in order for Grace to get help with the baby.

When Grace arrives at her mother-in-law Elizabeth’s house, she increasingly has visions like she had during her labor. She often sees images of a couple being burned at the stake for being witches. She also begins to feel unwell, and is given tea made by Elizabeth.

But Grace is a plucky Pole, and continues on with her normal life. At her post-baby-having baby shower, she shows her friend Linda around the house. They go to an area of the house that’s off limits to Grace, and they’re stopped by Elizabeth’s butler, Ellsworth.

The two women go back downstairs where they greet Grace’s priest. He turns to the baby, William, and sees visions of flames around the baby’s cot. He flees to the toilet where he’s sick. He then sees the vision again in a mirror before fleeing the home.

One day after the party, Grace manages to sneak into the “off limits” part of the home. She finds a series of unfinished rooms, including one with a large mirror hanging on the wall. When she looks into the mirror, she sees a vision of the priest hanging himself.

Later, the event happens in reality. The priest hangs himself outside of Grace’s house, his face disfigured.

Grace takes Linda to the off-limits room and shows her the room. But Linda isn’t convinced of her friend’s claims, believing that Grace is only upset about the lost of her priest.

Grace begins to become more unsettled living in her mother-in-law’s home. She pleads with John to let her leave, and he eventually admits that their home burnt down nearly a week ago. Upset with her husband, Grace tries to leave the home with baby William to see the ruined home. But Elizabeth convinces Grace to leave William behind.

When Grace reaches her house, she see that it has been ruined by a fire. But when she speaks to an older woman outside the home, she learns that the house had only burnt down the day before.

Grace returns to Elizabeth’s home and finds that it’s empty. When she goes into the off-limits room, she has more visions of the witches. She faints from her visions and wakes again with bandages around her wrists.

Linda visits Grace, and tries to sooth her friend, whom she believes has tried to take her own life. Linda agrees to stay the night and keep Grace company. In the night, Grace dreams that Linda is missing and she instead finds a chest of items in a room.

In the morning, Grace discovers that she’s holding onto the cross she grabbed in her dream. The same cross the priest gave her, and the same cross supposedly sitting at Linda’s home.

The two women explore more of the off-limits part of the home. When they split up, Linda’s life is swiftly ended, leaving Grace all alone. She’s swiftly knocked out and wakes up to find herself tied up.

Grace soon discovers that her husband and mother-in-law are the ones responsible. They tell her that they are reincarnated witches, waiting for their son to be born into the world again. With the help of the butler, the witches are killed off.

But while that’s the ending, I feel like I’m left with more questions than I have answers for. Why did the butler work for Elizabeth if he planned on killing her anyway? Is Grace a witch? How can she do all of these magical things? Or is it just Elizabeth and John being massive witchy jerks? Also, can I dress like Linda and get away with it in 2019?

Linda is my kindred spirit. Shame she wasn’t the Final Girl.

The acting and dialogue in Witchcraft is at least at a level of enjoyably bad. If you can get through the long, meandering scenes, it’s worth a watch. Though I’m not quite sure if I can stomach 15 sequels. It’s kind of difficult to wrap my mind around how this movie spawned so many sequels. But I suppose there could be worse things in this world.

So it was a mistake to watch Witchcraft, but it was certainly a happy mistake.

Riverdale ep. 3.18 recap “Chapter Fifty-Three: Jawbreaker”

If any parents matter more to me on Riverdale than Archie’s, it’s the Coopers. And thankfully, both Hal and Alice got to take the main stage this week.

“Chapter Fifty-Three: Jawbreaker” Betty finally gets down to business in cracking Alice Cooper’s mind. She tries her best to shatter the illusion that Alice is talking to her dead son, but to no avail. Betty takes her to a cemetery to see ‘Charlie Smith’s’ grave, and when that doesn’t work, well, she does what every good daughter would do: knocks her mom out with chloroform.

When Alice wakes up, she’s chained to a bed in the bunker (of course). Betty forces Alice to look at old photos of the family, but Alice just burns everything instead.

But Betty has other trouble, including Toni. Turns out getting Toni’s girlfriend involved in the Farm wasn’t a great idea. But Toni is actually rather forgiving of Betty when she explains what is happening with her own mother (once again proving that Toni is probably one of the best characters this show has to offer).

