Mysteries & Meddling Kids: Austin & Ally (2015)

So you know what that means: Horror TV episodes Tuesday! I know this is a little odd, TV episodes on a Tuesday instead of Friday as I’ve been doing for the past few years? Well this year October 1st started on a Friday and it just doesn’t seem right for Horrorfest to start with a review of a TV episode.

So instead we will be reviewing TV episodes on Tuesdays, TV Tuesdays.

And our next TV episode comes from:

Back in February I took my niece to Reno for her birthday and we stayed in a hotel for the weekend. I let her choose whatever she wanted to watch and of course we ended up watching a few scary movies: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Sinister, etc.

But we ended up spending the last of the night on the the Disney channel and watching this hilarious Scooby-Doo themed episode of Austin & Ally. Now I have never been a big Austin & Ally fan but my nieces have always loved it. They made Ally a little too neurotic for my taste, but the concept is good.

If you are a ‘70s Scooby-Doo fan then you will love this episode as it is a spoof of the classic cartoon.

So in case you haven’t seen the show, it takes place in Florida. Ally is the daughter of the music store owner, store located in the mall, and a budding songwriter. She loves writing poems and songs, but is too shy to share them with anyone. Austin is popular and outgoing, he dreams of being a singer, but cannot write lyrics.

Austin finds Ally’s songbook and ends up using one of the songs to perform, adding music and his own twist to it. At first Ally is angry, but he gives her complete credit and she decides to team up with him and collaborate. Austin’s friend Dez joins the group by directing and being in charge of the music videos. Ally’s friend Trish rounds out the group by being the manager.

This episode takes place in season 4 of the series. By this time the two have both become established singers and Austin & Ally are currently dating.

The episode starts off with Ally having just finished her newest song. She puts it away in her special book and then she and Trish get ready for the ‘70’s themed dance they are going to go to at the school.

They all end up dressing up as The Groovy Goat and the Mystery Bunch (a parody of Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Gang).

They go to the dance and have fun grooving to the ‘70s music, but when they return to their table they discover that Ally’s notebook is missing!

Jinkies! It’s up to the gang to try and solve this mystery and discover who might be the thief.

Time to get on the case!

The gang start searching the library for the book and run into the librarian. The librarian reveals that she did spot Ally’s journal, a blonde in a jumpsuit had it.

When they return to the dance they spot three people wearing that same particular costume: Kimmy, Chuck, and Miles.

Hmm…

Now what I found was weird was the fact that the school library was open during a dance and that there was a librarian hanging around that late at night. That didn’t seem to make any sense at all.

All I could think was maybe she isn’t the librarian?! Maybe she’s wearing an old lady mask á la Scooby-Doo?

Hmmm…

Trish questions them, but it isn’t clear which is the culprit. Chuck is spotted singing Ally’s new song, Kimmy is still angry Ally won prom Queen and she didn’t, and Miles hasn’t done anything but a Trish just feels he is suspicious. To me this feels like I’m A Pup Named Scooby-Doo when Fred would always think it was Red Harry.

Meanwhile, Ally has received a message that if she wants to see her book again to go to the photo booth, and she does alone, something you should never do. Why didn’t she just ask a friend to help her? Instead she makes a very dumb decision, and goes alone getting captured.

Austin stays in the library with the librarian Mrs. Kravitz who just happens to have pancakes, a favorite of Austin’s, and feeds him.

Dez and Trish on the other hand are better friends as they go looking for Ally and discover her in the photo booth. They free her and she reveals the person who locked her in was Mrs. Kravitz, the librarian. The LIBRARIAN?!!

The gang rush after to confront her but Mrs. Kravitz is too fast for them. They chase after her but notice her face looks weird.

Yep, I guessed it in the beginning. Mrs. Kravitz was no librarian. It was Brooke, the girl who is obsessed with Austin and believes them to be soulmates. She was trying to get rid of Ally to have Austin to herself.

In the end the group has Ally’s book, dance the night away, and treat Chuck, Miles, and Kimmy to ice-cream to make up for suspecting them.

But as they are getting ice-cream Ally starts acting really strange. She’s not at all like herself and super clingy.

