Wicked Wednesday

Wicked Wednesday: The House That Would Not Die (1970)

You know how that old saying goes: nothing brings lovers and family closer together better than an old-fashioned possession.

No? Not a saying? Well it should be.

The House That Would Not Die has all the hallmarks of horror TV movies from this era. The dramatic pauses, the use of storms for even more drama and kind-of-clunky writing. So basically everything I love. The fact that this story throws in ghosts, séances and possessions means that it was completely up my alley.

The excellent atmosphere reminded me on of my favourite made-for-TV movies: Home for the Holidays. Just with a touch less lightning. So it wasn’t totally surprising to learn that they were both directed by John Llewellyn Moxey (who also directed The City of the Dead).

At the heart of both of Moxey’s films are the women. Here glamorous Ruth and her niece Sara move into an old house after one of their elderly relatives die. They both immediately take to the home and all of its old-timey quirks. Sara instantly feels at home, knowing the house almost instantly.

The two women soon meet their dashing next-door neighbour, the professor Pat McDougal. At a party at his house, they meet his young student Stan. When the other guests meet the town’s new arrivals, they soon all agree to have a séance in the new home.

In the days before the party, Sara and Stan begin to spend more time together. They find an old painting of a man and bring it to the house. When they hang it up, Pat has a rather negative reaction, feeling suddenly ill.

Despite the growing instances of strange behaviour and dreams from nearly everyone, the group continue on with the seance. Only things don’t go very well. The painting falls from the wall and crashes into the fire.

Sara’s behaviour takes increasingly strange turns. She finds herself out of bed at night, crying for help. She begins to forget things when she behaves madly (including attacking our dear Ruth).

But it’s Stan who is the first to realise that Ruth is possessed. Not only is she possessed, so is Pat, who randomly becomes violent and aggressive. Stan drags in Ruth to help research the home, which is clearly linked to the possessions. The gang all band together to discover the truth.

They soon find out that the house was once home to a Revolutionary War General named Campbell. He supposedly went mad after his daughter left. The daughter, Amanda, is clearly the spirit inhabiting Sara.

With their little information, the group decide to have another séance. This time they’re given a clue when the cellar door is blown open by the winds. While Ruth and Stan do their digging in the cellar, they discover a walled-off room.

But before they can even get upstairs, creepy Pat stops them to tell them about the new information he and Sara learned: Amanda had eloped and run away from her father.

With this new information, all the pieces begin to fall into place. The four friends all must face the truth in the room on the other side of the wall.

*DRAMATIC PAUSE*

I loved this little horror-mystery. Certainly a positive note to end another Made-for-TV March on. Sure, it’s a little hokey. But it’s also sufficiently fun with a good story.

It doesn’t hold a candle to Home for the Holidays. It doesn’t have the same punch or thrill to really make it memorable in a year’s time. But with good performances and a fun plot, it’s difficult to argue against spending 70 minutes watching this.

Wicked Wednesday: Deadly Messages (1985)

Coming into the third week of made-for-TV March, things are beginning to feel a bit more…stressful than they were seven days ago. And certainly several degrees closer to a pandemic than we were in week one.

Hell, I’ll back on this in a year’s time and think, “Oh! The Corona months!”

Anyway. It’s been a tough/weird/strange/horrible time. With my trip home to America cancelled, I’m not house-bound like everyone else until this all blows over. Thankfully, it gives me plenty of nights in to watch more movies and maybe even create more content (never going to happen).

Sometimes sitting down to watch a movie for this blog can be a big of a drag. Sometimes I get stuck with a real dud. Usually this is when I force myself to watch anything for a very specific reason. Then I can’t stop, won’t stop watching it.

But since this was an especially stressful week, I decided to allow myself to sample many options until I wound something vaguely interesting. And I found a real winner this week with 1985’s Deadly Messages.

