Murder, She Wrote: A Christmas Secret

This episode opens with a Christmas party in which the host introduces his future son-in-law, a NEW Cabot Cove Resident. Has this man seen the violent crime rate in the otherwise sleepy town? RUN!! Get out while you still can! There’s something toxic in the water! This town should be a case study for the lead-crime hypothesis!

But no, it’s just so charming here in Cabot Cove. This guy is going to stick around, work for his father-in-law, and be a tax accountant. Ugh have I ever written a more depressing sentence? Well, maybe it’s not depressing for people who love math (not me).

Anyway, Jess has a heart to heart with the bride-to-be, Beth, who cannot understand why her fiancee, Charlie, seems a little bummed out after the Gulf War. Jess explains how post traumatic stress works and we cut to Mort inviting Charlie to go shooting. Charlie’s like cool, my gun is at the hotel. Ugh. This feels like a real Chekov’s gun moment. Why can’t we have anything nice in Cabot Cove?

Before things get too heavy, we move on to Jess and Seth arguing over whether or not they will have a white Christmas. Ah the yin and yang of Cabot Cove. One moment, you’re worried that your friends and acquaintances might not survive the week because every one of your neighbors could be a cold blooded killer. The next moment you’re overwhelmed by the hygge.

As the party wraps up, Charlie heads to his car and finds a mysterious, wrapped gift on the passengers seat. He unwraps what appears to be a Willie Nelson cassette tape. But when he pops it into the player, he discovers that it’s really a mysterious message from “a friend” asking him to meet at Sally’s Landing for some holiday blackmail.

And before you’re like “oh my! how dark!” can I interest you in a Christmas store front?

Or a great shot of Mrs. Fletcher buying some holiday wrapping?

I mean this town goes ALL out. They even decorate the life preserver. Oh and before I forget to mention this crucial plot point, Charlie recognizes the woman waiting for him as Wanda, from the Christmas party, and he proceeds to drive away from the landing without even speaking to her.

In the next scene, we see Wanda helping with decorations at the community center. Everyone is incredibly hostile to her because she’s apparently screwing everyone’s husband. A fact we learn from Beth while she and Jess make cute little paper chains.

Jess, now decked out in tinsel herself, seems to be the only one who can be cordial to Wanda. She requests four red balloons from Wanda and Wanda is like cool but can you bring me my lunch? Um, she’s not your maid, Wanda!

Anyway, Jess is like I think I see it in that locker behind you. And Wanda abruptly shuts the locker and is like no, that’s not my lunch.

She then tries to hand Jess four green balloons, which is how we learn that Wanda is colorblind. Something tells me this fact will be important later.

Anyway, Beth heads over to Charlie’s hotel because she’s not buying the whole stressed from the war thing and she thinks something else is up. He isn’t in his room, but she plays the mysterious tape and finds an appointment in his planner for a meeting at the Light House Motel. Beth books it over there and finds Charlie greeting another woman with a kiss.

Now at this point, we’ve been seeing a lot of heavy kissing from Beth and Charlie. This looks way more like a friendly greeting to me. My hunch is that this woman is Charlie’s sister, but of course Beth does not see it that way. Hold on a second. You’re not getting sad in this Christmas episode are you? Here’s a glimpse of a happy couple with a Christmas package just behind Beth’s car as she tearfully drives away.

As Beth cries upstairs at her parents’ house, her mother tells Charlie that Beth is feeling sick. She seems to genuinely believe Beth’s fake food poisoning and begs Charlie to still attend the party at the community center with Beth’s father and her.

At the community center, Jess and Seth watch Mort lead a chorus of carolers. Too bad Adele can’t be there. She’s busy delivering baskets of food to the poor in another town. She’s missing Seth play Santa!

