Friday, July 24, 2009

Goosebumps: One Day at Horrorland Part 2

When we left off, the monsters were preventing the Morris family from leaving the park. They monsters surround the family. Papa Morris reaches out and tries to rip a Horror's face off, but gets nothing. Oh no, they really are monsters (anyone surprised? anyone? kids in the back?). The Morrises flee into a building where they find a large studio audience full of Horrors.

A TV host Horror welcomes them onto the set and explains everything. It's a reality TV show where clips of the Morris family running in fear from Horrors or freaking out at the insane rides. Essentially, it's like a monster version of Punk'D but the host is cuter than Ashton and less irritating than Borat. Can we call it Candid Gamera?

The TV screen shows all the filmed moments where the family ran around in terror as the audience laughs.

As the show ends, the family asks to leave. The host begs them to stay for the next show, a game show. He tells them the prize is a brand new sports utility vehicle. Clearly, this Horror read the Stuff White People Like site. They agree, so it's off to hair and make up, where R.L. Stine broke barriers by including the first homosexual monster character on children's television. "Oh, my heavens," simpers the hair and make up monster.

He offers them some disgusting snacks, delicately presses a gigantic pink poof ball to each human's face, and when Mrs. Morris asks, "You're not going to hurt us...are you?" responds, "Darling, we're monsters but we're not MONSTERS." Can we replace the Culture Maven from Queer Eye with this monster?

The Morrises are ushered onstage as the game show starts. It's called "Raw Deal." I guess that's...kind of a pun. (Who wants to take the bet that the answer to the first question is "Horrorland"? Anyone?) The host introduces the sexy assistant, Holly Tosis, the Vanna White of the Horror World.

Tonight it's the Morrises vs. the Morrises. (Starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep.) Actually, it's the kids versus the adults. The kids look nervous at the prospect of playing on a monster game show, but Dad is the Richard Hatch of monster reality shows and mom is the Omarosa, who want fame and SUVs at any price, and they both point out that they'll pretty much win the SUV since they're playing each other. The game is basically Wheel of Fortune without the wheel.

The Morris parents pick a card that either has money or something creepy written on it. If they guess right, they get the money. If they guess wrong, they lose a turn. I don't know what happens if they pull "lose a limb" or "go eat worms" because it never happens.

(Seriously, R.L., did Merv threaten to sue you if you used a wheel?) So the parents pick a few letters. They guess wrong and lose their turn. Then we hear a few words from our sponsors. It's Monster Love Songs.

Little known piece of trivia. That's the name of the poem that a sweaty R.L. penned to his first love -- a corpse he encountered at his college job at the morgue.

When we come back, the kids have almost solved the puzzle. It's the MORRIS FAMILY IS LU_ _ _. The kids guess Lucky, but they're wrong. They do get a prize--a bucket of worms is hurled at them. The Morris parents get another turn. Mama Morris solves it. Lunch! THE MORRIS FAMILY IS LUNCH! They're right, but they realize this is a creepy message and are worried. Game show host gives them a second chance to win the SUV (which they keep calling a Sports Utility Vehicle), after another word from their sponsors--human action figures (just don't call them dolls).

This makes me nostalgic for my own dumpy, plastic human action figures from Fisher Price who were responsible for letting my imagination expand and grow. And for my blonde haired, pneumatic human action figures from Mattell who were responsible for my food issues and body dysmorphic disorder. Also, for the Creepy Crawlers oven where most of said action figures met a grisly end.

The card says that they win the vehicle of their dreams. "Well, not quite yet. You won a chance to win a new car. But not before you take the Horrorland Challenge." Ugh. This game show is like watching someone sit through a Time Share meeting. They get a choice of opening two doors. Behind one door, a brand new SUV.

Behind another, Ripper, the love child of Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne. Played by the same beast who was Sabre in Camp Nightmare.

And behind a third--goats! A tasty consolation prize.

The family chooses door number one. The lady or the tiger? They go inside and of course, it's Ripper. The Horrors watch on-screen, waiting for the family of humans to get ripped to bits. Wow, Stine, quite a prescient send-up of the reality show genre. Except Stephen King already did it in The Running Man so no.

