Shredder: Snowboarding PSA/Horror Movie

There is a formula to slasher movies, and it’s a simple one. A killer, annoying people for him or her to kill, some sort of setting. That’s all. So why not a murderous skier slaying suckas on a mountainside? I sadly may have the answer. Its name: Shredder.

shreddertitle

I forgot to get a screenshot of the title screen when I had the DVD in and didn’t feel like loading it back up, so I decided to make one. It took an hour longer than getting the stupid disc would have.

I decided to focus on my favorite aspect of Shredder, which without question was the killer’s continued ineptitude. No opportunity to fall down or get outsmarted was squandered. You’ll be rooting for the guy out of sheer pity.

It doesn’t help that he is literally just dressed like a guy who got a ski suit and goggles from KMart. They have to make some sort of ski mask with a demon or skull motif, no?

That said, I hope you’ll forgive me for the half-hearted summary of the plot. It’s not anything too special. Here, I’ll give you the characters:

Cole– wimpy main hero guy
Kimberly– Cole’s prissy girlfriend who openly gropes other men in front of him
Pike– only okay character besides the killer I think she’s Kimberly’s cousin
Skyler– shithead “comic relief”
Robyn– boobs
Christophe– European hitchhiker/red herring killer/guy Kimberly openly gropes in front of Cole
Kirk– stoner who is really good at snowboarding and wears a cowboy hat during one scene for some reason

The basic premise is, the above dorks sneak into an abandoned ski resort that Kimberly’s father is in the process of buying. They are explicitly told that there was a horrific murder that took place years before. Snowboarders (just like our heroes!) murdered a young girl. Oh. That seems like a pretty decent reason to close the place, but they don’t care. They need to SHRED.

The start is pretty typical horror movie. A few people get stabbed with icicles, because the writers took the path of least resistance in every possible way. The movie only hits its stride when our villain zooms up and joins Robyn on the ski lift. In case you forgot, she is a female with bosoms.

He’s willing to give her a chance.

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So far I don’t really see the problem. It’s lame, but it’s also sound advice. The kids have made it abundantly clear that they care more for alcohol and parties with stilted, unnatural dialogue than they do for mountain safety.

He thrusts a rulebook in her face, but Robyn offers her rebuttal in the only language punks know.

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See this is exactly why someone needed to step in and try and teach them how to snowboard responsibly. You are definitely not supposed to shoves strangers off a ski lift from 40 feet in the air.

We have reached the first Moment of Shame for the killer. While he’s free-falling through the frozen air, Robyn somehow manages to wrap her scarf around the ski lift. Obviously, what happens next is that she hangs her own goddamn self.

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I really want to give the poor masked skier the kill, but I can’t on this one. He had zero to do with it. One of the more memorable deaths in the movie, and the murderer was “carelessness with loose clothing.”

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Robyn cruises by a few times throughout the next few scenes, as if taunting the killer for his failures.

A while later, Pike and Skyler have found the cabin where Kirk was stabbed (one of the aforementioned icicle incidents.) Internally, the viewer is cheering as the skier appears. The comic relief always gets the most brutal treatment, and rightfully so. However, Pike foils our villain with the calculated tactic of closing the door.

Doing so causes the lone symbol of the killer’s success, Kirk’s dead body, to fall unceremoniously to the floor. Of course, the killer bursts through the door and promptly trips over said body. This allows Pike to roundhouse kick him in the face.

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The killer catches a rare break and manages to snag Skyler’s leg with a hatchet. I swear, it comes off as an underdog defying the odds. Plus, Skyler is the worst. The only unfortunate part about it is that he missed a major artery.

Sadly, our luck runs out. Pike and stupid Skyler manage to escape after the killer AGAIN trips and pratfalls out the open door, earning a snowboard to the face for his clumsiness.

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Jesus. The killer finally decides to start acting like he even WANTS to murder people towards the end. He goes with the classic “appear outside the car door while the person inside forgets how to turn a key” bit. Regrettably for him, Pike is driving. As the last remaining female character, she is contractually obligated to peel out before he can get to her. Once more, the fearsome, faceless entity lurking in the shadows of the mountain is knocked on his butt. They might as well have just had him slip on a banana peel.

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*slide whistle noise*

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The above could have been the DVD cover. It sums up everything that happens.

There is one moment of redemption. After the killer stabs Skyler through the eye with a ski pole YES he goes after Kimberly. It’s at this point I have realized I forgot to tell you about another character. His name is Chad, he was murdered in literally the first scene, and his body was being stored in the same cabinet Kimberly hides in.