Meanwhile, Charlie follows Wanda into the women’s locker room to a soundtrack of a very ominous riff on Good King Wenceslas. We hear a shot (that makes Seth flinch outside of the locker room but of course he doesn’t check it out even though this is Cabot Cove). Charlie passes another Santa in the locker room and (presuming its Seth), he asks what the shot was. The Santa (not Seth, obvious) dashes away without responding. And just as Charlie happens upon Wanda’s motionless body, J.Fletch appears — presumably to check out the noise but if this arrival isn’t an easy win for the “she killed them all” camp then I don’t know what is.

Luckily, she is wearing an excellent Christmas tree broach.

The real Seth examines Wanda, and declaring her close to death, accompanies her to the hospital. Jess and Mort then seem to imply that Seth has been such a Scrooge that they fear even Christmas is not safe from toxic negativity — toxic enough for MURDER. I’m not even kidding: Mort says “doc stacked the deck against us.” Although, given that this is the ONE Christmas episode in the show’s run he might have a point. Perhaps even a town full of nosey people with poor impulse control decides not to go murdering on a day meant for peace and goodwill.

Beth then chooses this very moment to confront Charlie. He’s like do you know what just happened? And she’s like yeah but I still want to talk about you and that strange woman from earlier at right this very moment. I know cheating is bad but the dude literally just found a nearly lifeless woman’s body. Can Beth please show him a little grace? We can talk about cheating tomorrow.

Luckily, the next morning we learn that Wanda will live because, according to Seth’s medical description, the bullet “was deflected in some sort of flukey fashion” and for this reason didn’t do any major damage that couldn’t be corrected with emergency surgery.

Beth then shows up at Jessica’s house to say that Charlie’s gun was used to shoot Wanda. The cops found Wanda’s blackmail tape and Charlie confessed to going to the landing. He’s been arrested for murder and Beth wants Jess’s help. Wow, that’s stressful isn’t it! Good thing we get a great glimpse at Jess’s awesome Christmas decorations.

Jess gives Seth the signal to get lost so that Beth will open up to her. As soon as Seth is out the door, Beth says she’s worried that Charlie got the money for her ring in nefarious ways. She also confesses that she’s worried he’s cheating.

Jess goes to see Mort and asks if Wanda had any time to go to California within the past year and he’s like no way. You want to know why? One time when Jess was away, a group of delegates from Cabot Cove went to Tokyo because they wanted to build trade relations. Mort then makes a joke about opening a chain of CABOT BURGERS in Japan. What is this Cabot Burgers? I haven’t heard of it. I need an establishing shot stat!

Floyd Bigelow went on the trip so Wanda handled the books. When Floyd returned, the pension accounts and short-term CD accounts were a freaking mess. And he thinks that Wanda was behind it and that she was embezzling funds! Oh by the way, here’s Floyd Bigelow. We also met him at the Christmas party earlier:

With absolutely no connection between Wanda and Charlie, Jess and Mort start to wonder if maybe the tape was left in Charlie’s car by mistake. And then they’re like hey, Beth had access to that room too. But Jess doesn’t think Beth is a murderer — which is weird because like everyone in that town is a murderer. Maybe Jess has rose colored glasses and that’s the whole reason she’s able to even live there. Maybe it’s genuinely shocking to her that people die on the regular in that town.

Anyway, Jess goes to the Light House Motel to see what’s up with that strange woman and it turns out that she is his sister! But also…he has a toddler..he’s a dad! He was afraid to tell Beth that he had a child out of wedlock. I mean. It really seems like this is something that you would mention before proposing…but…Jess can’t figure out why this would be grounds for blackmail since Charlie was going to have to mention the kid at some point anyway.

And that’s when Jess remembers that Wanda is colorblind. She calls down to the hardware store that Floyd owns and asks him to bring the master keys for the community center, so that they can access Wanda’s locker. Floyd heads to the community center with a revolver.