This supernatural-ish thriller aired on ABC, but honestly it’s pretty high quality. It could be that it was directed by the deft hands of Jack Bender, whose long filmography is impressive but most importantly Killing Mr Griffin.

Much of Deadly Messages‘ fun is in reveals and secrets. Laura is a young working woman with a good boy friend and a seemingly normal life. Until one night she returns home from a date to see her roommate, Cindy, get strangled through a window.

Laura becomes instant that her roommate’s death has something to do with the Ouija board they’d found in the closet. She finds her roommate’s notes and learns that Cindy ‘spoke’ to a man named David who was killed in their very apartment in 1978.

But as Laura begins to investigate Cindy’s death, secrets about her own life begin to come to light. After using the Ouija board and fainting, her boyfried, Michael, takes her to see a neurologist. The doctor later confirms that Laura had electroshock therapy in the past. A treatment that was seemingly undoing itself.

Michael begins to look into Laura’s past and begins to learn himself that things don’t add up. Only, according to Laura, she couldn’t possibly be lying.

Deadly Messages was a very pleasant surprise. It’s twisty, turny and suitably dramatic. Half the journey is learning the (slightly) ridiculous reveals. But sometimes you just have to have a bit of cheese on your toast, right? This is a very well-acted film and despite the grainy YouTube quality, was pretty well shot.

There is a lot of exposition dialogue at the end, which makes things fizzle out instead of going out with a bang. Much of the real fun comes when Laura’s life begins to unravel. You know, as horrible as that sounds.

I’m hoping next week’s film is as much as a delight as this one. We all need a bit of cheer in these very cramped, isolated days.

Wicked Wednesday: The Haunted (1991)

We’ve been here before: family move into new house, all goes well minus a few ‘quirks’, something big happens and all the demons in the world are entering the world through a dimension door in suburban America.

The Haunted is one of the most run-of-the-mill haunted house fils I’ve ever seen. It’s based on the ‘true’ story of the Smurl family who lived in Pennsylvania in the 1980s.

Initially, I thought this was going to be great because of one key factor: Ed and Lorraine Warren were investigators in this case. The Warrens are a fascinating pair, being linked to some of the most key hauntings in the throughout their lives (proof: watch and of the Conjuring Universe films or some little film called Amityville Horror). But those cases have something that The Haunted doesn’t: distinction.

Janet and Jack are a sweet little couple sharing a house with Jack’s elderly parents. Their children are all girls, just an all-around fun bunch. And soon things begin to go awry. Electricity bills become expensive (WATCH OUT!), the older women of the house hear whispering, Janet begins to forget things.

But beyond that, there’s not really anything particularly interesting about the hauntings themselves. And to be fair, there really is only so much that a ghost (or demon) can do.

The family get their local priest involved, who is unable to do any exorcism for them. So they head to the Warrens, who apparently can’t do much either. The hauntings get worse and increasingly physical. Janet is eventually so distraught that she is driven to taking her story to the media.

It’s a shame that the Warrens and the media attention seem so much like an after thought in this film. Much of the TV movie spends time showing us the paranomal activity. And nearly thirty years on, it just doesn’t scare or even make you feel uneasy…minus that one scene where Jack is seemingly sexually assulted. Yikes.

I think it’s interesting to see the local reactions to the Smurl family. It certainly wasn’t very nice. And the family’s desperation is equally as watchable, but for some reason – it’s all overlooked.

Sally Kirkland is good in the role of Janet. This part got her nominated for a Golden Globe. But the material is so boring that her performance can hardly save it.

A good haunting film need one thing: suspense. And The Haunted really lacks any of it. Blame it on being made-for-TV, but watch any of the classic horror network movie and you’ll know it’s possible to thrill. It’s a shame that this wasn’t done better, but part of me things this: if the original material isn’t that differneciating to begin with, maybe it wasn’t worth the energy and budget to begin with.

Wicked Wednesday: Deadly Lessons (1983)

It’s the third month of the year, which means it’s finally Made-for-TV March again!

