Saturday, October 8, 2016

Recap: Goosebumps "It Came From Beneath the Sink"

So, by and large, Goosebumps isn't "scary" if you're above a certain age.

Entertaining? Often enough.

Creepy? It certainly has its moments.

Depending on the episode, it can even be entertaining and/or creepy on purpose.

Well... when I was writing these Recaps, I put off this episode for a long time. Because this one actually has a monster that really freaks me out, even into my 20s.

In all honesty, I tried to recap this episode several times, but I couldn't make it all the way through until now. So congratulations, Mr. Stine. You got under my skin. I hope you're happy.

But before I begin, a word of advice. If you're going to watch this episode, do not be eating ramen noodles.

I made that mistake and paid the price for it.
The episode opens up on a fairly nice house in what I can only imagine is a pleasant neighborhood. As insurance commercial-esque music plays, the Merton family is moving in with their two kids, Kat (Katharine Isabelle) and Daniel (Tyrone Savage), and their dog, Killer. While the dog would not go on to any high-profile roles, you might recognize Kat as Ginger in the Ginger Snaps films.

Anyway, Daniel's friend, the local token black kid Carlo (Ashley Brown), stops by on his bike.

Mr. Merton: "Hey, came to help us unpack?"
Carlo: "No. But I will."

Heh. He's the cool kid.
Carlo: "Guess what? It only took me 8 minutes and 46 seconds to get here."

Oh. Spoke too soon.

Kat (voiceover): "When we moved into our new house, everyone was happy. Everyone but me, that is."

...Okay, I guess this episode is being narrated now.

Killer heads into the kitchen as Kat's voiceover does the usual "I had a feeling something was going to happen" bit, and he starts growling at the cabinet under the sink, seemingly apropos of nothing.

This would be a good time to mention that dogs are R.L. Stine's favorite plot device. He's admitted many times that he prefers them to cats, which is why he makes cats into evil creatures and dogs into evil detectors. Expect for this episode, where the only Kitty to be seen is the main character, who also goes by Kat.

Kat tries to figure out what's under the sink after she puts the dog outside, and sees nothing but a couple of glowing eyes in the darkness under the sink.

Kat: "Oh, it's a kitty."

No, you're a Kitty.
Ba-dum-tsssh!
She tries to coax the cat out, but can't seem to quite reach it. So she grabs a sputtering flashlight (Plot point!) and takes another look. All she finds after reaching blindly in the dark is....

....
NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE  NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE


SO MUCH NOPE ALL THE NOPE

Yes, I know it's a freaking 50-cent sponge from the Home Depot with a rubber mouth, but dang if that isn't some unnerving monster design. Living things should not have the texture of a sponge.

"Sponges are living things."
You know what I mean. Smart aleck.

Kat freaks out, knocking the sponge onto the floor, but quickly regains her composure. After all, it must have been her imagination, right?

NOPE NIGHTMARES HAVE BEEN MADE FLESH
Her family comes in to see what she's yelping about, and they quickly judge her when she claims that the sponge is alive.

Daniel: "You were scared by a sponge?"

...It's a scary sponge.

Kat: "Killer was after it. He could tell! It has eyes and everything!"

Her dad whips up some explanation regarding the light reflecting off of its non-reflective surface, then punctuates this by accidentally dropping his wife's fine china when Killer bumps into him. She's understandably upset, so... wait, what?

Amanda Tapping? Of Stargate SG-1?
Alright, no one will be able to convince me that the Goosebumps universe isn't part of the Stargate multiverse. Mrs. Merton here is just an alternate Samantha Carter as far as I'm concerned.

As Killer gets taken outside, the sponge and the broken china get thrown away. But as we see later that night, it only stuck for the china, since the creepy sponge scoots into the bathroom after Kitty's shower.

Yes, I know you can see the shadow of the hidden stagehand... but this Bizarro-tribble still freaks me out.
Kat reaches over for a towel to dry her face, but...

OH GOD NO THAT'S NOT WHERE SPONGES GO
She jumps back from the sponge, knocking over a glass, which shatters on the floor. Her brother then chooses that moment to enter, stepping on the glass in what's actually a pretty unsettling shot.

I made it through Jeff Goldblum turning into a fly-man just fine, and an episode of Goosebumps is freaking me out?
Daniel: "Augh! My foot!"

Though he says the line through gritted teeth, making it sound more like he's swearing.

When Kitty's mom comes in to examine Daniel's foot, Kat tries to explain why the glass broke, but they're not exactly willing to listen to her crazy ramblings about a sponge. Luckily, Daniel barely got cut, so it's off to bed for everybody. Later, in the middle of the night, Killer ends up investigating the evil sponge under the bed.

"Okay, look, pal. Here's the deal. You get outta Dodge, and there won't be no trouble between us."
The next morning, Kat's mom prevents her son from eating cold pizza for breakfast. Despite the fact that this will probably be an everyday thing once he starts college.

Daniel: "But cold pizza's got all the basic food groups on it."

Depending on the pizza, he has a point. Cereal and milk are filled with sugar. Let him eat the dang pizza.