When Floyd starts to open the locker (early and without Jess), his eavesdropping assistant Amy confronts him and tells him that she framed Charlie. And that she’s the only one who knows the truth and she looooves him. THAT IS NOT THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT. Anyway, Mort and Jess show up right at this moment. And in a true Murder, She Wrote anomaly, NO ONE DIES. And that, for Cabot Cove, is a Christmas miracle.

Very Special Holiday Lesson: If you’re colorblind and you’re going to leave a wrapped gift in someone’ s car — make sure to note the correct license plate.

P.S. In a very sweet moment, Jess gives Seth the toy train he always wanted as a child because they are in loooove.

And WAIT is that blond woman caroling with Mort ADELE???

Cheers: Ill-Gotten Gains

The plot of this episode is a major bummer. Woody catches his wife’s father cheating and has to decide what to do about it. YIKES. Luckily, we’re here for the B-plot, so let’s ignore everything about what’s going on with Woody.

Rebecca is hosting a friends-giving and she’s invited the whole Cheers crew. Unfortunately, she might have given everyone in her family food poisoning the last time she cooked Thanksgiving dinner. This leads Sam to suggest hosting a potluck at Cheers instead. Rebecca was going to make grilled cheese for everyone (less risk of food poisoning) but with Sam hosting, they can have a turkey.

Norm can’t remember whether or not his father-in-law is dead, so he repeatedly asks Vera who won’t respond to him because WTF. Then a pissed-off Vera decides to spend Thanksgiving at her family’s house without Norm. So Cliff suggests that Vera call her parents’ house to see if her father answers. Only when Cliff hands Norm the phonebook, he can’t remember Vera’s maiden name! Okay well now that I’ve typed it out, it sounds awful. But it was very funny when George Wendt said all the lines.

Anyway, Thanksgiving at Cheers is probably Norm’s ideal Thanksgiving. Sam’s even allowed him to bring his barcalonger into the bar — though he did have to sign an agreement stating it would be removed by the end of the day.

Meanwhile, Rebecca has decorated the bar for Thanksgiving…which is interesting because Thanksgiving decorations are not like a thing, are they? Anyway, she’s used Halloween decorations that the store was throwing away. But she’s got a pretty good explanation for it: “The witches came over with the pilgrims and then the pilgrims burned them all at the stake.” This explains the skeletons as well (ick) and she doesn’t mention it but I will, the ghosts too. Honestly, it tracks. That’s airtight logic, Rebecca.

She intends to borrow plates from Melville’s because they’re closed for the holiday. And she’s also cooking the turkey in their oven on the sly. Fraser then suggests she borrow the candlesticks while she’s at it. And Sam mentions that she better take some silverware because they don’t have enough plastic sporks.

No one wants to listen to Cliff’s stories for an entire meal, so Sam tells him that he’ll be sitting at the kid’s table as the “adult supervisor” — a role he takes very seriously and seems a little flattered by. Meanwhile, Norm eats his meal in the barcalounger.

As the gang toasts John Alan Hill for “donating” all of their borrowed items, he appears in the bar. Evidently, Melville’s has a silent alarm. But strangely, even John Alan Hill is generous on this day of giving thanks. So he lets the Cheers gang eat in peace (but makes them promise to sanitize the Melville’s items before returning them).

Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: Honestly, I didn’t think Rebecca’s grilled cheese meal sounded bad. But I guess the lesson here is that you really gotta be mindful of those silent alarms.

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

8 Easy Halloween Costumes for 2021 (That Use Your Quarantine Wardrobe!)

Look, I get it. We’re all dressing for comfort right now. But if you’re vaxxed and looking to actually go out for Halloween this year (!!!) then please look no further than your own closet for a costume. Suggestions below:

Drew Barrymore (Casey) in Scream

Now, if you already have a blonde bob then you’re 25% done with this costume. If however, you need to purchase a wig, you may do so at Forever 21 for $7.99. I don’t usually encourage fast fashion, so please do try to wear this wig more than once — preferably several times over the course of many years. You’ll also need an off-white (or, hell, who cares you can use white too) cable knit sweater. This is great going into the cold weather months. You’re going to want to wear this again and again. If you don’t already have one, you can grab one at Stitch Fix for $58. Next, get some loose fitting light-wash jeans. If you buy them from Madewell, you can send them back to be recycled and the company will give you a credit on future jeans. The white cordless phone is, evidently, now a collectors item for something like $200 on ebay. But this shit is so boxy, I suggest you get your craft on and make one out of a white paper box.

