REVIEW: GOOSEBUMPS – SEASON 2

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Melody Johnson (Jason X)
Ellen-Ray Hennessy (The Glow)
Melissa Bathory (The Magic School Bus)
Maurice Godin (House)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Scott Wickware (Traitor)
Tabitha Lupien (Hairspray)
Kristin Fairlie (Total Drama)
Charlotte Sullivan (Mary Kills People)
Martin Roach (Cube Zero)
Peter Keleghan (Ginger Snaps)
Davie Hemblen (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jordan Prentice (Mirror Mirror)
Erica Luttrell (Reign of The Supermen)
Kathryn Long (Wind at My Back)
Colin Fox (Daylight)
Amos Crawley (Billy Madison)
Brenda Bazinet (Catwalk)
Kevin Zegers (Gossip Girl)
Michael Copeman (Highlander: The Raven)
Kris Lemche (Ginger Snaps)
Kyle Labine (Freddy vs Jason)
Sarah Podemski (Tin Star)
Corinne Conley (That Girl)
Joy Tanner (Prom Night IV)
Lori Alter (Senior Trip)
Meredith Henderson (Jumper)
Earl Pastko (Land of The Dead)
Helen Hughes (Billy Madison)
Amy Stewart (Ice Princess)
A.J. Cook (Tru Calling)
Hayden Christensen (Shattered Glass)
Annick Obonsawin (Warehouse 13)
Eugene Lipinski (Superman II)

MV5BMTAxZmEwYzQtZGM5NS00YmMyLWExMmMtMWJjOTQ5MmQzNmJjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzM4MjM0Nzg@._V1_R.L. Stine, The Stephen King of horror stories for kids has a TV show based on his classic “Goosebumps” books. If you were a kid who grew up in the 90’s, then you might remember this show. The show is like the classic “Nickelodeon” show “Are you Afraid of the Dark?” having scary episodes with a good story, but uses unknown child actors, cheap special effects that are either scary or horrible looking; and usually having scary endings then happy endings.MV5BZDVjZDc1Y2ItZjRkMS00MDczLWIwOGMtZjQxOWVjNjUwZTRhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTk3MjU5NjA@._V1_

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Meet Samantha Byrd, a girl who gets constantly bullied by her worst enemy Judith and is a misfit in school. One day, she helps a stranger named Clarissa and as a reward for her kindness, Clarissa decides to give her three wishes. As if you don’t know what the rest of the plot is, she makes wishes and there are consequences to each wish. Ok, it’s the same old, predictable plot, but to be fair it does make the moral truly stand out, as well as being careful on who you meet and help.

As far as the episode goes despite having typical cliche characters and predictable storyline, it still has a few good twists to keep us interested, the wishes that our character makes are both funny and dark at the same time while making the story’s theme stand out and of course and again the real reason that makes the episode so great is the character Clarissa. Cliched story, but nowhere near bad.MV5BNzA0ODA1MDgtOGZjNy00MDJjLWEzZDQtZGE0OWYwOWEyN2E1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTk3MjU5NjA@._V1_

ATTACK OF THE MUTANT

Skipper is a boy who obsesses over comic books, especially the comic book series starring his favorite super villain, The Masked Mutant. One day, Skipper misses his Bus Stop and finds himself in front of the headquarters of The Masked Mutant. Throughout the episode, Skipper keeps going back to the headquarters and finds many new twists and turns where he finally learns that his comic book might be real.

The episode is great. The villain’s cool, Adam West is a lot of fun, the characters are enjoyable, it has a swell comic book look and it has plenty of twists and turns for many of us to enjoy.

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BAD HARE DAY

A young boy named Tim, dreams of becoming a magician and idolizes over his favorite magician Amazo. After seeing him perform live, he discovers that Amazo is a real jerk and decides to steal his magic kit. However, Tim accidentally makes his little sister disappear and he finds a talking rabbit who was once a human and a great magician. Tim must now bring back his Sister and stop Amazo by turning the rabbit back into the great magician he once was.

 

The episode is not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Yeah, I’ll admit, I guess looking back at it, it was predictable, but I don’t know, I’ve seen it two times and I was still amazed by the plot twist and dark ending, as well as being hooked while watching it. I also love the use of Magic tricks in this episode because it really gives the episode its magical look and feel. Again, the only downer in this episode for me are most of the characters, but with all honesty, they’re not that bad. Overall, it was a fair and decent episode and was indeed magical and a lot of fun.hqdefault

THE HEADLESS GHOST

Duane and Stephanie constantly visit an old Haunted House by the Sea that’s currently a tourist attraction, however, Stephanie likes to constantly scare people in there as well as disrespect the spirits that live there. A boy named Seth tells them that the real ghosts come after closing and an interested Stephanie and a reluctant Duane decide to go on this rare private tour which may be their last. First off, I really, really admire the set up, it’s just as creative as “A Night In Terror Tower”. Instead of having one ghost that haunts the house, we actually get a few and each of them have an interesting death. On top of it, we get plenty of interesting and creepy visuals and twists along the tour.

There’s plenty more things for me to talk about like the ghosts, the twists, some of the visuals, but then I’d be ruining the episode for you. Believe me, the less you know, the more thrilling and interesting this episode becomes. There’s so much going on in this episode that I’m surprised that they achieved it all in only less than a half hour.

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GO EAT WORMS

Ok with a title like that, chances are we’re in for something really gross and stupid and that’s what this episode actually is! Todd is a boy who’s completely obsessed with worms! He loves them, he experiments with them, he uses them to prank his annoying little sister, he owns a bunch of them and his room is full of pictures of them. This kid is actually scaring me and grossing me out. However, I guess from the cruelty of how he treats worms and experiments with them, the worms come after him…I’m scared…no wait…I’m grossed out!

This episode was gross, dumb and not scary! This episode is probably the dumbest and worst episode I’ve probably ever seen from this show! I honestly don’t know how any bad episode is going to top this one!

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YOU CAN’T SCARE ME

Two kids named Hat and Eddie are trying to prank a pitch perfect girl named Courtney who is very smart, very nice and not afraid of anything. Hearing about a monster called the Mud Monsters, the two boys decide to prank her by tricking her that the Mud Monster is real. However, the plan backfires since the Mud Monster is in fact real and begins to chase after the two boys.

This episode could have been a concept where it’s so stupid and cheesy that it’s fun to watch (Like “It Came From Beneath The Sink” for example), but to be honest it’s actually stupidly annoying. The two main characters are bland recycled characters, the girl is so annoyingly perfect that she feels like she’s insulting the viewer whenever we see her, the Monster is so lame that it’s not even funny, and the story itself is stupid. Maybe it was the episodes intention to be stupid, maybe the character Courtney was intended to be annoyingly unlikable to the viewer, maybe the monster was supposed to be a dumb idea from the start, but I’m sorry when you have no pay off of something bad happening to your annoying character, lame humor, and on top of it, an out of place scene that’s supposed to scare and scar kids from the very start, it doesn’t work and feels like a mess.

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REVENGE OF THE LAWN GNOMES

Joe’s Dad has bought two Lawn Gnomes for his garden to win a best garden contest against the nasty next door neighbor Major McCall. However, the Gnomes are alive and are destroying McCall’s garden and framing it on Joe. Joe tries to convince everyone that the Gnomes did it, but no one believes him. Alright, seriously, this is a rehash of “Night Of The Living Dummy 2”! The look and style is similar, and it follows the same exact formula.

 

The idea is silly (I mean, come on, try saying the title out loud without laughing) and it is mostly a rehash of the “Night Of The Living Dummy 2” plot only this time with Gnomes, but it was at least a decent episode especially when comparing it to the last two episodes that I just reviewed. The characters while not interesting, they’re still fine; the Gnomes are cool and fun villains; and the nasty next door neighbor is a delight to watch. Not the greatest episode, but I did enjoy it.x1080-xMi

GHOST BEACH

Terri and Jerry Saddler are staying with their distant cousins on a beach during their vacation. The kids also meet two other kids named Sam and Louisa, who also have the same last name as them. During their stay, they find out that the beach is haunted by a ghost and that the ghost lives in a cave. While their new friends and cousins tell them to stay away from the cave, the kids decide to go anyway to find some shocking and horrifying facts.