Cue the awesome sequence where the skier stabs at Kimberly with a poker, which snags Chad’s head and repeatedly pushes it towards her.

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I’m going to pretend that he did this on purpose. It’s very clear he didn’t but he needs a victory. Any victory.

There actually is another few scenes, including a big swerve as to who the perpetrator is! Big may be stretching it. I’ll leave it at that on the off chance that any of you ever buy this movie for $3.99 at Game XChange like we did. In case I haven’t been clear, it comes highly recommended.

I’m ending it here, on a high note. It’s the least I could do.

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Child’s Play 2: Electric Boogaloo

I like my horror movies to have an interesting plot, unique slashers, and victims dying in the most hilarious ways possible. Going by those guidelines, I probably don’t have to explain why Child’s Play 2 is one of my favorites. Obviously I’m going to though.

Chucky was always the movie character I feared most as a youth. Living dolls/toys/ventriloquist dummies were just unsettling. When I got into Goosebumps, I skipped right the hell over #7: Night of the Living Dummy. I was ten. I almost immediately regret admitting that, and hope we can still be friends.

Being a big, brave near-30 year old today, I recognize Chucky as the horror icon he is. He combines the brutality of Jason Voorhees with the wisecracks of Freddy Krueger. In doll form, he has the unsettling silence of Michael Myers. He also is the only one of them to appear on a wrestling show and taunt a guy known as “the dog-faced gremlin.”

Basically the total package. Today, we celebrate Chucky and all of his accomplishments, like that weird one up there. We’re going to do it in style with a full-on review of Child’s Play 2. And to make things even better, I’ll be joined by my pal and brother-in-law Cliff Huizenga (http://cliffpro.com). Just like the MST3K review that I did with Adriana, this will be a fun-filled adventure through differing views and writing styles.Cliff enjoys a good horror movie much the same as I do, so this is going to be good.

Settle in with a seltzer. It’s going to be a long and bloody one.

The Movie!

Dan: The sequel picks up where Child’s Play leaves off. We waste no time in getting to our first casualty, as the remnants of the doll from the first movie are cleaned up during the opening credits. Don’t ask me why. I’m glad they decided to do it, though, because otherwise we wouldn’t have the scene where a toy technician tries to give Chucky new eyeballs.

Oops!

There is no better way to start a horror movie than to electrify and throw a grown man through a window four minutes in. Actually, it doesn’t even need to be horror. Every movie should begin in this fashion, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, we soon learn that Andy’s mother has been committed to an insane asylum because she backs up her son’s stories about murderous toys, and no one really wants to see her responsible for a child. Thus, Andy is in the care of a foster home. He’s very quickly brought into the home of foster parents Phil and Joanne. And I do mean quickly. The movie makes it seem as though they’re picking out a ham at the grocery store, rather than having to sign 8,000 adoption forms.

Regardless, they’re out the door in about 15 minutes and on their way home, luckily for Andy. Unluckily for him, Chucky executes the devious serial killer plan of calling the foster home and asking for Andy, and is evidently given his new address. That seems like the sort of thing you maybe shouldn’t give out if a kid’s just been at the center of a series of grisly murders..

Cliff: Ah, the Child’s Play series. I remember being a kid and watching Child’s Play 2 for the first time. As a fan of stop-motion, robots and Muppets, the concept of a toy doll yelling obscenities and murdering people was of equal interest to me as watching Johnny Five in Short Circuit. As a child who should have been afraid of Chucky, I thought he was awesome!

Dan: [Thanks for making me look like a weenie, Cliff.]

Cliff: With the second movie being my first foray into the series, the plot should have confused me. However, the filmmakers did an excellent job of explaining the backstory for those, like me, who did not see the first film. And remember, this was a period of time where you couldn’t just load up Netflix to watch the series or download every single film for portable watching. HBO didn’t have “On Demand”. So, being able to guide the viewer right into the story was important.

This brings up an interesting point about sequels in general. The first movie was a great stand-alone film. So, the opportunity to milk the series for what it’s worth would have been appealing—and that’s exactly what happened with Bride of Chucky and the abomination known as Seed of Chucky. (WARNING: Do not watch Seed of Chucky. May cause eye and brain cancer.) But somehow, the filmmakers avoided the trap of the 2nd and 3rd movies.