Favfilms GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Sigourney Weaver (Dana) in Ghostbusters

Now technically this dress should be crewneck, but as long as you’re wearing a gray sweater dress of some sort, I think we can be flexible with the neckline. You’ll also need a purple plaid scarf and a black belt (not in karate but if that is all you have in your closet then definitely just tie that around the dress and call it a day). Now I have scoured the internet and I cannot find Dana’s exact scarf, so use your best approximation. The belt and the dress are both from Gap and I’m sure there’s some kind of discount code you can apply to make them a little easier on your wallet.

there's never anything good in the fridge - GIF on Imgur

Patrick Swayze (Sam) in Ghost

Toss on that red shirt you’re no longer wearing to the office and pair it with some black jeans. Now you’re Patrick Swayze! Wear black shoes if you have them, but it doesn’t really matter. No one is going to be looking at your feet.

70s, 80s, 90s | Patrick swayze, Swayze, Patrick swayze ghost

Penny Marshall (The Devil’s Wife) in Hocus Pocus

This requires jammies, a robe, and some of those hair curlers that kind of look like snakes. The robe below is from LL Bean so look at is as an investment item, or just wear any old robe because to be fair the one below doesn’t match the pattern in the movie anyway. You can get mint green PJs on sale at Madewell for $34.99. Finally, fill up a glass with whisky or tea and put on a real grouchy face like your husband is flirting with a bunch of strange women who are way too old to be trick-or-treating and keep calling him “master.” Oh and the hair rollers are $14.99 at Target.

Penny Marshall Hocus Pocus GIF - Penny Marshall Hocus Pocus GIFs

Multiple Options Using Athleisure

I’ve seen a lot of Squid Game costume suggestions floating around here on the internet, which is great. But maybe you don’t own a green tracksuit. Maybe your tracksuit is black, pink or red. Here are a few options for you. It’s also okay to pair a red sweatshirt and yellow shorts and pretend it’s 2008 and you’re dressed as Paulie Bleeker. It’s okay in 2021. It’s all okay.

A lot of these will depend on whether or not you’re dressing up as a group. For example, if you all have green tracksuits, then you should probably go as Squid Game players. But if you’re dressing up solo, then you should opt for Old Biff Tannen from Back to the Future. Margarita Glasses are optional for the Cool Mom from Mean Girls. The red tracksuits from Royal Tennenbaums also work for a group. But a plain black tracksuit (with or without gold medallion) will work best as Christopher from The Sopranos.

Literally anyone from the 80s or early 90s

Scrunchies are back. LEAN INTO IT. You don’t want to stop wearing leggings? PUT THEM ON. Got a giant ass sweatshirt that is way too big for you? Congratulations, you’re on your way to Jazzercise. Ditch the scrunchie and put on a pair of heels if you want to be Jennifer Beals in Flashdance.

Flashdance - Flashdance Photo (2823822) - Fanpop

Mare of Easttown

There are so many good options here. You really just need some thick sweaters, blue or brown outerwear, and a low ponytail. Gauze/Ace bandage on your arm are optional. Please don’t vape. Thank you.

Baby-Sitters Club Member

This one is super flexible in terms of costume. You can dress up as a group or you can dress up solo as your favorite club member. You can style it old school or you can be the more modern reboot version. But here’s where the magic comes in. Worried about your mid-late (idk what phase we’re in) pandemic social anxiety is getting the best of you? Don’t worry about it. You’re packing a Kid Kit. And Everyone loves a coloring book. Now you’re the life of the party. You’re welcome.

