Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Orpheo's Curse

Did anyone play this game?
It's not definite yet, but I may have a copy of the game soon. I'm much more excited than I should be.
Be prepared.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Tale of Laughing in the Dark (Season 1. Episode 2)

Well, here we go again.

A stilted voiceover tells us: "The park was called Playland and it was the best! You could laugh and scream and get scared to death on rides and stuff up on junk food and ditch your parents, all in one night." Apparently you can also indulge in run-on sentences at Playland. Oh, and there is also a spook house called Laughing in the Dark. That name irritates me.

We are then treated to an inside view of said spook house. Two young girls, without parental supervision, of course. Does this take place in Stoneybrook? Never mind, I don't see any over-eager 13 year olds organizing the tour through the spook house.

The girls open a door. Oh no! A clown!


Back to the campfire. Kristen (the blonde one played by Rachel Blanchard) jumps up and wants to take her baby pink backpack and get the hell out of there. She lets everyone know that she HATES clown stories. Kiki (who looks exactly like a pre-teen boy in this episode) diagnoses Kristen as having "Bozophobia." How witty.

Kristen decides to suck it up and tells Betty Ann to do her worst.

And then the magic words: "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society I call this story..."


We start (again) at Playland. I guess we are to assume the two little girls from before are dead, as our focus is now on two boys (Josh and I don't even know how to begin to spell this- Weegee? I assume it's short for Luigi) and a younger girl (Cathy, Weegee's sister). There is much talk of barfing and hurling. Charming. They stop in front of Laughing in the Dark (LITD) and Cathy mentions that the place is haunted by a clown. Cue chicken noises.Enter man in striped shirt and straw hat. Carnies around here are never that exciting. They just sweat and say inappropriate things. He tries to persuade the kids to go into LITD, but they decline. Before exiting he informs them that he's always there. That's a comforting thought.


Josh stares at the wooden cutout of a clown smoking a cigar before we fade back to the campfire to witness some more teasing/mocking/general pre-teen assholery.And back to the story! Josh, Weegee and Cathy are in Josh's bedroom. (why does she go everywhere with them? She's obviously younger. I can see taking her to the amusement park, but why is she hanging out in your friend's bedroom, Weegee?)

Whoa, Josh has a hockey... thing in his bedroom.


So they kids are looking at newspaper clippings. Ah, those innocent pre-internet days. It appears as is Zeebo the clown (who supposedly is haunting the LITD spook house) wasn't a very nice guy when he was performing in the circus. He stole the entire! circus payroll of $4000. He got caught and ran into the LITD to hide out, but ended up burning the place down with his cigar. He perished in the fire, LITD was rebuilt, and legend says the Zeebo's ghost is trapped in the spook house. Titillating, no?

Speaking of titillating, cue inappropriate tickling of your best friend's little sister. Thankfully this scene is ended by Josh being hit in the head with a garbage can lid. I believe Cathy describes it as "bung"ing him on the head.

Weegee dares Josh to go to LITD. And to prove he made it all the way through, he has to steal the nose from the dummy Zeebo that's in the spook house. Josh agrees on one condition: Weegee must wear the clown nose to school.

Back at Playland. The carney appears again (btw, he's played by the same actor that played Dr. Va-Va-Va Vink)

This spook house is pretty lame. Mirrors! Oh no! Oh, and Zeebo also appears out of nowhere. Josh shits his pants. Wait, wait, wait. A dragon comes out from a wall, shooting REAL fucking flames from its mouth. Didn't the place already burn down once? Jeez. Someone must be sleeping with the fire marshal.


Josh's sensitive nostrils are then assaulted by the smell of cigar smoke and ends up in a room containing many doors. Cue Carney voice: "Pick the right door, you'll go free. Wrong door, there he'll be"

What's behind door #5? A skull. Door #4? A hand pointing the way to the exit and canned applause. Josh needs the nose, so he persists.

Door #6? Zeebo! A dummy Zeebo, to be exact. Josh steals the nose, calls himself "the guy who beat Zeebo" and exits via door #4. The camera then pans down to the crack underneath door #6 as smoke streams under the door and into the room. My money is on the dragon.

Back to the campfire! Eric (I think, I can't keep these goddamn kids straight) says he has a cramp. I feel for the kid, really I do, but that excuse only works if you have a uterus and are trying to get out of gym class. The Midnight Society agrees with me and tells Eric to sit the fuck down.

Betty Ann then informs us that if you thought Josh was a dick before he stole the nose, then you'd be horrified by his behavior after the nose theft. I guess red, foam clown noses are the marijuana of petty crimes. Everyone knows if you smoke weed once you'll end up a crack-head hooker. I guess the same logic applies to Josh's situation. It's sad to see a good, hockey loving kid go down the wrong path. For shame.

