Posted in Movie Recaps

Recap #281: Ghostwatch (1992)

Ghostwatch (1992)

Title: Ghostwatch (1992)

Summary: The BBC investigates the “most haunted house in Britain”, with Michael Parkinson in the studio with parapsychologist, Dr Lin Pascoe and Mike Smith, and Sarah Greene and Craig Charles on location at Foxhill Drive at the haunted house itself.

Initial Thoughts:

Ok, so if you’ve read my recap of The Worst Witch, you will know that the UK hasn’t got a clue about Halloween, especially in the 80s/90s. And my recap probably led you to believe that The Worst Witch was our only stab at trying to do something about it.

That’s not exactly the case. The UK tried once more, with this mockumentary, and it ended, tragically, in literal death. After that, this was scrubbed from the BBC’s history, the Radio Times was told to never mention it again, and nobody had a copy of this movie for the longest time.

If you think we were all daft for getting sucked in, maybe you’re right, but it wasn’t very clear that it was fiction. There was an announcement before it aired, and the opening titles do give a writer’s credit, but if you tuned in a few minutes late, which you probably did because you were watching The Worst Witch on ITV, you missed it. [bat: So, basically, this is the UK’s version of the Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast.] [JC: That was my first thought as well, although reports of people thinking that broadcast was real have been grossly exaggerated over the years.] [Dove: That and the Enfield Poltergeist were inspiration for it.]

Add to that it was hosted by Michael Parkinson. Parky, for god’s sake! The man’s an institution. You’d trust him with your soul, your life savings, and your internet history. I’m aware that this may be a hard sell to a country that may dimly recognise him as “that chat show host that got a lap dance from Bill Nighy in Love Actually”, but he really is trustworthy.

Then you’ve got Sarah Greene, a staple of the Saturday morning shows – Going Live!, at the time I believe – that every kid in the UK watched religiously, and her real-life husband Mike “Smithy” Smith, neither of which are actors.

The only oddball there is Craig Charles, but even that seems plausible, since Red Dwarf was super popular in 1992. Also, look at the season of Catfish where Max was absent. Literally anyone that was on hand was called in to co-host, regardless of their experience. You just grab the most famous person you can to make up the numbers. [Raven: Craig Charles was a good choice rather than an random celeb. He’s an established play-it-for-laughs cheeky scouser, and the perfect call as comic relief presenter for the fake show while having acting chops for the scripted reality. Also, hello everyone! I’m Raven.] [bat: I’m actually doing commentary with Raven on a recap. I think is a first. *faints*] [JC: I have had very little interaction with Raven, and so am excited to see him here! Also, I have no idea who any of these people Dove has named off are.]

And finally, the number you call in to? 081 811 8181 – that’s the number for Going Live!, and every other BBC programme that needs a call-in number. Everyone my age not only knows that number, but gives it in an odd delivery (saying “one” as “wuhnnn”) thanks to the Going Live! jingle.

And boy did people call in! In theory, if you called, you’d hear a recorded message saying that the programme was fiction, but thanks for your interest. It’s just that if half the population of the UK calls the same number at once, the entire system falls apart and nobody hears that message.

So sure, we were dim. But we were all dim together.

Except Dame Judi Dench.

She’s friends with the actress who plays Dr Lin Pascoe. She was disappointed to quickly realise it was fiction when she saw her friend on screen.

But that’s cheating, Dame Judi! Hell, even Parky’s mum took it seriously.

Of course, eventually it was released, and the Beeb have realised that there’s a strong online fandom, even if some of us have PTSD from the show. You can buy the DVD quite easily now. The thing that’s nigh impossible to locate is Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains, a documentary about the show. It’s released, as far as I can tell, in batches when enough interest is generated. Damnit, dudes, just rip it to mp4 and sell it as an online download. People are desperate to watch it.

[bat: Okay! I know nothing about this, partly because this kind of thing is not something that interests me and I live in the land of Halloween, so I’m a part of this recap commentary because of Dove. So this is largely her fault, good or bad. I have zero clue what I’m about to get myself into. I am going in blind, as they say.]

[JC: My impression before watching was that it was going to be Ghost Hunters meets Paranormal Activity. I think I was pretty accurate there. After watching it, I’m adding in the “Television Terror” episode of Tales From the Crypt.]

WARNING: Mentions, but no on-screen depictions, of the deaths and abuse of animals and children.

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Posted in Sweet Valley recaps

Recap #232: Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #3: The Carnival Ghost

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chillers 3 The Carnival Ghost by Francine Pascal
Sweet Valley Twins Super Chillers 3 The Carnival Ghost by Francine Pascal

Title: The Carnival Ghost

Tagline: Elizabeth meets a mysterious new friend!

