Tower of Terror

Happy Halloween, Very Special Readers! I’m so excited to tell you all about one of my favorite TV movies: Tower of Terror. Originally aired on The Wonderful World of Disney in 1997, the film stars Steve Guttenberg, Kirsten Dunst, Melora Hardin, Nia Peeples, and Lindsay Ridgeway (a.k.a the second Morgan on Boy Meets World.)

This film also has the distinction of being the first of its kind in the “based-on-a-ride” series that Disney would explore with the wildly successful Pirate of the Caribbean, the much maligned Haunted Mansion, and more recently, Jungle Cruise. Filmed partially on-location at the theme park ride, the plot of the film draws its inspiration from the opening reel that riders see at the attraction before making their own journey into the fateful elevator! You can check out a making of for the theme park reel below:

Okay, now back to the movie. Miraculously, this film is available for you to watch on YouTube in its entirety. It scared the crap out of me as an elementary school kid, but I’m happy to say that I’m a lot braver in my thirties.

But I will say that the heroes of this film are like a little more dark than child-me realized. They’re grifters. Steve Guttenberg’s character, Buzzy, is a photographer who sells stages pictures of supernatural phenomenon to tabloids and his niece, Anna (Kirsten Dunst) helps him. She questions whether he ever wants to engage in legit journalism and he counters by telling her that the truth doesn’t matter. And, speaking from post-Trump America, feels bleak and prescient.

There’s also some underdeveloped romance plot where we’re not sure if Steve misses his ex-girlfriend (Nia Peeples) or just misses working at a legit paper. Was she his boss? Unclear.

Things turn spooky when a mysterious visitor shows up at Buzzy’s house — an old lady says she she lived in the Hollywood Tower Hotel when a child star disappeared in an elevator back in 1939 and KNOWS THE TRUE STORY.

If I didn’t get you with DISAPPEARED IN AN ELEVATOR then you should stop reading now because you’re definitely not going to be interested in this post.

Furthermore, this old woman shares that she saw Mrs. Partridge, who was the nanny of Sally Shine (a child actress knock-off of Shirley Temple played by the second Morgan from Boy Meets World), cast a black magic spell that made an entire elevator full of people disappear.

She insists that he take her very old set of keys and break into this very abandoned hotel — and look for a BOOK OF SOULS that will prove Mrs. Partridge was an evil witch.

Luckily, Buzzy’s career is in the crapper so he kind of has to take her up on this offer.

Buzzy goes to the hotel where he bribes the caretaker, a descendent of one of the missing elevator inhabitants, to show him around. The bellhop was the son of the hotel’s builder and, as such, he left it in his will that the property must remain closed until someone solves the mystery.

After something like two solid minutes of exploring the set and getting you all excited to go to the theme park — Buzzy does indeed find the book of souls. As Buzzy leaves the building, Mrs Partridge STICKS HER GHOSTLY HEAD OUT OF A MIRROR AND HE DOES NOT EVEN SEE IT. What kind of ghost detective are you even, Buzzy?

Anyway, he decides to stage a photo because that’s all he knows how to do. So he makes his fifteen year old niece dress up like this ten year old child star and, yes, it is as awkward as it sounds. He also hires a woman from an acting agency (Melora Hardin) to play Mrs. Partridge but the woman who shows up is wayyyy too young and also suspiciously accurate at appearing to be from the 1930s.

Before we have too much time to wonder if this actress is actually a ghost, we’re lured away by the sounds of ethereal music and the sounds of kitchen staff preparing for the big party in 1939. This quickly transitions to the spooky rendition of “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” that you’ll have heard on the Tower of Terror ride if you’ve ever been. Buzzy and Anna then see a child’s ghost singing. And Buzzy is like, yeah, this is good stuff I can go ahead and pitch it to my ex-girlfriend at the newspaper. Spoiler alert: this goes poorly.

Meanwhile, Anna and his source are discussing how the spell trapped everyone in the elevator. Their theory is that Mrs. Partridge only had an identifier for one person in the elevator (a lock of Sally’s hair) and because she didn’t have anything for the other passengers, they were all trapped in limbo in the hotel — rather than Sally just straight up being murdered which was the original intention of this spell and OMG THIS IS DARK FOR A KID’S TV MOVIE.

Anyway, they decide that if they can bring everyone back by finding their identifier items within the hotel. Buzzy is all excited that brining people back from another dimension will reinvigorate his career and Melora Hardin’s character gets all offended that he doesn’t really care about the ghosts — of which she clearly is one.