This is my third year doing this, and honestly – it’s something I really look forward to. TV Movies are excellent for many reasons. I particularly like the over-exaggerated drama that you don’t always get in regular cinema releases. And I don’t mean it necessarily in a “so-bad-it’s-good” way. Just sometimes things have to be bigger and louder.

Like all the best made-for-TV movies, Dead Lessons knows how to amp up the drama. There is forbidden love, kidnappings, mistaken identities. All the ingredients for a fun 90 minutes. Plus this is one of the more star-studded casts I’ve seen in a TV movie.

Young Stephanie (Diane Franklin) is a new student at a posh boarding school for girls. She’s the odd one out, being poor and from a farm. But she’s bright, other than the fact that she needs to brush up on her French.

She quickly learns that the other girls at her new school are less-than-friendly. They play pranks on her, act snobbishly and Despite this, she still manages to bond with two girls Marita (Ally Sheedy), Calli (Renée Jones) and her Saudi princess roommate, Shama.

On one of the first nights of the summer term, a girl is found drowned in the nearby lake. And thus begins a quick procession of deaths. Detective Kemper is brought in to investigate, but at the insistence of headmistress Miss Wade (Donna Reed) the deaths are kept out of the media.

The students are unhappy with the results of Kemper’s investigation and begin to take things into their own hands, inspired by Steph’s Clue-inspired board game.

Steph’s love interest, Eddie (Bill Paxton), soon becomes a suspect. Many of the murders and investigation centre around the barn and stables where he works. But others, such as the teacher Ferrar also make Kemper’s suspect list. Though the girls are less convinced.

One night, Marita is kidnapped by the school janitor. Then man believes that Martia is his granddaughter. This isn’t true, but he looks mighty guilty from his actions. Martia manages to save herself by creating a signal. The janitor is arrested and seemingly all is well.

Only Steph soon discovers that the danger isn’t over. She comes face-to-face with Detective Kemper, the killer himself. He reveals that he wanted to exact revenge on his mother: Miss Wade. He tells Steph that he was abandoned by his mother soon after his father killed himself. His master plan was to destroy his mother and her school. But the idiot gives his speech out loud and is overheard by police and is arrested.

For me, while enjoyable, Deadly Lessons could have amped everything up another level. The girls were not actually that horrible to Stephanie to make her feel like a believable outsider. The pranks were too few. The girl’s misdeeds are rarely seen on screen. There needed to be less scenes of police discussing things and more of the girls’ lives.

Not enough lightning and thunder, for one. What’s a good TV movie without a scene set during a storm?

I would say this edges much more on the side of drama than a slasher or horror. Though I think those two genres blend more than we ever really acknowledge. It’s definitely a fun movie. Plenty of familiar faces to keep you entertained…even if it took me 50 minutes to realise that Eddie was in fact played by Bill Paxton.

Wicked Wednesday: Suicide by Sunlight (2019)

Diversity is a beautiful thing. It’s an essential thing if we are to create better art. And I’m so grateful there is a growing space for women in the horror industry. Without those spaces, we wouldn’t have interesting and new stories like Nikyatu Jusu’s Suicide By Sunlight.

Suicide By  Sunlight plays with similar tropes, but brings new light (ha ha) to these traditional tales. The film was made in collaboration with THROUGH HER LENS: The Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program, which provides funding and support up-and-coming women directors in the US. The film was made with an entirely woman camera department, and quite honestly, it benefits the short.

Valentina (Natalie Paul) is a nurse – she’s also a vampire. But being a black woman, her melanin protects her from the sunlight. But her condition keeps her separated from her daughters, whom she’s estranged from. She’s desperate to see, but it kept at a distance by the girls’ father.

She tries to suppress her bloodlust, but at a club one night, she ends up picking more than one target to feast on. But not all of her instincts are primal. She decides to ‘help’ one of young, sick patients who is nearly the end of his life.