Personally, I love the Back to the Future and The Matrix trilogies. However, both first films were obviously made as one-offs with no intention for sequels. Then, because the films generated enough revenue to get the green light for sequels in haste, Parts 2 and 3 were written at the same time. Realistically, both series go Part 1, Part 2: Episode 1, and Part 2: Episode 2. Still classics, but feels too much like they were tacked on to an already great set of movies.

Not Child’s Play 2 though.

Even knowing nothing about the series, the beginning of Child’s Play 2 gives you enough to know of Andy’s troubled past with his fear of the talking, killing Good Guy doll. A great portion of the movie sets the tone for how isolated Andy is from, well, pretty much everyone. But, Andy knows better. He knows Chucky will return and kill again.

And the film delivers on its Chucky kills.

The Kills!

Dan: Chucky has a pretty broad range of murderin’ methods in this film. Electricity! Suffocation! Neck-breaking! Ruler beatings! Knitting needles I guess! He’s classically shown as using a knife, but I like him stepping out of his comfort zone here. If I had to choose, I might say Phil’s death is my favorite. Chucky wisely avoids any suspicions by straight-up tripping the guy on the basement steps. He lands right on top of his big head in what is one of the more gruesome deaths in the franchise. Atypical, but it works. Plus everyone of course blames Andy.

No messy cleanup!

If we’re going purely based on style and not “killer doll reasoning that I’ve put way too much thought into,” Andy’s teacher has to take the prize. It’s not even really for the kill itself, but the flair Chucky adds when isolating Andy by getting him detention.

I sure hope the screenwriter was given an MVP trophy or something for this.

I guess Chucky gives up caring about keeping a low profile once Phil’s gone because he pretty blatantly murders Joanne. He must have realized that the movie’s rapidly approaching the third act.

Cliff: At first, it would seem to me that I don’t have a favorite kill. I could never previously understand why, besides just being excited while anxiously waiting for Chucky to take out his next victim. But, after watching the movie (a couple of times) this Halloween season, I understand why now:

The film does an excellent job at making you want Chucky to kill his victims.

– Mattson was the corporate lap dog who’s biggest strength was his credit card (“That’s a gold card. That’s as good as cash.” Might as well have placed a screen overlay of the AMEX logo for product placement).

– Andy’s teacher, Miss Kettlewell, embodied the teacher we all hated as school kids.

– His foster parents were a mixed couple, with Phil being a complete jerk the entire movie and Joanne’s sudden departure from a loving, understanding parent to completely rejecting Andy the moment Phil died (honestly, she should have been thankful).

– Grace was right to be mad about the fire alarm being pulled, but had no right to rip Chucky away from Kyle’s hands. She had it coming.

– You had no emotional attachment to the security/technician in the toy factory, so he made for a great, cheap throwaway kill.

Dan: This man’s final epitaph: “A cheap, throwaway kill.” : (

Cliff: For a horror film, there are characters you sympathize with and those you don’t. As for these people, you as the audience are definitely not worried about their impending doom; you’re expecting it. You didn’t want Chucky to kill Andy or Kyle because the film made you care about them. They weren’t bad people or jerks or nobodies; they were good kids. They were the good guys. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE!?)

Although, Chucky did make the greatest psychopathic face as he approached Miss Kettlewell with the ruler.

Heh heh, classic.

Issues!

Cliff: I did have some issues with the plot and certain scenes. For example, when Chucky first reveals himself to Andy, he somehow managed to tie up Andy’s arms and legs to all four bed posts, shove a rolled up sock in his mouth and climb on top of Andy’s body before waking up. How does a troubled child, fearing the return of a killer doll be able to sleep so soundly?

And speaking of revealing himself, Chucky’s main goal of using Andy to play “Hide The Soul” to transfer out of the doll body technically is flawed. Not really covered in the second movie, but explained in both the first and third films, Chucky can only transfer his soul to the first person he reveals himself to. This limitation is reset in the third movie by him receiving a new body, created by the melted remains of his old body.

But, in the beginning of Child’s Play 2, Chucky does get a new body with parts from his old body. If we are to believe that melted parts of his old body in a new “shell” count as a new body, then placing his eyes and skull in a new body should count too. And if that’s the case, Andy wouldn’t have been the first person Chucky revealed himself to; It would have been Mattson.

…Actually, now that I’ve thought about it, I’m glad they didn’t go in that direction.

Dan: I have absolutely no issues with this movie, nor any of the above. Furthermore, I’m going to admit right here that I like Seed of Chucky. And yes, it is horrible.

Final Scene!

Dan: I could have made this entire review just about the ending, alienating you all as readers. It’s a big part of why I love this movie so much in the first place. At their heart, 80s slasher movies are over the top and ludicrous. I can think of no better way to describe what happens to Chucky once he corners Andy and Kyle in the Good Guys factory.