It’s an episode that goes by so quickly that you ask yourself with a confused and fuzzy memory “What was I watching”. It’s an awful episode, but not as awful as the episode with the worms.MV5BMDkwNjg2ZWItOWZmNi00NzM3LWJiYWItODFmMjk1Y2E2MTMyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzM4MjM0Nzg@._V1_

ATTACK OF THE JACK-O’-LANTERNS

It’s Halloween and Drew and Walker are getting ready to go Trick-Or-Treating, however, the two are being pranked by two kids from the Neighborhood named Tabitha and Lee. But two friends of Drew named Shane and Shana, who once lived in the neighborhood have a plan for the two bullies. Drew and Walker go Trick-Or-Treating with the bullies and the group meet two giant creatures with Jack-O-Lanterns for heads. At first, the kids think it’s the two kids pulling a prank, but then they come to realize that they are real monsters with magical powers.

Much like what “The Haunted Mask” did, the episode truly captures its Halloween atmosphere pretty well. The Jack-A-lanterns are pretty creepy and cool looking and their personalities while over the top, is still a bit freaky. I also love how at first you think (Like all the characters) that these monsters are just Shane and Shana pulling a prank on the two bullies. However, once the characters find out they’re real, you begin to believe that they’re not only real, but probably have killed the two kids since there’s been a history of disappearances of people missing. Yeah, the idea of making the kids Trick-Or-Treat forever does sound silly, but personally I think it was done well here. The special effects are good, but cheesy at the same time and even if half of the effects do look cheesy, there’s still a creative and Halloween charm to the cheesiness of these effects. There’s also a dream sequence of the kids being trapped in a stranger’s house and while being something you can cut out from the episode, it’s still pretty unsettling. The episode also has a really good plot twist, but with that said, it feels a little too similar to how the twist in “Welcome To Camp Nightmare” was executed. The episode’s a mixed bag of things I love and hate about it and with the negatives aside, I still find it enough to be enjoyably creepy, creative, fun and entertaining.4508924_l3

THE HAUNTED MASK 2

Taking place a year after the events from “The Haunted Mask”; the spirit of Halloween has brought back the evil Mask that Carly Beth wore, and now seeks her to be part of her face forever. However, the Mask needs help. It leads one of the kids who bullied Carly Beth to the abandon party store, where Carly Beth got the Mask, and now Steve finds an old man Mask, that he plans to wear to scare people to make his last Halloween become his most memorable one. However, the old man Mask takes over Steve’s face, and now the Mask that Carly Beth wore has Steve under his control, and will only free him from his old man Mask, if he helps it get revenge on Carly Beth. If you read my “Top 8 Favorite Goosebumps Episodes From Season 1”, you probably already know that I saw this episode before I ever saw the first Haunted Mask episode. Now that I’ve finally seen both episodes, is this episode just as good and faithful to the first classic episode?

The Make-Up they use for the old man Mask, is twice as creepy and nightmarish, as the original Mask. It looks scary, disgusting, and hideous; you have Spider’s crawling on the Mask’s face; you see the kid’s hands actually change into old prune hands; and the Old man voice is done so great, that it definitely tops the scary voice that Mask uses when the Mask controls Carly Beth in the first one. The original Mask from the first one looks just as scary as it did in the first episode. The effect for the Mask floating has upgraded a bit (Until the climax that is, that was cheaper than the effects in the first episode); when taking over a body, instead of having human eye’s, it has wide dark lifeless eyes like a Mask without a person wearing it (Odd, but still scary); almost every moment with the original Mask is twice as scary as the first episode; and on top of it, it talks in a voice so dark and sinister that it makes me wonder, why the Mask would want to take over Carly Beth. I mean, does the Mask really want to talk in that childish voice again; he has a body that’s bigger, darker, and gives him a more sinister voice than the body that a Pre-teen girl can bring? With joking aside, the Haunted Masks revenge is still a good enough plot for a kids show. The episode also surprisingly carries the same look, feel, and atmosphere as the first episode, and it does indeed bring back the nostalgia from the first episode.

This is actually a sequel that’s just as great as the first one, and is pulled off so well, that it feels like the second act to the first episode, and to me, that’s important to any good sequel!kevinz_1304626408

LET’S GET INVISIBLE

Max, his little brother Noah, and his friends find a mirror hidden in the attic, with a light that can make them invisible. The kids start playing with it until weird side effects begin to happen the more time they become invisible and to make matters worse the kids discover another world behind the mirror, where their reflections are waiting to take their place in the real world. Ok, I get what R.L. Stine is trying to do with this concept, and maybe this story translated a lot better in his book, but in a less than a 30 minute episode, it makes little sense. There’s a history with this mirror, but it’s never explored or talked about. It can make you invisible, but you’re taken into another dimension if you’re invisible for too long? I feel like R.L. Stine took two separate stories, one being about a light that makes you invisible; and the other one being about a mysterious mirror that leads you to another dimension; and combined both stories and ideas into one. Maybe it’s explained better in the book, but how it’s translated here, it feels like a mess.

The only good thing this episode offers are the creative special effects, and some cool ideas, but as a whole it feels like one big mess, starring bland characters that we can care less about.

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THE SCARECROW WALKS AT MIDNIGHT

Jodie and Mark are spending their summer vacation in the country on their Grandparents farm, however, their Grandparents have been acting strange whenever one of their farm workers named Stanley is around. The farm is also haunted by living Scarecrows that only walk at Midnight. Does Stanley have something to do with the walking Scarecrows; well isn’t it obvious? Let me just say that the explanation to why the Scarecrows walk makes very little sense at all.

The Scarecrows, while having cool and scary designs, and having great build up to them, they don’t do anything. All they do is scare, chase, and that’s it. They don’t do anything productive or villainous at all except look scary. They don’t even have any personality at all. So yeah, they’re scary looking, but outside of that, they’re nothing special. By the way, in the ending when The Harvester comes to life and starts coming after our characters. I thought it was a cool and scary concept, until I clearly saw the silhouette of the person driving it in more than one shot. What a great way to ruin your scary ending! The episode started out good, but once we got to the climax that’s when things started getting bad. It’s not an awful or bad episode, since it does deliver a few scares with those scary looking scarecrows, as well as being entertaining, but as a whole, it’s still weak.

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MONSTER BLOOD/MORE MONSTER BLOOD

A kid named Evan stays at his weird Aunt’s house, while his parents go house hunting in Georgia. However, he is told by his Aunt to not go into a room that she never locks, even after when catching him in the room. He and a neighborhood girl named Andy, sneak into this horrifying old room, to find a jar of green ooze called Monster Blood, which they curiously take out of the jar, and start playing with it as if it was Flubber. However, the Ooze continues to grow and grow, and eat everything in its path, even when making the slightest contact with a human that for some reason doesn’t consume Evan, when he becomes covered in it after foolishly sitting on the ledge of the Bathtub, with this dangerous substance in it. Evan manages to get rid of it, but in the second part of the episode, some of the blood somehow gets into his suitcase, and starts eating people on the plane one by one.

OK, before I go further into the review, let me address that “Monster Blood” is really popular in the “Goosebumps” franchise. It has it’s own series of books; it crosses-over in many other “Goosebumps” books; and that green ooze dripping to create the “Goosebumps” logo, is actually the “Monster Blood”. The second part “More Monster Blood” isn’t even based off a book, it was created for the show. While, I never read any of the “Monster Blood” stories, except for using it in the choose your own adventure book (Which I love reading) “Escape From The Carnival Of Horrors”, I am really displeased on what a letdown that this episode was.

Moremonsterblood_3This two part episode was terrible! I’ll admit, some of the characters and performances are decent, some of the effects are ok, and the second part had such a great set-up that I wish that it was a stand-alone episode. However, the episode suffers from some bland and idiotic characters, poor CGI effects, and lame and confusing writing. As bad as it is, it was at least entertainingly fun.

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VAMPIRE BREATH

Freddy and Cara are left home alone by their parents, and the two find a secret door. Inside the secret door, they find a Coffin, and a bottle of Vampire Breath, which they foolishly open, waking up a Vampire named Count Nightwing, who chases after the kids to consume the rest of the bottle. However, the kids find a hidden room, within the hidden room, that leads to a room full of Coffins, as a Vampire slave girl named Gwendolyn tries to help the kids.

There’s really not much else for me to say or comment on, except that it’s a lame episode that’s badly acted and filled with so many plot holes that it hurts my head just thinking about them. If there was only one good thing that the episode did ok with, the sets are nice, but it doesn’t save anything.

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HOW TO KILL A MONSTER

Gretchan and Clark are two kids who have now become Brother and Sister, after their parents married each other. While their parents are on their Honeymoon, the kids stay with Gretchan’s Grandparents who live in a swamp. During their visit, the Grandparents are hiding something in a room that the kids are not allowed to go in (Seen it before), however, the kids eventually go into the room, and discover that the Grandparents are hiding a monster in that room. The kids are left alone, and are locked inside the house (With locks inside the house as opposed to outside of the house. How did the Grandparents leave, or why did the kids not break the locks to get out of the house?) as the monster chases after them. Aside from the flaw I just mentioned, and a cliche that we’ve seen before; I really love the episode’s set-up!