Afterwards, she visits her daughters while their father is out. She surprises them and their new mother figure. Valentina is a monster (in a traditional sense), but Paul plays her with such sensitivity and vulnerability. Even within 15 minutes, you begin to care deeply about her character.

Jusu has said that her influences are Octavia Butler and West African mythology. These rich influences seep through her story. It’s a story about a vampire, but it’s also a story about marginalisation. Suicide By Sunlight is a prime example of a short film that will leave you wanting more: wanting more story, more background, more of the world, more of the characters. Not knowing what happens next is almost painful, but in a way only a good short film can satisfy.

Wicked Wednesday: The Ranger (2018)

Quick disclaimer here: I’m really not a fan of movies with “punks” as main characters. Most of the time, things come across more cringey than believable. Most of the time it’s because these roles are in the hands of people clearly with no concept of what they’re meant to be emulating. There are very few films with actors that can pull the whole punk thing off. Green Room being a stellar stand out.

So when I began watching Jenn Wexler’s The Ranger, I was pretty impressed with the actors straight off the bat. And with a fairly likeable (or rather unlikeable) cast, it’s pretty easy to get invested in a slasher movie – even if it’s premise is slightly whacky. I mean, we have Jason in space, why can’t we have a child-obsessed park ranger who thinks he’s a wolf? (Or…at least that’s what I think happened here).

Chelsea and her friends are a group of punk ass kids. When the show they’re at gets busted by the police, the kids flee. Only Chelsea is cornered in an alley by a cop. Chelsea’s boyfriend, Garth, stabs the cop. The two flee in a van as the cop dies.

The gang of friends begin to make their way to Chelsea’s uncle’s old cabin in the mountains. They bump into a park ranger on the way, who warns them about hunting season. Being the little punks they are, they taunt the man before heading into the woods.

When they arrive at Chelsea’s uncle’s cabin, she admits to her friends that her uncle was actually murdered. And slowly, as she spends time in the solace of nature, begins to remember what happened the day of her uncle’s death. Namely, that the ranger she’d seen earlier was the man who took her under his wing after her uncle died.

Interrupting her thoughts, though, are her wild friends. They spray paint the trees, dig through her uncle’s things, start fires. But soon they face the consequences once one of them gets shot in the neck.

It’s a pretty quick escalation as things take a dark turn for the kids. As they try to help their injured friend, Amber, they quickly get picked off themselves by (shock) the Ranger. Though he seems to have a soft spot for Chelsea, and she’s about to discover why.

The Ranger has a pretty solid premise set up, but it begins to fall to pieces once it attempts to explain Chelsea’s story and her relationship with the Ranger. If you’re able to put up with some half-baked nonsense, this is actually a really fun little slasher. There’s plenty of blood and some real-squirm inducing gore. But it’s done with a sick and twisted sense of humour that I really appreciated.

Lead actress Chloë Levine is really compelling, and she’s got a pretty tough cast of characters to fight against. Jeremy Holm is, as ever, buckets full of fun as the ranger.

If the film had added on another five or ten minutes to give the viewers a bit more explanation, I think The Ranger would be a big hit. It’s still worth watching, even if it does induce a bit of head scratching.

Wicked Wednesday: Cellar Dweller (1988)

Some films have “pedigrees”. Certain names and histories attached to productions mean certain things. And film fans love to look for them. We see something is being produced by A24, and we know the film will be of a certain caliber. Is it by Mike Flanagan? Chef’s kiss. There are certain films made just to be “Oscar bait”.

Horror fans love looking for this sort of thing. Who was the director? Who was the writer? Well, they worked on Ghost Menace Pt 8: The Reckoning, but did you know they were production assistant on Don’t Ever Do Anything… Alone!?

Cellar Dweller is one of those movies that ticks a lot of fun fact boxes. It was written by Don Mancini. Directed by John Carl Buechler, who literally had a hand in almost every horror franchies ever at some point. Yvonne De Carlo plays a bitchy headmistress. And it has early scenes with Jeffrey Combs, and was distributed by Empire Pictures (of Re-Animator and Ghoulies fame).

