I can only wonder why R.L. Stine felt the need to give them both needlessly creepy names.
|"I think you'll find that the answer's right there in the question."|
Anyway, creepy ventriloquil figures.
|As if there were any other kind.|
|"Ohmigosh, ohmigosh, ohmigosh, ohmigosh, ohmigosh!"|
Oh, hey, haven't seen you around in a while. What're you freaking out about?
|"That's Caterina Scorsone!"|
|"Uhhhhh, as in Amelia Shepherd M.D. from Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy?"|
|"You need to binge. Now."|
|"...Whatever, get back to your kids' show."|
Anyway, in true older sister fashion, Sara's overachieving. Specifically, by having painted a beautiful picture of their house and planning on entering it in an art show.
Dad: "It belongs in a museum."
Now I just want to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Now I just want to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
But the middle child, Amy (Maggie Castle), is less enthusiastic.
Amy: "She showed us the exact same picture last family night."
Hey, paintings can take a long time to finish.
|By the time I'm halfway through one, I have an idea for another....|
Dad: "Amy, where's your sense of humor?"
|"And I'm sure that saying that will not get flipped around on me ironically."|
A TV show where, instead of America sending in their funniest home videos, people send in video evidence of their screwed-up family for money? Must be on TLC.
Just wait a few years, kid. There'll be this thing called "YouTube." Of course, you'll probably be out of college by then, but still.
Sara: "How many times do I have to tell you not to try on my clothes?"
|"So that's where it went."|
Amy: "So, Dennis, how was your family picnic? Were you bothered by any ants?"
Dennis: "No, worse. Termites."
Boy, ventriloquism is easy when the sound guy just dubs your voice over the footage.
Dennis: "You've heard of the Terminator. Well, we had to call in the exterminator."
It's funny because... The Terminator was a movie?
Then his head falls off.
Jed: "That's the best part."
Amy takes this opportunity to pout, since her dad promised her a new dummy. Her dad tells her to look behind the couch, and she finds a trunk. As she sets it up, he explains that he found him sitting in the window of the local second-hand shop.
According to the inside of his case, his name is
"Slappy." And he's suspiciously similar in size to somebody with
dwarfism. And yet, they won't use somebody in a costume to portray Slappy when
he comes to life. Well, not in this episode, anyway.
|And there's the cause of our nightmares for the next fortnight.|
Speaking of life, Amy finds an odd little card in his pocket and decides to read it out loud.
Amy: "Karru Marri Odona Loma Molonu Karrano?"
|"Honey, call Dr. Alavi and tell her that Amy's speaking in tongues again."|
After they all dismiss the odd gibberish, Amy hugs her dummy, unaware of what she has just unleashed into the world....
Amy: "It's nice to meet you, Slappy."
"Slappy": "It's nice to meet you too, Amy."
Amy: "It must be great to have a new home."
Slappy: "Ya got that right, kiddo."
But Sara comes in to distract Amy from her living dummy by telling Amy to stay out of her room. They have a little argument about this, too.
Sara: "Now go to bed."
Amy: "Don't have to."
Slappy: "Yeah, we don't have to!"
Sara: "Come on. Mom says so."
After Sara leaves, Amy is left alone with only her thoughts and a ventriloquist dummy that actually spoke.
Amy: "That's weird."
So she puts Slappy next to Dennis and prepares to go to sleep. Yeah, it's weird that your dummy spoke of its own free will and said something relevant to the conversation, but whatever. Bedtime.
But when she makes her way back to her bed, Dennis falls on the floor.....
That night, we get a POV shot of a small figure waltzing into Sara's room with a paintbrush. And the next morning, we Sara freaking out over the resulting vandalism.
|Because it's not like she could paint over it.|
Heck, she could claim that it's some statement on the fragile artificiality of the middle class, or some such.
Sara: "You're always jealous of my art."
Amy: "I didn't. Why would I?"
Sara: "So who did, the tooth fairy?"
Wait a minute... Let me check something....