Cheryl, meanwhile, is forced to choose between Toni and ‘Jason’. Ethel spends most of her week getting pushed around (literally) by Toni and Betty. Apparently it gets a bit tiring. But when Cheryl goes to break the news to Toni that’s she’s chosen ‘Jason’ instead, Toni quickly suggests joining the Farm herself.

Girls that sleep together, stick together? Anyway, it’s seemingly the end for Betty’s support, but apparently Toni is her new inside girl. A much better choice than Cheryl. Cuz we all know Toni is one strong-ass girl.

Speaking of strength, this boxing thing is still a subplot. Mad Dog returns to Archie’s gym and tells the boys that he’s entering a Golden Gloves competition for Elio.

Archie then decides it’s time for his rematch with Randy. It’s Veronica’s idea to get the gym on television to force Elio’s hand. Elio is indeed forced to allow the rematch. But before the fight, Mad Dog warns Archie that Randy is juicing with something to make him more…lively.

Archie manages to win the fight against the Fizzled-up Randy. But not before taking a beating. The fight is nearly called off when he notices how frantic Randy’s fighting is…and the fact that he’s literally foaming at the mouth. But when Randy gets knocked out, he doesn’t get back up again.

The foam-mouthed druggies are the newest problem for FP and his side-kick Jughead (or is it the other way around?). After finding one of Archie’s pals in the park with no teeth, FP backtracks on last week’s message and asks for Jughead’s help. They notice that the killing style is familiar, but the fact that the body had all of its teeth removed makes this murder a touch special.

The autopsy reveals that there’s a matchbook for the Maple Club down the corpse’s throat. The Jones boys head to the brothel where they actually find Penelope Blossom in a welcoming mood. But before they can really learn anything, a man breaks in, foaming at the mouth.

Both Jughead and FP encounter more of these people. They both discover that all of the victims have been taking “G” versions of Fizzle Rocks. They’re able to talk to the people brought in after they’ve recovered from their dosage. They’re able to trace the drugs back to Jughead’s nemesis Kurtz.

During their questioning of Kurtz, the Jones boys are told that little Jellybean is the Gargoyle King’s next target.

But even more unsettling than corpses-without-teeth is Betty’s growing relationship with her father, Hal. Betty eventually lets Alice go back to the farm, seemingly allowing her mother go for good. Not sure it’s all for show, as she now has Toni on the inside for her.

Alice’s divorce from Hal becomes final. While Betty could just leave both of her parents, we see her going to Hal for advice on more than one occasion.

When she listens to her mom’s tapes (the ones recorded during the Farm interview), she hears Alice voice her fears over Betty’s natural “darkness”. One, apparently, very similar to Hal’s.

Betty has proved time and time again that she’s clearly on team “I try really hard”. But we have to take the Farm down in the next few weeks here (there are only four episodes left in season 3). Will Betty win? Of course she will! But how she does it will be interesting. Maybe opening up to her dark side will pay off for the better good.

Wicked Wednesday: The Monster Club (1981)

If I had to sum up The Monster Club in one word, it’d be “goofy”. It’s simultaneously serious and silly, creating a real mix of emotions and feel throughout the entire movie.

And when it’s an anthology, that’s to be expected to a certain extent.

This 1981 British film was based on the work of author Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes. He’s injected into his own story by becoming one of the main characters in the framing story. Chetwynd-Hayes (played by John Carradine) bumps into a stranger one night, and becomes a midnight snack for a vampire.

But the vampire (Vincent Price) doesn’t finish the author off, but rather invites him to the Monster Club: a swingin’ club that, well, has monsters in it. The author is slightly alarmed, but is met with constant hospitality. The two hunker down at a table and the vampire, Eramus, begins to tell three stories – each about a different monster.

The first, “The Shadmock” follows a poor and greedy couple as they seek ways to make money. The woman, Angela, answers an ad in the newspaper from a man looking for someone to catalogue his antiques. When Angela first visits, she’s frightened away by the man’s face, but her boyfriend insists she return.

Angela reluctantly returns and takes the job working for Raven. She slowly learns about all his wealth, and the pair become closer. Raven eventually proposes to Angela. Her boyfriend again encourages her to follow through with it for the sake of money. Angela tells Raven that she accepts his proposal, and he suggests that they have a masquerade to celebrate.

At the ball, Angela is discovered trying to rob Raven. The man, now revealed to be a “Shadmock”, releases a high-pitched whistle. The smouldering corpse of Angela returns home, much to the terror of her boyfriend.