Weirdly, Cellar Dweller isn’t quite the powerhouse you’d expect it to be with all those names attached to it. But it is still a charming, fun film.

Thirty years in the past, a comic book artist Colin Childress accidentally brings a monster to life using a Satanic book. In order to stop the beast, he sets the pages of his comic on fire. Only, he is set on fire himself.

Years later, his home has been turned into an art school where young Whitney arrives. She’s an aspiring comic book artist and a devoted fan of the late Childress. Though when she turns up at the school, she’s given a cold welcome by Mrs Briggs, who runs the school.

The school is quirky. Full of eccentric artists from all different mediums. But Whitney is a sort-of outcast due to her art.

The girl is immediately taken under the wing of Philip, another student. She begins to fill him in on Childress’s story: that he apparently killed a woman with an ax before setting himself on fire.

Though warned away from the cellar, it doesn’t take long before she breaks in. Upon entering with Philip, she opens a locked box and discovers The Book. She later begs Mrs Briggs to allow her to uses the space as her own. The older woman readily agrees, you know, as Whitney isn’t a real artist.

She begins her work in the cellar, all the while being filmed by her nemesis, Amanda. Whitney catches the other girl in the cellar and threatens her. Unbeknownst to Whitney, Amanda is trying to frame the girl as a plagiarist. But as Whitney draws Amanda being attacked, the attack occurs in the real world – and on camera.

Having freed the beast once again due to her drawings, Whitney’s classmates are attacked in the following days. The pages of the comic begin to appear by themselves as the monster gains its own initiative.

When Whitney and Philip discover the created pages, they try to save one of their classmates from her demise. But upon seeing the beast, they run away in fear.

Whitney realises she must set the pages on fire. But before she can even sit them alight, Philip is dragged into its panels.

Mrs Briggs seemingly comes to the rescue, only for Whitney to discover that Mrs Briggs is the monster. While fending off the monster, she accidentally throws a bottle of white out over a panel, only to discover that it changes the story. She writes her own happy ending and reintroduces her classmates back into the world. And all is well…seemingly.

Cellar Dweller has a certain charm. Though is someways, it doesn’t feel very much like a horror movie. There are elements of fantasy blended in that remind me more of shows like Twilight Zone (there even is a grand sense of moral written in).

This was the first film the great Don Mancini wrote. Later in the same year, Child’s Play would be unleashed on the world. It’s easy to see why Cellar Dweller is often overlooked. This attempt feels like a very straight-forward story. In some ways, it’s old fashioned (not in a bad way). You don’t really get movies written like Cellar Dweller anymore – an embodiment of the “careful what you wish for” idiom.

That being said, I really like Cellar Dweller‘s charm. I think some might find this hokey and dated, but there’s still plenty of fun within this short running time.

Wicked Wednesday: Ghostkeeper (1981)

Ghostkeeper is weird. And I mean that in a good way.

It’s commonly classified as a slasher, but it’s sleeker in many ways. It’s one part The Shining and another part rooted in First Nations Algonquian folklore. It’s cheap, but it’s beautiful. It’s strange, and it’s actually kind of wonderful.

Initially, the atmosphere of the movie reminded me of Bloody New Year and Bill Rebane films like The Capture of Big Foot and The Game. This probably swayed me into thinking this was going to be of the same calibre because of that. And in some ways Ghostkeeper is because of similar eras and (presumably) budget constraints.

And it does start out on a familiar path: A group of friends leave their cosy lodge to go snowmobiling. They meet a Harbinger of Doom, who warns them to go back before an incoming storm.

Jenny appreciates the warning and insists that her boyfriend Marty heads back. But ol’ Marty has a thing for Chrissy, their pal from the lodge, and would much rather impress her by going off trail.