Huh. Did you know that R.L. Stine has never written about an evil tooth fairy? Evil dentists showed up in a sequel to "One Day at Horrorland," but no actual tooth fairies. Come on, man! You've cranked out story after story regarding werewolves, haunted masks, and evil dummies, but nothing about the mysterious supernatural creature that steals teeth?
Jed: "Pretty dumb, Amy. Even I wouldn't try to get away with that."
Amy: "I'm always blamed for everything around here!"
Don't worry, Amy. I believe that you'd never go inside your sister's room and touch her stuff. ...Except her sweater. But it's not like you'll do anything like that again. Within the next few minutes of screen time.
But after returning to her room and touching Slappy, Amy notices something red on her hands that smells like blue paint.
Amy: "Red paint? What's going on?"
It seems as though Slappy has wet red paint on his hands. Even though it should have dried by now, since he vandalized the art in the middle of the night.
We then cut to... Family Sharing Night. Wait, is it still the same day? Did this family just have two Family Share Nights in a row? Is this a thing normal people do? Am I the weird one?
Um, anyway, Dad Kramer is playing "If you're Happy and You Know it" on his guitar. Looks like those lessons are paying off. In fact, he gets a round of applause.
|"Hey, Slappy, why did the aardvark cross the road?"|
"I am an affront to the laws of God and man!"
"Slappy": "It's fantastic, but then my last family was a pine tree."
So I guess that makes Slappy here a real chip off the ol' block, eh?
Amy: "So, what did you think of Dad's song?"
Slappy: "That was your dad? Well, what a relief. I thought the cat got stuck in the dishwasher."
Dad: "Amy, that's not very nice."
Yeah, but it was actually funny.
Come on, have a sense of humor, right?
Slappy: "And how about that mother of yours? She went to a store and asked if the clerk had anything in her size, and he told her to try the freight elevator!"
Ye gods, the dummy's been possessed by the ghost of Don Rickles! Which is odd, since Don Rickles was very much alive in 1996.
But after the dummy starts insulting Jed and Sara, Amy starts trying to get the dummy off her arm to no avail. So her whole family assists her in getting the dummy off her arm, lest her fragile mental state lead her to become a Batman villain.
|Sadly, we don't get to see Mrs. Kramer's cheer routine from high school.|
The next day or whenever, Amy and her friend Margo (Kerry Duff) talk about boys while coloring in a poster for the Save the Rainforest dance. Margo's sister, Alicia, gets into Amy's closet and plays with her dolls, leading Margo and Amy to bond by complaining about their siblings.
Amy: "Sometimes I wish I didn't have any brothers or sisters."
And if this were a different episode, that wish would come back to haunt her in an ironic fashion. But this episode already has its supernatural phenomenon causing trouble, and he's currently locked in a big ol' chest that Alicia looks like she wants to open....
But Sara comes in and gets after Amy for going into her room and stealing her markers to make the poster.
Amy: "I didn't steal them. We were just borrowing them."
I take back what I said about believing Amy. No wonder nobody believes her about the dummy.
Sara: "You never even asked. I told you to stay out of my room!"
Amy: "Just stay out of my life!"
|I've gotta hand it to this actress.|
She's got the "I'm in my friend's house and she's having a disturbingly intense fight with her family" nailed.
Slappy stops when Mom Kramer enters, but the damage is done.
Amy: "Slappy grabbed Alicia and he wouldn't let go!"
Margo: "You're such a liar... a big, fat liar!"
Oh, you didn't have to bring her weight into this.
Margo: "I don't ever want to see you again. Not ever."
|"Nah, I think it's warranted."|
Amy gets grounded until her dad gets home, during which time Slappy chuckles with his mouth closed.
When Amy's dad gets home, the family has a meeting in the living room, where they confront Amy about blaming her own behavior on a doll.
Amy: "Slappy's not a doll. He's a dummy. I can't help it if he's haunted or something. Why won't anybody believe me?"
|There, happy, Ant-Man? I made a reference.|
Nobody believes her, and her dad even tries to try and relate to her a bit by talking about how he knows exactly what it's like to be the middle sibling. But still Amy protests.