The Baby-Sitters Club (TV Series 1990) - IMDb

The Autumn of Swayze?

I’ll have you know I had a nightmare a couple of days ago where it was Christmas Eve and I still hadn’t finished the Summer of Swayze. CLEARLY I have bit off more than I can chew. I also think I have absolutely no concept of time anymore (thanks, 2020) and that has set me up for failure.

Anyway, I actually did watch Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. But then I was like “wow there’s a lot to unpack here. And unpack it, I never did. I think it’s best summed up by saying it’s very of its time. And in 1995 I think it was good to have a feature film portrayal of these characters as whole, sympathetic people with a full range of complicated emotions (a.k.a. not caricatures or the butt of the joke).

But I’m not exactly sure what the movie was trying to be. These characters describe themselves as drag queens but they’re in drag 100% of the time and even take a cross-country road trip through areas where it would be much safer to dress as a cis man if, in fact, you were a cis man. So I suppose I question the premise a little bit. I also question the casting (since the main actors are all cis men). But I do recognize that this movie was released a mere two years after And the Band Played On, a television movie about the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic that took a daunting six years to get made. So yes, I do think there’s hopefully some social good that came from three action star types playing drag queens.

Here are a few articles that analyze this way better than I ever could:

‘To Wong Foo’ Not Worthy of ‘Priscilla’s’ Old Pantyhose by Theodore K. Gideonese for The Harvard Crimson, 1995

The Amazing Story Behind To Wong Foo by Mitch Kohn for The Advocate, 2015

John Leguizamo says his To Wong Foo character should be played by a trans latina actor if the film were made now by Louis Chilton for The Independent, 2020

Thankfully, we’ve largely moved past this casting now and so this film feels very much like a museum piece. And I’m grateful for that because I’d also like Dirty Dancing to feel like a museum piece, but unfortunately it still feels very relevant to today’s social issues.

Speaking of Dirty Dancing, I’m actually going to wrap up the last bit of the Summer of Swayze (lol) with my thoughts on Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights which is simply that it is EXTREMELY UNDERRATED. And no I haven’t seen it since 2007 or so but I loved it very much at the time and based on these clips below, still do.

Big News from Bayside – DREAMS COME TRUE

It felt like a long-shot. But here we are. And dare I say it? The reboot craze has come for Saved by the Bell! (Oh please please please don’t let this be weird like BH90210.)

saved-by-the-bell-tori-kelly-jessie

For those of you who weren’t already planning to follow The Office over to NBC’s new streaming platform, now that you’ll get new episodes of Saved by the Bell, what more reason could you need??? The plot sounds weird as hell and I am HERE FOR IT.

Basically, Zack Morris becomes Governor of California. I can totally buy him as a charming, sociopathic politician so def. good character development there. And then here’s where things get a little weird..we get to see Zack Morris handle school integration!! Yeahhhhh idk what we’re going to get, but I promise to report back to you on that.

We’ve had a lot of good times with Saved by the Bell here at The VSB and I’m excited for new adventures! This reboot has me all nostalgic for some of my favorite posts from years past:

But new episodes have also reminded me that maybeeee, just maybeeee, I haven’t given the original series quite enough attention. Stay tuned for new posts on:

  • The Malibu Sands Episodes
  • Zack and Kelly’s Wedding in Vegas!
  • All of the latent (and not so latent) misogyny

Okay, bye for now!!

That Time America Forgot The Letter “E.”

If this isn’t proof that we need Sesame Street, I’m not sure what is.

As I’m sure all citizens of the internet are now aware, today is May 1st. But lest we forget, Justin Timberlake was not the only American pop star of the late 90’s who couldn’t remember his vowel sounds.