In “The Vampires”, the second tale of the night, a young boy struggles through life being bullied and slightly neglected. His father sleeps all day, and he rarely spends any time with the boy. But one day, when the boy is downtrodden, his mother tells him that his father is a count.

The boy goes to school and brags to his bullies. While he’s pushed down again, he’s rescued by a black-clad man (Donald Pleasence). He talk to the man, who begins to ask more questions about the boy’s father.

Eventually, the boy discovers that his father is a vampire. But before he can do anything about it, the black-clad man arrives with his crew. He reveals that they are vampire hunters, and then promptly stakes the father in the heart. But before the vampire can die, he bites the vampire hunter, turning him as well.

The other vampire hunters kill their leader and flee the house. It’s then revealed that the father vampire had been wearing a stake-proof vest all along.

The third story follows more strange monsters, “The Ghouls”. While just as deadly, the Ghouls appear more human than the Shadmock and keep more regular hours than a Vampire.

A film director heads to a small village while scouting for movie locations. When he arrives, he finds that the locals are both creepy and unhelpful. He tries to leave the the village, but discovers that his car has been tampered with. The locals then force him into a room in the inn on an upper level.

The director then meets a young girl, who explains that she is only half-human, unlike the others in the village. Everyone else there is a ghoul and likes to feast on human flesh. The girl also explains that the ghouls cannot go on holy ground. She then helps the director escape the inn and head into the village church.

There, the director learns the truth about the village’s history. It was overrun with ghouls who mated with humans (presumably dead ones). The girl arrives at the church, and they both try to escape to the outside world together.

The girl eventually dies, but the director flees to the motorway and waves down police officer. The officer offers to give him a ride, but the director soon finds himself back in the village. There to be a snack for the ghouls’ leaders.

After Eramus’s stories, he invites the author to become an honorary member of the Monster Club. While the author is resistant, Eramus explains that the most terrifying monster of all is the human.

The Monster Party is certainly an odd one. I couldn’t get through the first twenty minutes last week without turning it off. It’s tone is inconsistent, and it’s distracting.

There are some scenes in the club with bands playing. But even that doesn’t quite hit either the “this is excellent” or “this is so bad it’s good” marks.

If the film had committed to which tone it wanted, it might have been more successful. But overall, it’s just right in the middle.

Wicked Wednesday: Mr Jones (2013)

Found footage films are pretty “Marmite”. Some people love them, others hate them. For me, I think the bigger question while watching found footage movies is why? Very few stories are enhanced this way. Do certain stories need to be found footage? Can the story be better told in a more traditional way?

In most cases, the found footage style is a waste. A ploy to get asses in seats.

Mr Jones is one of the more tough ones to figure out. For one, it falls into the category of “these people are way too attractive to be actual humans”. Think of all the reasons why Blair Witch failed and Blair Witch Project succeeded: are your actors believable? One of the best examples of this is Bad Ben (you’ve watched it already, haven’t you?). But I always find it difficult to enjoy a found footage movie when everyone in the movie looks way too good too be all together in the same setting.

The premise is on the lofty side too. A young couple decide to go out into the wilderness to stay in a cabin for a few months. It’s their sort of “reconnecting” opportunity as their relationship has been going through a rough patch.

Husband Scott is a documentary maker, trying to get work done out in the wild. But he quickly realises that he has no point in mind for his new film, and it doesn’t help matters when he quits taking his medication.

When his wife, Penny, finds out about his self-treatment, she becomes upset. The couple continue to be on the rocks until one night. A group of birds attack the house. And the following day, Scott’s backpack (containing the car keys) is stolen by a hooded figure.

He and Penny eventually track down the figure and find a home filled with strange scarecrow-type figures straight out of the Blair Witch’s house. But while Scott becomes paranoid, Penny becomes absolutely jubilant. When they return to their cabin, she informs Scott that the man they followed is “Mr. Jones” – a Banksy-esque artist whose work is worth millions as the artists himself stays anonymous.

The couple quickly decide to make money off their find and focus Scott’s documentary on Mr. Jones. Scott goes to New York where he begins collecting interviews with various art collectors, experts and the people who have received pieces from Mr. Jones unsolicited. The collectors love Mr. Jones. The experts love exploring the artist’s use of protective charms as his motifs. And the people who’ve received the art? Well, they’re haunted by a nightmare.

