Friday, September 8, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #70: Miss Worthington

Season: 4
Episode: 4
Original Airdate: October 18, 2014
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Melody Fox

So earlier this week, I started my online college classes. It's a bit too early to determine how well I'll do with them but since both classes have something to do with technology, I can't imagine that they'll be extremely difficult. 

Nate is a young artist whose sister bullies him and whose mother takes her side. That all changes when his drawing of an old woman named Mrs. Worthington, who dishes out punishments to bad kids, came to life and becomes their own babysitter for the evening.

One of the things that works about this episode is Mrs. Worthington herself. In this episode, Mrs. Worthington tortures Molly in ways that I found disturbing such as serving her eyeball soup, tying her up like a mummy and literally zippering her mouth shut with a voodoo doll of her, imitating her mother's voice when she tries to call her for help, and even putting a scorpion on her head. What makes this even more disturbing is that at the beginning of her visit, we see her taking stuff out of her bag such as a bear trap and a giant pair of pliers that old timey dentists would use to extract teeth. Although she never uses these tools in the episode, it indicates that she has the tools to dish out even worse punishments if she absolutely wanted to and that the punishments she gives Molly seem rather tame for her. But Molly isn't the only person she wants to torture. At one point, Mrs Worthington tries to make a voodoo doll of Nate's mother and expresses her desire to punish her for not doing anything about her daughter's abusive behavior. However, she asks Nate to get a picture of her, which her fails to do, and eventually drops the plan. She also decides to torture Nate by pulling on the tongue of his voodoo doll and threatening to cut its tongue off after Nate called her out on her sadistic nature. 

The other thing that works about this episode is its portrayal of sibling abuse. Throughout the episode, Nate's sister does nothing but treat him like garbage. For example, she verbally abuses him multiple times, blames him for things he didn't do, destroys his stuff for her own gain, and even kicks him at one point. If that wasn't bad enough, his mother doesn't even make an attempt to stop or even address the abuse that's going on. As somebody who has been through a similar situation in the past, I can say that, for the most part, this is a pretty accurate portrayal of what it's like and I really had a lot of sympathy for Nate. Not only that but depicting the situation like this makes the scenes where Molly is getting tortured all the more cathartic. 

Overall, Mrs. Worthington is one of the darkest episodes of the season thus far without being bloody or gritty. It's kind of like what would happen if Mary Poppins was told as a horror story and if that's sounds like something you'd enjoy, go ahead and check it out.

Overall Grade: A

Friday, August 25, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #69: My Old House


Season: 4
Episode: 3
Original Airdate: October 11, 2014 
Director: Neill Fearnly
Writer(s): Natalie Lapointe & Greg Yolen

Before this episode was released, I thought it was going to be an Alice in Wonderland themed episode based on iMDB's plot summary of it. When the episode came out however, I got something completely different. 

Alice and her family are moving to a new house, but Alice doesn't want to leave — and Alice discovers that the house doesn't want her to leave it...ever again. 

One of the things I liked about this episode was how they handled the personification of the house. With something like this, it would've been very easy just to make the house have cartoonish, over the top expressions to express its feelings. However, with the possible exception of the face in Alice's room made of wall lamps and an air vent, this episode goes in a more subtle direction with it. For example, when Alice is talking to the house, it uses the lights above the fireplace to answer her questions (one flash for yes, two flashes for no). It also opens doors to certain areas if Alice requests it. The house also talks but I feel like the house's talking bits are handled better than the demon's talking bits from Grandpa's Glasses. For one thing, it only speaks in short sentences once or twice throughout the episode and while the voice they chose isn't anything phenomenal, it was a type of voice that I could at least take seriously. 

The other thing I liked about the episode was the source of the atmosphere. Unlike in other episodes with heavy atmosphere, the main source of it in this episode comes from Alice herself. At first, Alice's love for the house isn't anything too over the top, especially given the situation. However, as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that she is so obsessed with her old house, that she comes off as somebody who has some underlying mental health issues, which is rather unnerving to watch. 