Perhaps, the worst offender is Mandy Moore. And she can’t even get a cool meme out of her “COME TO MAYYYYY” chorus. Also, has anyone else noticed that she doesn’t really dance in this video? It’s a lot of quick jump cuts to give the impression that she’s dancing, but no actual dancing occurs.

Of course, it always comes back to Britney doesn’t it? She does remember how to say “me,” but she seems to forget how to pronounce baby, saying instead “bay-bay” or as my friend insisted in 1999, “baybin’ baybin’.”

Shout out to Christina Aguilera for remembering how to pronounce the letter “E” in every word of “Genie in a Bottle.” P.S. I thought this song was about kissing and I’m pretty sure that my parents only let me listen to it because they didn’t want to have to correct my perception of the lyrics.

My Boyfriend’s Back

Join me as we travel down the rabbit hole of a terrible, weird movie from 1993, featuring early appearances from great actors who would go on to do great things and never ever mention this film on their resumes again. Oh and just in case this review gives you a hankering to relive your prom days, be sure to check out Mix Tape & Cupcakes’s Prom Night nostaliga playlist.

A week ago, I saw The Cutting Edge, for the first time. I have to say that I LOVED it and I want moooore. So I decided to watch one of the movies that Amazon recommends for people who have just watched The Cutting Edge. And that lead me to this:

I felt compelled to watch it because I had once considered writing a Zombie rom-com in college, but I was too busy partying (and studying!) to actually write script. My idea wasn’t exactly like this. It was going to be a meet-cute situation immediately preceding a Zombie apocalypse and then the couple from the meet-cute would reconnect as Zombies and have to deal with the ups and downs of a new romance while also dealing with being the undead.

PLUS, Edward Hermann from Gilmore Girls is in My Boyfriend’s Back so I obviously HAD to watch it.

Anyway, this movie is all about this boy who has loved this girl, Missy, since childhood, which seems sweet except that he’s a major creeper:

I think we are supposed to feel like it’s not a big deal that he’s a major creep because he’s dreaming in the scene above, but I’m still going to hold it against him. Like THAT is how you dream of talking to the person you’ve been in “love” with for years?

psh300x220_zps8b8dae3fI almost stopped the movie here. The dude sucks and everyone is dressed like they are in a bad Twin Peaks knock-off. But then Phillip Seymour Hoffman shows up as a jock-lackey and I’m intrigued enough to continue.

Things take a turn for the creepy again when our “protagonist” (ugh, can we call him that?) concocts a plan, which he describes as “swashbuckling, romantic, daring,” and which I describe as “something that could land you in jail or at least with a hefty restraining order but nope probably just jail.” The plan is to have his friend, Eddie, pretend to try to kill Missy. Then McCreeper (not even going to learn his real name) can save her life and make her fall in love with him.

I’m not sure why he’s participating because Eddie seems to be right on the money with this analysis:

Unfortunately, Eddie isn’t able to carry out his side of the plan because a real robber shows up. This man doesn’t sound at all like Eddie. His eyes are also a different color. Yet McCreeper is apparently too stupid to realize that this is not his friend. He acts like he’s tough stuff and starts to fight off the robber. He eventually realizes that this isn’t Eddie, but he still jumps in front of what he must now know is an actual bullet. As he dies, McCreeper asks Missy out to prom and she says yes.

Now things get interesting. Before, things were sad and creepy and not funny. But then McCreeper comes back from the dead, so yeah. I’m kind of interested to see where this goes. As McCreeper heads home from his grave, a gravedigger tells him that he’s now a member of the “undead” and is supposed to NEVER leave the cemetery. But McCreeper’s parents are surprisingly chill with the whole thing:

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.11.59 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.12.13 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.12.22 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.12.40 PM

I start to understand the gravedigger’s warning when McCreeper tries to eat Eddie’s arm for lunch instead of the cafeteria food. Being the McCreeper that he is, he doesn’t seem disturbed by this new development. However, he’s very upset that Missy no longer seems interested in going to prom with him. I shouldn’t be surprised that this narcissistic a-hole can’t tell the difference between a deathbed promise and actual romantic love, but I’m too far into the film to stop now, so I proceed against my better judgement.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.26.18 PMMissy starts to tell him off, but then her boyfriend interrupts and tells her that she’s not allowed to talk to the dead kid because she’s ruining their reputations. She claims that McCreeper is “actually a nice guy” and decides to go out with him to spite her boyfriend. Wow, I mean this girl really has a warped view of the word “nice”. I wish I could jump into this film and stage an intervention for her.