While Buzzy and one of the ghosts discuss ethics in the garden, the other adult ghosts are threatening Anna’s life inside the hotel. She tells them she only wants to help, but they tell her to get lost. Then the little girl ghost appears and asks Anna to please fix the elevator as if she were some kind of antique Otis repairman instead of a fifteen year old girl from 1997.

But somehow this does, in fact, become the plan. As they find the last of the identifiers (the actress ghost’s locket…that contains a photo of…herself…), the ghosts reveal themselves to Buzzy and Anna and ask that they leave them alone because they don’t want people to find out about them lest they be treated like zoo animals. To which, I only ask, how is this in the Hollywood Hills and no one has ever broken in and already taken all this vintage expensive shit? But no, it’s all just sitting there and the ghosts are like please don’t mention that we’re here to anyone, thank you.

The Wonderful World of Disney" Tower of Terror (TV Episode 1997) - IMDb

So anyway Buzzy and Anna convince the caretaker, who knows nothing about antique elevators, to try to fix this broken down thing so the passengers can finally get to the twelfth floor to attend this party that ended six decades earlier.

Meanwhile, Buzzy’s ex ran a background check on his source after their conversation at the paper. It turns out that his source is actually Sally Shine’s big sister. She’s been in a mental institution since 1940 and she has a beheaded doll of her little sister plus a lot of creepily desecrated photos. Once again. Super creepy for a kid’s movie. BUT it is a story. However, Buzzy has already promised the ghosts that he will help them fix the elevator.

Anna loses all respect for Buzzy. Honestly, it was amazing she ever had any to begin with.

The caretaker doesn’t want to go into the hotel without Buzzy, but Anna, the true hero of this film, pressures him into it.

The Wonderful World of Disney" Tower of Terror (TV Episode 1997) - IMDb

This is, however, a Disney movie. So Buzzy grows a heart at the last possible moment. And also realizes that he gave Sally’s sister exactly what she wanted — the book of souls. You see, all she really wanted was to make the elevator crash cause she was soooo jealousssss of Sally. And she’s so hellbent on completing the task that she’s trying again decades later. SO DARK FOR A KID’S MOVIE.

Anna catches her setting the spell and tries to stop the elevator. She pushes little Sally out of the doorway (which in the weird world of this movie works even though Sally is a ghost) and enters the elevator herself. But the ghost bellhop can’t control he elevator because it is overpowered by the spell.

As Buzzy tries to bargain with Sally’s sister, ghost Sally (not in the elevator, of course) overhears her sister talking major shit. Of course, she doesn’t recognize her because she’s old now. But Buzzy asks Sally what she’d say to her sister if she could. And Sally says she would apologize for not making it to her BIRTHDAY PARTY.

Tragically, Sally shares that she loves her sister — who she describes as her best friend — oh my GOD this is way worse as an adult. As a kid I was like “awww see there’s enough love to go around in this fam!” and as an adult I’m like “YOUR BEST FRIEND/SISTER TRIED TO KILL YOU AND IS STILL TRYING.”

Tower of Terror | Disney Movies

The good news is: Sally’s sister profusely apologizes. The bad news is: she doesn’t know how to stop the spell. So Buzzy tries to reach Anna through the escape hatch of the passenger elevator — begging her to extend herself over the 12-story elevator shaft to where he is on the freight elevator. He grabs her just before BOTH elevators begin to drop.

Thankfully, Sally Shine forgives her sister for attempted murder and this reverses the curse.

We then see the passengers (and Buzzy, Anna, the ex-girlfriend, and the caretaker) all attend the long overdue party where we see the passengers reunite with their families and disintegrate into fairy dust — which is probably the only reason this movie didn’t haunt my dreams and cause permanent emotional scaring. A little fairy dust makes a dark movie a happy memory!

Very Special Halloween Lesson: Family therapy for everyone! Also these movie characters would make for a really great group costume.

If you liked the movie, here’s some more stuff about it:

A park visitor has noted the filming locations seen in the 1997 movie:

Scarlet Johanssen was scheduled to produce a remake and for a minute with the Black Widow dispute it seemed like it wouldn’t happen…but Screen Rant says it’s still in the works!

And here’s a 20-min short documentary on the ride. Check the amazing props! TW: Kirk Cameron

A Very Special Long Lost Show with Jason Priestly!!