Penny, meanwhile, stays in the country where she bumps into Mr. Jones. She notices that the ‘artist’ wears a creepy burlap sack mask. But the man seems harmless.

When Scott returns, the couple decide to step up their game and break into Mr. Jones’s house again. Scott leaves Penny outside to keep watch as he goes through a hatch. He finds an endless maze-like tunnel. He eventually comes across a room, set up in a shrine-style manner filled with the scarecrows.

Scott sees one of the figures, a baby, and steals it from its spot. Meanwhile, Penny comes across Mr. Jones again. When Scott finds her, she doesn’t seem to remember what happened to them.

What follows is a seemingly endless second half of the movie. A little like that tunnel system ol’ Jones has. The couple see doplegangers, dream-like nightmares and other pointless stuff!

It’s a movie that started off with a fairly great idea and plummeted into the world of We Didn’t Finish the Script.

In many way Mr Jones struggled. And it wasn’t just the ending (and the ending was loooooong).

While the use of the high-end cameras was neatly explained away, it just felt silly. The viewer isn’t stupid and can see right through the flimsy premise. There really was no need for the dual perspective cameras, which much of the ‘footage’ relies on. And there was really no need to be filming themselves. Scott wanted to make a nature documentary, why was he filming arguments with his wife? I mean, who edited this footage anyway? Penny?

I also found it distracting that the characters didn’t really stay in character. Scott goes off his medication, but it’s quickly forgotten after the first few minutes. If it was alluded to again, it was way too subtle. And if you were to ask me to characterise Penny, I couldn’t. One minute she’s adventurous, the next she’s boo-hooing because she’s walking in the dark.

Mr Jones will probably hit the right chord with a certain type of person. But unfortunately, I was not one of them. It’s really a found-footage movie that needed to do a lot more soul searching.

Wicked Wednesday: Goosebumps ep. 1.16-17 “A Night in Terror Tower” (1996)

London, like all major cities, is full of tourist traps. But it’s also home to some of the most fantastic historical buildings. The Tower of London is one of them. The Terror Tower isn’t.

Goosebumps is always delightfully 90s Canadian. And it really shows its best side in “A Night in Terror Tower”.

This early Goosebumps episode from season 1 is an hour-long special hosted by RL Stine himself. The man has no charisma, yet always manages to come across as really likable? He’s quite the dude.

After his silly intro, the story begins about two young children visiting London with their parents. While their parents are away at a conference, the children join a tour group to explore the Terror Tower.

Before entering the tower, young Eddie sees a man waving to him, telling him to leave. When he points out the figure to his older sister, Sue, the ghostly figure has vanished.

As the tour begins, so to the strange going-ons. Sue tries to take a photo of Eddie, but sees one of the mannequins move through her camera’s viewfinder. Eddie finds a etching on the wall and another ghostly figure.

The two go to see the carving, which reads “LONG LIVE FREEDOM”. Before they can leave, a gust of wind surrounds them and a man in a big ol’ hat enters the room. They also realise that they’ve lost their tour group. The Man in the Hat begins moving white stones in his hand and reciting a spell, but the children abscond before he can finish his incantation.

The children manage to escape the Man in the Hat before he can catch them. They hail a black cab and head back into London. When the cab pulls up outside of their hotel, Sue realises she doesn’t have any pounds, only some old-ass coins.

The cabbie allows the kids to go into the hotel and get money from their parents. But it’s only when they’re inside that they realise that they don’t have the room key. Then they also realise that they can’t remember their own last name. The man at the desk tells them that there isn’t even a conference at the hotel, so their parents couldn’t even be there.

The children hide from the cabbie, but are eventually caught and arrested by the Man in the Hat. He uses his magic white stones and takes them all back in time.

Sue finds herself in a Ye Olde village outside the Terror Tower without Eddie. She’s quickly picked out for looking strange. She tries to hide, but is betrayed by a village woman (whom she tried to pay off with the gold coins). Though she’s in the man’s grasp, she goes at least learn his identity: he’s the executioner!

Sue and Eddie are reunited when Sue is dragged into the tower’s…tower. There, the children meet the king’s sorcerer. He tells them that they are not Sue and Eddie, but Susannah and Edward – the prince and princess of York. He tells them that in order to protect them, he sent them into the future with created memories. Sue and Eddie begin to recall their real lives as their time of execution arrives.