The episode has a good set-up; decent effects and atmosphere; good chemistry between our two leads; and fun supporting characters. However, the ending freaking killed it, and that was a huge downer. It’s better than the episodes after “The Haunted Mask 2”, but the ending ruined it!

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CALLING ALL CREEPS

Ricky is your typical nerdy loser, who constantly gets picked on and bullied, especially from a popular girl named Tasha. Ricky tries to get back at her by writing in the school paper for creeps to contact her, but his plan backfires when Tasha discovers his plan, and has the creeps call him instead. A trio of kids who used to bully Ricky, turn out to be a race of monsters called Creeps, who think Ricky is their commander who has a plan to turn everybody in the world into “Creeps”, starting with the kids at their school.

This episode is showing signs of the series getting better with its acting and dark ending, but it’s still a bit of a letdown with its confusing storyline and cheesy monster effects.

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WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE

Amanda and Josh move into an old house in a dark town called “Darkfalls”, and strange things begin to happen ever since their Mother puts up an old family heirloom that’s supposed to be a good luck charm. The people who live in the town act very strange; their pet dog is acting weird; and Amanda sees dead people inside the house. Lately, we’ve been getting plenty of mediocre episodes from this show, but boy, things are really starting to bounce right back up again! First of all, I really love the episode’s premise. Instead of having a typical Haunted House story, you get a dark and creepy town to go with it, and on top of it, you get zombies coming after our main characters. It’s a really dark and creative set up. For those who are expecting this story to follow the book, like many “Goosebumps” episodes, it doesn’t; but it’s still a great episode.

 

The look and feel of the episode, is really dark and eerie! I mean seeing these dark and shadowy shots, mixed with the eerie music and sound effects creates a really unsettling atmosphere for this episode. Of course, the best sequence in the whole episode, goes to the climax when our characters are being chased by the zombies, from a cemetery to the old house where they live in! It’s really a cool and thrilling sequence! The episodes final scare, is not only scary, but makes you wonder what happens next. So as you may have guessed, I enjoy this episode a lot. I guess the only few flaws that I found in it that even I questioned as a kid is, why did a dead girl warn Amanda to leave the house, despite the fact that she needs her blood to stay alive? It’s a scary scene, don’t get me wrong, but her telling Amanda to leave, to later coming after her, makes no sense! I also would have liked to see the cursed heirloom explored a bit more, than what we were given. On top of it, the twist of the town residents being zombies, and even the ones who we’re supposed to be surprised that they are zombies, was really predictable and kind of obvious. Even when I was a kid, watching this episode for the first time, I’ve seen, or felt that twist coming! However, despite these flaws, I still really think it’s a great episode, and personally, those flaws don’t bother me as much as you think! This episode has indeed redeemed this Season from many of the mediocre episodes that I’ve reviewed after “The Haunted Mask 2” for its unsettling atmosphere; creative and dark premise; and excellent acting!

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DON’T WAKE MUMMY

Jeff constantly gets picked on, and pranked by his older sister Kim, for being a scare-able wimp. One day, their Father who’s away in Egypt (Or in a room with a tent and an obvious painted backdrop of Pyramids that not only won’t fool a kid into thinking he’s in Egypt; but makes you wonder where the budget for this show went) sends a Mummy to their house inside a sarcophagus and a jar containing its heart. Kim and his friend open the sarcophagus, which awakens the Mummy inside it. I hate to say this, but now the Season’s moving backwards again!

While this episode will most likely scare little kids, then kids around 7 and up, it’s an ok episode. It’s not one of the better ones due to having some bland acting and some really cheesy effects; but it does have a few good things going for it.

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THE BLOB THAT ATE EVERYONE

If you’re thinking that this is a “Goosebumps” episode that rips-off or homages “The Blob”, well, you don’t get a cheap “Blob” copy until the climax. Yeah, I’m dead serious, the blob, isn’t the episodes focus! Instead, its about a young aspiring writer named Zack, who trespasses into a store that was hit by lightning and finds a typewriter that has electrocuted him. Despite having a computer at home (Even though, I do get the idea that he wanted to use something old fashioned), and instead of avoiding a typewriter that has electrocuted him; he still wants it. Just as he steals it; a creepy store owner who comes out of the shadows, tells him he can have it, as opposed to wanting it back, and we never ever see or hear from her ever again! Zack starts writing stuff on the typewriter, and all of his writing comes true. How does a man eating blob fit the story; he’s trying to write a story about one, but we don’t see it until the climax.

The episode is really a downer. The characters stink; the scary magical typewriter is not creative or scary; the blob monster looks so horrible and ugly, and does so little in the story, that it was best to not include it in the episode at all; and the ending was a complete downer.0478ce22590c92efcabc644c39201867

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY 3

Trina and Daniel’s wimpy cousin who has a fear of dummies named Zane, comes to visit them for a few days. Their Dad, who is a dummy collector, receives a new dummy named Slappy (And for some reason, only a piece of his face is missing, then his entire face that was busted up in the last episode with Slappy) who is back to causing mischief and coming after our main characters, once our characters read the card that brings him to life. This episode is a two part episode, when the previous one with Slappy was a one parter, and it does indeed work as a two part episode, because of how each part works as a first and second act. The first part is off-screen mischief that we assume that Slappy is causing, when in a twist its Zane (Sorry to give away the twist, but I had to give it away, because it leads to an important criticism in my review); and the second part is Slappy chasing our main characters as they are home alone in the middle of a dark and stormy night. Those are really good set-ups for both acts.

 

While not being as good as I remembered it, it’s still one of the better episodes from this Season. Slappy despite not being as scary as he used to be, he’s still fun; the acting is good; it does have some decent scares; and the effects are good, despite how obvious of who the puppet is, and the actor is.

Rocky_(Night_of_the_Living_Dummy_III)The Season started out great, but once we got to the worms episode that’s when things go down hill. The ideas, scares, and effects for most of the episodes seem good or creative, but for the majority, we get bland and cliche characters and people who can’t act; ideas and stories that seem like a mess of different ideas that are executed poorly or are just dumb to begin with; really cheesy and silly monsters and special effects; pacing that feels rushed to the point where we wonder what we were just watching; and endings that nearly kill the whole episode. While close to getting a 2/5 for entertainment value, there are indeed some really great episodes that really do hit bulls-eyes. There’s not too many of them, but they’re still great by being fun; having cool visuals and effects (In TV standards); some decent acting and likable characters; some scary villains and monsters; a heavy atmosphere; and a creative and scary premise. While this Season is mostly an entertaining mess, it still has enough great and decent episodes to balance itself out with the bad ones.

REVIEW: GOOSEBUMPS – SEASON 1

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kathryn Long (Wind at My Back)
Colin Fox (Daylight)
Brenda Bazinet (Catwalk)
Cody Jones (The Santa Clause)
George Kinamis (Tommy Boy)
Amos Crawley (Billy Madison)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
Eugene Lipinski (Superman II)
Kaj-Erik Eriksen (The 4400)
Michèle Duquet (3 Men and a Baby)
Boyd Banks (Jason X)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 5)
Géza Kovács (Scanners)
Erica Luttrell (Reign of The Supermen)
Daniel DeSanto (Mean Girls)
Annick Obonsawin (Charlie Bartlett)
Maggie Castle (The time Traveler’s Wife)
Caterina Scorsone (Alice)
Gina Clayton (Odyssey 5)
Shadia Simmons (Life With Derek)
Suzanne Cyr (Extracurricular)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March)
Scott Speedman (Underworld)
Corey Sevier (Immortals)
Brendan Fletcher (Arrow)
Maria Ricossa (The In-Laws)
Don Francks (My Bloody Valentine)

mmpr-4R.L. Stine, The Stephen King of horror stories for kids once had a TV show based on his classic “Goosebumps” books back in the 90s. If you were a kid who grew up in that era, then you might remember this show. The show is like the classic “Nickelodeon” show “Are you Afraid of the Dark?” having scary episodes with a good story but uses unknown child actors, cheap special effects, and usually having scary endings as opposed to happy endings. Season Episodes are as follows….HauntedMask-630x420