Do you ever have a moment where you think you’re experience the Mandela Effect but it turns out to be REAL…so yeah I guess that’s actually the opposite of a Mandela Effect.

Pin on Brandon Walsh

Anyway, I had a vague memory of being a wee child watching this show on the little TV set in my parents bedroom which like lol idk why my parents were letting a toddler watch a teen show (btw shout out to my mom who is reading this post)! But for years all I could remember is that there was a teen angel who wore a leather jacket and would travel down from heaven to help kids on earth. That is…only if it was real and I didn’t totally fabricate the memory…which it turns out I did not so that’s a win for my cognitive functioning!

I’m also convinced that the other reason I remembered this for oh – I don’t know – a few decades is that Jason Priestly is literally so beautiful my brain encoded his face like a work of art. Just like I cannot remember the first time I saw a picture of the Mona Lisa, I also cannot remember the first time I saw Jason Priestly’s face. And for those of you who are like WOW come on that’s a little heavy handed, please bear in mind that it is my journalistic duty to paint an accurate portrait of the millennial generation’s zeitgeist and I am just reporting the facts!

As it turns out, this show was so incredibly hard to find because it wasn’t a real show. Similarly to how the original Mickey Mouse Club aired short serial shows like “The Hardy Boys,” The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (the one with Britney, Christina, Ryan, Keri, Justin, JC et al) aired “Teen Angel.”

Here is an adorable behind the scenes clip featuring a pre-90210 priestly. (Evidently, Jennie Garth joined him in the sequel serial “Teen Angel Returns” so that’s cute too.)

Also, sorry I’ve been a little MIA. I’ve been busy socializing indoors in-person for the first time in a century and you can too if you get your vaccine!! (Please, please do. I got mine and it made me sleepy, sleepy for a couple of days but nothing too bad and I’m soooooo excited to be inoculated. Woohoo!!)

Oh and also, while you’re living your best roaring 20’s life and you’re maybe not in front of the computer so much, here’s a friendly reminder that we’re fully mobile friendly over here at The VSB and I will miss you all if you don’t continue to read this shit and leave me comments. THANK YOU!! — The MGMT.

Mary Poppins Makeup: The Mrs. Banks Set

I don’t own a lot of makeup, but I am a big fan of fun pop-culture related things. So sometimes I get hooked into the makeup stratosphere due to my related obsessions. That’s why I am a big fan of Bésame Cosmetics. Their collaborations are beautiful.

Their most recent line is inspired by Mary Poppins. And while titular character’s set was gorgeous but not quite my speed, I jumped right on the Mrs. Banks nail polish and lipstick duo. Not only because lipstick is the one makeup item that I do semi-regularly wear, but also because this set includes these lovely postcards inspired by Bert’s chalk drawings from the film.

If you’re into purchasing makeup for the sake of the makeup itself and not the stationary that just so happens to come with it, here is a shot of the lipstick and nailpolish:

The lipstick looks great in the tube and it has Bésame’s signature marshmallowy vanilla scent, but I haven’t tried it out yet. I did immediately paint my nails, and I found the formulation to be a bit too thin. I’m not brave enough to leave the cap off for a few minutes, so I’ll have to trust that it will thicken up on its own over time. That said, I’m not sure it’s my color anyway.

As soon as it dried I had a flashback to the time in seventh grade where I had finally vowed to talk to my crush, only to look down at my nails and realize that my new nail polish very closely matched the color of my skin. I promptly told my best friend I wouldn’t be able to go through with it because I looked like I had no fingernails at all. The I spent the rest of the day peeling off my nail polish like a good compulsive.

But oh well I’ll try a second coat and see what it looks like in the daylight. In the meantime, check out the cute packaging:

Mrs. Banks herself.
Votes for Women on the flap.

UPDATE: Turns out all the polish needed was a second coat and a little daylight! It dried into a very subtle shimmery coral. If I had to describe this color, I would call it: 2 parts ballet slippers and 1 part beach sand.

Here are some other makeup reviews I did back in the day.
Disclaimer: They, like this one, are not very professional.

Jem & The Holograms Lipstick
Minnie Mouse Lipstick

Inside Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar

UntitledLast month, I went to Disney World for Christmas. It was a bittersweet trip for me because they’re gutting my favorite park (Hollywood Studios) and turning it into Star Wars land. I like Star Wars, but I love the “Golden Age of Hollywood” and I especially liked having someone teach me how to draw Disney characters all day long.

