Wicked Wednesday: The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)

One of the best television shows right now has to be GLOW on Netflix. The combination of humour, lady power and big 80’s hair is a solid win. The original 1980’s version (Glorious Ladies of Wrestling) was a weird, wonderful thing and the Netflix show does a great job in creating its mostly-fictional backstory.

But the best thing about either show is the characters.

Marc Maron’s character Sam Sylvia is a b-movie, exploitation director looking to work on something that will bring him glory like his previous films. Sam is one of the stand-outs in a great cast, and was based on the show’s real director. In reality, the 80’s G.L.O.W. was directed by Matt Cimber who, if you can see where this is going, directed this week’s movie – The Witch Who Came from the Sea.

Molly (Millie Perkins) is just like any other girl. She loves her two nephews, taking walks by the seashore, a nice drink.  She also enjoys taking pills, envisioning gruesome deaths and maiming the men she dates! So, well, like some girls, I guess.

One day, Molly takes her nephews to the sea. As she plays with them, she’s distracted by the men working out nearby (and, well, with packages like that – it’s really, really for anyone not to stare). But her fantasies are not strictly sexual, instead she envisions them hung, squashes and generally just super-dead.

But her nephews don’t seem to notice their aunt’s distant look. They continue to ask questions about their grandfather, who had passed away years before. Molly tells them wonderful things about him: he was a brave sailor who was lost at sea all too soon. But her sister, the boys’ mother, really disagrees. She’s vocal about her animosity towards her late father.

Molly is obsessed with television. She spends a lot of her time watching it and drinking. She’s particularly keen on a man in a shaving commercial and two American football players. While watching highlights from a game, she begins (apparently) fantasize about being alone in a hotel room with the two football players. Again, a seemingly sexual scene ends up with her taking a razor blade to one of the men’s legs.

It’s later revealed that both men were found dead together in a hotel room, which begs the question whether Molly is actually having a fantasy – or has actually killed these two men. It’s definitely the latter. Some of Molly’s clothes are found in the hotel room, and they are brought to Molly’s sister, who mends clothes. The police begin to suspect the sister plays a part, but can’t pin much more on her.

Other than imagining the gruesome deaths of men, Molly’s other pastime is working in a local bar. Her boss, Long John, is sleazy, but cares for Molly. He also sleeps with her, which probably helps.

At the bar one night, Molly meets b-movie actor who starred in cowboy films. She’s invited to a party at his. When the start to get intimate, Molly tries to bite off his balls. Shocked, the actor tries to throw her off, but his attempts at self-defense come off as abusive, and when the other party guests overhear the argument, they assume that Molly is the innocent one.

Later on, Molly gets the tattoo of a large mermaid across her stomach, despite telling her nephews earlier that they are dirty. But she tells more stories about her father, and the picture begins to emerge that she was raped by her father as a child. But she has deep love, and complex feelings for him still.

But Molly’s dreams come true when she finally gets a chance with the razor ad man. I told you, this girl loves television. She does her best to get rid of his girlfriend, who isn’t so happy when she discovers she’s been replaced by Molly. When the girlfriend shoots at her ex’s car, both he and her are arrested and kept under the suspicion of the football players’ deaths.

Molly becomes upset when she can’t get a hold of her razor ad man. She begins to imagine him slitting his own throat with the razor. Apparently really into the idea, Molly doesn’t think of anything else. When she finally catches up with her boy, she insists that she helps him shave…then kills him, of course, but slitting him from top to bottom (and lord knows what she does down there).

When Molly wakes up, she’s in Long John’s bed, covered in blood. Despite trying to play it off, LJ knows she’s not innocent. And her sister also knows something is wrong. And soon Molly’s world beings its demise.

In a flashback scene, it’s revealed that Molly’s father died while he raped her, and he had a mermaid tattoo on his stomach – just like the one Molly received. She eventually shares the (vague) truth with Long John and one of her trusted fellow barmaids, and when she wants to OD on pills, they let her.

It’s quite a sad demise. Despite the fact that she murdered those men, you can’t help but feel for the woman. The Witch Who Came from the Sea was a original a video nasty in the UK, but was unsuccessfully prosecuted. And while some parts made me a bit ill, there really isn’t anything super graphic here (though the images conjured up by the imagination is bad enough).