They pinch Ally’s face and discover that she is really Brooke in a mask who they chase away when the real Ally shows up. Of course all have to give her a good pinch to discover if she is real or fake.

It’s a cute episode and fun for Scooby-Doo fans.

For more Disney, go to You’re Kids. I’m a Vampire!: Mom’s Got a Date With a Vampire (2000)

For more Scooby-Doo, go to Zombie Pirates and Werecats: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)

For more mysteries, go to Stolen Lover Leads to Murder: Death on the Nile (2004)

The Cutest Alien You’ll Ever See: The Cat From Outer Space (1978)

The Cat From Outer Space is one of my favorite movies. I used to watch it over and over again until the tape we had wore out as it was no longer playable.

I loved this Disney film (yep completed that yearly tradition), as besides it being amazing I liked that the cat was the hero instead of the villain. There are very few movies that do that as usually the dog is the good guy.

This film is hilarious and even though it was made in the ‘70s the special effects still look really good. I watched this with my 10 year old niece and she not only loved and was invested in the story, but she also really liked the special effects as she thought they were cool.

And the cat is beyond adorable! It was played by two Abyssinians that are siblings and they are both amazing actors. I know it sounds silly to say that, but those trainers did such a great job as they really look like they are engaged in the conversation and a part of the scene. It’s amazing!

Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 AKA Jake

So the film starts off with a ship from outer space landing, and the cutest alien in the world that can invade my life anytime he wants, Abyssinian cat Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7. His ship has had some issues so he had to make an emergency landing on our planet Earth. He looks like your average cat but can talk and has the power of telekinesis through the special collar he wears.

The military shows up and confiscates the ship, but they totally miss the cat. Unbeknownst to them, Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 follows them back to the base.

The next day the military calls together the top scientists from Energy Research Laboratory. They try to have a closed room conference, but it turns out that Mr. Stallwood (Roddy McDowell) is trying to infiltrate it. Yep, he’s a spy although not a very good one.

But one who is good at what they do is Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 who slips in unnoticed and listens to the deliberations.

The General shows the scientists a floating object the soldiers took from the ship. The scientists discuss it, but can’t come up with any reason to how it can levitate. One scientists, Dr. Liz Bartlett (Sandra Duncan), suggests bringing in new scientist Frank, (Ken Berry). Frank has a lot of theoretical ideas and some out there thoughts.

They call him in, but unfortunately he makes too many jokes and the General and the rest don’t take him seriously.


[Dr. Frank Wilson has been brought in to view the artifact removed from the flying saucer]

Frank: It’s beautiful.

General Stilton: Don’t you have any other observations?

Frank: Only that it looks like an artichoke, sir.

General Stilton: We know it looks like an artichoke, Wilson. What makes it tick?

Frank: Mayonnaise?

General Stilton: Negative.

Frank: No, no, I was only joking, sir.

Frank then tries to explain his real theory but the General is done and kicks him out of the room. However, Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 is very interested in what he has to say as it actually was tracking near the truth of how his ship works.

Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 follows Frank to his office. Frank notices the cat and decides to call him Jake, but then is interrupted by Dr. Bartlett who comes to give Frank a piece of her mind, but after the two talk articles they have published, Frank manages to get Dr. Liz Bartlett to agree to go on a date with him. Frank is overjoyed over this, but his celebration is interrupted by Jake who decides to tell Frank the truth in order to get his help. Frank is shocked:

Frank: [realizing the voice is coming from the cat] It… it’s you?

Jake: It’s not the mouse. Now sit down.

Frank: But your lips aren’t moving. You’re not speaking.

Jake: Through transference. Nothing exceptional where I come from. Now, sit.[Using telekinesis generated through his collar, Jake pulls a chair behind Frank forward and he collapses into it]

Jake: My name is Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7.

Frank: [struggling] Zunar…

Jake : Why don’t we stay with Jake, okay? Frank, last night, at 03 hours plus 13, I made an emergency landing in a spaceship from another galaxy. That so-called “artichoke”, it’s from my craft.

Frank: But… you’re a cat.

But being a scientist, Frank get over this shock pretty quick, especially as Jake promises to share some interplanetary secrets with him.

