October 31, 2014


Well, are you?

Muster up some courage for the show that divided the schoolyard between the kids who reveled in tales of the weird and grotesque, and the kids who changed the channel promptly at 9:30 pm on Saturdays.  For seven seasons and 91 episodes - a programming warhorse by Nickelodeon standards - Are You Afraid of the Dark? served up chilling ghost stories, creature features, and middle school social dynamics in a tween-friendly anthology series.  It’s an intriguing experiment in kiddie horror, cutting against the grain of the popular Goosebumps formula of swerves and surrealism - a narratively-focused show that usually featured a moral, not a monster, at the end.

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, it’s a What Were We Watching? Halloween Special!

Are You Afraid of the Dark (1990-1996)
Created by D.J. MacHale and Ned Kandel

“The Tale of the Frozen Ghost”
Directed by Ron Oliver
Written by Naomi Janzen
Aired August 14, 1993

“The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float”
Directed by D.J. MacHale
Written by Will Dixon
Aired October 7, 1995

October 24, 2014

Episode 8 - THE WITCHES

What better way to celebrate the Halloween season than with the work of Roald Dahl, whose eccentric tales have been amusing and scarring children for generations?  The Witches contains plenty of prime nightmare fuel for the elementary school set - a crummy vacation at a crumbling old hotel, poisoned candy, and scores of bewigged British biddies.  With a dash of Henson Creature Shop magic and director Nicolas Roeg’s insistence on shooting like he’s making a low-budget ‘70s horror film, The Witches is a movie that appears to be at cross-purposes but endures with its unique combination of dark intensity and kid-friendly kookiness.

The Witches (1990)
Directed by Nicholas Roeg
Produced by Jim Henson, Mark Shivas, and Dusty Symonds
Written by Allan Scott
Based on the novel by Roald Dahl
Starring Anjelica Huston, Jasen Fisher, Mai Zetterling, and Rowan Atkinson

October 17, 2014

Sequel, Remake or Leave It Alone?

In our most recent episode, we introduced a new ongoing segment—SEQUEL, REMAKE OR LEAVE IT ALONE?—in which we debate the need for further installments of that week’s film.
Since the feature is a late addition, we thought we’d retroactively apply the question to the movies discussed in our first six episodes…


Cam: So, Eric, what do you think? Over fifteen years later, do we finally deserve that adaptation of little-known sequel novel, Good Burger 2 Go?
Eric: Hmm…a sequel would undoubtedly be more about Ed’s shenanigans than a plucky little fast food restaurant.  Kel Mitchell is fantastic in the role, but I’m not sure how much more the character has to offer.  Like the Good Burger itself, I think the movie should be LEFT ALONE.
C: Well, a Kenan and Kel reunion should happen no matter what, but why stop at Good Burger? Now, this might be a little ambitious, but how about an All That reunion film, with a narrative incorporating all the characters from the sketches? Now that’s a shared universe I can get behind. Consider this a vote for a SEQUEL of sorts.

E: Ok, this was one where we saw a lot of room for improvement - in the story, the cast, and especially the visual effects.  I think we even brought up the idea of a remake, right?
C: Yeah, we touched on that a little bit, but I actually think a STANDALONE SEQUEL could work pretty well (a la The Wolverine). As I mentioned in the podcast, Michael Jai White could still do the role justice, and with today’s technology, they could really make it visually awesome. Add it to the list of projects Guillermo del Toro is perfect for but will probably never get to.

E: I’m all for a REMAKE, or perhaps more accurately, a REBOOT.  There is so much cool stuff in the Spawn universe that the audiences flocking to Marvel and DC’s films would (finally) appreciate.  If a talking mercenary raccoon can become a beloved icon overnight, why can’t we do the same for Spawn?  (Personally, I would rather see del Toro’s third Hellboy movie, but that’s just me.)

C: I think we both can agree Hellboy 3 needs to be made.

C: And no, Avatar doesn’t count as a remake. And actually, there was a direct-to-video sequel that I never saw, but the question still stands: do we need more FernGully?

E: So much has changed since FernGully indoctrinated an entire generation of little environmentalists, but  “Save the planet” tends to be a common message in animated children’s films.  It would have to be a pretty special script to surpass something like, say, Wall-E - and it could easily become something deathly bland like Epic.  Plus I just love the way that FernGully is so of its time, strident themes and all.  LEAVE IT ALONE.