The three take a trail through some private property, leading them to a seemingly abandoned lodge. When they enter, though, they discover that it is warm. Despite the warm welcome, they realise that no guests had checked into the hotel for nearly five years.

When the storm does arrive, the kids settle in for the night with a bottle of wine by the fire. Their night quickly takes a turn when Marty bumps into a woman in the kitchen. While initially hostile towards them, Jenny is able to calm the woman down and convince her to let them stay in the lodge for the night.

That night, things take even more of an odd turn. Chrissy is nearly drown in her bath by the woman’s son, Danny. He drags her into the basement where there is a cell of ice blocks. She’s wed to a windigo, which is in the form of a man. Jenny and Marty are too busy to notice at first, as they argue about Jenny’s increasing paranoia.

The following morning, Marty and Jenny realise that the snowmobiles are not working. They also cannot find Chrissy. While Marty tries to repair the snowmobiles, Jenny searches for their friend. Instead she finds the older woman, who is evasive about Chrissy.

The woman drugs Jenny, who wakes up conveniently next to a book about Native American folklore. She reads about the windigo and links it to the murders from the surrounding area.

As she tries to return to the main part of the hotel, she is confronted by Danny. She tries to escape, but their scuffle leads to Danny’s death.

With Danny’s death, Marty begins to act strangely. He declares he won’t help Jenny, that she cannot escape being a murderer. He eventually leaves her to trudge off into the snow by himself.

Left all alone, Jenny tries to defend herself. She shoots the woman, but soon discovers that the deaths of the woman, Marty and Danny only spell out her own damnation.

It’s a perfect little movie for a snowy night in. The scenes are stunning, set in the snowy Canadian Rockies. The acting is also above-par, particularly Riva Spier as Jenny and Georgie Collins as the older woman (the titular Ghostkeeper).

Occasionally it’s easy to jump to conclusions from early scenes. It would have been very easy to turn it off, believing it to be another run-of-the-mill slasher. But Ghostkeeper has a bit more magic to it that sets it apart from others. Granted, I would have liked if the film dived deeper into it’s lore. It rarely takes the time to flesh out its story, instead focusing more on the movements of characters.

Maybe it’s because I was taken by surprise, but I think this Canadian gem is well worth the watch.

Wicked Wednesday: Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989)

Last week I got to see Phantom of the Paradise at the Prince Charles Cinema. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen the movie on the big screen, and it’s always magnificent – one of my absolute favourite films. So why not, I thought, wash that good feeling of a good film out of my mouth with a horrible Phantom adaption?

Now. I should have been warned going in, having watched Lindsay Ellis’ two-part series on the characterisation of the phantom (watch parts one and two here). This movie is pretty much universally hated. But I cannot resist one thing…shopping malls.

I have a thing for horror movies set in shopping malls: Chopping Mall, Dawn of the Dead, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama, The Initiation (which I seem to remember more fondly than what I’d written). It’s the lure of neon lights, shopping montages and creepy, dark-lit shops.

It’s been difficult to resist the lure of Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge, despite all warnings that I should have otherwise. Should I have listened? I really should have.

Phantom of the Mall follows the rough phantom set-up: scarred man watches beautiful girl from the distance and wants to protect and possess her. He kills off people who hurt her or have harmed him in some way.

Instead of a grand opera house, though, we are entered into the world of the Midwood Mall. Melody and her pal Suzie both get jobs at the brand new shopping centre, a beacon of a new era for the town.

Of course, a year earlier the land was marred by a fire. One that killed Melody’s boyfriend, Eric. Something about the night doesn’t sit well with Melody, and she’s convinced that Eric’s house was burned down as murder (you know, in order to get land for the mall!).

The Phantom begins killing people off short after the mall’s opening. None of the deaths are particularly noteworthy. But they exist nevertheless.

Meanwhile, Melody befriends the hot journalist, Peter. He’s kind to her and begins to help her investigate the fire. He soon discovers that the man she saw the night of the fire (a white man with a religious-symbol earring), is a security guard at the mall.