The two decide to break into the base so that Jake can find out what needs to be done to fix his ship but they are interrupted by Frank’s neighbor and fellow scientist, Dr. Link. Dr. Link is a sports enthusiast and a gambler and wants to watch the game on Frank’s TV as he and his wife got into an argument. Frank and Jake are in a hurry so Jake uses his collar to help Dr. Link’s team win. But just as they fix that problem, Dr. Liz stops by to go out with Frank.

The two lie that Jake is sick and head down to the base. Stallwood, the spy, also has the same idea of sneaking into the base and tries to get in as well, following the pair. When Frank and Jake get caught, Jake uses his collar to freeze the soldier and then they sneak into the ship.

Frank is amazed and wants to know everything, but Jake needs to take care of business. He gives Frank his spare collar and has him bring a device to the outside of the ship so he can run diagnostics. Frank is eager to try it out, and has a lot of fun levitating/flying, so much fun that Jake has to snap him back to the plan at hand.

When they run the diagnostics it turns out that something was destroyed and needs to be replaced. To do that he needs Org 12 which on our planet is gold, a lot of gold. $120,000 worth of gold. In today’s time that would be almost $500,000.

The solider Jake froze earlier is seen by another soldier who sounds the alarm and the whole base comes alive with people

Frank is fuh-reaking out about where to get that much money, rightly so, and Jake is nonplussed. As they try to figure out how to get the money, the answer to their problems walks in as Dr. Link wants to watch more games and gamble. Jake decides to let Dr. Link know what is really going on. At first Dr. Link doesn’t believe them, but Jake uses his collar to convince him.

This scene is funny as they make the beer he is drinking go back in the can, shoot him in the face, have towels wrap around him, and Jake makes him float (and yes I do think it is weird how this film promotes drinking and gambling.) But the thing that distracts me watching it now is the poster that Frank has on his wall. It looks just like Jane from Tarzan (1999).

But unbeknownst to them, Stallwood who witnessed all the shenanigans at the base the night before had followed them and is filming them to show his employer.

So our cool cat crew puts some bets out there, but are interrupted when Dr. Bartlett shows up with her cat for their rescheduled date. Yes, it seems like Frank has a bit of The Absentminded Professor (Flubber) in him. He didn’t listen to her and totally didn’t realize they rescheduled their plans.

Frank tries to get rid of Dr. Bartlett by saying Jake is sick, but as Dr. Bartlett is a responsible pet owner, she gets the veterinarian in the complex to stop by and help make Jake better.

The only problem is that this Vet is more into the football game instead of helping the cat and proceeds to knock Jake out. Jake managed to help then win this football game, but they are out of luck for the next game and will lose all their money.

That’s not good.

The only way to get their money back to send Jake home is to go down to the pool hall and try to get the bookie to let them make another bet. They hurry down, with sleeping Jake, and on the way explain everything to Dr. Bartlett who actually believes it really quickly.

Meanwhile the military, NASA, ERL, etc have been analyzing the ship and have discovered Frank’s fingerprints all over it, along with paw prints and cat hair. They have the computer analyze the ship and it declares that the cat is the pilot, but the General refuses to listen to that. They decide to head to Frank’s and wait outside to see who he is working with.

When the cat crew get to the pool hall they can’t get another game to bet on, but Frank decides to try for a pool game. To make back their money they have Dr. Bartlett face off against Sarasota Slim, pool hustler. Dr. Link and Dr. Bartlett are worried as Dr. Bartlett doesn’t know how to play, but decide to trust that Frank can use the collar.

I love that the crew brought Jake with them and no one is mad that there is a cat in the pool hall. Frank has Dr. Link hold Jake, and luckily there is a guy who likes onion and sauerkraut on his sandwich and has no boundaries as he stands right next to Dr. Link and Jake, his sandwich waking Jake up.

However, it isn’t fast enough and Frank hasn’t had enough practice that when he tries to help Dr. Bartlett out he makes the cue ball bounce around the room instead of knocking the balls around. They lose the game and their money.

But thanks to stinky sandwich guy, Jake wakes up and they are back on track. Frank tries to up the odds by betting on Dr. Bartlett to win blindfolded, with Sarasota Slim breaking and getting half the balls. The odds are 200 to 1, just what they need, and with Jake on their side they win.