THE HAUNTED MASK

The Pilot Episode is about a girl named Carly Beth who gets scared very easily, and has been picked on by two boys at school named Steve and Chuck for most of her life, and is now seeking for revenge. She goes to a party store owned by a creepy man, and finds the world’s scariest mask. She uses the Mask to scare people and get revenge on Steve and Chuck, but little does she know that the mask will now become a part of her for all eternity.Goosebumps_HauntedMask1_Review_6The kids act like regular people instead of being over the top which gives the episode a little realism to it, but there were two performances that stole the show. The girl who played Carly Beth really had me moved by all the terrible things that happen to her throughout the entire episode. She makes you feel so bad for her character is going through that you just want to hug her. When she finds that the mask is stuck to her skin, I totally got the impression that really is. Even her last scene of the episode brings a smile to my face. My only criticism for her performance is the creepy voice she uses when she’s wearing the Mask, it gets annoying after a while but I can see that the actress is trying hard to make it sound creature-like. The second performance I enjoyed is the actor who plays the shop owner. He gives me the creeps when I see him in the beginning of the episode. The actor kind of reminds me of Bela Lugosi in a way. He just does an overall solid job of creepy, mysterious and being sensitive. What I really think is his best scene is when he tells Carly Beth about the secrets of the masks he’s created.Goosebumps_HauntedMask1Part2_Recap_2As far the episode goes it’s a good start for the series. The make up design for the mask is scary and realistic; the cinematography is thrilling especially in the scenes when we see through the eyes of the mask; and the story is good and has a great moral. With that said there were parts of the episode that didn’t make any sense like the Statue head of Carly Beth for example. Why is that creepy statue head alive when her mother made it in art class, it makes no sense at all and is never explained why, we the audience just have to accept the fact that it’s alive with no explanation what so ever. The special effects also are kind of cheesy like the when the masks are floating and when the creepy statue head is alive, but I’d be lying if I said “They weren’t scary”. This episode does a great job of being scary and emotional and is a great start to the series!cropped_Cookooclock_03_the_clock

 

THE CUCKOO CLOCK OF DOOM

A 12 year old boy named Michael who has been picked on by his little sister Tara has the idea to frame her for wrecking his father’s magic Cuckoo Clock by twisting the cuckoo head from forward to backwards. Unfortunately, his plan backfires, and Michael now finds himself going backwards in time, where if he doesn’t switch the Cuckoos head to forward, he will be lost in time forever. The kid actors do a good job with their portrayal of their characters, especially the girl who plays Tara. She’s such a brat that I want to spank her for all the horrible pranks she does to her older brother, while making herself look sweet and innocent to her parents. The kid who plays 12 year old Michael is very convincing, especially when you hear his thoughts in his find about him traveling back. Sadly the kid who played the younger Michael didn’t convince me, but I will admit this, I did love his “Home Alone” face and scream when he finds out he’s six years old. The adult actors also do an ok job.GB_103_CuckooClockThe story is good, but can get kind of confusing at points. The scenery for the kid running away from the cuckoo clock in the dark hall is strange and creepy; the design of the Cuckoo Clock is nice and gives the episode it’s thrilling touch; and the camera angles and use of slow motion raises my suspense level higher and higher. This episode is like an episode for “The Twilight Zone”, having a good story and keeping you on the edge of your seat.0000000003

THE GIRL WHO CRIED MONSTER

Lucy is a girl who’s obsessed with Monster stories and enjoys scaring her little brother, until she one day finds out a dark secret in the library that she goes too. She discovers the librarian Mr. Mortman is a monster and nobody believes her. The characters and the acting in this episode are pretty boring and don’t have too much development. The actress who plays Lucy is fair but for some reason is still as boring as the rest of the characters. However, the actor who plays Mr. Mortman gave one of the best creepiest performances in this whole season. Every scene he’s in you feel uncomfortable, like you don’t know what he’s thinking but you can tell it means death to Lucy. The scenes when he’s alone are his best scenes as you see him eat bugs and expose the monster he truly is. It really makes my heart beat fast, plus Lucy is spying on him and you don’t know when he’s going to turn around and spot her. The whole library chase scene is the most frightening scene in the whole episode because you’re in the dark, you got book shelves at every corner (like a maze) and you hear his eerie voice calling out Lucy’s name.tumblr_inline_nxh03yyXmI1t29esf_640Even though most of the character are boring, badly acted or feel like you can run the whole episode without a few of them, it still has a nice story, as well as having one of the best plot twists in the “Goosebumps” series that makes the episode worth while. The make-up they use on Mr. Mortman as a monster is scary, along with the performance. And the camera shots are nice, especially when they censor a scene that looks extremely violent for kids.x1080-WEu

WELCOME TO CAMP NIGHTMARE

A boy named Billy is going to a camp called “Camp Nightmoon”for the summer. However, the camp is not what it appears to be. The camp is runned by a crazy man named Uncle Al; the head camp counselor is a bully named Larry; the campers are regular kids who either die or disappear; there’s a strong policy of keeping the boys separated from the girls (Just like the Hell Hole Camp that I’ve been too); there’s a bunker that’s forbidden; and on top of it, a monster named Sabre lurks around the woods to only feed on innocent campers. With a set up of like that you know this episode has to be good and believe me it is good. The episode just keeps getting more intense by the minute, there’s so many horrible things going on in that camp, that you might want to call it “Camp Hell”, Nightmare just sounds way to light. You don’t know what’s going to happen; you’re not sure if Uncle Al is with or against the campers; you don’t know for sure if the campers will live or not; and you keep guessing and guessing until the end adding up to a very clever plot twist.Ca59188be6e5383d25511b3f462d22cb52eb8ee9The acting is decent. Most of the kid actors are good but at times they can act cheesy or over the top in scenes when they’re scared or in trouble. The kid who plays the main character is a good actor where his acting matches his character. When he’s in trouble you feel his pain; when he’s scared you’re worried about him; and when he’s trying to help his fellow campers you solute him. The character is also probably one of the best “Goosebumps” heroes I ever saw because he takes risks and does what is best for his friends. When he’s in a bad situation he thinks quick, and does what he can to save his friends.2112-6-1-0-3543296908-xlarge-608x342

THE PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM

A girl named Brooke got the lead female in a play called “The Phantom”, and her prankster friend Zeke also got a lead role as the Phantom. However, the play they’re about to perform is actually a cursed play. Zeke has been pullin a few pranks to scare his friend, but there have been other things going on. There’s a new kid who just moved to the school; a creepy night janitor; a trap door that leads to a mysterious part of the Auditorium; and a few messages from the phantom himself. As good as the plot sounds and also being one of the many spins to the classic story “The Phantom Of The Opera”, it’s unfortunately one of the weakest episodes made this season.MV5BZTU1Y2I4NzEtMDYxYy00N2E5LTlkZDAtMWY0ZDA3NThmN2I4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzM4MjM0Nzg@._V1_

PIANO LESSONS CAN BE MURDER

Jerry is an only child who lives in his own little pretend world. He and his family move into an old house, and Jerry finds an old piano that plays by itself, and discovers that there’s a ghost haunting his new home. He eventually begins to take piano lessons at a high tech security school owned by a weird old teacher and a suspicious looking Janitor who uses robots to clean up for him. This is another weak episode made in this season. I actually find our main character more freighting than the other creepy characters. In every scene you see him in, he’s talking to himself and acting like his imagination is real. If it was a young kid it can work, however, if it’s an older kid, that just makes things weird. The actor who plays him even gives a poor performance. He can’t even make him likable or sound like he’s in trouble.Return_of_the_Mummy_-_Daniel_DeSanto_1

RETURN OF THE MUMMY

A kid name Gabe visits his Uncle Ben and bratty cousin Sari in Egypt where the three of them embark on an adventure in search for a mummy’s tomb in an old pyramid. Gabe carry’s with him a Mummy hand (That he bought at the airport) that can communicate with the dead, and a necklace (A gift from his Uncle) with a pendant made of amber with a scarab inside it. A reporter wishes to join them on their quest in the pyramid, but before they find the tomb, they find out it’s cursed. This episode has a really good set up. It takes place in a frail old cursed tomb that’s a maze of rooms, halls and secret passage ways full of Spiders and Snakes; two items that the character Gabe carry’s later on play an important role in the story; and there’s a Mummy that chases after the characters. The set designs for the tomb are creepy looking; the special effects are decent especially for the Mummy hand that moves; and I love the eerie noises and music for whenever Gabe is alone inside the tomb.IMG_6564

 

THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY 2

 