Let me take a moment to say that the Amazon algorithm is terribly flawed. My Boyfriend’s Back is NOT like The Cutting Edge. Even though The Cutting Edge has some hints of influence from The Taming of the Shrew, it is ultimately an empowering tale of self-confidence, trust, and toe axels. But there’s still a small chance Missy could tell everyone to go to hell, right?

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 12.35.31 PMMeanwhile, Missy and McCreeper go on their first date to a Zombie movie. (Ugh, too on the nose.) And all of the kids sitting near them start talking about how she’s stepping out on her boyfriend. I’m soooo over it, but then I notice that one of them is Matthew Mcconaughey! While the kids are talking shit, Missy and McCreeper are bonding over Jujubes. She gets some stuck in her teeth and he tells her to drink some soda. “I can’t believe that you came up with a whole system for this,” she says. WTF girl, you’ve never heard of drinking a soda before? I’m getting worried about Missy. I’m starting to think she’s been living in this misogynistic town for so long that she’s thinking she needs to let McCreeper think he’s smart. And he’s so NOT smart that the best she can offer is applauding his Jujube eating skills.

After the movie, Missy and McCreeper make out and his ear falls off. He immediately rushes to the doctor. (He’s already dead and decaying, so I’m not sure that this will help.) He asks the doctor to set him up with some medicine to prevent decay, but all he can do is offer him some glue for his ear. He does also put him in touch with a local woman who’s husband also came back from the dead 15 years ago. (Hm, I’m surprised that didn’t come up earlier. You’d think people might have been talking about that more.)

The woman is Cloris Leachman! Sadly, Cloris tells him that the only way he can live long enough to attend the prom is to start eating people. Yep, he needs to go FULL zombie. One bite equals 20 minutes of non-decay. McCreeper, to his credit, is conflicted about this. But he lucks out when Philip Seymour Hoffman catches him cheating with Missy and tries to kill him with an axe. Sadly, Philip Seymour Hoffman is playing a total idiot and accidentally axes himself instead of McCreeper. McCreeper starts chowing down in the middle of the hall and then thing becomes a news sensation. Also, it makes Missy not want to go to the prom with him anymore.

At this point, I’d have to say that McCreeper’s parents have totally lost their minds, most likely from the trauma of their son dying and then returning as the undead. McCreeper’s mom has decided to kidnap small child for “lunch”. I’m pretty sure even fans of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal would find this very dark.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 4.27.55 PMAs it turns out, this kid is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s younger brother. So their dad is understandably PISSED to an extreme level. But when he and some guys from the neighborhood come over to shoot McCreeper (apparently, forgetting he’s already dead) McCreeper’s mom very sweetly threatens them WITH A SHOTGUN. What the hell am I watching??

After the altercation in his living room, McCreeper tracks down Missy at a hair salon and tells her that he only ate Philip Seymour Hoffman so that he could be with her–an absolutely horrifying statement that Missy finds romantic:

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 4.30.48 PM.png

So far the only thing I’ve learned from this movie is that Missy has an incredibly low self-esteem.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 4.33.19 PM.png

By the time prom rolls around, Missy’s parents have adamantly told her that she cannot go out with a dead kid. As Missy prepares to sneak out of the house, McCreeper tries to eat her shoulder. Sadly, Missy was willing to go out with him even though he tried to eat her alive, but McCreeper doesn’t think it’s worth the risk.