Ripper starts growling. "He's getting ready to pounce!" screams Lizzy. No, Lizzy, he's on his last legs, he's barely able to move, and the director is praying the batteries won't die before they have to stop shooting for the day because the prop boy didn't come back from his last trip to Duane Reade. Suddenly, Deus Ex Machina arrives in the form of that Horror who warned them off earlier in Part 1. He ushers them out of the building back into the woods, telling them he wants to help because he's pissed about losing the job of host of Raw Deal. (He's not the producer's brother-in-law. God, it's all politics, isn't it?)

But then Horrors appear. They chase the family off as they shriek. (And it's the same damned little girl shriek looped over and over. Is this a Wilhelmina scream?)

The Horrors chase them and they hide in the woods. They come across the remains of some other humans (baby stroller knocked over) and conclude they aren't the first family to appear on this show. The Horrors find them again and they run, this time escaping under a fence to the parking lot. More Wilhelmina screaming, and then the family gets into the car, driving off. But since the Horrors put a device on the car, all is not over.

Mr. Morris can't operate the car and we cut back to the game show host telling us that he's steering it. The Morris family is balancing on the edge of a cliff with the game show host laughing it up (what--does he host EVERY show on this channel? He's like the Rowan Atkinson of the Monster Channel).

We cut to a pair of Monsters watching the show. One of them says that they should stop watching scary human shows and switches off the TV. The wife says they should just talk, and he rolls his eyes and she says, "It is true what they say. Men are from Omicron Persei 7, women are from Omicron Persei 9." Er, I mean, he says that's a good idea and offers her a cockroach. Mmm. Gross out humor. Never fails.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Evil Pink Unicorn Award

The Evil Pink Unicorn sees all, knows all, and spears all annoying teddy bears who get too close to her essential pinkness. She also commends good bloggers for being hilarious, bizarre, and just plain fun.

Yes, I just made this award up. I didn't actually receive it. It originates with me. But the award just cried out to be created.

Here's who I'm passing this awesomeness on to:

1. You Miss Your Old Familiar Friends. Yay for Full House Snark!

2. The Unicorner.

3. The Unprofessional Critic.

4. Children of the 90s. A must read!

5. The Literary Adventures of Lindsay Monroe (also you get kudos for being the one who introduced me to this wonderful, wonderful image).

6. Laina Has Too Much Spare Time.

7. Little Snarky Two Shoes. Another great TV/book blog.

8. Desert Rose Booklogue.

9. Cupcake Witch.

10. Book Crumbs.

11. Presenting Lenore.

12. Underage Reading.

13. Fear Street

If you've received it, pass it on to how ever many people you like.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Goosebumps: One Day at Horrorland Part 1

Enter: the Morris family: Mr. and Mrs. Morris and their daughter, Lizzy, and younger son, Luke. They're on their way to a vacation at Zoo Gardens. But there's a killer on the road, and his brain is squirming like a toad, and if you give this man a ride...oh, wait, wrong vacation. They're just lost. The Morris family succumbs to stereotypes, as Papa Morris refuses to ask for directions. (Considering they're surrounded by seagulls, I'm not sure who Mother Morris wants to ask.) Luke whines about going to Zoo Gardens. Not pictured: a scene where alpacas revolt from their roles as pack mules to maul tourists at Zoo Gardens.

The family drives off. Then some insanely fake holograms rush the family and they scream. Fireballs! I do commend the family on their reaction to the drawn in special effects. Turns out they're at Horrorland, some kind of theme park. Mama Morris expresses her doubts. It might not be safe. Oh, that's what they said about the Pirates of the Caribbean ride when it first opened at Disney Land. And before you can say that the pirates never tried to eat the visitors, may I remind you of the year that old Uncle Walt decided to remove the mandatory rabies shots from the Disney employees' health plan?

As they exit, we see something emerging from under the car, tampering with it. I wonder if this could be important later.

A big sign says, "The Horrorland Horrors Welcome You to Horrorland." A Tyler Perry production. (And I gotta say, based on having seen this episode already, Madea is a thousand times more frightening than any of these so called Horrors.) The family goes to the ticket booth, where a Horror pops up.

So...he's moonlighting from his Foot Locker job? And tells them that admission is free. And if I learned anything from Zoo Tycoon, it's that not charging admission and not providing cages puts you in the red. Horrorland Horrors, have you played Zoo Tycoon? Have you even played the cheaper, more nostalgia infused, Dino Park Tycoon?