Everything about the film screams 70s, including the smart commentary. Molly’s victims treat her like an object in the bedroom, just like her father did. Despite her efforts to take control sexually, the men are more frightened and disgusted by her power instead of turned on.

The Witch Who Came from the Sea, to me, felt like the poems you had to read a school. You know there’s supposed to be something more hidden in the words, but the metaphors don’t quite make sense. But when the last shot shows Molly alone on a raft on the ocean, it’s clear that she finally received the peace and freedom she couldn’t find in life.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? S1E6 “The Tale of the Super Specs”

This has to be one of the most 90’s things I’ve ever watched. For one: joke shops are a legit thing. And two: there are kids just doing some insane shit in the background – backflips, pliés on the school steps, horrendous matching floral shirts.

And, well, this episode has to be one of the most zany, and enjoyable episodes yet.

Gary of the Midnight Society is hanging out with Kristen (despite the fact I didn’t think they were supposed to be friends out side of their stories) at his family’s joke shop. She tells him that no one thinks his stories are scary anymore. The following meeting, he overhears everyone saying the same thing, so he presents to them “The Tale of the Super Specs.”

Weeds and Marybeth are a young couple. They’ve been dating for ages, apparently. Two whole weeks! Weeds is a practical joker who loves to mess with his friends, including his girlfriend. But Marybeth finds that aspect of his personality a bit irritating.

The two are at Sardo’s magic/joke shop so Weeds can stock up on his jokes for April Fools. While there, Weeds grabs a bag of magic dust and chants “some voodoo” spell. As he throws the dust, it lands on some wacky-looking glasses. Weeds eventually agrees to buy a pair from Sardo, but when Marybeth puts them on, she sees a figure dressed all in black.

And when the glasses are off, she sees nothing. But Weeds nor Sardo can see what Marybeth sees.

The following day, April Fools’ Day, Weeds gets to work on his practical jokes. He uses the dust, and each time he misses seeing that the magic works. He makes a girl’s voice like a chipmunk after putting the dust in her yogurt. He also makes a basketball shot when his back is turned.

But Marybeth is dealing with the brunt of the magic. Each time she looks through the glasses, she sees more images that disturb her. A woman in a black veil appears to her next and points at Marybeth.

The girl tries throwing the glasses away, but discovers them again later inside her school bag. She puts them through the mail slot at Sardo’s store, but the super specs keep reappearing.

Marybeth finally wears the glasses for a while. She sees a kettle on the hob that isn’t there when she moves her hand through it. There’s a fire in the fireplace that isn’t lit. Then she sees three of the black-clothed figures inside her house and decides to go to her boyfriend for help.

Though Weeds is convinced that his girlfriend is only playing an April Fools’ joke on him. When he doesn’t help her, Marybeth goes to Sardo’s one last time. He agrees to help her when she tells him about the spell that Weeds had performed the previous day.

Sardo tells Marybeth that the spell cast was called the Second Sight. But instead of seeing ghosts, Marybeth is seeing a second dimension. It’s a parallel universe that has opened up inside of Marybeth’s house (some sort of metaphor about an open window”).

The bad news for Marybeth is that to reverse the spell, someone needs to perform the counterspell. And the only person around to do it is Sardo himself.  Oh and the people in the other dimension could take over theirs.

So on the scale: it’s pretty bad.

The two find Weeds and his magic dust and they try to stop the spell together. Sardo begins his work at Marybeth’s house. He’s clearly a kook and tries using a crystal ball with the spell. When Marybeth puts on the glasses, she sees that they’re surrounded by black-donned ones, only now both Weeds and Sardo can see them.

Then (excitingly) a pair of giant eyes appears to them, scolding them for tampering with the cosmic plane. She (the eyes) reverses their spell because both universes can’t exist at the same time.

Suddenly, everything looks normal in Marybeth’s house. Two children who look identical to Marybeth and Weeds walk out. They speak to the veiled lady who tell them that the ‘ghosts’ are gone. As Marybeth and Weeds were trying to get rid of the Other Dimension, the Other Dimension was trying to get rid of them.

And Marybeth, Sardo and Weeds scream from the crystal ball – trapped in the crystal ball, shouting for help.

After his story finished, Gary hands out some super specs to the Midnight Society. He tells them to all wait and put them on at the same time. When they do, they all spot a figure dressed in all black. They all, minus Kristen and Gary, scream and run. It is after only an April Fools’ joke Gary played on the kids with David in costume.