But the security guard quickly realises that Melody and Peter are on to him. He alerts his boss, mall-owner Harv, and is told to deal with them. The young couple get away from the perusing guards, though, and afterwards dig up Eric’s grave – suspicious that he is the one behind the killings. Surely this is the only way to confirm that Eric is alive and the phantom!

Things quickly come to a head when Eric saves Melody from the security guard and reveals himself to her. She rejects his advances, having fallen in love with Peter. Plus Eric has a burned face and that’s like, totally ew.

Angered with the mall and Melody, Eric becomes violent. He begins his movements to BLOW UP THE MALL. But as with all things phantom, Eric meets his tragic demise while also getting his revenge.

I don’t think Phantom of the Mall is quite as bad as most people make it out to be. Sure it’s very run-of-the-mill, but it isn’t flat-out horrible. For some people it’s better to feel something than nothing at all. So if that’s what you’re measuring by, it will probably fail the test.

All of the deaths are sort of dark and indistinguishable. Though the acting is passable and the characters are…okay. There’s nothing horribly wrong here, just nothing particularly entertaining.

Weirdly one highlight was Pauly Shore, whose personality out-shined almost everyone on the cast. I’m also kind of in love with the way the film looked – a sort of dreamy, R-rated soap opera. It’s very soft and the very dictionary definition of late-80s style. Honestly, though, the best part about the entire movie was Ken Foree (who should be in everything).

If this movie had turned the cheese and camp level up to 11, this could have been a much better movie. The music put it halfway there (a weird combination of The Vandals and some really over-the-top sex scene romance music). Otherwise, this is very much your uneventful, typical 80s slasher.

Wicked Wednesday: Tales from the Cryptkeeper s1e1 “While the Cat’s Away” (1993)

Can you believe I lived to this ripe-old age without knowing there was a Tales From the Crypt cartoon? I love almost anything horror-related that’s targeted towards children.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that statement extends to the first episode of this show.

Tales from the Cryptkeeper pretty much runs exactly like it’s live-action counterpart: the Cryptkeeper welcomes with several puns before introducing us to the week’s story. This week, the Cryptkeeper is off on holiday. Not-so-incidentally, the boys in his story are the sons of a travel agent. A unsuccessful one at that.

But when the boys overhear their father speaking to a wealthy man (who wants to go to Transylvania – money is no object!), the eldest realises they have an opportunity to rob the man. Why rob him, well, to get money for new bikes!

The youngest, Dwight, is much more nervous than the elder Stu. But he agrees to go along with the plan.

The boys arrive at the home only to realise that it’s more of a haunted mansion. They march in anyway and come face-to-face with a series of traps while trying to make their way around the house. First there’s a ghost in the painting, followed by tentacled monster, Frankenstein’s monster, vampires and zombies!

The boys quickly learn their lesson that it isn’t very nice to steal.

It’s pretty run-of-the-mill stuff. Considering this is the first episode, though, there’s very much a chance that it does improve. I’m probably not interested enough to continue on.

The show lacks the twisted humour that the original has. It’s been stripped down to be “horror lite” children, but it goes too far. I think incredibly young children would enjoy it – say 5 or 6. I’m not sure what the original intended audience was, but it’s not very sophisticated or scary in any way.

But my biggest gripe with this show is the animation. It’s truly some of the worst I’ve seen, especially considering this was made in 1993. It’s very uninspired character design with boxy movements. All very low-budget looking. Certainly not half as good as its contemporaries like Beetlejuice (incidentally produced by the same company) or Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.

I’m sure if you have nostalgia attached to the show, it will remain charming upon review. I could listen to John Kassir as the Cryptkeeper anyway! He’s easily the highlight here.

If you do think I should carry on watching. Let me know what episode I should move on to next! Otherwise, I might try to hunt down episodes of New Tales From the Cryptkeeper. You can’t keep a woman away from a Lite Ghoulish Tale (TM).