The family almost bump into a monster. They look on, disgusted, as it holds a girl's decapitated head. "Stay off the guillotine ride! Sharp turns!" says the head. The monster tells them not to listen to her.

The mom finds this a little too creepy. Yeah, well, I felt this way about the Black Experience part of Colonial Williamsburg. Shudder.

The Morris parents tell the kids that they can go off on their own for a while but to meet back here in an hour. Lizzy and Luke run off. On their way, they see two parents comforting a crying little girl.

(Yeah, that's pretty much how I felt the time my parents forgot my brother and I at Disney and we had to sit through eight showings of Captain EO. Oh, the humanity.)

A monster runs up to Lizzy and her brother, telling them they need to get out, that it's not safe. Lizzy and Luke look weirded out. Yeah, I know the feeling. This reminds me of that guy in that Salem Village recreation who asked me if I'd ever churned butter. "No, but...I mean, have you ever really churned butter?" Amusement park types who get a little too into their roles skeeve me.

So the kids decide to visit the House of Mirrors. Really? The House of Mirrors? You can go to a Vampire Village, or, from the sound of howls, some kind of Werewolf encampment, but you choose something you could do at ANY AMUSEMENT PARK on the planet? (In the distance, I hear R.L. shrieking, "Don't listen to her, kids! The House of Mirrors is fun, interesting, and on budget--er, educational!")

A Horror shows them in, saying, "Reflect before you enter--no one may ever see you again!" Oh, man, R.L, I told you--puns don't make up for poor plot development! The kids go in and get separated. Lizzy finds herself in a part of the house that's got a checkered floor and is covered in mirrors. Creepy images pop out at random (yawn--come on, this was done to way better effect in Willy Wonka, am I right?) and then Lizzy can't see herself in the mirror. And then the walls start closing in.

The Morris pere and mere go to a snack shack to get something to eat. The Horror provides them with monster punches which he squeezes from out of his finger. (And I thought milk, which I refer to as glorified cow juice, was bad.)

Looking grossed out at the selection of beverages, the Morrises decline Monster Pudding.

Back to Lizzy and Luke. We cut in between shots of Lizzy screaming in the House of Mirrors and the Snack Shack Horror telling the parents that usually people don't let their kids go "running around" Horrorland and "I'm sure they'll be just fine." Oh, R.L. Stine, you mastered irony. Now how about plotting, characterization, and endings that don't try to make use of "twists"?

Lizzy falls through a long vortex-like tunnel, landing outside. What next? The Cantina? A Horrorland Horror asks her if she enjoyed the ride. Would she rate it a 5? What would make her experience at Horrorland truly...horrific?

Lizzy's brother runs up saying how awesome the ride was. Lizzy's pissed and wants to leave but Luke wants to go on. So they go on the Coffin Ride.

The Morris parents wait for their kids. Mrs. Morris sees a family shepherded into a building and points it out. "Honey, I just saw a family go in there...and they didn't look too happy." Yeah, well, that's how I felt about the Port-a-Johns at Six Flags. And about being led by my own teachers into the Crochet Your Own Cod Piece room at Colonial Billysburg.

On the Coffin Ride, the kids get into coffins that float away in the water. All goes well, till the coffins slam shut. Lizzy is shut up in a coffin away from her brother. She floats off while screaming and no one acknowledges her. Oh come on, Lizzy, is this any different from that weekend at Neverland Ranch? Fewer chimp bites at least.

Meanwhile, Luke finds himself shut up with a tarantula in his coffin.

I see the Horrorland Horrors went to the same Torture Retreat as the guys in charge of Guantanamo. He screams, but when the ride ends and the coffin opens, the spider is gone. The kids run off and find their parents who agree that this place is creepy. They try to get out of the park but when they get to what they think is the way out, they see a huge sign.

Ooh. Looks like the Horrors love Jean Paul Sartre. The monsters descend on them, as part 1 ends on a cliffhanger.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Are You Afraid of the Dark: The Tale of Apartment 214

Kiki calls this story the Tale of Apartment 214 after some lame intro about how moving can be awesome. Also, Gary yells at Tucker for stealing the pouch of salt as a joke. You know, I love Gary but this sibling relationship really lacks of the finesse of the older Pete/younger Pete relationship.