C: Agreed. A remake, which would undoubtedly be CGI, would also ironically risk looking like a knockoff of the much more popular Avatar anyways. FernGully has a perfectly nice ending. It’s self-contained enough to be LEFT ALONE.

E: Damn you, James Cameron!

C: I mean, where do you go after Son of the Mask? I’m gonna go with REBOOT on this one, simply because I’d be curious to see a more source-accurate adaptation of the darker comics, where the “Big Head” character is more of a deranged sociopath. If I had to cast off the top of my head, I’d go with Keegan-Michael Key of “Key and Peele,” who could totally bring the necessary combination of disturbing mania and rubber-faced physical comedy.

E: How about a retconned SEQUEL?  I love the idea of Key in the Mask, but it might be interesting to see how Stanley Ipkiss’ life turned out after resisting its powers.  Maybe the edgier “Big Head” is the antagonist at the end of the second act, and Stanley is the only person who truly understands what is going on.  But I’ll be honest - I’d also be satisfied with a brief Jim Carrey cameo.

C: You know I’m a Carrey fanboy, but I’ll wait to see how Dumb and Dumber To fares before asking for another decades-later sequel to a beloved Jim Carrey classic.


E: So many recasting possibilities, but do they even make this type of movie anymore?  It’s similar to The Sandlot in its meandering pace and high volume of scenes that simply color in the details of its characters.  It’s all about hanging out in a specific place and time, which also applies to the commercial climate in which it was created.  It’s not a perfect film, but I’m fine LEAVING IT ALONE.

C: I don’t feel the need to revisit the same characters, but Now and Then: The Next Generation? If the “Then” portion of the film was set in the 90’s and featured an equally nostalgia-inducing soundtrack of awesome tunes from my own childhood, I’m there. SPIRITUAL SEQUEL? Sure.

E: Kids these days just ain’t into seances and Tony Orlando songs, Cam; all they care about are their magical traveling pants.


C: Like Now and Then, this one already has a cross-generational thread built into the story with the O’Shea brothers’ childhood feud playing out as adults, but I’m not so sure I have much interest in seeing what Icebox’s kids are up to these days. And I don’t know what a remake could bring to the table to match let alone improve upon the original. I say LEAVE IT BE.

E: I’m kind of surprised that Little Giants doesn’t already have a direct-to-video sequel.  I’ll gladly drive the SEQUEL bandwagon, though - you just know that Icebox and Devon Sawa’s character would have produced a gaggle of photogenic kids.  In fact, make Icebox the new coach.  It could actually be a timely commentary on gender in youth sports.  If a teenage girl can make the cover of Sports Illustrated after baffling batters in the Little League World Series, then we’re ready for a lady to give us an insider’s view of a traditionally masculine pursuit.

C: Alright, you’ve convinced me. SEQUEL. The world needs a Lady Giants movie!

Have we convinced YOU, the readers/listeners? Do you agree or disagree with our suggestions? Leave us your thoughts in the comments. And don’t forget to tune in next Friday for our latest episode!

October 10, 2014

Episode 7 - UHF

Veteran parodist and national treasure “Weird Al” Yankovic didn’t log his first number one album until earlier this year, but a more appropriate way to measure his success is by his stunning longevity - nearly 35 years poking fun at pop culture’s sacred cows and sacrificial lambs.

But that was no sure thing back in 1989, when Yankovic co-wrote and starred in UHF, a hyperactive pastiche of cartoon antics, commercial parodies, TV-business satire, and his own special brand of free-floating strangeness that absolutely bombed at the summer box office and spelled doom for its fledging distributor, Orion Pictures.  

Alas, one man’s flop is another’s cult classic, and UHF has proven to be as much of a survivor as Al himself.  In this episode, we welcome our first guest commentator - "Weird Al" aficionado Brian Rudloff - and try to understand Yankovic’s enduring appeal, as well as the film’s homage to American kitsch and its surprisingly sharp media satire.

UHF (1989)
Directed by Jay Levey
Produced by Gene Kirkwood and John W. Hyde
Written by Jay Levey and “Weird Al” Yankovic
Starring “Weird Al” Yankovic, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Richards, David Bowe, Fran Drescher, and Victoria Jackson