They head back to the apartment where they are being watched by the military and Stallwood’s secret employer. The cat crew give Jake the gold who converts the giant brick into a tiny lego sized object.

Before they get a chance to leave the General marches in and is about to arrest them, when Jake freezes him. They are trying to decide what to do next when they get the idea to steal his clothes and have Frank pretend to be the General. The shirt they give the General is so not him, a touristy Hollywood shirt.

Frank and Jake head to the base, while Stallwood’s employer kidnaps Dr. Bartlett.

On base, Frank gets in and helps Jake repair his ship and move it. As they are about to say goodbye Dr. Link shows up and shares that Dr. Bartlett and her car Lucybelle were kidnapped and they want the collar in exchange. Jake likes Lucybelle the cat a lot and wants to help, but if he does he will never be able to return home again. Frank tells Jake to go home and he he and Dr. Link sadly watch Jake leave. Frank only had him for a little while but will greatly miss him.

As the ship disappears from the sky, Jake hops in the Jeep ready to help and stay on Earth. They head to the airport to try and save their lady loves.

Meanwhile, the General and his team have woken up and they head to the base, not too far behind Frank and Jake.

When Frank gets to the airport there are no planes available so Jake uses his collar to bring an old dilapidated plane that looks like it can barely run it or air.

On the plane, Stallwood realized that they have kidnapped Dr. Bartlett and that his employer plans on killing her. He doesn’t like it, and tries to stop him, but unfortunately he grabs the flare gun and shot the controller making it impossible to fly. Everyone bails out except Dr. Bartlett and Lucybelle as there are no more parachutes.

That’s not good.

Jake and Frank try to save them in an incredible display, but when Frank puts Lucybelle on the plane with Jake, Jake gets distracted and Frank has to get him to focus.

In the end they catch the spy, the president decides that Jake will not be harmed but seen as an ambassador, and Jake goes to court to become a citizen of the USA, and plans to spent the rest of his days with Frank, Dr. Bartlett, Lucybelle, and Dr. Link.

It’s a very cute film that I highly recommend for all cat lovers!

For more on The Cat From Outer Space, go to The Cat’s Meow

For more Disney films, go to A Carefree Holiday Suddenly Plunged Into Danger: The Moon-Spinners (1964)

For more aliens, go to Nothing Will Stop It! Nothing Can Stop the Blob!: The Blob (1958)

For more on cats, go to A Man Dressed as a Giant Bat, Psychotic Deformed Man Wrecking Havoc, and a Zombie Cat Woman…A Batman Christmas: Batman Returns (1992)

A Carefree Holiday Suddenly Plunged Into Danger: The Moon-Spinners (1964)

It’s time for our Disney film!

My mom has always been a huge Hayley Mills fan and I grew up watching all her films. I love all of them, but my second favorite has always been The Moon-Spinners (That Darn Cat is first).

So my mother recorded it off TV years ago and I watched the film with her. Years passed and I wanted to watch it again but our tape had worn out and the end was missing. I tried hunting for it as I just had to know, what happened in the end.

Tell ME!!!!!

The copy I borrowed from the library was also no good as right when it came to the part I wanted to see, the white lines of boredom.

{Picture from Ringu)

Eventually I decided that  I needed to just buy a copy, but had real trouble finding one-this was back when ebay was entering the everyday vernacular and amazon was just barely making name for itself). Then we also had  Disney putting things in “the vault” so super hard to get the older movies. Years passed but whenever I would look for the film it was either sold out, “soon to be added”, too expensive, VHS, or USED. I finally found a copy this year and bought it for my mom for Mother’s Day this year.

Looking at this film now as an adult, I can clearly see why I was into it. This film is very similar to the style of Alfred Hitchcock. The thriller starts with an average ordinary person who gets caught up in this web of intrigue accidentally.

There are quite a few scenes and story points that are also reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock, all being things I love. I later looked up some trivia and read that that Walt Disney purposely wanted this to be like a Hitchcock movie and had the writers borrow some motifs, but still give it a Disney ending.