Stacey and her mother have just moved into a new apartment because her parents are splitting up. As they move their belongings from the car, the manager, a guy with a thick Eastern European accent, tells them there's no parking. They argue with him and then he leaves. Damn, Stacey's mom has got it--no, no, I won't go there. But she is fine!

So, after move-in, Stacey, her mom, and their adorable schnauzer, Bugsy, adjust. Stacey finds it a little bizarre as she's always hearing weird noises from apartment 214. She meets a girl her age who lives in apartment 212 and asks if she wants to hang out.

Obnoxious girl is all, "Maybe." After all, she might have to go watch Blossom or something.

Finally one day, Stacey sees apartment 214 creak open and she goes inside. An old lady bustles into the living room with a tea set and says, "Well it's about time!" I shriek. Early onset dementia!

Turns out she's a painter named Madeleine Kegel who lives alone. Frank, her nephew, promised her she could live with him and his family but eventually his family got to be too big and she wasn't needed. Yeah, well, before you start feeling too sorry for the old bag, Stacey, what she's not telling you is that Frank was perfectly willing to take in Madeleine--but he drew the line at making all three of his kids share a room so she could have an extra two rooms to house her tea cosies from around the world and her collection of sofa doilies.

Madeleine tells Stacey that they have something in common. They're both passive aggressive shut ins? No, wait, Madeleine, that's just you. But she thinks they can be friends. A creepy old eccentric woman. A cute black girl? Friends? Well, worked for Liz and Jacko.

Stacey helps Madeleine with chores around the apartment. Oh, having a colored girl around to do the housework--it's like nothing's changed for Madeleine. The two of them enjoy taking tea together, too. Then one day, Madeleine asks for a favor. (How is this different from every other day you two spend together?)

Oh, dear god, either Stacey's mom pulled a Fraulein Maria and has started making her child's clothing out of the curtains or Madeleine's been giving her fashion advice. Madeleine asks Stacey if she'll drop by the next day. Stacey asks what's wrong and Madeleine says, "Nothing. It's just a day on which I'd prefer not to be alone." Oh, Maddy, did you take your Ambien and Ex-Lax at the same time and forget to replenish your supply of Oops I Crapped My Pants again?

Stacey agrees and Madeleine tells her tomorrow she'll have a surprise to give her. Stacey's thought bubble: If the surprise is ginger snaps, don't expect any looks of amazement because I do your shopping, Grandma Moses.

The next afternoon, the girl who lives in 212 shows up with some Battle of the Bands tickets, and invites Stacey to come along. Stacey looks reluctant. But her friend tells her this is a big deal, and Stacey decides to go hang out with an actual factual teenager for once. You know, Stacey, Madeleine probably goes to bed at 4:30. Just stop by, bring her some prunes, commiserate on the state of "Kids these days," ask after her bowel movements, and you're good to go. But Stacey heads out with her friend.

Up in the window, Grandma Moses stares down at Stacey and starts making plans to boil her schnauzer. Later, Stacey comes home after a fun time. She hears Madeleine sobbing and goes inside. You broke your promise!" she shrieks.

Congrats, Madeleine, you just made the woman in room 237 of the Overlook Hotel look warm and fuzzy by comparison. Stacey puts on the lights and the woman disappears. Oh shut up, Maddy, if she didn't get some time to herself, she'd snap, and you read about what happened to Brooke Astor. Old biddies need to realize that not everyone finds their collection of cat statues that look like Taft interesting. But seriously, Stacey, I'd go check on your dog.

The door slams shut locking Stacey in. Eastern European stereotype opens it, asking what's wrong, and she runs out. Stacey runs into her own apartment, screaming. She explains what happened but her mother says that it doesn't make sense that the woman just disappeared into thin air. They go ask the manager about the old lady and he tells them that no one has lived there for years.

Kiki narrates that it just doesn't make sense. No, Kiki, it only makes no sense for those viewers who have either never read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, never been to summer camp, or aren't allowed to watch cable TV. So for those pale, home-schooled, shut-ins, this episode's twist should pose a real treat. Kiki tells us that time passes and that Stacey will have to learn to live with the guilt. Wait, hold up. Guilt? Come on. It's not as if Stacey forgot to visit her. It was still light out when she came by to visit with Madeleine. Was there some rule she had to spend the whole day with the old bat? Madeleine really wields guilt like a weapon--she's like the Old Testament God and a Jewish Holocaust survivor mom all rolled into one scary little old lady.