The only thing I'm unsure of is the ending. So the episode ends with  After Alice's parents come searching for her, Alice realizes that she needs to back home, but the house refuses to let her leave. The two "eye" sconces extend from red ropes and form a snake head behind Alice and it grabs her as she screams in terror. Later on, an unnamed new family moves into Alice's old house. The parents discover one of Alice's baby teeth in the fireplace where her box was burned. When the daughter looks at her new bedroom, she discovers not only the light sconce vent face, but an actual smiling human face (presumably Alice) in the wall.

On the one hand, the whole eye ropes effect looks rather fake and kind of resembles low budget CGI from a 1990's film. As if that weren't bad enough, the snake head looks rather silly as well. But on the other hand, the human face in Alice's old room is rather terrifying and the wonkiness of the special effect makes it all the more effective, as it seems to amplify the frightening nature of it.

Overall, My Old House is an episode with an odd concept but it's executed in a way where it works most of the time.

Overall Grade: B+

Friday, August 11, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #68: Grandpa's Glasses

Season: 4
Episode: 2
Original Airdate: October 4, 2014
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Billy Brown and Craig S. Phillips

So from what I've read, this seems to be an episode that people really like. Do I agree with what they say? Well, let's take a of closer look. 

While visiting his deceased, estranged grandfather's house, Bo discovers his grandfather's glasses, which give him the power to see a demon that may be haunting the house — and uncover why his mother hates talking about her father.

One of the strongest elements of this episode is the characters. For one thing, they seem to react to things in a somewhat realistic manner. For example, when the mother is listening to Bo's claims, she is skeptical but she tries to believe what she's saying. She also figures out that Bo might be telling the truth rather quickly. Second, I felt like the characters got just enough development for me to care about them but not too much to where it bogged down the episode. For example, Bo's grandfather abandoned his family to travel the world, as he felt that it was more important than them. However, when he realized that this decision came with major consequences in both the physical world and the afterlife, he decided to take responsibility and right his wrongs with the help of his grandson. I also like how we get to see how the situation affects all of the characters, rather than just the main character. 

Unfortunately, there is one major problem with this episode that just irks me. I'm of course talking about the demon's voice. So in the episode, a demon (which turns out to be the mother's anger personified) is trapping the spirit of Bo's grandfather and preventing him from moving on. The best way I can describe the voice is that it's a generic, guttural sounding voice, which is the most clichéd type of voice you can give a demon. In fact, it's so clichéd, that the voice comes off as unintentionally funny. Now when the demon first appears, it doesn't talk while it's stalking Bo and trying to scare him. During this time, the scenes where it's trying to be scary and/or disturbing are more effective. However, when the demon starts to talk, it's almost impossible to take it seriously. Maybe it's just me but I personally prefer monsters who don't talk because it seems like most of the time, I feel like talking monsters are difficult to take seriously. If you're wondering why I'm dwelling on this so much, it's because this show has taken plots that have been done to death and put their own spin on it. So I know this show can do better with handling clichéd elements like this.

Overall, Grandpa's Glasses is an episode that isn't too bad, as it can pull off the emotional moments with the help of its strong characters. But when it tries to be scary, it just falls flat on its face most of the time and that's a shame because there have been other episodes that have pulled off both the emotional and scary/disturbing moments before

Overall Grade: C+

Friday, July 28, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #67: I'm Not Martin

Season: 4
Episode: 1
Original Airdate: October 4, 2014
Director: Neill Fearnley
Writer(s): Mitch Watson

Hello there ladies and gentlemen! This is Azu here and welcome to season four of The Haunting Hour! So as I mentioned in my last review, this season is a lot shorter compared to season three. In fact, this season seems to be the black sheep of the series, as it only has about ten episodes. Why you may ask? Well, my best guess is that when The Hub (the channel that The Haunting Hour was on) became Discovery Family, they decided to let the episodes that were finished air before presumably dropping the show from the network, as it didn't seem to fit their new image.

Now unlike the other season openers, which were all two parters, this one is a standalone episode. Is it any good? Well, let's find out!

Sean is laid up in the hospital with tonsillitis on Halloween, and ends up back in 1952 where the doctors and nurses mistake him for a boy named Martin Charles who needs his rotting foot removed.