I loved this episode. It was the right blend of zany and delightfully spooky. There’s something satisfying about watching the kids lose. Does that make me a monster? Well. It’s very Twilight Zone like and that makes me appreciate it more.

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“That’s Sar-DOH! No Mister.  Accent on the do!” – Sardo, wasting everyone’s time

Wicked Wednesday: Madman (1982)

It’s finally that point in the summer where we start to ask ourselves, “where the hell did it go?” Summer, that is. It’s so much more important as a kid, summer. Growing up I didn’t do too much other than hang out outside (I did grow up with no neighbours). But for one blissful week of every summer was camp in the Northern woods of Wisconsin.

And summer camps and horror movies go hand-in-hand like Bruce and his chin. Well, this week’s movie takes place at a camp…but just not at summer. I think. But since there’s a camp, that’s close enough for me!

The 1982 film Madman was originally inspired by the Cropsey legend, but another film based on the legend, The Burning, was in production around the same time. So the script was re-written to include a different story. It’s pretty much the DeFeo story. Though Madman is, unfortunately, no Burning nor is it The Amityville Horror. But it does have a summer camp. Have I mentioned that?

“It all started during a campfire at North Sea Cottages, a special retreat for gifted children…”

Madman opens with a group of counsellors and children telling stories around the campfire. One of the consellors, TP, gives his hand at song-story, which is new. But it’s the story from the head counsellor Max that truly terrifies the kiddies.

He tells them the story of Mad Marz, who lived in the home near the campgrounds. Marz was a farm and a bit of an asshole. He beat his wife and children, drank too much at the bar, and was just a general all-around dick. Then one night he suddenly went mad. He took an axe to his wife and children then went to the bar afterwards. When the locals realised what happened, several of the men grabbed Marz and hung him from a tree. But when they went to retrieve the body later, it was missing – and so were the bodies of the Marz family.

According to Max, if you say Marz’s name above a whisper, he will be able to hear you and will come for you… to kill you. One camper, Richie, begins to shout Marz’s name, thinking it all a great joke (it’s at this point that you can begin to blame Richie for everything). But Max warns him off and apologises into the night. But that doesn’t stop him from joining in chanting Mad Marz’s name loudly before extinguishing the campfire.

As the counselors and campers head back to camp, Richie spots someone in the trees and decides to double back to the Marz home alone. Shortly after everyone at the camp starts winding down for the night, the cook is killed by the same person Richie saw in the tree.

But it’s the last night at the camp, so the counselors are allowed a bit of fun while Max heads into town. In the style of every camp movie since Friday the 13th, the counselors get up to a bit of trouble. This includes one of the most awesomely bad scenes of the movie where TP and his girlfriend Betsy (Gaylen Ross) walk around in a hot tub to an awful pop song.

And if there’s one thing I love in a horror movie, it’s a bad song.

The rest of the counselors decide to get up to their own shenanigans. One plays a flute in a boat. Some others talk about the meaning of life, but eventually they notice that Richie is missing.

One by one they all go out to the woods to find the lost camper. It’s obvious that no one at this stupid camp watches horror movies, otherwise they would know not to go in the woods… alone! Eventually it’s TP’s turn to die. He’s hung from a tree with a noose, and the murderer eventually kills him by grabbing onto his legs and snapping TP’s neck. So… that’s nice?

THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, RICHIE!

And Richie is still alive and wandering the woods, in case you cared.

But everyone in this film suffers massively from slasher-movie brain. They do all the silly things that no sane human would do. One girl is chase by Madman Marz back to the camp. She hides in the fridge (which somehow works) and then leaves only to get killed!

Betsy, who has been left alone to watch the kids, eventually sees the corpse of her friend and realises that everyone is dead and/or going to die. She finally has the sensible decision to call Max and tell him something is going on and gets the kids on a bus to get them out.

Though her sane decisions are immediately all of nothing when she tells the kids she needs to find the other counselors. I’m sorry, sweetheart, but getting the 10-year-old kids the fuck away from a literal axe-murderer should probably be your top priority.

Betsy goes to the Marz home where she tries to take Madman Marz on herself. She’s eventually impaled on a hook and killed, but not before she can take the Madman down with her.