Mom: "Uh-huh. And so does your face."

Parenting made easy. Just use the same insults as a teenager.

Daniel teases his sister by throwing a paper towel at her, claiming it has eyes, but she's more preoccupied with the fact that Killer's been missing all morning. And nobody's seen him. Also, just want to mention that Mr. Merton's chowing down on his son's forbidden pizza. That's some mighty fine parenting.

So Kat plans on riding around the neighborhood to try and find him.

Kat: "It's not like him to just run off like that."

"He usually writes a note first."
And we cut to her riding through an idyllic Canadian forest trail to look for her dog as the narration decides to tells us things we could easily see for ourselves.

Kat (voiceover): "Bad things were happening, and they were getting worse. First it was my mom's smashed dishes, then my brother's cut foot. Now my dog had disappeared, and I thought 'What's next?'"

"What's next" is her brakes having been cut, sending her out of control down the hill. Half on her bike, half on her face.

Sponge monster playin' fo' keeps, yo!
Well, that was a short episode.
Nah, I don't think there's a single episode of Goosebumps that ends with onscreen murder of the protagonist. Implied? Certainly. Other characters getting murdered? Why not. Eternal torture? It's all in good fun.

Even though she's alive, Kat's pretty banged-up, as is her bike.

Kat (voiceover): "This proved it. Something was definitely going on."

So she returns home to where Carlo and Daniel are watching Goosebumps on TV. Specifically, "Welcome to Camp Nightmare."

Carlo: "You scared?"
Daniel: "Nah."

Way to critique your own show, guys.

Kat explains that she trashed her bike, and she blames the sponge for everything that's been going on.

Daniel: "Here she goes again. Killer sponge from Mars."

No, Mars is covered in egg monsters. Get it right.
But Daniel changes his tune once he sees that the sponge hid away in Kat's helmet. And the glowing eyes mean that the jig is up once and for all.

Carlo: "This is better than The X-Files!"

"Especially that piece of crap 'Schizogeny.'"
"Don't you dare insult that episode! Lisa Baiocchi was one of the best incidental characters that show ever had!"
Kat grabs it with some fireplace tongs and decides to remove the abomination from the world.

Daniel: "What if it's a new species or something?"
Kat: "Then it's about to get extinct."

Good on you, Kat. That thing is an affront to God and man.

Carlo: "Kat, this sponge is amazing. It needs to be studied."
Kat: "No, it needs to be dead."

Two action one-liners in thirty seconds? I like this girl.

Carlo: "I'm asking you in the name of science not to do this."

Screw science. If the dodo's allowed to go extinct, then this thing can too.

Kat buries the hideous creature in the backyard to kill it once and for all, hoping that her luck would change. From bad to worse, as her narration explains.

Later that night, Kat waits on the porch, squeaking a dog toy as a not-quite-version of "Lean on Me" plays in the background. Her dad comes out to her to tell her that she needs to come inside. Killer's still nowhere to be found, but she's convinced that everything will get better. But the next day, Kat and Daniel go outside to discover that all the plants in the yard are turning brown.

Kat: "Everything's dying."

Well, yeah, that'll happen when you drench plants in spray paint.
So Daniel and Kat dig the sponge back up. It's still alive, and very mad.

Kat: "We need an expert. I'm gonna take it to school. Maybe Miss Vanderhoff will know what to do with it."

"Kat, Miss Vanderhoff teaches History."
After a thorough examination, her teacher gives her expert opinion.

Miss Vanderhoff: "Aha. Just as I suspected. It's a sponge."
Kat: "I know that."

"Don't patronize me, lady."
She finds nothing out of the ordinary with the thing, despite Kat's claims regarding eyes.

Miss Vanderhoff: "Eyes? Sponges don't have eyes."

This one begs to differ.
But Kat asks her to examine it a bit more, and she agrees. Ten bucks says that she's going to leave it there overnight and claim that she ran all sorts of tests on it. At the very least, it's clear that she'll be ignoring Kat's advice to keep the thing in a cage when she's done.

Just for funsies after Kat leaves, the thing mentally wills a beaker of unidentified chemicals to break.

That night, Carlo consults his Encyclopedia of the Weird, despite the others' flippancy.

"Sure, you laugh now. This thing's even more complete than Tobin's Spirit Guide."
Carlo: "It says that your weirdo sponge is actually a Grool."
Kitty: "A Grool?"

That sponge is neither great nor cool. The name doesn't fit.
Daniel: "What's a Grool?"

Well, these days, it means something else, even beyond the Mean Girls quote.

Google might be tempting you now, but you must resist.
Let's just say it's a portmanteau of "girl" and "drool" and move on before this Recap gets too NSFW.

But according to Carlo's book, a "Grool" is a spongelike creature that emanates bad luck.

Carlo: "And then it feeds on the bad luck it causes."

I would say that this violates the Laws of Thermodynamics, since any living creature loses energy through heat over time, thereby making it impossible for any creature to be self-sustaining by generating its own food... But how exactly does one quantify the generation of bad luck through the Law of Conservation of Energy? Or actually feed on bad luck, for that matter?