One of the things I liked was the atmosphere. Much like in Ghostly Stare, this episode has a strong emphasis on atmosphere. I think this comes from the way the episode is shot, paced, and scored. Not only that, but the doctors and nurses in the 1950's hospital act like everything is normal instead of acting like over the top, joker-esque characters, which I think really contributes to the unsettling atmosphere. Because of this, I feel that this makes the more disturbing and intense scenes all the more effective.

The other thing I liked about the episode was the tension. Compared to some of the other episodes in this series, the danger seems rather mundane. However, the episode still treats it as if it were legitimately life threatening and because of this, the tension is really strong, which helped me stay invested throughout most of the episode.

If I had one complaint with this episode, it would be the ending. So the episode decides to go with the whole, "It was all a dream but not really" type of ending. For me, this feels like a cheap and lazy way to end a story most of the time and here, it's no exception. Now the season two episode Sick, which I praised the hell out of, has a similar ending. Looking back however, I don't feel it's as cheap because at the very least, they do try to put their own spin on it. But in I'm Not Martin, they don't really do anything that creative with it and while it didn't completely ruin the episode, I felt like it was a rather weak note to end on.

Overall, I'm Not Martin isn't actually that bad for a standalone season opener and for what it is, it's actually quite entertaining. If you can stomach the cheap ending, I think you might enjoy this episode.

Overall Grade: B

Friday, July 14, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #66: Uncle Howee

Season: 3
Episode: 26
Original Airdate: December 21, 2013 
Director: Ken Friss
Writer(s): Rick Drew

Ladies and gentlemen! We are at the final episode of season three! Woo hoo! So without further ado, let's dive right in! 

Jared is stuck babysitting his younger sister, Cynthia, who's been watching The Uncle Howee Show, a kids' show hosted by a loud, energetic man, featuring a puppet rabbit named Loomis, nonstop -- and learns a hard lesson in caring for his sibling when Uncle Howee and Loomis begin talking to Cynthia and plotting their escape from the television.

One of the things I liked about the episode was the balance of details. There's enough information to allow the audience to understand what's going on but there's also enough mystery to allow the audience to come to their own conclusion about how Cynthia was able to call upon Uncle Howee. For me, I have thought of two possibilities. The first is that Cynthia has an ability similar to Danny from The Shining where they can call upon another person with the same ability for help. The second is that this is all a fantasy in Cynthia's head that allows her to cope with her bully of a brother.

Another thing I liked about this episode was how they handled an unlikable character. Unlike in an episode like Bad Egg, this is a character who is intentionally unlikable and they really go out of their way to show how much of a jerk Jared is. As somebody who has experienced something similar what Cynthia went through, I also think this is a pretty realistic portrayal of sibling abuse. Because of this, the scenes where Jared is getting his comeuppance by being tormented by Uncle Howee are very effective. 

But by far the best part of this episode has to be Tom Kenny as Uncle Howee. Oh my god, you couldn't have asked for better casting! He's kind of like Yzma and Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove in the sense that every second he's on screen, he's having a ball. I think this is most prominent in the scenes where he's tormenting Jared in a goofy and over the top way, such as when he imitates a cop answering the phone when Jared tries to call the police. Hell, even his bunny pal Lumis (who is voiced by Tom Kenny if my information is correct) is great because his Ed Wynn impression is solid, as it comes really close to sounding like the actual guy. Despite this, he can still pull off the parts where he has to be unsettling in different ways. 

I think my only major complaint with this episode is Jared's acting. This isn't the worst acting I've seen but it definitely needs some work. I think the problem here is with the delivery of the lines. I understand that he's supposed to be this impatient deadpan jerkward kind of character but it falls flat because most of the time, he seems a little too deadpan and there are even parts where the inflections are rather odd. In all honesty, I think the episode more than makes up for this but I still felt like it was something I needed to point out. 

Overall, Uncle Howee is an imperfect yet fantastic episode and it was certainly one hell of a way to wrap up the season! If I were to make a Top 13 Best Haunting Hour Episodes list, this would definitely be somewhere in the top five!

Overall Grade: A

Well ladies and gentlemen, I've done it! I've not only reviewed every episode of season three but I've also reviewed about 75% of the entire series and I think that certainly calls for a celebration. I won't give away too much about the next season but let's just say that it's a lot shorter in comparison.