Somehow the idiot Richie ends up surviving. He jumps in front of Max’s car, and tells him that the campfire story was true – Madman Marz is real.

Madman is by no means a standout film in the genre, that’s pretty clear. I can see why this is a bit of a cult film, though. There is quite a lot here that makes it worth watching. For one, that hot tub scene, and secondly, it’s really a prime example of watching stupid people do stupid things. It’s great for shouting your frustrations to and having a good chuckle at.

 

On a more serious note, I did contemplate writing about a film by the late George Romero this week. It didn’t seem right to. Romero was a director that I both loved and worshiped. My admiration for him goes beyond anything my words can articulate. His films really sparked something in me. He helped me realise that horror as a genre has so much to offer beyond a one-dimensional scare. He might be gone, but he’ll certainly never ever be forgotten.

Rest in peace, Romero.

Are You Afraid of the Dark S1E5 “The Tale of the Hungry Hounds”

This episode should be better because of one thing: dogs.

Unfortunately, “Tale of the Hungry Hounds” one of the more forgettable episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark. We can blame Kristen for this one. It seems that’s the thing to do if you’re in the Midnight Society. Seriously. How are these kids friends? They’re all little jerks.

It’s Kristen’s turn to tell a story and she brings a long a big bloodhound named Elvis. He’s apparently there for the sound effects for her story, but I think he’s just eye candy.

Kristen’s tale is about two cousins, Amy and Pam (played by Mia Kirshner). Amy is a city girl visiting her country cousin. One day, the two decide to dig through Pam’s attic, where her mom keeps the family heirlooms.

Just as Amy says she doesn’t believe in ghosts, a suitcase falls and opens. She picks up one of the photographs and mistakes the girl on the horse for Pam. But her cousin corrects her, telling Amy that it’s actually their Aunt Dora, who died when she was young during a horse riding accident.

Because of the accident, Pam’s mom is haunted by Dora’s ghost. She doesn’t allow Pam to take horse riding lessons, believing her daughter may meet a similar fate.

But the girls also discover a trunk with Dora’s name on it. But it’s locked with a code that neither one knows.

Later, the two play with a ouija board. Without meaning to, the cousins contact a spirit that says “LET ME OUT” and gives them the set of numbers 1-4-9. The numbers are, of course, meant for Dora’s trunk. Despite Pam’s protests, Amy gleefully goes into the attic and opens the trunk with the combination.

Inside the trunk are a riding hat and jacket. Pam is thrilled and throws on the jacket. But with the jacket, she becomes possessed by her Aunt Dora. An entrance in the attic opens, leading out to some stairs that go down into a woods at nighttime (and as Amy keeps pointing out – it’s not night).

Dora/Pam go to the family cemetery where Dora’s grave is. On the grave is a ‘gift’ from a fox that Dora had released. The little fox was meant for the hounds’ chase, but she let it go before the fox could be killed. She took a ride after that, in which she was then killed.

But the hounds were angry at her for not feeding them before death (which doesn’t really sound like dogs, to be fair. Short-term memory and all that).

As they leave the graveyard, a ghostly-looking man appears who scolds Dora for not doing her chores. Dora identifies the man to Amy as Giles the stable keeper. He was killed when the hounds were let out that day, and he had a heart attack.

So Giles is a bit of a dick, I guess. Way to blame a child.

Freaked out by the dead man, the two girls run into the barn, where they are then locked in. Dora/Pam tells Amy that she needs to feed the hounds. To Amy, this sounds like a pretty dumb idea. She locks her possessed cousin in a room and searches for the dog kibble. While searching, though, Dora/Pam gets out and lets the dogs out.

Amy is unable to get the food to the hounds on time. She leaps up on a bale of hay and tries to fight the dogs off. But they run away when they catch the scent of the red fox.

Amy goes out of the barn where she sees Dora on top of her horse. The horse gallops off, and Amy chases after. She eventually finds the exit back to the attic where she finds Pam, who doesn’t remember anything about her possession.

But after that day, Pam’s mom is free from being haunted by her sister’s death. And when Pam asks for horse riding lessons one last time, her mom finally agrees.

So I guess it works out in the end. Torture children about not doing their chores so much that when they die, they are forever trapped until they finally do it. Makes sense to me.