Then one night, Stacey's mom makes plans to go out, leaving Stacey alone.

Man, Stacey's mom has got it going on! Yeah, I said I wouldn't, but c'mon! The woman has the put togetherness of Mrs. Huxtable without the stick up her ass, the good looks of Nichelle Nicholls without the intimidating factor, and the grace of Diana Ross without the crazy. Stacey's mother tells her she's going to go meet with Stacey's dad/her ex at a restaraunt.

Stacey snuggles with her adorable dog while reading a book. There's a knock on the door. She sees Madeleine through the peephole and relieved to see her old friend, opens the door.

Relief? I've never been so frightened to see an old person since that Mrs. Wakefield episode of King of the Hill. (Or since the time I read The Witches as a child and screamed every time I saw an old lady with gloves. My dad really regretted taking me to the company cotillion that year.) But when Stacey opens the door, there's no old lady.

Stacey goes to apartment 214. The apartment's completely bare...except for a creepy paint by numbers painting of Stacey and Madeleine:
Oops, sorry:

She looks around and suddenly the apartment is furnished. Oh, don't look so surprised, I've seen more amazing things since I've started watching HGTV. Then Madeleine is standing before her. Stacey gasps. Madeleine: "You promised to visit me! I didn't want to be alone on that day and you didn't come!" Madeleine explains it was an anniversary. "On that day is the day I died!"

Stacey flees to her own apartment and the old lady slips a note under that says Why did you break your promise?

Ugh. Someone send that note to this blog, please. Stacey runs into the hall and the lights go off. The manager appears and she tries to explain about the old lady. The manager tells her no one lives there because every time he shows the apartment something weird happens and people get scared.

Then the cute little dog, Bugsy, runs down the hall. He enters apartment 214. Not wanting to wait for Madeleine to get all, "I will not be ignored, DanStacey," Stacey calls her dog back. She goes after him into Madeleine's House of Tchotchke where she finds the dog in a closet. "You broke your promise!" wails Madeleine. "Like my nephew!"

Wait just a second. You said your nephew wouldn't let you move in because he had a big family! If the reason you're living here is because you're actually dead, then, dude. Your nephew obviously doesn't think that Psycho and A Rose for Emily involve the proper way of dealing with dead family members.

"I wasn't trying to be mean--I just wanted to make a new friend," says Stacey. Friend? Oh, that Saved by the Bell reject. I wait for the old lady to respond with Oh, poor you! because something tells me she comes from the Livia Soprano school of passive aggression. Stacey, finally, stands up for herself, and mentions that she came over after the concert. "But it was too late." No, it wasn't! You two could still celebrate deathday and make cookies or whatever it is you were planning.

The old hag tells Stacey it's important to make friends. Then she says, "I won't bother you anymore." Yeah, you know, I'll just sit in my rocking chair, listening to the Andrews Sisters, drawing pictures of you. Stacey asks if she's really dead and shouldn't she have moved on? No, Madeleine's too old to move on. And that's why she won't let anyone into her home and no one can move in. Forget calling in Beetlejuice and Handbook for the Recently Deceased--the Maitlands should have gotten this lady in when they wanted the Deitzes out of their house.

Madeleine says that no one wants her. I wonder why. She cries and says she doesn't want to go and Stacey tells her she won't have to.

Turns out that Stacey got her mother to agree to move into 214 (it's a lot cheaper and bigger). Goddamnit, Stacey, you're sweet, but take a note from Haley Joel Osment when it comes to dealing with the other worldly--sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind. So now, all Stacey, her mother, and Madeleine all live together and presumably listen to Harry Belafonte every time Stacey aces a test. Well, living with old people has its benefits--rent controlled apartments!

Yeah, all well and good. Till Stacey's mother reunites with her ex-husband:

Gary tells the gang, and us, to stay tuned because next week, Betty Ann's friend, Sam, will come by to tell her story and hopefully be allowed into the group. And we all know where that leads! Gary's first crush.

I blame this episode for the reason why I wanted to stop doing community service at the local nursing home. My theory? It was probably written by an aging scriptwriter as a passive aggressive bid to get her kids to build her an add-on so she wouldn't have to move into a retirement community.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Goosebumps: My Hairiest Adventure

If you're wondering if this is the one where it turns out that the kids are all dogs because a creepy scientist told a bunch of people he could turn their dogs into children...then yes. Yes, it is. And no, you don't get to yell at me for giving away the ending because by getting it over with right away, I saved you a lot of anguish. Like ripping the band aid off, not peeling it slowly.