Overall Season Grade: 

Studs: 22/26

In-Betweeners: 4/26

Duds: 1/26 (This is for the original ending of Spaceman, which got an overall grade of D-.) 

While this season had more In-Betweeners and Duds compared to the last season, I still think season three was rather solid, mostly because the episodes that were good were extremely good and it really felt like they kicked it up a notch in terms of quality. So until next time folks, this has been Azu signing off!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #65: Toy Train

Season: 3
Episode: 25
Original Airdate: December 14, 2013 
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Craig S. Phillips and Harold Hayes Jr.

Well guys I'm almost there. Just one more episode left after this one and I'll be done with season three! 

While cleaning out the attic with his father, Logan finds a scale model toy train set that brings to life an old train and a switchman who died because of a mistake Logan's father made years ago.

One of the things I liked about the episode was Logan's father. While he is distant throughout the episode, he actually has an understandable reason as to why he's like this. You see, when he was a kid, a switchman came and saved his life but died in the process. Because of this, he feels guilty about the incident and claims responsibility for killing the switchman. Towards the end of the episode, the switchman's ghost confronts him. He wants Logan's father to forgive himself, as the switchman died saving him, and in his guilt, he buried the switchman figure. Logan's father replaces the figure, and the switch man saves Logan by switching the train track. Personally, I think he's a far more likable character than Dr. Douchebag (Jason's father) from Bad Egg. I think the main reason for this is because he seems to have quite a bit of depth to his character and I felt like this made it easier for me to sympathize with him. 

Another thing I liked about the episode was Henry. Now you could argue that he makes the twist a bit more predictable and that he didn't really need to be there. However, I didn't really mind this character all that much because he does have a few cute moments and his interactions with Logan were actually enjoyable. Not only that but the actor they got to play him did a great job. It's a bit hard for me to explain but basically, the actor makes this character feel authentic in the sense that he seems to act like a real little kid as opposed to a one liner spewing machine like Michelle from Full House. 

Overall, despite its flaws, Toy Train is a much better episode than Bad Egg. It may not be as big of a tearjerker as The Perfect Brother but I still think it's worth checking out.

Overall Grade: A-

Friday, June 16, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #64: Bad Egg

Season: 3
Episode: 24
Original Airdate: December 7, 2013 
Director: Neill Fearnley
Writer(s): Erik Patterson, Jessica Scott 

So recently, Adam West had passed away. This was the guy who put Batman on the map with the 1960's Batman TV series. He was also famous for his role as the mayor in Family Guy and his role as Catman from The Fairly Odd Parents. One of the characters I distinctly remember him playing was The Galloping Gazelle in the Goosebumps TV episode titled "Attack of The Mutant". Also, I only have two more episodes of this season left to review. 

An irresponsible boy named Jason is only one screw-up away from being shipped off to military school as per his strict father and must prove himself responsible when assigned to care for an egg as part of a school project. Trouble is, the eggs donated to the school are rejects from a biochemistry lab harboring an ostrich-like monster that is not fit to live among humans, and now Jason must keep his father from knowing about his latest mistake while keeping the monster away from two government agents posing as pest control workers who want the monster back.

One of the things I liked about the episode was Jason. While he does start off as a bit of a goofball by making jokes about the egg assignment, he starts to take it more seriously and even forms a strong bond with the creature that was inside of the egg, which kind of tugged at my heart strings a bit. 

The other thing I liked about the episode was the creature named Timmy. Throughout the episode, you only see brief glimpses of it until the very end of the episode and when you actually get a good look at the monster, its design has a great balance between cute and ugly. Not only that but its has a bit of a personality that shares some traits with Jason's personality such as having a hatred for Jason's father, as evidenced by the scene where he drops a paint can on his head. 