Highlight quotes of the episode:

“‘As you are, so I was. As I am, so will you be.’ Nice thoughts.” – Amy, having fun in the graveyard

“Don’t you do anything around here except play games? What are we gonna do next, Death Row, shuck some corn?” – top city bitch Amy

Wicked Wednesday: “The Midnight Sun” (1961)

I’ll gladly admit it: I’m a Wisconsinite through and through. I can handle all shades of pretty-fucking-cold, but as soon as it’s over 70 degrees/21 C – I’m over it. And living in Britain doesn’t help things. For one: they don’t use screens on their windows, and despite the fact that it gets hot here EVERY summer – not a single place has air con (minus some stores and restaurants).

And the heat is getting to me.*

To celebrate my good mood, I tried searching for horror movies about heat/heatwaves/hot weather. And nothing. Granted, I wasn’t exactly searching very hard. There was too many crap half-assed articles about ‘summer horror movies’ that I nearly fell asleep at my laptop.

But then I recalled The Twilight Zone episode “The Midnight Sun”.

My father raised me on ZZ Top, Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone. We’d sit and watch the marathons each New Years and Fourth of July, even if we had seen each episode more than half a dozen times.

“The Midnight Sun” is perhaps not one of the most mind-bending episodes, but its one that always stuck in my mind. In the beginning of the episode, Rod Serling introduces us to a situation where the Earth has changed its elliptical orbit and has begun heading closer to the sun every single day.

In New York, two women are the only ones left in their apartment block. Mrs Bronson and the young painter Norma only have each other’s company. They try their best to stay sane in a world of water shortages and people with increasingly-short tempers.

One day, the women hear a radio announcement telling them to keep their doors locked. Looters have taken to breaking in, and all the police have been called away to deal with the traffic heading north.

But one day, the heat causes Mrs Bronson to forget those locks. A man breaks in and takes a jar of Norma’s precious water. He threatens them with a gun before he shows his remorse. He tells them that he’s simply an innocent man in search of water, mostly driven mad by the death of his wife and his baby – neither of whom could handle the heat.

The man eventually leaves, and Mrs Bronson notices Norma’s painting of a waterfall. The older woman is thrilled to see the cool-looking painting. She sings her praises, and reminices about swimming by a waterfall before she collapses. Norma tries to help her, but she then notices the painting is melting from the heat. Then she herself collapses.

When Norma wakes up, she is in her reality: the Earth has moved off its elliptical orbit and has begun to move away from the sun. The days are nearly complete darkness. Norma tells Mrs Bronson of her horrible dream – unaware of her own reality.

It hardly feels so different from our own reality of extreme weather. Though I doubt we would be quite so pleasant as those characters in the episode. You only need to get on the Northern Line at rush hour on a hot day to realise that.

*So it rained on Tuesday and it was cool in the morning. That’s what you get for complaining: exactly what you want.

Are You Afraid of the Dark S1E4 “The Tale of the Twisted Claw”

My favourite episodes of AYAOTD tent to be the ones that are a bit more original that the ones that heavily rely on using old stories. This episode, the Midnight Society seem to lack any sort of imagination. No one can tell a full story until David says he wants to share “one he’s been working on”.

But David is lazy and I’m going to call this plagiarism (or something – it’s probably not). “The Tale of the Twisted Claw” is really just a retelling of The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacob’s, but since he’s like a 12-year-old kid, I’ll give him a break.

It’s the night before Halloween in David’s tale. That’s mischief night, and two friends, Kevin and Dougie, are up to no good. They get up to the usual little boy shenanigans, but decide to take it one step further when Kevin has the idea to go to “the witch’s house”.

The boys approach the house of the witch, actually known as Miss Clove, and knock on her door. When she answers, they spray her in the face with shaving foam. The elderly lady tumbles backwards and knocks over a large vase. As the vase shatters, the two boys run.

But on Halloween, the boys actually have the balls to go back to Miss Clove’s house during trick or treating. She kindly invites them in and tells them she has a special gift for them. While she goes to retrieve her things, the boys notice that the vase is still smashed on the ground. Which, to be fair, is kind of weird.

Miss Clove’s gift, though, is much weirder. She gives them the claw of a vulture, which is swears is made from wood. She tells them that the claw will grant each of them three wishes. Not very convinced, nor not really wanting to hurt the lady’s feelings, the boys take the claw and get on their way.