But we did venture over to Downtown Disney, which is now called “Disney Springs,” so that we could check out Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. If you’re a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark, you’ll recognize Jock Lindsey as Indiana Jones’s pilot buddy. Since it was Disney, I figured they would make the bar pretty detailed and full of atmosphere, but this thing was so amazingly detailed that it made the whole freaking trip for me.

IMG_2090We sent our waitress away like three times, while I poured over the menu. It’s setup like a scrapbook, so I had a lot to look at. Tons of tasty drinks and quick eats, which were also delicious. (I think we ordered at least a third of what was on the menu.) This place is decorated from head to toe in “memorabilia” that’s collected in the Hangar Bar over the years. Think of it as a museum for things that Indiana Jones couldn’t actually consider museum-worthy.

And lucky for you I documented everything! But you should really go on your own and experience it yourself if you are able. It’s definitely something any Indiana Jones fan should experience! I’m just dying for them to open up Club Obi Wan and then I’ll probably move to Orlando. Check out the photo album below for more photos from our trip. And if you do get to check this out for yourself, might I suggest snacking on the “Good Dates.”

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Lizzie McGuire: Inner Beauty

Lizzie McGuire was this cute little show on Disney in the early 2000’s about three best friends in middle school. Having been a part of a girl-boy-girl best friend group in middle school, I calizzie mcguiren assure you it’s pretty much the best. I threw Hilary Duff a lot of shade around 2004 and I’d like to personally apologize to her via the internet for that. Not that she ever saw me throwing shade or will ever read this post. I was just jealous of her success and the fact that she seemed like a nice person probably made me hate her even more. But now that I’m looking back on this show, it’s really very sweet and adorable and that makes me feel like I was being a jerk a decade ago. So for that, Hilary, I’m sorry.

In the life of a middle schooler, there abest friendsre many very special moments. But things got really serious on one dark day when Lizzie and her bffs made a music video. Aspiring director, Gordo, took photos of Lizzie and Miranda as they practiced their choreography to Play’s “Us Against the World.” I vaguely remembered that song, but I don’t think it was a hit. It is very catchy though. I still have it stuck in my head and I did play it on youtube a couple of times…kinda want to play it again right now. It’s just so catchy!

Anyway, Gordo brings the pictures to school the next day and Miranda (who has just ranted about how she is a total failure because she got a B on a test) freaks out because she believes she looks fat in the picture. Gordo and Lizzie are all like what are you talking about? We, as the audience, also get to view the photo and I can tell you it’s super cute. Miranda is definitely not fat, but props to this episode for getting the whole body miranda eating disorderdysmorphic aspect down pat. Here’s where things get a little weird. Instead of starting off with a strict diet–but a diet nonetheless–like most people who end up with eating disorders, Miranda skips right to the never eating again ever phase. I understand that we’re on an accelerated schedule with the whole 30-minute time limit thing, but maybe we could have had a time jump and a reference to her erratic eating? Or something a tad more progressive? But no, we get an extreme jump to lunch where Miranda fakes a paper cut in order to get out of consuming some pasta. Well, I think it was pasta. The lunchroom food did look pretty weird. (Also, they live in an environment where they can always eat outside. I don’t think I’ve ever seen these people eating in an actual lunchroom unless the lunch room is an outside courtyard thing.)

Things escalate when Miranda faints at Lizzie’s house while practicing the dance and we learn that she hasn’t eaten anything all day. Lizzie’s mom thinks Miranda is probably dehydrated from all of the dancing, but Lizzie breaks down later and tells her everything. Her advice is to try talking to Miranda and then in a few days if things haven’t improved, she can talk to Miranda and Miranda’s mom. Isn’t this some sort of violation of the mom code? If you know that someone’s kid is starving herself, aren’t you supposed to send out the mom bat signal, pick up the red phone, sound the alarm that this kid needs some help? I’m all of letting kids work things out on their own and I know that eating disorders are delicate situations, but it still seems strange to me that Lizzie’s mom has no moral obligation to at least let Miranda’s mom know the situation.

But it’s a Disney show, so of course the “frienervention” works, and Miranda (realistically) explains that eating was something she could control in her life. She’s mirandabeen under a lot more pressure than anyone knew–mostly due to the fact that her parents for some reason demanded that their thirteen year old determine her life goals. Miranda feels so much better that she’s able to complete all of her music video choreography even though she hasn’t eaten in the past couple of days. The music video is a more innocent rip off of Britney’s …Baby, One More Time. Though it does feature Miranda and Lizzie in detention dancing on top of a very uncomfortable teacher’s desk. The teacher also dances with them and they hip bump him and it’s kind of strange. Other than that it’s pretty cute and the song is soooo catchy. Here’s a gif: Lizzie McGuire Music Video   Very Special Lesson: Don’t worry if you’re friend abruptly stops eating, you can always talk it out. Or dance it out.