Unfortunately, one of the major problems I have with this episode is Jason's father, who I will be referring to as Dr. Douchebag from this point forward. So if you couldn't tell already, my problem with this character is that he's way too unlikable. I understand that he's a strict father but Dr. Douchebag seems to flat out hate his son and treats him as if he were a mistake. Hell, even when Jason tries to take the assignment seriously, he doesn't seem to praise his son for it and instead says something along the lines of, "Wow, looks like you haven't screwed things up for once," in a cold yet aggressive manner. To add insult to injury, when Jason tries to admit that he screwed up by telling him that he broke the egg, Dr. Douchebag just ignores that and tells his son that he's going to military school. 

Based on this description, Dr. Douchebag seems to be an abusive parent, which might've worked and made a bit more sense like in My Robot, if he were intended to be a villain. But as far as I can tell, he's not because the actual villains of the episode are two government agents posing as pest control workers trying to get the monster back. What's funny about this is that the villains are portrayed more sympathetically than Dr. Douchebag because all they want to do is catch a potentially dangerous creature and keep it out of human society in order to prevent someone from getting hurt. Sure, they can be creepy when going about it at times, but from what I saw, they weren't being abusive towards any one and their struggle is played out like a more subdued version of a Roadrunner cartoon. Screenwriting 101: If a character who isn't intended to be a villain is more villainous than the actual villains, you dun fucked up.

Overall, Bad Egg is an episode that I feel really bad for because it has likable main characters such as Jason and Timmy, yet has an extremely unlikable character like Dr. Douchebag that really drags down the quality of the episode for me. If Dr. Douchebag was made more likeable or taken out of the episode altogether, I think this would've been an extremely solid episode. But as is, it's not horrible but it's not as great as it could've been. 

Overall Grade: C

Friday, June 2, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #63: My Robot

Season: 3
Episode: 23
Original Airdate: November 30, 2013 
Director: James Head 
Writer(s): Melody Fox

So from what I understand, I'm halfway through the home stretch of season three, as I only have three more episodes of this season to review. And heeeeere's another one! 

Phillip is a science nerd with a secret: he has a robot that he ordered online and programmed himself, and it originally did anything Phillip asked, but the robot gradually overpowers Phillip's programming and is now doing what is "best" for Phillip, forcing him to do things like exercise and eat tasteless nutrient food. Phillip couldn't return the robot to the factory and the robot has actually scared his parents away, so he begs for his friend Tim's help in destroying it. They trick the two school bullies into helping, and while they do shut down the robot. 

One of the things I liked about this episode was Phillip, specifically the direction they take with his character. At first, he seems like the most stereotypical nerd possible (minus a Steve Urkel esque voice). However, as the episode progresses, there are implications that Phillip might've forcibly become this way due to the robot's overbearing nature. This add an interesting layer to Phillip's character as it not only shows how abusive the robot can be but it also makes the robot itself seem more intimidating. 

Another thing I liked was the robot. While its design and voice are a bit campy, it doesn't do much to take away from how horrifying it actually is. Most of what makes it horrifying is that it's so overbearing, that it seems like it's abusing Phillip. To make matters worse, Phillip had virtually no way to get rid of this thing and for a long time, he was basically left alone with it. The factory it came from wouldn't take it back and his actual parents had been scared away by it. To me, this robot is a symbol of overbearing parenting and the episode really does its best to show the consequences that this style of parenting can have on a child. 

Much like Coat Rack Cowboy, the one thing I'm split on is the ending. Without giving too much away, Phillip betrays Tim when the robot gets reset. On the one hand, the ending goes in a direction that I was not at all anticipating, which I really appreciate. On the other hand, it puts a dent in Phillip's likability and seems unfair to Tim as he stood up for Phillip against some stock bullies (who get their comeuppance via the robot) and helped him with his robot problem.

Overall, My Robot was a very enjoyable episode that took a couple of unexpected and interesting turns. Although it can be a bit campy at times, it still does a great job of dishing out the horror.

Overall Grade: A

Friday, May 19, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #62: Dead Bodies

Season: 3
Episode: 22
Original Airdate: November 23, 2013 
Director: Jason Furukawa
Writer(s): Jed Elinoff, Scott Thomas

So on Monday, I had turned nineteen years old. That means I'm one year away from being legally allowed to drink... in Japan. Also, I have four more episodes left of season three. 

