Saturday, October 15, 2016

Recap: Goosebumps "An Old Story"

Can I just mention the description of this episode on Netflix?

"Tom and his younger brother are being taken care of by their weird Aunt Dahlia. Her 'prize prune cookies' are delicious but strange like her."

Now, if they had put a comma after "delicious," that would imply that while the cookies are delicious but strange, Aunt Dahlia is merely strange. But the lack thereof implies that both adjectives apply to Aunt Dahlia.

I don't want to know why Aunt Dahlia is being described as "delicious but strange." But it looks like we're going to find out.

Now, when you say "old," episode, are we talking actually old, or how kids describe the music I grew up with?
This episode comes from Season 3, when Dan Angel and Billy Brown decided "To Hell with spooky atmosphere, let's put flashy effects into the intro!"

So now R.L. Stine turns into a swarm of bats, which, believe it or not, is something he can do in real life.
[citation needed]
And this isn't just Goosebumps, it's Ultimate Goosebumps, obviously changed to attract kids like Dipper Pines.

"I do like things that are ultimate."
Or maybe it takes place in the same universe as Ultimate Spider-Man.

Anyway, the episode opens with Tom (Kyle Downes) and his brother Jon (Jordan Allison) alone in the house, trying to find something to eat while their parents off on a trip. Unaware of the titular advice of a different Goosebumps story, they head into the basement to check the freezer for pizza or something, but the lights don't work.

Tom: "Think of the good news. In the dark, you can't... see... the spiders."

Jon even runs into a cobweb, freaking him out, And stepping on something squishy freaks him out further. But before he can go back up the stairs...
Um... Carmen Sandiego appears?
Carmen Sandiego: "What are you boys doing down there in the dark?"

Instead of answering her, they recognize her as their Aunt Dahlia (Patricia Gage). She takes them into the kitchen, gushes about how big they've gotten since she last saw them, and talks about how handsome they are.

Aunt Dahlia: "I just know the girls are gonna go crazy for you. When you're older."

"What? Please, I could go out into the street now and get me some fine honeys, lady!"
Actually, now that it's twenty years later, let's see if this kid is the heartthrob Aunt Dahlia predicted.

Let's see what Google says....

Oh, sweet mercy, he is gorgeous. Be warned, only click this link if you want to be lost forever... in his eyes.

Aunt Dahlia asks the boys if they like cards, and Jon replies that he likes "Flight of Terror."

"Is that one of your fancy "video games" with the Pack-Men and the Donkey Kangs, and that newfangled Pong?"
Tom: "It's a virtual reality game."

Sure, it sounds impressive, but this is the 90s. The Virtual Boy sucked. As I write this in 2016, they're only now starting to make virtual reality games worth playing.

Aunt Dahlia sends the boys out to do what they will on their Atari 64 or whatever while she whips up a snack involving a Ziploc bag of mysterious ingredients.

So Jon and Tom oh sweet Thor in heaven, what the heck is that thing on his face? Is that what the props guy thought virtual reality headsets looked like?

Just.. why?
Why are there knobs and doodads all over it? Why is it made out of solid steel instead of plastic?

Why do you need headsets if the game shows up on the TV?
Anyway, they talk about how their parents avoid Aunt Dahlia and never invite her over under normal circumstances. But with a new baby on the way, they had little choice.

Aunt Dahlia soon come over with her special batch of cookies, complete with CG wobbles.

Jon: "What kind are they?"
Aunt Dahlia: "It's a family tradition."

Answer the question.

Aunt Dahlia: "Your father loved them when he was your age."

Still not an answer.

They each take a nibble before Aunt Dahlia reveals that these are, in fact, prune cookies.

Aunt Dahlia: "They're good for you."

Look, lady, just because the doctor says you need assistance staying regular, that doesn't mean you should start whipping up big batches of laxatives for everyone. This is like the time my great aunt came to stay with my grandparents. Everybody was having mysterious diarrhea until we caught her pouring half a container of Benefiber into the spaghetti sauce.

The news makes them want to not finish their cookies, but Aunt Dahlia gives them an ultimatum.

Aunt Dahlia: "No cookies, no supper."

That's pretty ack-basswards.

But Tom and Jon agree to finish their cookies, and discover that they're actually pretty good. In fact, they'd probably eat the whole tray if Aunt Dahlia didn't tell them to save room for pork roast with prune sauce.

That night, presumably after a few hours of toilet adventures, Jon and Tom talk about their aunt.

Jon: "Do you think Aunt Dahlia's weird?"