We open on our hero, Larry, who narrates as he runs down the street. He tells us that he's not supposed to run because of "allergies" but that he's always being chased by dogs for no real reason. He climbs a tree to get away.

These are the most well groomed "wild dogs" ever. It's the canine equivalent of being chased down by a pack of Slim Shady look alikes in the suburbs. The tree branch Larry's sitting on snaps and he falls to the ground. He lands and they peer at him, bewildered. Come on, Larry! Dominate them! Be the pack leader! Larry shields himself with a guitar case festooned with stickers.

The cliches, the painfully penned homilies, they burn! Doubly so if he has a picture of an alien head or a BELIEVE IN YOURSELF sticker. (I wonder if he borrowed them from Ghostwriter's Lenni. But since there aren't any peace signs, I'm going to conclude no.)

Lily, Larry's best friend, shows up, rehabilitates the dogs, trains the humans, and the canines scram.

Larry foreshadows that Lily always wears a gold coin around her neck and she has two different colored eyes. Oh, R.L., your writing shines as ever. Why show us two differently colored eyes when you can just tell us about them? [Note to R.L., if Lily's also a dog, how come dogs don't chase her? is it because she bought Be the Pack Leader by Cesar Millan?] Lily teases Larry and the two head off to band practice.

This is more of a garage band, except they need about 45% more flannel. The gang is practicing for their newest gig, an audition for a kid's birthday party. They're all pretty nervous about it, though considering that the competition is John Wayne Gacy in clown-face, I wouldn't worry. Larry tells us that they practice at the Duncans' house--a family who moved out so quickly that they forgot to shut the electricity off. He also tells us that there are a lot of empty houses in the neighborhood for some reason. Not that that's, like, suspicious or anything, you know.

The band bites (see, I can make painfully obvious puns and awkward stabs at foreshadowing--where are my residuals, damnit?), but they make up for it with tie-dyed shirts, blue electric guitars, and a pretty girl to shake her...tambourine. (Yeah, that seems to be the extent of Lily's role.)

Larry tells the others that their music sucks. Jared thinks they're pretty good, as he rocks his keyboard solo (I wait for Jared to tell us how much he loves Neil Peart and how underrated Billy Ray Cyrus is).

Then Manny reaches over and finds a bottle of Insta-Tan and tells them they can look tan for their music gig.

(Okay, remind me again, why is the black kid the one most excited about tanning? Is someone covering up early onset vitiligo?) Lily, Manny, and Jared start rubbing the lotion on their skin (guess they're afraid of getting the hose again).

Larry warns the kids against using the tan lotion because they don't know where it's been. If I'd heard that little warning a few years ago, I wouldn't have herpes. In the words of guidance counselor Jeff Rosso, it doesn't hurt that much, but believe me, you don't want it.

Jared calls Larry "Hairy Larry" and mocks him for being a wimp. In a testament to how kids everywhere should stand up against peer pressure, Larry grabs the lotion and starts rubbing. (R.L.: "Uh, um, well, you see, we were going to add more dialogue there where Larry tries to stand up to his friends and their teasing, but we had to cut it for the Goosebumps action figure spots. Want a Haunted Mask figurine?" No, but I'll take a couple of Creeps and a Slappy.) Then Manny tells the others that the lotion is expired. It says, "CAUTION: Do not use after 1991." (No, that's what Jared's shirt says, and it's 1971, but close enough.)

Larry freaks then starts screaming about his skin coming off. He holds out his peeling arm. Then he starts laughing and says it's just paper towels, finishing it off with that classic 90s riposte, "PSYCH!" The others surround Larry about to spray him with cans of soda. (Replace soda with foam and this band could be huge. You guys should have copyrighted spraying stuff at people, and you could have been bigger than Jesus! Or the Jonas Brothers at any rate.)

But all of a sudden, Larry starts panting and collapses. Great foreshadowing. You know, for how the plot is going to collapse like the Shamwow guy's career. Next scene, Larry's lying on his bed, with his doctor, Dr. Murkin, giving him a shot. Apparently, it's another allergy thing and Larry has to make an effort to run less.