In this sequel to season one's "The Dead Body," Jake Skinner (who is now human after tricking Will into dying in 1961) finds his time on Earth running out when a Grim Reaper-esque wraith grabs his arm and causes his skin to rot, so Jake plans to trick Anna into sacrificing her life so Jake can keep living -- and only Will's ghost can stop him.

One of the major improvements that this episode makes from The Dead Body episode is that the bullies, Trevor and Chang, are absent, aside from being mentioned briefly. In my review of The Dead Body, I thought that Trevor and Chang were nothing more than one dimensional bullies and were also the weakest part of that episode. Because of this, I feel like omitting these characters was a smart move and really strengthened the episode for me. 

The other thing I liked about this episode was the character development. The first major piece of character development is from Anna. In this episode, she's trying to study for her SATs, which are extremely important if she wants to get into college. However, she gets distracted by Jake who says that she'll have plenty of time to take tests. She tries to resist but she eventually gives in. I think this makes her seem more like a real person because there are times when we know we need to do something important but we get distracted by certain things, which can sometimes be difficult to ignore or resist. The other major piece of character development is from Will. Throughout the episode, Will is trying to get Anna's attention and warn her about Jake, though she doesn't seem to notice him, much to his dismay. Towards the end of the episode, Will musters up all the courage he can and uses his ghost powers to fight Jake and save Anna from becoming another victim of Jake's trickery. Because of this kind deed, he is rewarded by becoming human again while Jake is sent to hell, presumably by the wraith. 

One of the weaker parts of this episode was the effects for the wraith. In this episode, the wraith shows up twice and when they're shown on screen, it's clear that CGI was used. Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against CGI itself. But the problem here is that the CGI looks like something out of those live action Scooby Doo movies, which aren't all that great looking. This is show that has had great special effects in the past and even when the effects didn't look all that great (see The Golem Part 2), they still worked to the episode's advantage. However, the CGI in this episode does not do that and it just sticks out like a sore thumb. 

Overall, Dead Bodies is a great follow up despite one or two setbacks. 

Overall Grade: B+

Friday, May 5, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #61: Long Live Rock and Roll

Season: 3
Episode: 21
Original Airdate: November 16, 2013
Director: Neill Fearnley
Writer(s): Brandon Auman 

Hello there ladies and gentlemen and welcome to my review of the twenty first episode of season three. For those who don't know, season three has about twenty six episodes, making it the longest season in the series. Since I'm currently reviewing the twenty first episode, I only have about five more episodes to go before I'm finished with this season. In other words, we are in the home stretch! 

Holden is a boy with a garage band, but no musical talent when it comes to playing lead guitar. So when a former, Keith Richards-esque rock star-turned-music shop owner known as Sir Maestro offers him a new guitar seemingly for free, Holden jumps at the chance, only to learn that Sir Maestro wants more than cash for payment and Holden's friends have been tempted with similar offers. 

One of the things I liked about the episode is Sir Maestro. I'm not sure if I used this comparison already but he's kind of like the villain from Something Wicked This Way Comes. He's charismatic but not to a point where he can't be creepy. Not only that but his design is also great. I think it really fits and even enhances the whole rock star motif he's aiming for. 

Another thing I liked about this episode was the climax. So in the climax, Holden challenges Sir Maestro to a "rock-off" in order to save his friends from Maestro's control. There are quite a few things about this climax that I really liked. First off, Holden gets a nice bit of character development. In the beginning of the episode, Holden's guitar skills are less than great and blames his guitar. However, when he's forced to use his original guitar in the rock off, his skills have clearly improved as he doesn't seem to make a mistake when playing. Second, the climax kind of reminded me of the rock off from the Tenacious D movie, which I think they might've been referencing or paying homage to in their own way. 

Unfortunately, there is one problem I have with the episode. So there's a scene where Sir Maestro sneaks into Holden's room and explains that he wants his soul once he gets his bandmate's souls. Now this doesn't seem too bad but the problem with this scene is that it kind of screws up the pacing and I feel like they could've conveyed this information in a much more time efficient way. 

Overall, Long Live Rock and Roll is an episode that does a good job balancing the creepiness with the fun. It's a rather solid episode that's worth checking out. 

Overall Grade: B+