So without further ado…

Nikky Ferris (Hayley Mills) and her Aunt Frances are traveling through Greece collecting folk songs as she is a musicologist for the BBC. They rented a room at The Moon-Spinners Inn, but unfortunately for them the owner, Sophia’s (Irene Papas) brother is causing some issues. Stratos (Eli Wallach) has returned after 15 years living in England and has been in such a bad mood since his return. He doesn’t want anyone in the hotel (and unknown to his sister has been throwing away reservations). He causes a scene with her, but Sophia ends up renting the rooms to the two ladies after they arrive hot, bedraggled, and tired from their trip on the bus.

From The Iron Giant

There is only one other guest at the hotel, Mark Camford (Peter McEnery). When Nikky and Frances arrive, Nikky has not been having the best holiday. But as soon as she sees dashing Mark, she perks up.

The three eat together that night and enjoy Mark’s company, but while he is charming and cheerful, something seems off. He keeps looking and watching-something is between him and Stratos.

Hmm…?

So Nikki is really into Mark and tries to flirt with him and he is nice, but he’s totally drunk and kind of all over the place. I never noticed that as a kid, I always thought he was just having fun.

Huhhhhhhh

Nikky had spoken to Sophia’s son Alexis (Michael Davis) and heard about different beautiful places to swim. She talks about it and she and Mark make plans to go out in the morning together to swim and have a picnic. Nikky is excited.

After the ladies go to bed, Stratos goes out to the Bay of Dolphins with Mark following him. Ah ha! He either got sober real quick or he was just pretending to be-trying to throw Stravos off the scentMark is seen and a fight ensues with Mark being shot. He falls in the water.

Stratos returns the hotel and cleans out Mark’s room, him having “checked out”.

That’s not good.

The next day Nikki is happy and excited for her date and when she gets to the Bay, there is no Mark.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

She waits around for a bit and checks back at the hotel with Stratos telling her that Mark checked out. Nikki doesn’t feel like that’s right, I mean she only met and spoke to him last night but they seemed to have a connection. Or at least he seemed nice enough to tell her instead of standing her up. She starts looking/wandering and finds what looks like his shoe, but just one.

She goes to an old historic church and notices some blood and finds Mark wounded in the church. Wanting to help him, she leaves her sweater over him and takes off back to the hotel. She searches Mark’s room, but can’t find a single thing that belongs to him. Instead she steals her Aunt’s first aid kit and blanket, smuggling some brandy out of the hotel-just barely avoiding being spotted by her Aunt.

That scene is stressful as you know Mark is heavily in need of assistance and if he doesn’t get it he’ll die!

She manages to make it and goes to Mark giving him all the supplies. Mark won’t tell her why he was shot, who shot him, what this is all about etc. Instead he sends her home, trying as hard as he can to not  involve her .

She leaves after much protest and returns to the Inn. There Frances complains about her missing items, Stratos hears them and immediately knows that his problem hasn’t been destroyed.

That’s not good.

Nicky tries to get sway as soon as she can so as to warn him, but ends up being captured by Stratos. Startoes sees the blood trail and follows it but doesn’t find mark. He takes Nikky with him.

Aunt Frances begins to grow worried when Nikky doesn’t return. Stratos leaves and goes “looking” for her. The next day Frances leaves for the police, located in the next village.  Sophia begins to think that her brother did something, but when she questions her brother he threatens her son, Alexis. After that, Sophia stays quiet.

What a horrible man, I do like that we don’t see anything horrible happen (it is still a Disney film). But what is inferred is truly, truly horrible. I mean this is his nephew! And he is threatening to kill, maim, hurt, destroy his own nephew!

Alexis is out with his donkeys and finds Nikky in the windmill trapped.

He goes for help and finds Mark who tries his best to help with a wounded arm. This is like the best scene in the whole movie. I tried to find a clip, but unfortunately I couldn’t. So they climb on the windmill and use the sails to get in to help Nikky, and then to get out. This scene was so scary as if you fell when the sail was at the very top, ouch dead or injured.

This is always where my copy ended, after the windmill scene. I have to say this really is the most thrilling part of the film, so no wonder it hooked me good.