A girl named Amy gets a new Dummy named Slappy to replace her old broken dummy Dennis. However, the dummy is alive and causes mischief to get Amy in trouble. Amy tries to tell her friends and family that the dummy is doing all this but no one believes her. This is the first episode where we first meet the famous “Goosebumps” character Slappy the living dummy. This monster is the Chucky for young kids. He frames Amy by destroying stuff; he talks rudely to people, while Amy’s holding him (Making it look like Amy is saying those mean words); and makes her look crazy, which her parents might consider of sending her away. Ok, so he’s not a murderer, but remember, there are so many evil things you could do to someone without hurting them, and this episode defiantly proves that. Just because he doesn’t kill or hurt anyone that doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried. He tries to pull a little girls finger off; nearly kills Amy’s dad with a guitar; and chases after our main character probably thinking of killing her. He even tells Amy he can hurt her family in a 100 ways, which not only sounds threatening, but looking at the scenes when he’s sneaky around and framing Amy; it proves that he can hurt Amy’s family if he felt like it. This is one villain you don’t want to mess with. Overall, it’s a really suspenseful episode and a great introduction to this famous “Goosebumps” villain!Image5

STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT

Casey and Margret’s Dad has been acting very strange lately. Ever since he lost his job, he spends night and day working in his basement to create a new kind of plant. However, Margret notices her Dad’s odd behavior and wonders why he is acting so strange. She knows that the answer to her questions can be found in the basement. This has to be one of the creepiest episodes in the “Goosebumps” series! The acting’s is not Emmy worthy but it’s good enough for a kids show, and is mostly top notch given the show’s standards. The kids they got to play the roles of Casey and Margret are one of the better child actors that the show has to offer (even if they are bit stilted), but my real praise goes to the actor who plays the Dad. He’s creepy as hell. You don’t know when he’s going to snap; you don’t know what he’s thinking or planing; and the episode keeps making you wonder why he’s acting so weird. I think his best creepy moments is when he’s eating plant food; serving the kids breakfast; taking the phone away from Margret; but what tops them all is when he’s in the bathroom talking to himself as you see green ooze coming out of his cut and levees growing out of his hair. His facial expressions, odd behavior and eerie monotone voice keeps getting creepier and creepier as the episode moves on.Hairiest_06

MY HAIRIEST ADVENTURE

Meet Larry, a kid with allergies, has a fear of dogs, and is part of a garage band. One day he and his friends put on some old tanning lotion to look cool. But as a side affect, Larry has been growing hair all over his body. Not only is he getting hairy, but his parents are acting strange and his friends are disappearing. I do like the set-up to the episode. We get a narrative perspective from our main character, something weird is happening to him, and his friends one by one are disappearing. But the execution is terrible. The acting is horrible! Every ones acting is over the top and hardly ever believable. There wasn’t a single actor who did a good job. The worst one out of all them is the kid who plays our main character. He can’t act at all; he’s not funny; he’s not likable; and above all he can’t make a scene intense. Every time he worries about his friends disappearing, or when he worries about hair growing on him, it sounds like he’s reading a cue card or just saying the lines. He doesn’t even sound like he’s trying to be intense, even his scream doesn’t sound convincing. It’s not just the actors that stink, the characters are also very bland and forgettable.

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IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SINK

Kat and her family just moved to a new house that’s not that far away from their old neighborhood. Kat finds a sponge under the sink but she finds out it’s not just a sponge, it’s a monster sponge that brings bad luck. Yes, I’m not lying, a sponge is our monster. When you have a corny title called “It Came From Beneath The Sink”, chances are our monster is going to be an extremely poor payoff. Just look at it, it’s not even close to scary, it looks like a monster from a campy B Movie made in the 50’s. It doesn’t even do anything except cause bad luck; ruin a garden; and make the audience assume it kills the family dog; and usually most of the bad luck that occurs are actually accidents caused by our main character Kat. To me that’s not bad luck, she’s just clumsy. By the way, when we first meet the monster, Kat thinks it’s a cat because she can only see it’s evil red eyes in the dark. Seriously, how dumb is this girl, if I saw red eyes under my sink, the last thing I would assume it would be is a cat.

Say_Cheese_and_Die_-_Ryan_Gosling_1

SAY CHEESE AND DIE

Three friends find a camera in an abandon building where a creepy old man named Spidey lives. Once they use the camera, they find out the camera creates bad luck. One of the members from the trio also goes missing and the last time they saw her, she got her picture taken. The idea sounds cool and the title sounds scary, but sadly the title is misleading, why because NO ONE DIES! All the camera does is just create accidents or make people vanish that’s it! I know it’s a kid show but couldn’t they make the accidents more intense? The accidents in the last episode were more intense than the accidents here. Though the scene when our lead character has to ride with his family and car that’s going to be damaged after when he took a picture of it was pretty tense for the time being. Another question I must ask is why does any of these characters use a freaky looking camera? It looks like it has the word evil written all over it! Plus getting a freaky camera in a freaky area where a creepy man lives, chances are there has to be something not right about it.a-night-in-terror-tower

A NIGHT IN TERROR TOWER

Eddie and Sue are on vacation in England. Their parents left them to go on a tour bus while they’re at a conference. One of the stops on the tour is “Terror Tower”, and once they go into the Tower, they see some weird things and are being chased by a man dressed in black. Can they escape from him? This episode has another extraordinary set-up. It takes place in a dark castle filled with hundreds of passages and staircases; they’re being chased by a mysterious man; they see scary images and are not sure if those images are real or in their head; they can’t remember anything; and they go back in time to be executed. This episode has so many scenes of thrills and scary moments, that I couldn’t think of a moment when I felt at ease until the episode was wrapping. There’s even a interesting and chilling back story to the Tower. Our main characters Eddie and Sue are very likable and are the kind of characters that you pray will be alright. Again, the actors aren’t the greatest, but they’re enough to make the characters likable and make the audience feel as scared as they are. The man in black has to be one of the scariest “Goosebumps” villains ever. Instead of being over the top, he’s more serious and threatening. He’s bigger than the kids; he talks in a dark sinister voice; and will stop at nothing to kill our main characters, showing no sign or remorse or hesitation.A_Night_in_Terror_TowerThe supporting characters are just as great as our leads and villain. There’s the sorcerer Morgred, who’s just as likable as the kids and is really well acted. The only flaw in the character (And story) is why does he need three magic stones to become powerful? I know they’re magic, but couldn’t the writer be more creative with the idea. Oh well, it’s not a terrible idea I mean there is “The Sorcerers Stone” but couldn’t it be just one magic stone instead of three? Anyway getting back to the supporting characters you also have a nasty Cab Driver, scared looking peasants, a firm hotel clerk, but my favorite out of all them is the tour guide. He brings a lot of laughs in the episode and can come out as creepy every once in a while. In my opinion, it’s definitely of the best episodes in the whole series!The Werewolf of Fever Swamp

THE WEREWOLF OF FEVER SWAMP

Here’s our season finale! Grady and his family have moved to a swamp called “Fever Swamp” to do an animal experiment. His older sister hates the place, but Grady tries to make the best of things. However, the swamp carries a deadly disease; there’s a creepy and mysterious old hermit who lives in the swamp; and there’s a werewolf that haunts it and feeds on a full moon. What can I say about the set-up and story, it’s great. The idea of having a wolf in a jungle like swamp is bizarre, but it’s very creepy and inventive. The cinematography really captures the thrill; the lighting and use of mist not only helps with the foreboding atmosphere but it also pays homage to those old werewolf films. Speaking of homage, look for the haunted mask, it’s somewhere in this episode. The story also has tons of plot twists and even a few deaths (Not just animals). R.L. Stine even turned the tables a bit on character. Instead of the older one being smart and the little sibling being annoying, it’s the other way around. R.L. Stine even throws in a dog to make the heroes parents blame the animal for the deaths to animals that’s been going around, which surprisingly I did give a crap about the dog.Download_(3)

 

The build-up to the werewolf is really creepy. You don’t see a werewolf until the climax. When you first see it, you see it’s sharp claws, hear it howl, and see it chase its victims through its eyes in slow motion. You even don’t know where it is or when it will pop out to scare you. I’m not going to tell you who the werewolf is but I think you’ll be very surprised, especially when you see the person become half human and half wolf with very scary realistic make up. With all that praise on the wolf, I must honestly say when we see it fully, it not only looks cheesy but it kind of looks like a Gorilla than a werewolf. I wish Sabre was the episode’s wolf.dimsIt’s a campy show and has it’s over the top nonsense but it is still good. The stories are creative; the ideas and settings are creepy; and some of the monsters can be scary. The acting’s not so great but the actors do fit their characters and make (Most of them) them likable. The special effects can be very lame and laughable at times but there are a lot of good effects as well. Is it a scary show, not too scary but it’s scary enough to scare it’s target audience and SOME of it can be scary to an adult as well.