It starts with Chucky trying to steal Andy’s soul once again. He would have pulled it off, too, but alas! He’s been in the doll’s body too long. He catches on to this once he notices he’s bleeding from the nose, prompting the absolute greatest “NOOOOOOOO” ever committed to film by a toy possessed with the soul of a serial killer.

NOOOOO! Etc.

What follows really does defy any words I could come up with. I’ve put together a handy collage that sums it up pretty well, though.

Chucky is crushed by a bunch of boxes, gets his hand caught in a gate and is forced to tear it right the hell off,

is stuck inside of the doll-assembling mechanics, gets covered in molten plastic, then explodes. This movie has 18 false finishes and I love every one of them more than the last.

After typing all of that I feel bad for Chucky. He’s basically a toddler. Look at him kicking his tiny little baby feet while Kyle refuses to let him stab her:

Aww!

Cliff: What an absolute perfect scene to end the movie. First movie starts with a toy store selling Good Guys; the second ends where they’re being made. Being surrounded by thousands of dolls that Andy fears definitely sets an unsettling atmosphere. Also, incomplete, lifelike dolls are just plain creepy.

Come to think of it, I do have a favorite kill for the movie: The death of Chucky himself. With Andy being blamed for killings in both the first and second movie, the child who wouldn’t hurt a fly makes the conscious decision to actually kill his first victim in self-defense. Or, at least try to, until Kyle has to save the day with an air hose. Love that gooey explosion.

Dan: In case you forgot already.

Cliff: And then, almost immediately after the climax, the movie ends. No cops, no aftermath, no follow-up. And certainly no lead-in to an Episode 2 with a “To Be Continued” title card. The story is simply over. Brilliantly done.

Until they do Child’s Play 3 and complete a great trilogy. Then kill it with Bride of Chucky. And do unspeakable things with its corpse in Seed of Chucky. Curse of Chucky, however… that one deserves a post on its own for its quality work and bringing both a modern reboot and an amazing ending to this classic series. Thoughts on that, Dan?

I would be delighted, Cliff. And I sure hope you guys would be interested in reading more horror movie reviews. Please say yes because I’m going to do it anyway.

I love doing posts like this. It’s a lot of fun to put together with someone else and get their views on a movie or topic. It also makes for a less stale read if you’re bored by my blabbering. So a huge thank you to Cliff for giving me a hand with this. I hope writing about exploding dolls was half as fun for you as it was for me.

Onwards and upwards to further horror movie deconstructions! If we do Curse of Chucky, maybe I can convince Cliff to join in on Seed of Chucky too.

A man can dream.

When You Get to My Door, Tell Them Boris Sent You

Halloween is a very visual holiday. Next to Christmas, it’s the event that stretches out the longest and overtakes the most store shelves. There’s no mistaking what day is fast-approaching when you see 17 versions of the same cheap hockey mask where the gardening tools used to be.

I am here today, however, to make a bold claim. As eye-catching as Halloween is, I’d argue that it’s equally ear-catching. That phrasing I unfortunately chose is incredibly stupid but it doesn’t lessen its validity. Science has proven that an individual’s Halloween spirit leaps by over 75% when exposed to a Halloween sound effects CD. You can cover your face in as much fake blood as you want, but it doesn’t mean as much as it would if done while listening to wind howling and doors creaking.

Or, even better, a crazy person singing about how well a werewolf dances.

You know the songs I’m talking about. Novelty hits like The Time Warp and Monster Mash. They’re so ingrained into pop culture that music experts the world over have studied their importance.

It’s probably not wise to include here a video that’s way funnier than anything else in the post will be. This is a decision I’ve made and will have to live with.

Of the many weird and wonderful things my grandfather left behind, fairly close to the top of the list would be a collection of Halloween novelty records from the 1960s. It’s true that between the eight records, there are many 10 songs total. There is a lot of crossover and it doesn’t matter in the slightest. While you listen to that handful of songs over and over, you can peruse the album art and pretend you are an art connoisseur, collecting pieces for the world’s greatest museum.

Let’s go through them one by one and figure out together what order to hang them in after picking them up from the frame shop.