Summary: Is Claire a girl… or a ghost?

A travelling carnival is on its way to Sweet Valley and Jessica and Elizabeth can’t wait to ride on the roller coaster, have their fortunes told, and try their luck at the games. But when they get there some odd things happen to the twins. A fortune-teller warns Jessica to stay away from the carnival. And a mysterious girl named Claire seems to appear out of nowhere and suddenly becomes best friends with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is strangely drawn to Claire. She begins to ignore her friends, her chores, and even her sister to spend time with her new friend. It’s as if she’s under an evil spell… a spell no one, not even Jessica, can break. And if her twin is in danger, how can Jessica help her?

Initial Thoughts

I have been looking forward to this book for so, so long. Dove may have sold me on giving Sweet Valley as a whole a try because she promised me werewolves in books to come (much, much later), but she sold me on Sweet Valley Twins specifically because there are supernatural books. We’ve had a couple, and they’ve been fun, but this one is right in my sweet spot: potential ghost, travelling carnival, roller coasters, fortune tellers, mysterious new girls. I cannot wait.

And, finally, I don’t have to wait. I predict this will be a wild ride. Good or bad? We’ll see.

[Dove: First off, apologies for the tardiness of mine and Raven’s comments. Second of all: BEST SWEET VALLEY BOOK EVER. EVER. EVER.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley recaps

Recap #228: Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost by Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Christmas Ghost by Francine Pascal

Tagline: This year Jessica is in for a very scary Christmas

Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are looking forward to the most glorious Christmas ever. The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped, and movie star Beau Dillon is coming to town! The actor, who’ll be in Sweet Valley to publicize his new movie, has agreed to help Elizabeth raise money for the children’s wing of the local hospital. But when the teen star arrives at the Wakefields’ house, it’s Jessica, not Elizabeth, he meets.

What’s the harm in pretending to be your twin? No harm, Jessica thinks – until strange things start happening and three ghostly visitors appear. Is Jessica’s imagination working overtime or have the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future come to teach Jessica the lesson of a lifetime?

Initial Thoughts:

[Wing: A couple years ago, Dove and I, along with our secret evil triplet, Raven, started recapping Sweet Valley Twins over at sweetvalley.online. We’ve recapped a handful of the Super Chillers, and Dove suggested that we cross-post them here, considering the subject matter. I’ll be doing that over the next few weeks.]

Ok, first of all, I think if you’ve listened to the podcast you may know this, but I don’t assume that everyone does: I LOVE THE SUPER CHILLERS. Actual ghosts are here.

Before I was confident enough to ask Wing to take on this gigantic recapping project, I used the “mentionitus” method of testing the waters. While we sat on PointHorror.com, griping about how rarely the bad guy (known on that site as the “Muffin Man”) was supernatural, I would say lightly-casually-oh-I’m-not-hinting, “It’s funny, Sweet Valley Twins has a much younger audience, but they always had real ghosts in their ghost stories.” Wing would raise a scathing eyebrow and say that she’d never read Sweet Valley. Ever. And she was sort of proud of that.

Then curiosity would overcome her. “Really? Because in Babysitters’ Club, it was always the Scooby Doo villain – a human pretending to be a ghost. So you have actual ghosts?”

“Actual ghosts,” I would say. “And it’s odd, they seem to act up the most over Christmas.”

And that is the groundwork of how you get someone who clearly is going to hate something, to do it anyway. [Raven: I have such an inappropriate comment here.] Mention that one thing they like. (Also, there will be werewolves in Sweet Valley High.) [Wing: I feel like I should be more upset that my BFF so blatantly exploits my weaknesses, and yet.] [Dove: I do realise that the above is basically “how to brainwash your friends”. But I had an agenda. And here we are.]

Second of all, I adore A Christmas Carol. I know most people do, but I feel like I might go the extra mile. I feel like I’ve seen every fandom-variation of this story – heck, I’ve even written one. I adore this story.

I’ll admit The Carnival Ghost is a better story on its own merits, because it’s not fanfic of an iconic tale, but this one holds a special place in my heart.

The Cover: Why is the ghost awkwardly pointing to the left? Jessica looks great, but the ghost looks like it wasn’t happy to be modelling for the cover.

[Wing: Tis truly the season for Christmas Carol retellings. We did a few over at the Devil’s Elbow (Fright Christmas and The Fright Before Christmas), and yet somehow this has the best versions of the ghosts. I mean, come on: an angry flying unicorn? Clearly this was going to win.]

[Dove: … seriously? I win?]

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