 

REVIEW: ALICE (2009)

CAST

Caterina Scorsone (Grey’s Anatomy)
Andrew-Lee Potts (Primeval)
Matt Frewer (Lawnmower Man 2)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Philip Winchester (Solomon Kane)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek: DS9)
Tim Curry (IT)
Harry Dean Stanton (The Avengers)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Charlotte Sullivan (Smallville)
Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Galactica)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
Alex Diakun (Andromeda)
Kevan Ohtsji (Godzilla)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Fiona Vroom (Power Rangers)

Alice Hamilton is a judo sensei living with her mother Carol. Her father disappeared when she was ten, and she has spent much of her life looking for him. She invites her new boyfriend Jack Chase to dinner, but is shocked when he gives her a valuable-looking ring as a gift. Jack abruptly leaves, Alice following only to witness Jack being abducted by several men. A man (the White Rabbit) appears and finds out that Alice is in possession of the ring because he hears the click of the mechanical box that contains the ring opening behind her back. He manages to take the box from her, thinking the ring is still in it, but Alice had already quickly taken it out and resealed the box. The White Rabbit runs away and Alice chases him to find out where they had taken Jack, but falls through a giant looking glass and lands in Wonderland, which has evolved over the past 150 years. The Queen of Hearts rules over Wonderland from the Heart Casino, where people from Alice’s world (“Oysters”) are taken to, sedated and play games in the casino, their positive emotions drained from them and turned into drug-like substances for the people of Wonderland to digest, keeping them under the Queen’s control.

Alice escapes her own capture, with the ring still in her possession. Identified as an “Oyster” by the tattoo she gains, Alice is taken to the Hatter, a member of the resistance seeking to free the Oysters from the Queen’s control. The Hatter takes Alice to ask Dodo to help save Jack, but Dodo refuses, until the Hatter reveals the ring Alice wears, which Dodo recognizes as the Stone of Wonderland, able to open the Looking Glass back to the human world. Alice flees when Dodo tries to kill her, the Hatter accompanying her to the forest where they escape a jabberwock and meet Charlie, a surviving White Knight, who fled a battle years ago where Wonderland’s knights were wiped out by the Queen. The Queen has the White Rabbit executed, and has the Walrus and Carpenter revive Mad March, her favorite assassin to track Alice.

Alice deliberately allows Mad March to capture her, so she can negotiate with the Queen to free Jack in return for the ring, which Alice has hidden. Jack appears, revealed as the Queen’s son and to already be engaged to the Duchess. However, Jack passes Alice her father’s watch, implying he is alive and in Wonderland. Alice is put in the Truth Room, where Tweedledum and Tweedledee interrogate her to learn the ring’s location, but she is freed by the Hatter and Charlie, the trio escaping back to the forests, whilst Jack also escapes. In hopes of aiding the resistance and returning Alice home, Hatter uses his connections to find someone who can bring them to Caterpillar, leader of the resistance, using the ring as leverage. To their surprise, the agent who arrives is Jack, revealing him as an agent of the resistance who had originally stolen the ring as part of a ploy to initiate a coup to overthrow the queen. Trusting him, Alice retrieves the ring, and accompanies Jack to meet Caterpillar, who reveals that Alice’s father is Carpenter, but he has no memory of her. As the Carpenter has been crucial in process for extracting emotions for the Queen, Jack had deliberately approached Alice in hopes that she could help the Carpenter break away from the Queen’s control. Just as the Carpenter shows signs of regaining memories, Mad March and his minions arrive, capturing Alice and Jack whilst Caterpillar escapes.
Harry Dean Stanton, Caterina Scorsone, and Philip Winchester in Alice (2009)
Reunited with her ring, the Queen decides to send Alice home and execute Jack. The Hatter stages a rescue with Charlie but is captured by Mad March after Charlie loses his courage and flees. Charlie, after feeling guilty for deserting the Hatter, uses the skeletons of the extinct White Knights as a distraction to trick the Hearts into believing they are under attack. After being tortured by Dr. Dum and Dee, Hatter kills Mad March and escapes. Alice escapes again, joining up with the Hatter to snap the Oysters out of their sedations and rally them to escape. Carpenter appears, having regained his memories, but is killed by Walrus. The Oysters’ unpleasant emotions run high, causing the casino to start collapsing. Alice, the Hatter, Jack, the Duchess and the Queen escape but Winston, the loyal King of Hearts willingly perishes knowing his wife never loved him. With her followers no longer listening to or fearing her, the powerless Queen surrenders the Stone of Wonderland to Alice. Alice returns home, learning her experience may have been a dream when she awakens in hospital to find she had been found unconscious an hour after chasing Jack. However, the next day she discovers the “construction worker” who found her was the Hatter. The two share a passionate kiss in front of a looking glass, as Carol stares in shock.

Scorsone makes an excellent modern Alice — intelligent, capable and capable of butt-kicking her way out, but still vulnerable and young (“You don’t remember me!”). Potts makes a quirky, disheveled Hatter, and Frewer rounds out the main trio as a mildly insane White Knight. Winchester and Colm Meaney are also excellent, Tim Curry is brilliant but underused, and Kathy Bates absolutely rules as the casually cruel, petulant Queen. And yes, she does say “off with his head!. lots of action, a touch of romance, and just enough surreality.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 1 & 2

CAST

Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
David Ramsey (Pay It Forward)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Susanna Thompson (Dragonfly)
Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Colin Salmon (Limitless TV)
Jamey Sheridan (The Ice Storm)
Annie Ilonzeh (Beauty and The Beast)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Derek Hamilton (Disturbing Behavior)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Kelly Hu (The Vampire Diaries)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Byron Mann (Dark Angel)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Euegen Lipinski (Goosebumps)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
John Barrowman (Reign)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Kyle Schmid (The Covenant)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (V)
Jessica De Gouw (Dracula)
Jeffrey Nordling (Tron: Legacy)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Sebastian Dunn (The Other Half)
Andrew Dunbar (Leprechaun: Origins)
Danny Nucci (Eraser)
Ben Browder (Stargate SG.1)
Christie Laing (Scary Movie 4)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
David Anders (Izombie)
Ona Grauer (V)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
James Callis (Battlestar Galactica)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Chin Han (The Dark Knight)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Anna Van Hooft (Flash Gordon)
Celina Jade (The Man with The Iron Fists)
Seth Gabel (Salem)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Dylan Bruce (Heroes Reborn)
Caity Lotz (The Machine)
Michael Jai White (The Dark
Valerie Tian (Izombie)Knight)
Kevin Alejandro (Ugly Betty)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Scream: The Series)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Aubrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)
Cle Bennett (Flashpoint)
Dylan Neal (Sabrina: TTW)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Spartacus)
David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Katrina Law (Chuck)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Nicholas Lea (V)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Animated Series)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Navid Negahban (Legion)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)

Image result for arrow pilotAfter turning the story about Clark Kent’s evolution from humble teenager to world’s greatest hero into one of the most successful science fiction TV series of all time, what exactly do you do for an encore? The obvious answer would be a series about a young Bruce Wayne. Or maybe a crime procedural starring the men and women of the Gotham City Police Department. Instead, The CW gave us Arrow, a series that simultaneously explores Oliver Queen’s first months as a vigilante hero and the painful hero’s journey he undertook while stranded on a remote island. Even considering Green Arrow’s popularity in Smallville and Justice League Unlimited, it wasn’t the most obvious choice. Nor was it the choice many DC fans wanted. But ultimately, it was a choice that paid off.