You know, judging by how Amy's parents are suddenly more about desperately trying to pinpoint her issues than disciplining her, this seems uncannily like they're discussing putting Amy on meds. Trust me; I grew up during the height of the late-90s Ritalin craze. I know what this discussion looks like.
Mom: "Amy, if you really and truly believe that Slappy is responsible for all this, then maybe we need to get some help."
Amy: "You mean like a doctor or something?"
Yep. Called it. They're itchin' to get Amy hooked up with some pills.
If I may analyze this family for a bit, it's very clear that they're not exactly the Cleavers. They fight all the time at the drop of a hat. And it's evident that the parents are at their wits' end.
Sure, I'm exaggerating when I say that they want to pump Amy full of methylphenidate, but this is a family that has clearly run out of patience and ideas. They fight all the time, and Amy blaming the dummy is making the problem worse than it already was.
Of course, the fact that the dummy is doing all this complicates the issue.
But Amy runs off to her room again, so nothing has been solved.
Jed: "Can I watch TV now?"
That night, as Amy's parents sleep in front of the staticky TV, Amy wakes up to find Slappy's trunk empty. And when she goes downstairs to investigate, she discovers the dummy attempting to smash Dad Kramer's guitar over his head. But before Slappy can deliver the ol' El Kabong, Amy tackles him to the ground, both waking up her parents and breaking the guitar. And, of course, they blame her.
|Ironic that Amy could have proven her own innocence by simply staying in bed.|
Dad: "Amy, you mother and I have talked about this, and we want you to tell us what you think we should do."
|"Damn it, Amy, I paid good money for that thing. It may be causing you to act out, but you're damn well keeping it!"|
Mom: "I think we both know that's not the answer."
|"Then... a reward?"|
Later that day, Amy walks down the road to find Margo and her new token white friend hanging up posters for the dance. They ignore Amy, but she's on a mission. She's brought Slappy to the side of the road, and... she abandons him in a storm drain...
|Holy crap, I remember this.|
Amy: "There's no point in telling you the truth, 'cause you think I'm crazy anyways."
As Amy walks away, the camera pans down to show the tiny footprints Sara's been mopping up. Which go all the way into Amy's room, where Slappy awaits. And he's given up on the whole "stealth" thing, since he's walking and talking.
Slappy: "Wasn't very nice of you to dump me in the sewer like that."
He also goes on to explain the central idea of the "Night of the Living Dummy" series: Whoever brings Slappy to life with the magic words becomes his.
Slappy: "You are my slave."
Slappy, do I need to teach you about the 18th Amendment?
Wait, which one deals with slavery?
|"No, I know that Prohibition was repealed."|
|"The 18th Amendment."|
|"Do I need to teach you about the 18th Amendment?"|
Amy protests, but Slappy insists that he can get her to do anything he wants, since he's convinced her family that she's nuts.
|"Which is why I won't be keeping up the charade that's been working so far!"|
Sara comes in to see what Amy's yelling about, only to find Amy and Slappy. And unlike the last few times, Slappy is finally willing to make his sentience known.
Slappy: "Hey, Sara. Wanna play?"
|As if that were possible.|
Anyway, the girls hide in the bathroom, and Sara tells Amy how sore-y she is for not believing her. But int the end, the two realize that Jed is still out there in the rest of the house. So it's up to them to save their brother from the evil dummy. They search the darkened house for their brother, finding only Slappy in the living room chandelier. They grab a broom, but they can't manage to hit him.
Slappy: "I've seen better swings on playgrounds."
I hope not. Slappy shouldn't be allowed within 500 yards of a school.
But in the end, even though Slappy drops down and manages to get on top of Amy, a small figure manages to knock him down and break his head open, causing green smoke to spill out.
|Badly composited green smoke.|
Of course, I imagine they could only film Slappy's smashed head a limited number of times.
And it's only now that the adults decide to come in. The girls quickly explain that Slappy was alive, but Jed stopped him.
Jed: "What's going on? What'd I do?"
And the twist ending comes along as everybody slowly turns to see Dennis standing on the table.
|"That of which you speak does not exist, flesh thing."|
...Dennis sounds like a Goofy impression.
|The subtitles even identify it as one.|