We cut to Josh, Cathy, and Weegee (now donning the clown nose) sitting on the front steps. Cue chicken clucking. Weegee and Cathy are fed up with the dickery and leave Josh's ass outside to look for the clown nose that Weegee threw into the bushes. Once again, Josh smells cigar smoke. I'm glad Josh isn't asthmatic. He finds the nose. Camera pans to backyard just in time to see smoke drifting around the corner of the house.

Josh arrives home to find his parents have went to the theatre. Don't worry, there's spaghetti and chocolate pudding in the fridge.

A creaking door sound interrupts Josh's near orgasm over licking his pudding covered fingers. Pudding Interruptus? He drops the bowl and pudding splashes all over the floor. A metaphorical description of unfulfilled sexual desire culminating in premature ejaculation? Probably not. After dropping his load (of pudding- calm down) the first thing Josh says is "Mom." How Freudian.

Josh goes into the living room and the closet door creeks open. Josh grabs a baseball bats and tried to look and sound threatening. He's not very convincing, as you can imagine. Good thing it was just a false alarm. The phone rings. It's Weegee calling to apologize. They hang up and the phone rings again. Cue creepy clown(?) voice saying "Give it back. Give it back."

In a fearful panic, Josh sets the table for his spaghetti dinner. I always remember proper dining etiquette when a ghost clown is after me. However, I don't usually set down 50 forks, as Josh does.

Oh no! Something in the microwave is burning! Josh opens the lid to find his spaghetti has been replaces with cigar butts. Tasty. Josh screams and runs upstairs. The camera pans and we see that someone has stepped in the pudding puddle. Who could it be?


Josh runs to his bedroom and calls Weegee instead of the police. Maybe this is Stoneybrook, after all. Someone picks up the other line. Cue creepy voice making creepy demands. Cue calliope music and furtive glances towards the locked door. And then the most amazingly hilarious thing happens. A balloon in mid-inflation comes under the door. Written on it is GIVE IT BACK. It pops in Josh's face. Josh jumps out the window and lands on an inflatable pool toy (more about this later).

Next time we see Josh he's back at LITD, carrying a brown paper bag. Maybe it's the leftover spaghetti that was replaced with cigar butts. He passes the scary mirrors and flaming dragon before ending up in the room o'many doors. Door #4, the exit, is locked. Door #6 opens and smoke streams out. Josh removes the clown nose from the paper back and places it on the floor. He then takes out a box of cigars. I hope he stole them from his dad. Or is the tobacco buying policy now: you must be 18 (or 19 if you're in Jersey) to buy unless you're buying cigars to appease a homicidal clown ghost?

Door #6 closes. Door #4 opens. Josh makes his exit.

Our last glimpse of Playland is the carney guy smoking a cigar and laughing.

Back at the campfire, the Midnight Society argues about the tale's ending. Was Zeebo real? Was the carney guy really Zeebo's ghost? Was the carney guy just too cheap to buy his own cigars?

It's pretty obvious to me. It was all the work of the flaming dragon. The subtle symbolism of Josh landing on an inflatable pool toy that closely resembled a dragon (it was a sea monster) gives it all away. I imagine even with the obviously enormous budget given to this show, finding a dragon pool toy would be very difficult, so a sea monster is the next best choice. Sea monster? Dragon? Semantics. Let's not split hairs. Good job writers / prop crew!

It's only logical to assume that the dragon really burned the place down the first time and since then has been trying to place the blame on Zeebo. Everyone knows dragons are spiteful, malicious bitches.


Eric (cramp kid) puts on a clown mask to scare Kristen. Does he always carry one around? What an odd kid. The Fire is put out and the Society members disperse.

Grade: 3 flaming dragons out of 5

I think even as an incredibly easy to scare child, I wouldn't have been frightened by this one. The scariest part was the tickling.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tale of the Phantom Cab (Season 1, Episode 1)

I have such fond memories of being scared shitless by this show when I was 8 or 9 years old. I have a feeling that nice memory might be destroyed. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

I remember being creeped out by the opening sequence. I guess disembodied hands holding matches was a big frightening trigger for me. Don't judge.

The episode starts with a blindfolded kid being led rather forcefully towards the campfire. Virgin sacrifice? Unfortunately, no. The kid is Frank Moore, a hopeful inductee into the Midnight Society. Is it ever explained how the society was formed? Parental neglect, most likely. Anyway, Frank looks like a Frog brother reject. The kid with the glasses (I wish he'd introduce himself) explains the induction rules: Frank must stay blindfolded and tell a story. After the story, the members will vote. He needs a unanimous vote to be in the Society. Will he get in? So suspenseful.

Then Frank utters the magical words you've been waiting for: "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story... The Tale of the Phantom Cab"

And the first thing we see is a pair of white Pump sneakers. Sexy. The sneakers belong to an older kid in jeans and sleeveless denim shirt...thing. His little brother is along and he's rocking a multi-colored backpack. Uh oh. The two brothers are lost. Apparently their names are Denny and Buzz, but I prefer to call them Big Douche and Little Bag. Night is falling fast and Big Douche keeps threatening physical violence. A flashlight shines in the distance. Are they saved? I kinda hope not.