Before the execution, the sorcerer admits that he no longer has magic, as the executioner has his magic white stones. With the stones, he’d be able to transport the children to the future once more. But thanks to Eddie’s great thieving skills, he manages to trick the executioner and get back the stones for the sorcerer.

The three are save in the nick of time.

As with many Goosebumps episodes, “A Night in Terror Tower” balances the humour and thrills very well. It’s a great episode. I do wish that the children spent more time in the tower and less time running around Canadian suburbs London. But it’s clear why this is one of the most well-loved episode of this series.

It’s a bit silly, but mostly the children are really compelling in their confusion and fear. And best of all, it allows your imagination to get the best of you. Which is really all you can ask from a children’s horror TV show.

Riverdale ep. 3.17 recap “Chapter Fifty-Two: The Raid”

Kids, cults are a dangerous thing. When you’re a child, you should be taught this, just as much as you learn “look both ways before crossing the street” and “don’t play with fire”.

Clearly all lessons that you don’t learn when you’re in the Cooper family (but I suppose when one parent is a serial killer, maybe you’re off the hook).

Betty has decided, though, to go against all common sense and really go for the Farm. After attending an opening day at the Farm with Veronica, she manages to convince Cheryl to go to the Farm as her spy. Betty thinks this is a good idea because Evelyn already tried to sign-up Cheryl for the cult fun squad.

But this is of course a very bad idea just because Evelyn already tried to recruit Cheryl.

Cheryl enters the Farm premises with full determination to learn more about her head brother, Jason. She wears a mic to her interview where she manages to have a chat with Edgar. He listens to her, and he gets to the heart of her issues following Jason’s death. Betty learns from listening in that Edgar records all of his conversations with the Farm members.

And, unsurprisingly, Cheryl becomes infatuated with the cult. Betty tries to get Cheryl to leave to no avail. But she does break into the Farm and steal back the tapes from her family and Cheryl. But even when she tries to get Cheryl to leave, Cheryl admits she doesn’t want to go because she’s “seen” and spoken to Jason in the flesh.

Which, considering how long he’s been dead doesn’t really sound ideal.

But it does get to the heart about why people are obsessed with the cult. Betty adds the new information together and realises that her mother is so attached to the cult because she gets to see her dead son.

Archie, meanwhile, reunites with his old cellmate, Mad Dog. He gets a call from the boy, alerting him that the inmates at the juvenile detention centre are being moved to Hiram’s new prison. Apparently filling up the cells for opening day is a big deal (but all that says to me is that Hiram just really didn’t plan for future development and growth! Who wants to be completely filled immediately? Poor business planning, everyone.)

Archie, with Veronica’s help, manages to convince the governor to release the young men. The boys all go to stay at Archie’s new boxing gym. Giving them a home, but not really any purpose.

But Mad Dog brings worse news: his family’s apartment have been taken over by drug-making Gargoyles.

Jughead agrees to help Archie remove the gang from the building. This is one of the dumbest ideas that the boys have ever had. Jughead continues to be in hot water with his parents. One for trying to destroy her drug business and the other for getting in the way of his drug-busting.

But the boys go into the apartment building anyway. And it’s hardly surprising when the Gargoyles react with guns a-blazin’. Nothing really comes of it other than a lot of scrapes and bruises.

Following the unsuccessful purge, Mad Dog admits to Archie that he wants to box for Elio. He gets a house out of it for his grandma and little brother. AND he gets paid! For an ex-con, it doesn’t actually sound like a bad deal. Even if Archie isn’t convinced.

Why aren’t we getting any scenes of Veronica acting as a child? She’s always been the most mature of the group, but parading around as a business woman while trying to salvage her parents’ marriage is a little bit tedious. The mafia plotline of season 2 was definitely the worst, and continues to be the worst thing about season 3.

I JUST CAN’T CARE AND I’M OVER IT.

She decides to send dead fish to her mother, in hopes of convincing her father to stay and “protect” Hermione. This apparently works, but I suppose if you’re in a mafia, you deal with the fallout?

Either way, no one made the best decisions they could this week. Jughead in particular is getting a bit tedious. What happened to the “I’m a weirdo” weirdo? This birthday-hating child has become a full-on blockhead almost to the point where his motives don’t make sense anymore.

But where would Riverdale be without characters making silly decisions? I suppose our lives would all be more simple and happier… Sort of sounds like a certain comic book series I’ve heard of…