A Very Special Guest Post: Smart Guy-“Never Too Young”

Hello, Very Special Readers! I am delighted to share a very special guest post with you today from a very special blogger! This is a guest post from Ali at Sleepoverz, a blog that covers ’90s pop culture, teen angst, and 2AM thoughts. 

Smart Guy existed for a short period of time on the WB in the late ‘90s and then re-aired for another few years on Disney in the 2000s. If you blinked you could have missed it, but it still managed to make an impression on me. The show centers around T.J. Henderson, played by Tahj Mowry, a child prodigy who enters high school at 12-years-old. He regularly gets into antics with his brother, Marcus, Marcus’s friend Mo, and his sister Yvette. All of them co-exist together at Piedmont High School. Rounding out the cast of characters is T.J.’s dad, Floyd Henderson.

Smart Guy 1Today’s very special episode is “Never Too Young” and it deals with T.J.’s drinking problem. There are two storylines going on in this episode, one involving cafeteria food and one about beer. At the start of the episode Marcus and Mo are ripping into the cafeteria food and blaming the hulking eastern European lunch lady for the sub-par food. To demonstrate the staleness of the Bread Pudding, Marcus throws a piece against the wall expecting it to bounce back. But just his luck, the pudding is intercepted by the vice principal and it lands directly on his shirt. The boys are sentenced to work in the cafeteria for the foreseeable future or “until they’ve learned what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes,” to put it in TV trope terms.

Back at the Henderson home, T.J.’s dad tells him that one of the kids from his old school is having a birthday party and T.J. must attend. This is the middle school T.J. left because he was too smart and now he’s nervous the party is going to babyish. When he gets to the party he tries to interact with the other kids but he is so out of touch and intellectually advanced that he isolates himself. He devastates a girl named Kelly by telling her that Titanic was not actually filmed on a boat and bores her with the science behind blue screens.

At the end of hismart guy 2s rope, T.J. wanders into a back room of the basement where he finally recognizes two kids. Unfortunately for T.J., the two kids are the class flunkies and future burnouts, Kevin and Rich. Things are going really well reminiscing about the old days until Rich pulls a beer from his coat and asks T.J. if he wants some. T.J. actually says no and makes a joke about ruining his six-pack but Kevin and Rich are not cool with sobriety. They mock T.J. about going back into the party to hang out with all the babies, which remember T.J. was afraid of to begin with so they have a point. T.J. relents and spends the next hour getting wasted off one beer split 3 ways. When he reenters the party he is trashed and tries to get Titanic Kelly to dance with him by calling her “Kel, Kel.” Then he knocks into her, spilling her red drink on her dress, and all the kids back away from him because he has committed every party foul ever.

The next morning, T.J. has a nasty hangover from his third of a beer. He has a headache and asks for Ginger Ale at breakfast to which Yvette, T.J.’s sister, responds with a knowing glance. She already knows T.J. is afflicted but it’s still early on in the episode and his incredibly naïve and defensive dad does not see it. When Yvette suggests maybe it wasn’t just the excess cake and ice cream making T.J. sick, Floyd refuses to listen and dramatically shuts her up with an “end of discussion” scene exit.

Back at the cafeteria, Marcus and Mo decide to really give it their all and bake their own food instead of the school sanctioned slop. Sadly, the students are not impressed and Marcus and Mo quickly turn into the grizzled eastern European lunch lady. They learn that kids are ungrateful and no amount of hard work will change guy 3

Meanwhile, T.J. is lying to his dad about drinking at the party and Yvette keeps throwing know-it-all glances Floyd’s way. Things hit a head when Kevin and Rich show up at T.J.’s garage and literally push peppermint Schnapps into his hand and tell him to drink it. T.J. refuses but not before Floyd walks in on the scene and shuts it down. He then has to admit to Yvette that she was right by embarrassingly asking where the “pamphlet on talking to your kids” is. Finally Floyd sits down with T.J. and has a really productive conversation about the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of building trust.

Very Special Lesson: The size of your brain is equal to the size of your hangover, regardless of how much actual beer you ingest.