Carlo: "Each time something bad happens, it gets stronger."

But Kat wants to cut to the chase.

Kat: "Does it say how to kill it?"
Carlo: "Mmm... no."

Why don't we bring the Ghostbusters in on this?

And he has experience with psychomagnetheric substances.
Carlo: "Just be glad you didn't find a lanx."
Daniel: "A what?"
Carlo: "A lanx. It's this little vampire potato that sucks the life force right out of you."

Aww, that sounds adorable!
Daniel: "Why don't we just mail it to the North Pole, or drop it in the ocean, or something?"

Because A, Santa doesn't want this thing either. B, sponges are known for surviving in the ocean. And C....

Carlo: "If the owner gives the Grool away, the owner dies."

And Kat's the new owner, since she found it.

Kat: "But I left it with Miss Vanderhoff at school."
Carlo: "You what?"

And because they don't want to wait and see if giving the grool to another person for a day counts, they hastily decide to break into the school and steal it back.

Hey, look, a night janitor. Or is he also a homeless man living in the auditorium?
As the janitor sings along to "You Are My Sunshine" on his walkman, the three kids break in... somehow.  The janitor (Jack Newman) follows what appears to be a snail trail along the hall, presumably left by the Grool.

...

Oh, man, that particular combination of words is going to bring some random Googlers to my blog. A big hello to all of you! Sorry that you found a review blog instead of... well, we both know what you were looking for.

Anyway, the kids go to the room where Kitty left the thing and search the area, but they can't find anything, since the Grool already migrated to the janitor's cleaning supplies. But Daniel does find a wad of chewed gum under a desk, which is at least one inanimate object that R.L. Stine hasn't yet made into a horrifying monster.

Tim Jacobus, the cover artist, on the other hand....
The kids hide when the janitor comes in, and that's when everything goes nuts. Not only is his "sponge" just leaving slime behind instead of cleaning anything up, but the lights go out. Then his flashlight stops working. Then he bumps his head trying to fix the circuit breaker. And after the kids rush to try and help him, Kat balances on top of a tall stool and finds the Grool on top of the shelves. She falls over, knocking over the cabinet and a big ol' vat of acid, blocking the door.

So after this series of unfortunate events, there's nothing they can do. The Grool is growing exponentially, and the way out is blocked by chemicals.

Oh no! You can't let red mix with green!
They try the window fruitlessly, but when they kick the janitor's walkman, they discover that the schmaltzy music makes the Grool shrink. Putting two and two together, the kids realize that good vibes weaken the Grool, since bad vibes make it stronger. They turn the music up in an attempt to trap it, but the walkman breaks. And being the 90s, none of these kids can just pull up Pandora on their phones, so there's no music to play.

Plan A's never work. Might as well just skip them.
With no other option, the kids make up an intentionally corny song about how wonderful the Grool is and how much they love it. Then they start complimenting it.

Kat: "I love your big, beautiful eyes. All of them."
Carlo: "I love what you've done with your hair."
Kat: "And- and that skin. So damp, yellow, and absorbent."

Absorbent and yellow and porous is he.

But this doesn't solve the fact that the janitor is inhaling acid fumes. This misfortune makes the Grool grow again, but it also wakes the janitor up. So he leaps up and saves the day with the fire extinguisher, shrinking the Grool down to its original size.

A rare instance of an adult saving the day.
The next day, we see exactly what has become of the Grool that Kat can't give away without dying. She keeps it in a love-filled cage and plays an upbeat version of the Goosebumps theme for it.

A foolproof prison. Unless the tape wears out and the Grool feeds on the misfortune.
And just like clockwork, Killer comes back. Just in time for french toast. It must be a lucky day. And Killer has even brought back a little present from his journey through the neighborhood!

Kat: "A potato?"

But as it turns out... um...

...

Is that a gaping fanged potato vagina?
"Technically, it's a lanx."
Holy yonic sonalum, that's a gaping fanged potato vagina.
I'm starting a list of things I never expected to say on this blog.

1: Gaping fanged potato vagina.

And with... that, the episode ends. So because nothing I can say here will be able to top "gaping fanged potato vagina," it's time to review.

2 comments:

  1. You know Darkwing Duck had a vampire potato* before book did it. And I don't know what option is weirder, that R.L. Stine borrowed idea from Disney cartoon about superhero duck or that vampire potatoes were just a thing back in a day.

    Also, I noticed you don't do recaps in order for a change, at least not in order that Wikipedia uses.

    - Faceless Enigma

    * female one, to make things more awkward

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, man, I forgot about that episode. Nice spot.

      And yes, I'm doing Goosebumps out of order.

      With a show like Gravity Falls, or even Ultimate Spider-Man, I've found that it's best to do the show in order since that cuts down on "Here's something that happened five episode ago that I need to explain in detail for you to understand this."

      but Goosebumps is an anthology series, so for the most part, it doesn't matter what order I do them in.

      Good thing, too. Otherwise, I'd end my look at Goosebumps by covering a bunch of mediocre two-parters.

      Delete