Note to Larry's parents--try to avoid a doctor who's named after the word for pubic wigs. Although, I have to wonder, was someone being clever ("Murkin"/merkin/in a story about hair, or did R.L. Stine just get lucky?)

Later that night, Larry experiences more hair growth as he pets his cat, Jasper. He freaks out and ends up spending a lot of time in the bathroom that night as his mom knocks on the door and asks what's wrong. (And I shudder as I realize I know WAY too much about R.L.'s troubled adolescence.)

The next day, Larry catches up with Lily and asks her if she's experienced any odd hair growth. She replies, "No," and he's all, "Uh, me neither, I was just wondering if you did. Also, did you ever think Bugs Bunny was hot when he was in drag?" Lily invites Larry for dinner that night, and he agrees, even though her parents will be there. The two of them decide to go past Jared's place since they haven't heard from him in a while. But when they get there, the house is empty and a real estate agent tells them that the house is up for sale and that the family has moved. Incidentally, there's a pretty huge error here. The two of them act like they're here to talk to Manny Hernandez (the black kid). Except that later in the episode, Larry ends up seeing what I assume is Manny's father and little brother (they're black) but he refers to his friend as "Jared." So I'm assuming the writers mixed up Jared and Manny and figured no one would care. Except for me.

Cut to the next scene--dinner at Lily's place. Larry realizes he's growing more hair as he reaches for some corn and pulls back. Too bad you're not wearing long sleeves that could cover your hair growth. Oh, wait. I sigh and decide to attribute the ineptness of the costume girl to the fact that she was probably screwing R.L.'s son or something.

Then Larry notices a tuft of hair in the corn cob that Lily's dad is eating. He knocks it out of his hand, exclaiming, "Corn worms! Deadly." I'm officially never eating corn again. Larry goes to hand Lily's father some more corn, but then looks down at his arm and realizes he's channeling Robin Williams.

Moaning, "Where's the bathroom?" he looks anguished and heads upstairs to manscape. And this is the most awkward "Meet the parents" scene since the time I met my (now ex) SO's extended family and got to hear Grandma tell me how she still got it on. Shudder. Hey, don't you think Ben Stiller watched this meet-your-SO's-parents-scene and thought, "Brilliant--this could be a feature length movie!" And that's how we got Reality Bites.

In the bathroom, Larry looks for shaving paraphernalia and finds nothing. I'm disappointed. This whole scene could have been great advertising for Nair. Or Nads. Or Epil Stop and Spray. Larry heads out a window onto the balcony. (Yes, a guest bathroom that leads out onto a balcony. Could this family get any worse at exterior design?)

For no real reason, the dogs are circling underneath yet again. Larry realizes he's in a tough bind. He nervously calls out, "What's for dessert?" "Tapioca." Well, it'll probably be the sweetest tapioca you ever eat, Larry, am I right?

Larry mulls his options. "Total embarrassment or a pack of savage dogs." Oh, come on. These dogs? They're the Snoopies of the dog bully world. Mildly annoying and that Red Baron act is so four decades ago, but get me Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and then we'll talk. Larry thinks, "I HATE tapioca." He manages to lose the dogs and heads home. He checks himself in the mirror before he wrecks himself.

Larry, a word--pull up your goddamn pants, white boy, the tan lotion hasn't kicked in yet. In other news, how long do you think before this picture ends up circulating among the NAMBLA mailing group?

Then he pulls up his pants leg and...THE HAIRINESS.

Oh, come on. I'm female. I went to an all girls' college and I saw way worse than this in our locker room every week. Grow hair long enough to dreadlock or Jheri curl, then we'll talk. Larry starts screaming, either in fright at the hair or in the hopes that John Hughes will see this and cast him in the latest Home Alone.

The kindly old doctor shows up and Larry spills the beans about the Insta tan lotion. But the good doctor points out that this probably wasn't the work of the tan lotion. After all, if tanning lotion could grow hair, we'd have a cure for baldness. (Somewhere, Phil Spector's face falls.) The doctor concludes that it's probably nerves because of the gig that the garage band has coming up. Larry notices the hair is gone the next morning.

On his way to school, he sees a dog barking yet again. Great. But this time it's a cute, mild-mannered dog wearing a coin around its neck with two different colored eyes.