While leaving the house, Kevin wishes to be home and lose his stupid trick or treating. Though his wish is accidental, the claw moves in Dougie’s hand. He drops the claw and tells Kevin that the wish will work. On their way home, the two boys are then chased by a group of ‘bad kids’ on bikes.

The next day, Kevin makes his second stupid wish when he says that he wants to beat their fellow classmate Bostick in the 600 metre race. Kevin does win the race, but only have Bostick trips over a massive dog and break his leg. But for some reason, Dougie is the only one who seems to have noticed the animal.

Then that night, Kevin goes over to Dougie’s house while Dougie’s parents are out for dinner. Dougie tells Kevin about Bostick’s broken leg, and begins to feel upset and guilty.

His friend’s conscience gets on his nerves and Kevin grabs the claw saying that he wished that Dougie would lose his folks. When the wish is made, the phone begins to ring. Dougie answers and the police on the other line tell him that his parents had been in a bad car accident. Before he can hear their actual status, he hangs up.

Panicked, Dougie wishes that his grandpa was back. Problem is, as Kevin points out, Dougie’s grandpa is dead. The boys rush to the window and see a car approaching – Dougie’s grandpa’s car. The two boys scuffle over the claw then the doorbell rings.

Quickly, Dougie apologises for what he did to Miss Clove and wishes that anything that happened because of the claw had happened. When the noise at the door continues, Dougie gets up to face his grandfather. But at the other side of the door are his parents, safe and sound but without house keys.

Then everything seems to be sorted. But the boys answer the door one more time and find the broken vase repaired on the doorstep with a note that reads “Tick or treat.”

This episode is the classic be careful what you wish for tale. It’s incredibly overdone, but AYFOTD does manage to make the best of it. Though the Midnight Society act like the story is a fucking revelation. But major points for the super gross set. It’s strangely mesmerising. Like Argento if he decided floral 90’s would be his thing.

Wicked Wednesday: Killing Mr Griffin (1997)


One of my favourite things about being on holiday is being able to get through loads of books I want to read. Also, being in Wisconsin means cheap, used books (which might just be my second favourite thing about being on holiday).

Lois Duncan has been an author I’ve been meaning to read for ages now. Her books are the source material for films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and the made-for-TV movie Summer of Fear, which I wrote about last June. But something about the synopses of her books led me to believe that there was more going on with her stories than these movies made me believe.

So at Half-Price Books I managed to grab Killing Mr. Griffin for $2.95. And I devoured it.

And of course, when I learned that there was a made-for-TV adaption staring my childhood idol Amy Jo Johnson, I was completely on board.

Killing Mr. Griffin was released the same year as I Know What You Did Last Summer. The cynic in me assumed that Killing was released in the wake of the latter’s success. But I was proven wrong. Killing Mr. Griffin was actually released nearly six months earlier. Something about Duncan’s 70’s novels adapted well into the 90’s aesthetic, I guess.

What was surprising to me was how faithful this adaption was. Yes details were changed for added drama, and the setting was relocated from New Mexico to the more-accessible California, but it was the 90’s.

Speaking of changes, the film opens up at the Juniors Pyjama Dance. Because of course. Our star, Susan (Johnson) is one of the outsiders serving punch. She has two good friends, but clearly lives life on the outside looking in. As a joke (this seems really distasteful, but since it’s pre-Columbine it’s…ok?), several Senior boys break up the dance by running in wearing masks and threatening to shoot everyone.

The guns are, hilariously, paintball guns. Ladies and gents, the ringleader is mega-asshole Mark. Learn to dislike Mark. Mark in the worst.

Mark’s enemy in the hard-ass English teacher Mr Griffin. He won’t allow Mark into class when Mark doesn’t enter the classroom before the bell. The teacher actually makes his student beg and apologise before being allowed in.

Though the film tries to make you feel sorry for Mark, it’s pretty hard. For one, his parents are super nice and successful. In the 90’s, everyone was rich in teen movies. Apparently the idea of kids living in ranch-style houses was completely disgusting. But I think that does take away from Mark’s character, making him more of the tired “poor little rich boy” character that anything more complex.

But, you know, Mr Griff is a total jerk!

While Mark’s parents are out for a business trip, he throws a party. It’s then that he tells his friends his idea to kidnap Mr G. The other kids seem less than convinced about the idea knowing that their English teacher has absolutely no sense of humor.