To their credit, they succeeded. Even right off the bat, there were many notable elements that he writers introduced into the Green Arrow mythos. Generally a loner in the comics, here Ollie was given a full family and circle of allies. Some were inspired by characters from the comics, while others were entirely new creations. Probably the most successful new addition was John Diggle as Ollie’s personal bodyguard-turned-ally in his war on crime. Watching the dynamic between Ollie and Diggle morph from cold and hostile to warm camaraderie was a treat. And the two sequences featuring Diggle in the costume rather than Ollie suggested that this show could have a life beyond that of its lead character.Image result for arrow pilotAmell’s performance grew stronger over time, and the subtle ways in which he distinguished his performances during the present-day and flashback scenes stood out.With other characters, it was more a question of the scripts shedding light on motivation and relationships before they really came into their own. This was certainly the case with Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), who was a bit of a hard sell as a sympathetic mother figure until viewers came to understand her role in “The Undertaking.” Similarly, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) came across as a fairly flat and unimportant character at first. But by the end of the season, Tommy had emerged as the emotional heart of the series and Donnell’s one of the strongest performances.Jessica De Gouw in Arrow (2012)Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) was endearing, her instant charm made fans fall in love with her making her a regular was the best choice when they headed into season 2. As Laurel, Katie Cassidy was excellent as future Black Canary, dealing with her emotions of seeing her former boyfriend back from the dead and the lost of her sister.  Structurally, the season started out strong and finished even stronger. The writers managed to weave together an overarching narrative as Ollie slowly uncovered the truth of The Undertaking and his own parents’ involvement while contending with various smaller villains and conflicts. Anchoring the series throughout were the frequent flashbacks to Ollie’s five years on the island. The pilot episode offered a tantalizing glimpse of what had transpired over the course of those five years with the Deathstroke mask discarded on the beach. Various plot twists revealed just how complicated that story is, teaming Ollie with Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) in an ongoing guerrilla war against mercenary leader Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn). Particularly once Slade entered the picture and his bond with Ollie became a major focal point, the flashbacks emerged as one of the strongest elements of the show.

Everything in Season 1 culminated in two climactic episodes as Ollie fought for the survival of Starling City in the present and to stop Fyers from sparking an international incident in the past. These episodes offered a satisfying blend of big action scenes and emotional character showdowns. In particular, the final scene between Ollie and Tommy that closed out the season was perhaps the best the show has delivered so far.

Right off the bat, “City of Heroes” set the tone and direction for Season 2. We saw a despondent Ollie still crushed by the death of his best friend, Tommy, and having retreated to the island in a self-imposed exile. Though Colin Donnell only briefly reprised his role as Tommy this season, his character was very much a lingering presence driving the actions of Ollie and Laurel throughout the year. And his death formed the crux of Ollie’s renewed mission. It was right there in the revised opening sequence – “To honor my friend’s memory, I can’t be the killer I once was.” And that, more than Ollie’s battles with Slade Wilson or Sebastian Blood or Isabel Rochev, was the core conflict of the season. It’s easy enough to fight criminals by shooting them dead. But could Ollie muster the strength and the courage not to kill, even if it meant putting himself, his family, and his city in greater danger? It was a struggle, but the most satisfying element of the finale was the way Ollie definitively answered that question and established himself as a better class of vigilante.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Overall, Season 2 was a good showcase for Stephen Amell’s acting talents.  Ollie was haunted by demons and shouldering heavy burdens throughout the year. He suffered more often than he succeeded, and Amell conveyed that pain well. Most impressive was the way Amell was so capable at portraying Ollie at different periods in his life. We saw plenty more of Ollie’s life on the island in the various flashback scenes. Having already spent a year fighting for his life against men like Edward Fyers and Billy Wintergreen, flashback Ollie was closer to the man he is in the present, but not all the way there. And we even caught glimpses of a pre-island Ollie, most significantly in “Seeing Red.” More than the changes in hairstyle or fashion, it was Amell’s purposeful shifts in vocal intonation and body language that differentiated the different versions of Ollie.Having established himself as one of the better supporting players in Season 1, it was very gratifying to see Manu Bennett step fully into the spotlight and become the big antagonist of Season 2. That’s despite him not even being revealed as the secret mastermind of Brother Blood’s uprising until the mid-season finale, “Three Ghosts.” But it was crucial that the show spend so much time, both this season and last, in building up the brotherly bond between Ollie and Slade and the island. We needed to feel the pain of seeing them broken apart and Slade become a vengeful villain hellbent on tearing his former friend’s life down. And it wasn’t until much later still that we saw how that rift occurred and Slade turn his wrath against Ollie. It’s a testament to both the writing and Bennett’s acting that the character never quite lost his aura of sympathy even as he murdered Ollie’s mother and tried to do the same to Felicity. This was a man driven half-mad by the loss of the woman he loved and an injection of a super-steroid. But conversely, I appreciated how the finale took pains to establish that it wasn’t just the Mirakuru fueling Slade’s anger. Even now, super-strength gone and exiled back to the island, Slade is a clear and present danger to Ollie’s world.Three GhostsThe show introduced Sebastian Blood and Isabel Rochev as Slade’s subordinates, with Blood serving as the most visible villain for much of the season. I really enjoyed Kevin Alejandro’s portrayal of Blood. Alejandro’s Blood was so disarmingly charming that it was often difficult to reconcile him with the masked man kidnapping drug addicts and turning street thugs into super-soldiers. Ultimately, Blood became the sort of villain who does the wrong things for the right reasons. He had an honest desire to make Starling City a better place. And when it became clear to him that Slade Wilson wouldn’t leave a city left for him to rule, Blood did the right thing and aided Team Arrow.Most of the increasingly large supporting cast were given their moments to shine in Season 2. I was often disappointed that Diggle wasn’t given more to do, but at least he was able to take a starring role in “Suicide Squad.” Diggle’s backseat status was mainly the result of Sara Lance stepping into the limelight early on and eventually becoming the fourth member of Ollie’s vigilante crew. The Arrow had his Canary finally. Sara’s own struggles with the desire for lethal force and reuniting with her family often made for good drama. But among Team Arrow, it was often Felicity Smoak who often had the best material.  Emily Bett Rickards had much better material to work with this year, whether it was her unrequited love for Ollie, her burgeoning relationship with Barry Allen, or her desire to pull her weight alongside her more physically capable allies. The final three episodes all featured some standout moments for Felicity as she established herself as a force to be reckoned with.
Elsewhere, Roy Harper was often a focus as he transitioned from troubled street punk to superhero sidekick. Roy’s temporary super-strength powers were a welcome story swerve and a fitting physical manifestation of his inner rage. His character arc received a satisfying conclusion in the finale when he proved himself worthy and received his own red domino mask, but lost Thea as a result.As for the various women in Ollie’s life, Felicity and Sara aside, Season 2 was a little more uneven. Moira definitely had an interesting ride. She started out Season 2 fighting for her life while on trial for her role in the Undertaking. Then, in an unlikely turn of events, she was spurred to run for mayor. And finally, her life did end when she became a pawn in Slade’s cruel game. It was a terrific finish for Moira, proving once and for all that, whatever wrongs she committed, she was only ever trying to ensure her children’s survival. Thea was more up and down throughout the season. She was often underutilized, but received a boost late in the season when she learned the truth about her parentage. Laurel’s character  had her own crucible this season, spiraling into into drug and alcohol addiction and losing her job before hitting bottom, rebounding, and playing her part in saving Starling City.The Mirakuru drug served as a plausible, pseudo-scientific way of introducing super-strength and allowing Slade to transform into Deathstroke. And even when it came time to introduce the Flash midway through the season, Barry Allen never felt too out of place alongside the more grounded characters. Season 2 really opened the floodgates as far as drawing in characters and elements from other DC properties. Barry Allen’s debut was the most high-profile, but we also saw plenty more of Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S. “Professor Ivo became a recurring villain, along with a very different take on Amazo. And in a welcome twist, it turned out that even the Batman franchise is fair game with this show. Early on we learned of Sara Lance and Malcolm Merlyn’s connection to the League of Assassins. Nyssa al Ghul appeared in a couple of episodes, and we know her father is out there in the world, leading his shadowy organization in the hidden city of Nanda Parbat. Even Harley Quinn had a brief cameo.And beyond the introduction of all these new elements, the scope of Arrow really opened up in Season 2. The action was bigger and better choreographed. The scale of the conflicts was bigger. The producers simply seemed to have more money to throw around. And whether that was actually the case or just the result of experience and planning, the end result was the same. Arrow became a bigger, more cinematic TV series this season.