After that they try to go to the next town to reach the police, but Stratos friend comes after them.  They have to stop as Mark needs rest, his injury is really giving him trouble. They wait in some temple ruins filled with cats, that’s how you know it is safe

And Mark finally tells her his story. So Mark was a London bank messenger and supposed to be taking these famous jewels to the Countess Fleet. He was distracted, as there was a girl involved, and after the robbery he wasn’t prosecuted as there wasn’t enough proof, but he did lose his job and has a dark cloud over him. He remembers Stratos and followed him Greece to try and get proof of his innocence. I love how when he tells the story Nikky clicks on to one thing.

Mark Camford: You believe me don’t you?

Nikky Ferris: About the girl?

Mark Camford: No, about ME.

The next day they are awaken by John Gamble, of the British counsel. He offers them to come to his place for food, baths, medical attention. As Mark is in serious need and he’s from their country-Nikky convinces Mark to go with him, and they leave the shot gun behind. They go to his extremely nice house and get all they were promised. The weird thing is that his wife Cynthia really likes Nikky and finds her a sweet girl but always is sad around her. Nikky wanders about the house and uses a telescope on the balcony to look at a yacht in the water, it is a famous one owned by the infamous Madame Habib and her world famous jewel collection.

Now I have seen almost every Alfred Hitchcock movie and episode of his TV show-so I know this man is evil. This is just like in The 39 Steps or Saboteur when they go to the rich influential man in power, only to see that he is in fact working for the other side and going to betray them.

Nikky goes to see Mark and he shares that the jewels are too famous to be sold on the open market so Stratos must have a certain buyer in mind. Nikky mentions Madam Habib and Mark is convinced it must be her, wanting to add another famed piece. Nikky thinks they should get help from the Gambles, but Mark doesn’t trust the Gambles. He They are…something is very, very off about them. Later Mark tries to leave and can’t even stand-drugged. Aunt Frances comes and Gamble arranged for them to go to the airport while Mark will be dropped off at the hospital, yeah right they are probably going to kill him.

Mark ends up escaping, as he needs to get those jewels and the proof, and it turns out Gramble and Stratos are working together.

There is a giant Carnival/festival happening, making stop and go traffic as they have to wait for people and such to past. After Mark takes off, Nikky follows but loses him. She instead steals a boat and heads out to the yacht. Jeez, this boy has really been a bad influence on her.

He’s a bad boy

All comes to a head on Madame Habib’s yacht as Nikky tells her the story, Stratos arrives to sell the jewels and fights with Nikky, Mark arrives to get his proof, Aunt Frances comes with the police, etc. Mark is cleared, Frances told the story, Stratos jailed, Nikky and Frances can enjoy the rest of their holiday and poor Madam Habib gets nothing.

Madame Habib: Well, since this seems to have turned into a family reunion, we might as well make the best of it. I will have dinner served on the rear deck. I’m so upset… I shall have mine in bed.

So this was a cute but thrilling movie and a lot of fun to watch. It also will be enjoyable for any Alfred Hitchcock fan out there.

For more Disney films, go to Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

For more Hayley Mills, go to That Darn Cat

 

I Want to Do Something Nice for Her: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Most Romantic Moment #6

Belle could

So I LOOOOOOVE this movie!

So I’m sure you all know this story-but I’ll do a quick review just in case. Belle and her father live in a small French village. Her father is an inventor and he goes off to a fair to show his latest creation, but ends up going the wrong way and enters a magical castle where all the furniture is alive and the prince was transformed into a beast.

With a miscommunication as to why Maurice is there, he gets thrown into the castle dungeon, and his horse which ran away travels to Belle. Belle, meanwhile, has been unhappy with her life, and Gaston- a total jerk who wants to marry her. When she spots the horse, she rides off to find out what happened to her father.

There she trades her freedom to free her father and settles in to life with the Beast. Will she find a way to free herself? Or will she discover that there is more to this Beast than his outward appearance?

Most Romantic Moment: I Want to Do Something for Her

So this moment comes about half way to two thirds on the movie. The Beast and Belle have been spending a lot of time together and the Beast has fallen for Belle and wants to show her how important their friendship is to him.