Oh hey, remember that doctor from way earlier in this movie/post? He may just be a small town doctor, but he’s just discovered a way to resurrect the dead! But he doesn’t actually want to use this modern miracle on McCreeper. No, he wants to use McCreeper to make this serum and then market it as a cosmetic treatment. He tricks McCreeper with the promise of a cure and tries to harvest his zombified skin in his lab. Luckily, Eddie and Missy save him when the doctor steps away to answer the door.

That knock at the door? It was an angry mob with a battering ram. The mob chases McCreeper to the cemetery where Missy comes to his aid once again. You know, it’s all fun and games over here, but someone basically remade this a few years ago and everyone loved it. I think it was called Twilight.

Missy and McCreeper finally make it to prom, where he collapses and disintegrates into smoke. He finally makes it to the afterlife only to discover that there has been a clerical error. He was meant to have a near-death experience instead of a death experience.

Suddenly, McCreeper is zapped back to the night of the incident. He’s shot but survives only to find that he was saved by the bullet hitting a locket he intended to give Missy in the first grade, which he is now magically wearing. But hey other magic things in this movie happened, so oh well. He confesses his feelings and Missy thinks it’s cool that this guy she barely knows is wearing a locket containing pictures of them as six-year olds. Yikes.

19bxsksrt7nengif

Final Thoughts: I think this was trying to be funny in a Heathers kind of way. It failed. But they do have comic-book style scene transitions and I thought that was kind of fun.

P.S.: I promised you a very special series announcement a couple of posts ago. That announcement will be happening on April 28th, so check back then!

One Technicolor Acid Dream of a Biopic, brought to you by your school supplies from 1995. 

Yes, yes, I know that’s TOO long of a title. But did you spin the wheel and solve the puzzle correctly? That’s right, Very Special Readers! Lisa Frank is working on a biopic about her life. It will be part cartoon, part live action. Kinda like Space Jam? TBH I’m scared and excited all at the same time. I’ll probably be the first in line for a ticket. I’ll also probably take notes on a notepad while eating a big box of gummy bears (providing me both the sugar high and memory recall tips necessary to report back to you). Oh pleaaaaase, oh pleaaaaase let this go into production, 2017! Don’t tease me with this pipe dream. 

Home Improvement: Twas the Blight Before Christmas

his3-28Mark is signing The First Noel at church. He and the other kids have to wear robes with letters that spell out N-O-E-L. Mark is the N and he thinks his robe “looks geeky.” Meanwhile, Brad wants to skip-out on Christmas with his family, so he can go skiing with a friend from school. (Brad was always the shittiest kid in this family).

When it’s time to go to church and see Mark sing on Christmas Eve, Brad is too busy sulking to come along just because his mom wants “the whole stupid family” to spend Christmas together. (Literally. The shittiest.)

The family leaves Brad at home, rather than forcing him to come along and have him throw a fit all night. When Tim comes home to check on him, he finds Brad trying to sneak out of the house with his skis. He doesn’t want to miss out on the trip because there will be a lot of people there that he wants to hang out with.

hqdefault1
Clearly JTT is the good son in this family.

“Christmas is not about being with people you like. It’s about being with your family,” words of wisdom from Tim, the Tool Man, Taylor. But then things get real. Tim tells Brad that he’s not going to be a kid forever. One day he’ll have his own family and never make it home for Christmas, just like Tim and Jill never spend Christmas with their parents. Plus, Tim’s days are numbered since he lives dangerously on the set of Tool Time.

So finally it’s time for Mark’s big debut as the N. But the kids line up backwards, so it looks like they’re singing about some guy named Leon. Oh hey and do you recognize the kid playing the L? It’s Michelle Tanner’s friend Derek from Full House! Of course, Brad shows up mid-song and it’s a joyous occasion.

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-11-16-15-pm

Very Special Holiday Lesson: Don’t ditch your family on Christmas, even if there’s a cool trip involved.