"Lily?" he says, and the dog takes off. Then he approaches Lily's parents who are packing up to go and they deny ever having a daughter called Lily and pretend they don't know him. They tell him, "There is no mafia--everything in this family comes from the work I do!" I mean, er, there is no Lily.

Larry goes home and tries to tell his parents. "Gold coins are not uncommon," spouts Larry's dad. (On a DOG? Then again, I once saw my aunt's dog sporting a pearl necklace at his one year birthday party, so who am I to judge? And no, it wasn't that kind of pearl necklace, although honestly, that would be less creepy.) "And lots of dogs have different colored eyes," says his mother. Larry tells them about Lily's parents.

His mother points out that he must have misunderstood what Lily's parents told him. Poor Larry. Parents just don't understand! His mother offers him some roast beef and he yells, "I don't want food! I want answers!" (Man, if Russell Crowe hadn't landed the title role in The Insider, it would definitely have gone to Hairy Larry.) Larry hurls his guitar case down and takes off, and somewhere, hipsters everywhere groan, clutch their Les Pauls, and clap their hands to bring back Larry's shattered guitar.

Larry's parents call after him to be careful. His mother warns him to watch for cars. (Yeah, they didn't even try to make this one scary, did they.) Larry narrates as he runs, thinking that this must all be the fault of the Insta-tan lotion. Yup, way to remind the reader of the red herring. He goes to the garage where the band practices, hoping he can talk to Jared (stupid writers, Jared is the dumbass white kid!), only to hear barking. (Ooh, did you guys manage to hire Vince Neil?) I'm just going to refer to this new dog as Jared/Manny because I'm so confused about who Jared really is meant to be. Is he black or white?

Jared/Manny's father and little brother are sitting there with a black dog (is he gonna make me sweat, make me groove?).
"It's about time," says Jared/Manny's dad. (The fuck? You JUST told us that the Duncans lived here. Why is Jared/Manny's family here?) Then Larry tells us that the audition is today. So...did Manny/Jared's family bring him over or what? I love that the dog is black, just like his family. If there had been a Chinese boy, would he have become a yellow colored dog, or would he have morphed into a pug or a Pekingese or something?

Then the little boy runs to his father and looks frightened. And then Larry begins to sprout hair again. Considering that Jared/Manny's dad knows what's going on at his point, the fact that he doesn't say anything officially makes him a dick.

Larry runs home and screams for his parents.

So did the special effects people watch a Teen Wolf marathon the weekend before shooting? Then we go to a POV shot of Larry's parents looking at him in the living room. His dad offers him a cookie.

"Hel-LO? Get a clue. How 'bout a steak," says dog-Larry. Oh yeah, because tonguing your own feces encrusted balls is fine, but god forbid you should chow down on a cookie. Sorry, I'm just so sick and tired of these entitled trust fund living, purse inhabiting toy dogs. Larry breaks down and takes the cookie and his parents tell him how cute he is.

Then we cut to the same shot from the opening credits of the dog on the porch, with Larry narrating, "Now this seems familiar."

(Meta humor. Is there anything you can't do, R.L.?) Larry explains what's happened. "Excuse me," he tells us, "I like to snack," as the dog heads over and eats from his dog bowl. (My theory--they could only do this shot in one take and they wanted to have the dog looking at us as he explained, but the dog had other ideas and decided to go grab some food so they decided to write in that "snack" line as a voice-over. This is what happens when you can't afford a dog like Moose on Frasier and have to settle for a dog who's got Look Who's Talking Now stand-in and dog at the pound in Beethoven on his resume.)

Turns out Dr. Murkin came up with a way to turn dogs into humans (hence all the shots for Larry and the weird allergies--Larry wasn't perfected) for barren people who weren't content with dressing their dogs in baby clothes and putting them in cribs. The experiment didn't work and the humans are all now dogs. Lily, Manny, and Jared come over and hang out all the time now, and it's just like old times.

The doctor suddenly pulls up in a car and Larry freaks because old Doc Moreau is holding a baby. "Welcome to your new home, Jasper." "Jasper?" Larry asks. "The cat?" he reminds us. "MY Jasper?"

"Here we go again!" says Larry. Oh, scientists, will you ever learn? Well, on the plus side, Larry's parents can probably win thousands of dollars on the Ugly Babies of America circuit.

Well, that was horrifying. I'm off to go play with my Goosebumps action figure.