So he thinks and thinks about what to do and what does Belle love. Yes what does Belle love, that’s the most romantic part. He wants to just do something special for Belle-not wanting anything in return or expecting anything-and thinks of something that Belle would love. So he gifts her, her own the library.

Awwwwwwwwww, so romantic!

For more Beauty and the Beast, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more Disney posts, go to Kiss the Girl: The Little Mermaid (1989)

For more library posts, go to Happiness is Having a Library Card: Another 13 of the Best Fictional Libraries

In the Spa House of the Spirits: Spirited Away (2001)

It is Time for Our Annual Disney and Animated Film

So this film isn’t considered a “Halloween” movie by some, but I always think of it as one because when they rerelease the Studio Ghibli films in theaters every month, they always do this one in October. Not to mention it has spirits in it.

I think I have seen it maybe three times in theaters? I forget. Anyways, I love this movie.

I first heard of Studio Gibli because my friend was really into the films. We watched Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro. Then when I was in college my best friend and roommate had a bunch of his films and we watched Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke.

I absolutely loved Howl’s Moving Castle and bought it- making my nieces watch it, (they love it now too), and Spirited Away.  And as I still needed a Disney film and an animated film (yearly Horrorfest tradition) I thought it was perfect!

So the film is Japanese, and then voice dubbed in English for the states. There are a few differences in phrases and terms, mostly because there are things you won’t understand if you don’t know Japanese culture.

So the film starts out with little Chihiro (Daveigh Chase) and her parents are driving to their new home. Chihiro is very upset to have to leave her friends and family.

Her father decides to go down a shortcut, which leads him through an old abandoned amusement park and the world of Kami (spirits) of Japanese Shinto folklore.

Her parents see the food left out for the spirits and eat it. Oh no-you aren’t supposed to do that. Being of Mexican descent, I know you never, ever eat the food for the dead/spirits. Remember that Lizzie McGuire episode?

So of course her parents have something bad happen to them, they turn into pigs and run off!

Poor 10-year old Chihiro, what is she going to do now?

Luckily, she is saved by a young boy, Haku (Jason Marsden [he played Goofy’s son Max], who takes her to the bathhouse. He gives her some food to eat so she can remain in the spirit world.

Haku: Don’t be afraid, I just wanna help you.

Chihiro: No… no… no… no… no…

Haku: Open your mouth and eat this. If you don’t eat food from this world, you’ll disappear.

He tells her to see the boiler man Kamaji, and ask for a job. He will have to give her one if she asks and then she can stay in the world, and look for her parents. He refuses, but does claim her as his granddaughter.

Kamaji sends her to the owner of the spahouse, the witch Yubaba. Yubaba tries to scare her off, but as Chihiro prevails, she gets hired on and signs a contract. Yubaba takes her name and changes it to Sen. Haku finds her later and gives her the card from her friend with her real name. He warns her, don’t forget you name or else you can never leave.

I liked that, as in fairy tales that is a common theme with witches and warlocks, Rumplestilskin-your name is powerful.

No one likes Sen as she is still human. She gets paired with Lin (Susan Egan, who you’ll recognize the voice as the same actress who was Meg in Hercules). Lin is unhappy as no one wants to help her as well, now that she is paired with Sen. Yubaba makes things difficult by giving them the hardest tasks as she wants to break little Sen.

One night, Sen notices something outside when she goes to close the doors. She spots No-Face, which is not supposed to come into the spa (but she doesn’t know that). She leaves the door open as she gets called away by Lin to take care of the stink spirit. After she leaves, No-Face comes in.

That’s not good.

They need serious help to clean up this one, but the guy who gives the special spa bath salts won’t give her anything. However, No Face grabs her a bunch of them. As they clean the stink spirit, Sen realizes that he needs more than just a bath.

Lin: Sen! Sen, where are you?

Chihiro: [from beside the Stink Spirit] Over here!

Lin: Don’t worry… stay right where you are, I’m coming to get you! You’re gonna be fine, I won’t let him hurt you.

Chihiro: I think he needs help! It feels like there’s a thorn in his side!

She frees him and the creature is horrifying looking to me, creeps me out, but he’s the nice spirit of a polluted river and gives Sen a magic emetic dumpling and gold to everyone else.