Let’s start with this one because it emphasizes the song that basically all of these revolve around. If you haven’t heard Monster Mash, you’re purposely avoiding anything vaguely associated with Halloween. It’s an October staple and I love the confident look of the vampire guy on this cover. He realizes he’s backed by the most popular novelty song of all time. He’s got a fist raised in solidarity to his fellow monsters, knowing this is their hour. That dude is the first entry in my top three favorite things about this artwork. The second and third are Dracula seemingly trying to shoo his own bats away, and the idea that there’s also a Popeye who digs graves, respectively. Although as I type this, I think Dracula maybe deserves to be moved up a spot. It’s pretty hilarious to imagine a vampire with a fervent bat phobia.

Get used to seeing “Frankie Stein” because he basically did all of the albums featured here. This is particularly neat artwork because it features what appears to be a swamp monster with the head of a baboon in the background. As for the foreground, I have no idea what that thing is. If I had to put money on it, I’d maybe go with the ghost of a marshmallow dragon in the clutches of a sea giant. It would also appear that the swamp baboon is protesting this. Whether he’s angry at the lack of monster ethics or he wanted the kill himself is up to you, the viewer. If just trying to figure out what on earth the artist was going for requires a sentence that idiotic, you know you’ve got something special.

This was probably my favorite album cover. Look how interested that creature from the black lagoon-type guy is by the mummy’s spider accessory. He’s so entranced by it that he doesn’t even notice he’s sharing space with an ordinary gorilla. I’m not sure what business that gorilla has there, but you can bet there’s some sort of fantastic story behind it. I like to think that the mummy’s new jewelry has bridged the gap between almost-man and monster. Their differences are cast aside as countless demons and apes gather in awe. Can’t you picture the three of these guys going to a diner and exchanging bad Halloween puns before skipping out on the bill and eating their waiter?

“What did the ghost eat for dinner…..? MASHED BOO-TATOES”

*chomping noises and screams*

“Check please!”

*laugh track*

I will not rest until this is a sitcom.

Despite the relative lack of interesting characters, this cover has a lot to offer on its own. Namely, the B-movie blurbs at the top and a tarantula the size of a human head. I don’t think that snake is even trying to attack the spider. It seems more like its mouth is agape in shock. Despite the snake’s bad rap, he’s unable to stop himself from letting out an “oh shit!” at the sheer size of that thing. You also have to wonder if whoever formerly owned that skull became ensnared in the web and perished thusly, or if the spider found it in its wanderings before bringing it back home, or if the snake killed the person and is defending a prized souvenir. You have to respect an artist who doesn’t spoon-feed the audience all the answers.

I saved this for the last of the Frankie Stein offerings because I thought some might find it too gruesome and run away. Don’t be ashamed. The hand here that’s picking at this poor monster’s eye seems to be very similar to that of the speculated sea giant mentioned earlier. This is perhaps even the same scene. Having disposed of the marshmallow dragon’s ghost, the giant moves on to his next victim. I can’t help but think that if this giant had only seen the mummy’s spider brooch, he’d have relaxed a little. He could be hanging out with the creature and the random gorilla instead of committing senseless murders. Unless that creature was the same one who was in the swamp background, and that spider brooch is really the giant tarantula planning to off the mummy and his friends next. THIS POST IS GETTING TOO LONG AND ALSO STUPID.

To finish up here, let’s discuss these two sound effects records. There’s unfortunately not too much to write home about with the first. I do like the lightning in the background but that really only gets me past this first sentence. So moving on, the second album is a doozy! We have here a cemetery run by the world’s laziest employees, who don’t bother putting the tenants’ full names on their headstones. I don’t want to blame the ghosts, because they’re too darned cute. But then again, look at the grim reaper dude in front. He reads more like a sad uncle who wants to hang out with his cool nephews, popping into the photo at the last minute. I want to give him a hug, not condemn him for shoddy graveyard upkeep. Let’s just say it’s the owl’s fault.

So there you have it. Drink those beautiful colors in. Marvel at the art of twisted geniuses. These are the records you play when you want to drive your Halloween spirit through the roof while also alienating friends and loved ones. You break out Frankie Stein when you need a novelty pick-me-up and want to lose the respect of your children. You put on a record called “Night in a Graveyard” when you want to provide trick-or-treaters with appropriate background music while you hand out candy.

Just a heads up, though. One track on that record is literally just 10 minutes of a woman screaming, so don’t play it too loud. You’ll scare children and maybe get a visit from the police.

Happy Halloween!

The House Is Alive And The House Is Hungry

I’ve never really considered the Friday the 13th series to be Halloween movies. They seem to work better as late-night summer films. Obviously that’s due to the setting of a summer camp over-run by the dumbest and oldest “teenagers” ever put on screen. It’s more fun to watch that when it’s hot enough out that you feel you’d be tempted to jump into the lake, knowing full well you’ll end up with a machete through your face.