Meanwhile, poor Susan is wandering around, constantly drooling over Mark’s friend Dave (Mario Lopez). When Dave forgets his book for class, Susan tries to help him, but they’re caught and Mr Griffin gives Dave a zero for that day’s work.

While watching the interaction, the cogs in Mark’s head begin to turn. He tells Dave to ask Susan out so that she can be a part of his plan to kidnap Mr Griffin. Dave Reluctantly agrees and invites the girl out for rock climbing.

Mark asks Susan to join them in the kidnapping, and the girl is everything but enthusiastic. But after a lesson in which Mr Griffin is particularly harsh on her, she agrees.

But it turns out that Mr Griffin deeply cares about his students. He’s purpose is to push them to their limits. His wife, a sixth grade teacher, is mostly concerned that his techniques come off as harsh even though he’s good intentions.

The day of the kidnapping arrives and the students take their places. Susan asks Mr Griffin to have a word with her about her performance in his class. He takes a chance and divulges that he thinks she has a lot of potential. They walk out together to his car when Mr Griffin is grabbed by the boys in ski masks. But before Mr Griffin is shoved into his car, he tells Susan to run – still concerned for his safety.

Mark, Dave and their friend Jeff, along with Mark and Jeff’s girlfriends go to a cabin up by a lake. They throw a blindfolded Mr Griffin onto the floor and taunt him with a voice changer. Mark also records the entire thing on his camcorder. They try to get him to agree to being nicer, but he refuses. But Mr Griffin does beg for them to give him his pills back. But none of the kids can find them.

The kids split, leaving Mark alone with him. He continues to taunt Mr Griffin when the voice changer dies. The teacher realises who is behind his kidnapping and becomes angry. Mark then spots his teacher’s pills, but pockets them instead.

He leaves Mr Griffin behind and the friends all agree to tie up their teacher and leave him to “sit and think” for a few hours.

Feeling guilty, Dave goes to visit Susan and tells her what happened. The two go out to the lake to get Mr Griffin but instead find his corpse. The pair panic and retrieve the rest of the guilty party. Ringleader Mark immediately says that they need to bury the body, then take the car to the airport.

The first part of the plan goes without a hitch. But the next day, Mrs Griffin reports her missing husband. Susan is called to the principal’s office where she’s questioned by the police. She says that she saw Mr Griffin get into a car with another woman. When Mrs Griffin shows up, the detective asks Susan if Mrs Griffin was the woman she saw, Susan lies and says it isn’t. But the girl is immediately called out as a liar by Mrs Griffin.

The lie further unravels when Mr Griffin’s body is unearthed by some builders. After the autopsy, it’s revealed that Mr Griffin died because he didn’t take his pills for his arrhythmia. Susan increasingly becomes suspicious about Mark’s part in their teacher’s death. She confronts him about it, and he agrees to meet her at his house to ‘strategise’.

Susan goes to Mark’s house and they begin to talk. But Mark is distracted by the arrival of his girlfriend. Susan hides in the kitchen, but hears a noise coming from Mark’s room. She goes upstairs and sees the footage from the kidnapping playing on Mark’s television. She sees the part where he pockets the pills, and finally realises that the Mr Griffin’s death is Mark’s fault.

She grabs the camcorder and runs, but Mark is quickly onto her. She jumps into Mr Griffin’s car to go to the police when Mark jumps out in front of her, demanding that she stop. After threatening her with a gun, he gets in with her and tells her to go to the cabin.

At the lake, Susan crashes the car. The other friends arrive shortly after, and she shows them the footage. Mark shots Dave. Dave threatens Mark. And finally, Mark admits his part in Mr Griffin’s death.

I do have to emphasis, while this was a pretty good adaption, this film is not nearly as good as the book. I found it hard to read the book at times because of how fond I felt for Mr Griffin. And Susan is a much more sympathetic character than she is written in the movie.

Mark is a fantastic villain. He’s a sociopath and the film unravels him well (despite the minor issues I have noted above). Unfortunately there’s a lot of throw away material in here. But Killing Mr Griffin is still an enjoyable adaption well worth watching – a cut above most made-for-TV movies.

And one last thing, the kids are obsessed with getting Mr Griffin to recite Shakespeare in Pig Latin. No idea why, but it’s pretty damn amusing.