The flashlight belongs to a rather pasty man in a baseball cap. His name's Flynn and he says he's a traveler. He also likes to laugh rather inappropriately and at rather frequent intervals. Flynn of the Creepy Laugh tells Little Bag and Big Douche that he will take them to someone who can help them, "The Good Doctor". Cue the mist.

One the way, Flynn tries to make small talk. "How are you guys at solving riddles?" he asks. Another example of small talk a la Flynn: obtuse talk about the high cost of getting help from the doctor. Flynn needs a handkerchief or something as his pasty skin also seems to be rather... damp.

The three travelers arrive at the Good Doctor's cottage. Flynn disappears!!! The doctor's door glows! Laughter is heard and the camera pans to a bush. Ok, I've heard of and accept a burning bush. But a laughing bush? That's going too far. Too far, I say. The brothers pound on the glowing door and the Dr. finally lets them in. Whoa, what a sexy, sexy man! He immediately launches into riddle talk and talk about "getting them warm." His name is Dr. Vink. Not Fink. Va Va Va Vink! He's pretty insistent about that.

Inside the Doctor's cottage are bubbling brews and Chemistry equipment. Figures. He does look kinda tweaked out. Guess his medical practice wasn't doing too well out in the middle of the woods. Meth production is always a good backup plan.

He's super sexy as he shows the brothers the brain of a wild boar. I'd hit that. (the doctor, not that brain). Oh, and he would like you to know he is not a "nut bag", so please stop spreading that rumor. K thanks.

Back to the riddle talk. What's up with that? Do you think it's a major plot point? I'm still undecided.

Oh no! Dr. Va Va Va Vink pulls out a massive pair of rusty hedge clippers! It's eunuch time!! He then says, "We play by my rules, or we don't play." Wow. Way to take your boar's brain and go home, good Dr.

Dr. V sets down the rules: if they solve the riddle they can call their parents (hey, the riddle talk was important. I'm shocked). If they don't solve it, he will show them the door and they can leave. Douche and Bag accept the challenge.

And the riddle is: "What is it that has no weight, can be seen by the naked eye, and if you put it in a barrel would make the barrel lighter?"

Bag and Douche both fail to solve the riddle. Seriously, they think for about .5 seconds and then give up. Way to go, kids! Dr. V gets depressed and tells them they know the way out. He also gives them directions that will take them to a spot in the woods where they can catch a cab.

The brothers are not amused by the idea of catching a cab in the middle of the woods. Dr. V senses this and tells them that there might be another way. They can leave a specimen. Oh Jeez! I love nothing more than a creepy, hairy, riddle-loving recluse. But, a creepy, hairy, riddle-loving, recluse into scat? Sorry, but that's a deal-breaker for me. Oh...wait. He wasn't talking about THAT kind of specimen. He meant a body part. That's a whole different story. I can live with that. Cue huge, bloated hand in a jar!


Back at the campfire! The geniuses think the story was lame; the riddle was too hard. Frank Frog tells them to fuck off and let him finish the story. I love Frank. Keep your fingers crossed that he gets inducted!

Back to the woods and to the riddle hating brothers. They're lost again in the woods after fleeing from Dr. V. Will they ever make it out alive? Honk! Honk! A yellow taxi cab shows up. Yay! They're rescued!!

And off they go in the safety of the cab driven by Flynn, the driver of those who cannot solve the Dr.'s riddles. It turns out that Flynn also sucks at riddles. 40 years ago he couldn't solve a riddle and the Good Doctor took his hand as a result. Well, I hope he tried harder than Douche and Bag.

Oh, and by the way, Flynn is DEAD! I guess that explains the pasty, damp skin. And now he's going to kill the brothers in the same way he lost his life: crashing the cab into a tree. Remember kids, don't drive one handed!

Douche begs his brother to think, but his brother protests that it's hard to think about the solution to a riddle when one is being choked. True enough. I'll give him that one.

But of course he solves the riddle. The answer is HOLE. It's a fucking HOLE. The cab hits the tree. Flynn and the cab disappear and the brothers are saved. The curse is broken. Blah Blah Blah. A touching moment of brotherly love is interrupted by a grinning forest ranger who whisks them away to safety.


Back to the campfire. Blindfolded Frank Frog is looking mighty smug. The rest of the Society exchange glances. Time to vote.

David: Yes
Kiki: Yes
Betty Ann: Yes
Kristen: Yes
Eric: Yes
Glasses Guy (OK, OK, his name is Gary): Yes

Woo! Frank Frog is in! Society members celebrate and Frank finally removes his blindfold.

I assume the binge drinking and crazy goat sex happens off camera, as all good hazing rituals should.

Grade: 4 bloated, formaldehyde-soaked hands out of 5

Coming Soon!

Prepare yourself.

First up:

The Tale of the Phantom Cab (Season 1, Episode 1)