That said, it seems like the perfect time of year to tell you about the House of Death. We’ve reached September as the sun sets on another summer. It’s mid-transition, with the last outdoor activities being planned as stores fill with marshmallows shaped vaguely like ghosts. It’s a great mix of gross humidity and terror, as is this story.

Last summer, my mom and her cousins decided to rent a house in New Hampshire for a week of relaxation. Caitlin, my sister Jessica, brother-in-law Cliff and I were invited to stop up for a night or two. The house had a private beach! A finished basement!

It also nearly killed us.

Look at it. We should have known something was wrong in the first 40 seconds on the property. The four of us arrived before anyone else, having been told there was a key waiting. There was no key waiting. Very quickly we found ourselves in the middle of the woods, locked outside of a run-down house, surrounded by approaching darkness and 8,000 cobwebs.

This was the last we saw of Caitlin and Jessie.

Okay no,we didn’t get killed when investigating the grounds. YET. Attempting to walk and find the private beach, we only found more trees, including one blocking the path ahead. All of my instincts and horror movie expertise told me that this was a bad sign. Sure enough, we discovered the tell-tale Bad Omen; a weird leathery thing that looked sort of similar to a shriveled monkey paw, like in that short story The Monkey’s Paw.

[image missing but it would have been too scary anyway]

I guess as some point we also found this toad.

Once we managed to actually get into the house, things started to deviate a bit from the typical horror movie formula. Specifically, instead of a lunatic hacking at us with a screwdriver or something, a door fell off the hinges and almost landed on my mom. I realize that doesn’t sound so scary. However, if you are able to stand in an abandoned cabin and hear “AHH!” followed by a loud thud and NOT think “Jason is real and we are all dead,” then you’re the weird one. Not us.

Once we made sure my mom was okay, we started checking out the basement. We found some cool things, like a Beatles album and a Nintendo 64 with Goldeneye. Things were looking up for almost a whole minute, which is how long it took until we heard a really loud, really shrill screeching. That turned out to be the carbon monoxide sensor. Again, probably not the most terrifying of circumstances, but it was still unexpected.

I just want to recap that we’d been at this vacation house for all of an hour and had encountered a blocked off forest path, a MONKEY PAW MAYBE, a scream, a crash, and a piercing whistle that indicated there might be a deadly gas seeping into our lungs. But honestly, what was worse than all of that was that the Nintendo 64 ended up not working : (

Eventually we all ran to the package store and got some alcohol. I picked up some coffee brandy because I love coffee and I love brandy. Somehow, this stuff was pretty vile. I still drank it though. If I was going to be murdered, it wasn’t going to be while sober enough to realize it. We also got some stuff to make s’mores, and lacking an actual campfire we put the marshmallows in the microwave. Not recommended unless you want s’mores that look like airbags deployed in them.

Then night set in. The house seemed to infect us. In what was probably my favorite creepy moment, I awoke in the middle of the night. I sat up and squinted into the dark. My sister had gotten up from across the room to get another blanket, because it’d gotten pretty chilly. What I saw was her shadowy figure crouched down, slowly moving across the room. She then turned to me and silently put a finger up in a shushing gesture like a deranged Santa Claus. I was a little foggy from the brandy and a Xanax, but I know what I saw.

You might be noticing that I didn’t take many pictures of the actual house or things we encountered. Correct, but I didn’t think I’d be writing about it two years later and would need them, okay? Here, all I have left is these weird novelty teeth from a convenience store we stopped at on our way.

The morning light brought with it a reprieve from the previous evening’s hellish events. We awoke to a breakfast of bacon and eggs, which we almost revisited shortly thereafter. This is because we found a playground on our way down the mountain when we were heading home. Obviously we stopped and played on the carousel. I don’t know about the rest of the group, but I used my leftover fear and adrenaline to try and fling whoever was riding into space. Soon we were all nauseous and dizzy, and thus ready for the four-hour ride home.

But not before I took this really funny picture of a disoriented Jessie. It’s the photo I use for her as a contact on my phone currently.

It was a magical adventure, the kind you don’t get many of. Sometimes these things work out how you plan. Sometimes you have a super relaxing day at the beach and come inside to share memories with family. And then sometimes you eat mutant marshmallows before fighting mosquitoes for a sleeping spot on the floor. If you ask me, the latter can be just as fun.

Plus they had a ping pong table. I would go back in a heartbeat.