Kid, everybody's aunts are weird. There is not a single normal aunt in the world. It's like a law or something. That great-aunt I mentioned earlier? She has a dog named "Wiggle Waggle Woo" and drives up from the East Coast to celebrate Christmas here in Michigan. In August. And that's just scratching the surface of one of my aunts.

Those little quirks make aunts worth having.

Sweet Van Morrison poster, by the way. Just like all the cool kids had in the 90s.
The two say goodnight and get under their respective covers, only to hear Dahlia cackling from elsewhere in the house.

Tom: "What do you think it is?"
Jon: "It sounded like a witch."

Dude. Your aunt's probably watching Johnny Carson. Go to sleep.

The laughing continues, so they get out of bed to confirm that Aunt Dahlia's laughing is, in fact, coming from Aunt Dahlia. And to make things easier, she opens the door the their room to find them.

Aunt Dahlia: "What are you boys doing out of bed?"

Better question: What are you doing in their room?

Aunt Dahlia: "I just wanted to check on you boys. Now get right back into bed."

In no time at all, Aunt Dahlia walks up the stairs to yell at the boys to wake up. They do, but they regret it, since their bodies both ache all over. And when they finally get downstairs, it seems as though Tom's back isn't doing too well, and neither are Jon's ears.

Aunt Dahlia: "How are you?"
Jon: "Pardon?"
Aunt Dahlia: "How are you feeling?"
Jon: "Flowers on the ceiling? There's nothing on the ceiling."

Ha. Ha. ...Nope, not getting a third "ha" out of me.

When the two kids finally get a look at each other, they notice that their faces have broken out into a light case of old age makeup. Tom's even losing his hair in clumps, although Aunt Dahlia's not worried.

So is he also gaining chest hair? We know he's capable of a sweet beard.
But Tom insists that they should call their parents, so Aunt Dahlia calls them up to tell her that the boys are worried about getting grey hair. It goes about as well as you'd expect.

So with her sarcastic confession over with, she hangs up and tells the boys that she invited over some old friends, Mimi and Lillian, who'd like to meet these two.

Literally. "Old friends."
Mimi gets right down to business.

Mimi: "Now, where are those two cute boys you've told us so much about?"

Aunt Dahlia calls for the boys, who slowly shuffle down the stairs, to the delight of the women. As Aunt Dahlia gets some refreshments, Lillian says that the boys seem to be greying up nicely, which Tom immediately notices, despite her trying to cover it up with "growing up nicely." Mimi and Jon go sit down on the couch as Lillian gives Tom a look that should spell out exactly what's going on.

I guess I can't call her a cougar if she's falling in love with a rapidly-aging kid.
Mimi: "I'm Mimi, and I have a very nice retirement fund. Enough for two."

Let's be blunt here, because it's pretty obvious what Dahlia's doing. She's pimping out her nephews, but not before slowly making them the same age as these old ladies. Why would Auntie McPimp here age the boys up until they're in their 70s or so? Why not give these old ladies a little bit of 20-something man candy instead?

Seriously, 20-something-year-old-Kyle Downes's eyes can melt the coldest heart.

Anyway, Aunt Dahlia returns from the kitchen with the bad news that they're out of milk. Tom offers to go to the store with Jon, but Aunt Dahlia insists that Tom should go by himself.

Aunt Dahlia: "I need one of you here to entertain our guests."

So Tom goes to the store.

Shopper: "Oh, watch your step, sir."
Tom: "'Sir'?"

I know, right? You never feel old until somebody calls you "sir." I remember standing in the toy aisle looking for another action figure to decorate my room with when some kid pushed a cart by me saying "Excuse me, sir." That was the moment I realized I was an adult.

But it's taking longer for Tom to figure it out, since he keeps muttering in his head about why people seem to be treating him like a senior citizen. Except for one guy.

Guy: "Hey, pop. Get the lead out, okay?"

Who peed in your Corn Flakes, Meat Loaf?
But Tom gets a glimpse of himself in the mirror of the sunglasses rack, and it's worse than he thought.

How in the heck does Goosebumps have better old age makeup than Back to the Future Part II?
When Tom returns, the old ladies are fawning over Jon, whom Tom would like a minute with alone to talk about things.

Aunt Dahlia: "Lillian and Mimi need you to play bridge."
Jon: "Fridge? It's in the kitchen."
Mimi: "Bridge, silly. It's a game."
Jon: "Oh, we don't know how to play."

Nobody knows how to play bridge. People just take cards from their hand and pretend that they mean something. Which is also how tarot works, come to think of it.

Tom reverses the usual "I need to talk to somebody about something private" excuse by calling it a "guy thing," so the ladies let them head up to their bedroom for a second. Once up there, they quickly realize that Dahlia must have somehow done this with those prunes and try to call their parents.