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE

CAST

Christopher Reeve (Rear Window)
Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror)
Gene Hackman (Heartbreakers)
Jackie Cooper (The Champ)
Marc McClure (Back To The Future)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Sam Wanamaker (Raw Deal)
Mark Pillow (Wiseguy)
Mariel Hemingway (Manhattan)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Susannah York (The Calling)
Eugene Lipinski (Goosebumps)

52778_superman02The world is on the brink and Superman takes it upon himself to rid the planet of all nuclear weapons. Of course, war is big business and Lex Luthor sees an opportunity to use the Man of Steel’s quest for peace as a way to make big bucks. By promising various war moguls that he’ll destroy Superman for a cut of the profits, he puts a genetic stew made from Superman’s own DNA aboard one of the rockets he knows Superman is going to throw into the sun. After the Man of Steel does, Nuclear Man is born, a being bent on the destruction of Superman and to do Lex Luthor’s bidding.
MV5BODNmODZmMTMtYTA0NS00ZDE1LThiZTQtMTQ4OWZhMTJlNTRjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTIzOTk5ODM@._V1_Will Superman stand against this solar villain or will he fail and let the world fall along with him? This was the last box office outing for the Man of Steel for almost twenty years. As a general premise, it’s a basic idea: save the world, your main villain doesn’t want you to and thus creates something powerful to defeat you. But something gets lost in translation and there are so many laughable moments in the movie that it’s the worst of the Superman movies when it could have been the flick to redeem the franchise. The special effects are terrible. I don’t understand how the SFX from the movies nine years earlier were better. Most of the flying scenes were like a cut-out of Superman against a still back drop. Even in one of them, when he’s flying along the river, you can see the wake of the boat from the camera crew. The fight choreography was overly-dramatic and something you’d see in a school play. It seemed they either tried too hard with this movie and it all fell apart, or they just didn’t try at all. As always, Christopher Reeve was amazing as Superman. That’s who he was.screen-shot-2017-06-08-at-53327-pmpngMargot Kidder was back as Lois Lane in this one and you can see glimpses of the connection she and Superman had in Superman I and II, but nothing comes to fruition in this. Granted, this movie didn’t have any romantic elements other than one scene where the two fly together, which was just repeated footage cut over a multitude of backgrounds. (They fly around the whole world in that sequence in record time, too.) There is a lot wrong with this movie with plenty of story and continuity inconsistencies, never mind the introduction of new superpowers that are not in the comics or other films (i.e. Superman rebuilding the Great Wall of China just by looking it). There were, however, some things right with the movie. One of my favorite parts is when Clark and Superman are invited up to Lacy Warfield’s (Mariel Hemingway’s) penthouse. Clark has to keep coming up with ways to disappear and become Superman and vice versa without tipping Lois and Lacy off that the two are one and the same. This was well done and the ways he does it are very creative.supermaniv_heroGene Hackman’s Lex Luthor—yes, he is the greatest criminal mind of our time and for good reason. He does the part just as well as he did back in Superman I and II. Who else would come up with a way to destroy Superman that would also make him stinking rich in the meantime? This is one of those movies that if you go in and see it for what it is, you’ll be fine with it. Won’t change your life, but you’ll be fine with it. If you go in expecting a stellar superhero movie, especially one that could stand toe-to-toe with the super flicks of today, then you’ll want to look elsewhere.

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN II

CAST

Christopher Reeve (Rear Window)
Margot Kidder (The Amityville Horror)
Gene Hackman (Heartbreakers)
Ned Beatty (Rango)
Jackie Cooper (The Champ)
Terence Stamp (Yes Man)
Marc McClure (Back To The Future)
Sarah Douglas (Puppet Master III)
Jack O’Halloran (King Kong 1976)
Valerie Perrine (What Women Want)
Susannah York (They Shoot Horsesm Don’t They?)
Clifton James (Live and Let Die)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
E.G. Marshall (Nixon)
John Ratzenberger (Cheers)
Eugene Lipinski (Highlander: The Series)

Superman II opens with a visual recap of the first movie during the opening credits. This is intended to refresh the memories of those who saw Superman, not to provide a primer for those who did not. Almost all of the surviving characters from Superman are back, some for cameos and some for more substantive screen time. The comically villainous Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) once again provides a thorn in Superman’s side; his henchman, Otis (Ned Beatty), appears in a few scenes, as does the scatterbrained Miss Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine). The three villains from Krypton – General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas), and Non (Jack O’Halloran) – have greatly expanded roles. Everyone on the Daily Planet staff has returned: Perry White (Jackie Cooper), Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure), and, of course, Lois Lane (Margo Kidder). Even Superman’s dead mother, Lara (Susannah York), makes a fleeting appearance. Absent is Marlon Brando, who refused to allow his work from Superman to be used in flashbacks or otherwise. Fortunately, Jor-El’s absence isn’t an issue.

Because the roster of characters is loaded with returning faces, there isn’t much room for new players. E.G. Marshall plays the United States President in a few scenes, and Clifton James has a cameo as the Sheriff of East Houston.  Other than those two and a few other minor characters (such as the bully in the diner who has a couple of run-ins with Clark Kent), Superman II is stocked from the same pool as Superman. (Almost everyone except Brando signed for two movies at the outset.) Rectifying one of Superman’s flaws, Superman II offers not just one, but three, effective villains. Each of the criminals from Krypton is as strong as the Man of Steel, and their amorality makes them far more dangerous. They have come to Earth for conquest and revenge (upon the son of their former jailer), and are surprised to learn that Kal-El is not lording it over the inferior human beings. Upon realizing this, a bemused Zod remarks, “This ‘Superman’ is nothing of the kind. I have discovered his weakness. He cares about these creatures.” Ursa, groping for a response, ventures, “Like pets?” The prominence of the three supervillains allows Lex Luthor to fill the role of comic relief – a part that fits Hackman to a “T”. And, in addition to playing an important part in the way things eventually turn out, Luthor has nearly all of the best lines.Superman-II-645x370The film opens with Superman flying to Paris to stop a group of terrorists from blowing up the Eiffel Tower with a hydrogen bomb. Hurling the device deep into space before it can explode, Superman saves the planet from nuclear devastation. Unbeknownst to him, however, he creates a bigger problem. Shock waves from the bomb rip open the “Phantom Zone” in which Jor-El had imprisoned Zod and his two cronies. Free, they make their way to the Moon, then to Earth, intent upon conquest. Meanwhile, Clark and Lois end up in Niagara Falls doing a piece of investigative journalism. While there, things heat up between the two of them as Lois finally realizes that Clark and Superman are one and the same. Once she has confessed her love for him, and he for her, they fly to his Fortress of Solitude, where he uses a supposedly irreversible process to strip away his superpowers so he can share his life with a mortal. Unfortunately, after returning to the real world and getting a rude awakening about his new physical limitations, Clark learns that, without Superman, the world is doomed to be ruled by Zod, Ursa, Non, and perhaps Luthor (who only wants Australia). So, leaving Lois to return to Metropolis by herself, he heads back to the Fortress, hoping to find some way to resurrect his powers.
Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran in Superman II (1980)
Obviously, the centerpiece of the film is the epic battle between Superman and the supervillains, which takes place high above Metropolis. Pyrotechnics abound, and, while the flying sequences still suffer from the same problems as those in the original Superman, their deficiencies are not distracting enough to diminish the high adrenaline aspects of the struggle. However, while this may be the most ambitious part of the movie, it’s not my favorite – that honor goes to the Clark/Lois scenes at Niagara Falls, which are, by turns, humorous, gentle, and suffused with a quiet sense of joy. Both Kidder and Reeve shine during these moments, and they display the kind of chemistry that has us rooting for them to defy the odds and remain together. It’s the freshness of these scenes that makes the denouement unexpectedly touching.

As with the original Superman, Superman II is a comic book come to life. It is a fantasy, and, as a result, the more deeply you apply rational thought to what’s transpiring on screen, the more quickly everything will unravel. Fortunately, the rapid pacing and strong character identification makes suspension of disbelief a relatively easy task, even during the most preposterous of moments (Luthor’s escape from prison, Clark’s return to the Fortress, and the final “twist” that results in Zod and his fellows getting their comeuppance). In fact, one of the key elements that differentiates the first two Supermans from the later pair of sequels (and the tangentially related Supergirl, for that matter) is our ability to suspend disbelief. Superman III and Superman IV are so patently idiotic that no amount of goodwill on the viewer’s part will allow him or her to get past the bad writing.MV5BOTI1NDE3NDAzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTk5NTUyNw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1524,1000_AL_Visually, the look and feel of Superman has been replicated in the sequel. Unlike Batman, which staked its credibility on style, Superman was never as concerned with the visual dynamic. The Fortress of Solitude is the exception, but there is no attempt to hide the fact that Metropolis is actually New York City. Musically, the decision was made to retain John Williams’ signature themes from the original Superman, as re-worked by Ken Thorne. The result is effective, allowing the two Supermans to be as much musical twins as they are visual ones. Most importantly, Superman II delivers on the promise hinted at in Superman. Which is the better film? That’s a hard choice to make, since both succeed in different ways. Superman acquaints us with the characters and sets up the scenario; Superman II takes the plot threads introduced in the original and resolves them. In my review of Superman, I noted that it is possible to watch and enjoy that film without having seen the sequel. A similar comment can be made regarding Superman II – having viewed its predecessor is not a necessary prerequisite to appreciating the second installment. Nevertheless, it should be obvious that the best approach is to see both movies (back-to-back, if possible).


As promised at the end of Superman II, there was a Superman III.