All are happy, but Sen feels a little distressed. She misses her family and can’t find Haku anywhere.

Lin warns her to stay away frpm Haku, that he is evil and works for the witch Yubaba-don’t trust him. But Sen is convinced that Haku is good.

Meanwhile No-Face has made fake gold and has been treated like a king in the spa. He demands food and tips well, eatign workers when they keep him from reaching Sen.

Meanwhile, Haku has returned from his mission (in the shape of a dragon), and is attacked by paper Shikigami. Haku and Sen try to fight them off, but one morphs into Yubaba’s twin sister, Zeniba, and reveals he stole a seal from her.

That’s not good.

Yubaba’s giant crazy baby Boh captures Sen and doesn’t want her to leave. He wants her to stay and play with her, threatening to break her arm and force her to stay-this baby always scared me.

On second thought-with this baby in it, it is a horror movie.

Zeniba’s image does not like how the baby speaks to her and turns him into a mouse and makes a hologram baby. Haku then attacks her shikigami and that destroys the Zeniba hologram. He’s badly injured and falls down to the boiler room with Sen and Boh.

Kamaji diagnoses him as having eaten some pretty powerful magic. Sen gets the great idea to give him some of  the dumpling she got earlier. He coughs up the seal and a worm, which Sen destroys. Boh and Kamaji’s soot creatures reenact it.

She has to travel to Zeniba and take the seal. Kamaji gives her his roll of tickets to take the spirit train and she is about to head out-but is stopped by the antics of No-Face. No-Face has been going crazy trying to find Sen and eating everything!

Okay I was an adult when I saw this but he is so crazy and creepy looking, he has ALWAYS terrified me. He’s like the creepy blob thing in Phantoms.

She gives him the rest of the dumpling and he spits everything up. Sen leaves and No Face goes with them. Sen, No Face, Boh, and Yubaba’s crow all travel on the train to see Zeniba.

When they reach Zeniba they are surprised to discover that she is so kind and nice. She puts them to work, No Face weaves and the others help out.

They then have a tea party,

And Zeniba reveals she can’t do anything to help her, her parents, or Haku. Chihiro must do it.

Zeniba: I’d like to help you, dear, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s one of our rules here. You’ve got to take care of your parents and that dragon boyfriend of yours, on your own.

Chihiro: But, um, can’t you even give me a hint? I feel like Haku and I met, a long time ago.

Zeniba: In that case, it’s easy. Nothing that happens is ever forgotten, even if you can’t remember it.

Haku wakes up and goes after them. No-Face stays behind while Chihiro, Boh, and the little crow decide to return to the spa house. Sen frees him when she gives him his name back.

Chihiro: Haku, listen. I just remembered something from a long time ago, I think it may help you. Once, when I was little, I dropped my shoe into a river. When I tried to get it back I fell in. I thought I’d drown but the water carried me to shore. It finally came back to me. The river’s name was the Kohaku river. I think that was you, and your real name is Kohaku River.

Haku: You did it, Chihiro! I remember! I was the spirit of the Kohaku River.

Chihiro: A river spirit?

Haku: My name is the Kohaku River.

Chihiro: They filled in that river, it’s all apartments now.

Haku: That must be why I can’t find my way home, Chihiro, I remember you falling into the river, and I remember your little pink shoe.

Chihiro: So, you’re the one who carried me back to shallow water, you saved me… I knew you were good!

But not all is taken care of. Chihiro must now past the test to pick her parents from the pigs or be stuck there forever.

Hmmm…

She and her parents are free and leave. Her parents are groggy as if they have just woken from a dream, and they find their car covered in vines and such as if it has been sitting out there for a long time. I wonder how long they were in the spirt world? Does her father still have a job?

Hmmm

They head to their home and Chihiro’s father asks is she is nervous about going to a new school. After all Chihiro has been through school will not be a problem.

This is an absolutely adorable film, although it does have some creepy moments in it. No-Face,

Spooky…

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more animated films, go to Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

For more Disney films, go to One Who Was Both Hero and Villain: Maleficent (2014)

For more ghosts, go to To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved Before: The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)