Downstairs, Aunt Dahlia monitors the call from the downstairs phone and decides that these boys have had enough time to discuss their "guy thing." So the three ladies head upstairs to knock on the door and demand that they come out while the boys open their window to formulate an escape attempt.

Mimi: "Don't you want to play with us?"

"Not at all. In several different ways."
When the old ladies force the door open, the boys spin a yarn about getting some fresh air.

Aunt Dahlia: "The ladies. Are waiting."

Sometime later, everybody's well within yet another game of bridge when Jon gets up to use the bathroom again, which seems to annoy Aunt Dahlia.

Hey, don't blame him. You're the one who gave him prostate issues with your magic prunes, lady. He's probably got all those things old people complain about. Lumbago. Sciatica. Um... kids these days.

Aunt Dahlia: "Didn't you just go?"
Jon: "Go? I haven't stopped."

So you've been continuously wetting yourself?

Instead of using the bathroom, Jon searches through the stuff in Dahlia's room in an attempt to find a way to reverse the spell. When they come looking for him, he hides under the bed, allowing him to eavesdrop on the ladies' conversation.

Mimi: "That little Jonathan is so adorable. And Lillian wants to marry Tom!"

Anyway, Lillian and Mimi are planning to move down to Florida and live next to each other so the boys never have to be apart.

Aunt Dahlia: "Nobody's getting married until you pay my fee. Then we'll talk."
Mimi: "Oh. Well, don't worry about that. They're so delicious."

Looks like the old girls are looking forward to that wedding night.

So... these fifteen-year-olds have the bodies of seventy-year-olds. But are they still technically minors, since they are still mentally fifteen? There are some unsettling questions here regarding what these old ladies might decide to get up to on their wedding night.... Let's just assume they want to play bridge and move on.

Eventually, Dahlia and Mimi leave the room, allowing Jon to get out from under the bed and return to the game. He and Tom head into the kitchen with the excuse of getting snacks like a couple of gentlemen. Jon wants to formulate an escape plan, but Tom actually wants snacks. Too bad his teeth can't even handle an apple without pain.

"Do I dare to eat a peach?"
Jon: "Mimi and Lillian want to marry us!"
Tom: "So? Why fight it?"

All Tom wants to do is find something he can eat, and he ends up finding a jar of baby food.

Jon: "What's that doing here?"
Tom: "You know mom. She gets some weird cravings when she's pregnant."

Or it could be for... you know. That baby she's about to squeeze out.

From out in the dining room, Dahlia asks what's taking so long, which fits right in with her establishes history of expecting the boys to do things instantly, whether it's talking upstairs or using the bathroom. While Jon waffles, Tom eats the soft baby food in desperation and hunger, which starts to undo his geriatrification.

Jon: "That must be the antidote!"

So... what is it about the baby food? Does it have something to do with the ingredients, or is it just the fact that these particular mashed fruits were put into a Gerber jar?

As the boys eat, the old ladies decide to help them out in the kitchen and eventually force their way inside, finding a couple of fifteen-year-olds instead of their wrinkled dreamboats.

Aunt Dahlia: "Mimi, grab the baby food. Lillian, stand by with the emergency prune juice."

Best line. 10/10

Dahlia's customers ignore her and instead both go for the baby food jar. When Jon tries to throw it to Tom, it shatters on the ground. But even so, Tom isn't going to give up that easily.

Aunt Dahlia: "Don't fight it, Tom. You know you love prunes."

Yeah, well, not so much that he wants to marry the one you've got lined up for him.

Tom makes his way to the fridge, grabs the emergency prune juice, and tosses it all over Aunt Dahlia, melting her into dust.

And so, once again, the day is saved by way of children committing murder.
With Dahlia out for the count, her pals are pretty quick to leave before Tom does the same to them.

"Come at me, grannies. Fucking come at me."
Sometime later, Tom talks to his parents on the phone, informing them that everything's fine and dandy. I can only imagine that he just finished burying Dahlia's stuff in the forest after going through her purse for her cash and credit cards. Tom's mom wants to talk to Jon, who's in the other room. But it seems as though Jon wasn't done eating that baby food....

Really? You were tempted by baby food?
So, if eating baby food makes you younger... then how do any babies age to the point where they can start eating solid foods? This world makes no sense! It's not even magic baby food!

Tom hangs up and rushes into the kitchen to grab a half-eaten prune cookie from the trash. And as he tries to get his brother to eat some before his parents get home that night, the episode ends. Now let's review and see how this is actually one of the more horrifying Goosebumps episodes.

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