Top Ten R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour Episodes (Seasons 3 & 4)

R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour is a modern-day teen horror show that started in 2010 and plays on YTV (and I’m sure some other channels).  It was extremely hard to pick a top ten for several reasons- I had no emotional childhood attachments to any of these episodes, there are a lot of creative ideas, and none of them are really scary, but they’re all pretty much Goosebumps-style twisty-ended. They all have teenage cheese and they’re all watchable. Here are my top ten most memorable episodes from seasons 3 and 4 of The Haunting Hour!

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10. Grampires

Cute, creepy, and the season’s two-parter, this episode is about siblings who go to visit their grandparents in a retirement village. Unfortunately, soon enough, the kids learn the elderly folk are actually vampires, and rely on their grandfather to keep them safe. Normally, old people tend to be horrific in a frail and fragile way, but these grampires are more reminiscent of The Bailey School Kids book characters-comical.

 

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9. The Girl in the Painting

A young girl dreaming of a life of luxury finds a painting in the trash of a girl in a beautiful pink room. She becomes obsessed with living in the fantasy world of the posh painting. After the paining changes scenes and a voice is heard advising the way in is through the closet, the girl finds herself in the world she dreamed of. I think most little girls imagine themselves going into another land through the closet, all Chronicles of Narnia-style. The end is twisty of course, and unexpected, and laughable.

 

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8. The Cast

While playing a prank on and old lady, a group of boys get caught, and one falls, breaking his arm. He ends up with a cast, but the cast turns out to be a lot worse than just a cradle for shattered bones. I’ve never broken anything major, but the fear of the unknown comes into play here, and paranoia, and all of the possibilities of what could be lurking underneath all that plaster and bandage. In this case it’s rats, and while the guilt feeds delusions, in the end, everyone gets their just desserts. The moral of the story is: don’t lie or karma will get you.

 

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7. I’m Not Martin

A helpless boy in a hopeless horror- Martin is set for surgery, the only issue is he’s not Martin and no one believes him. As a kid, it would be pretty terrifying to be mistaken for someone else at a hospital, especially if that person is set to have their leg taken off. This episode is fairly nonsensical, but the desperation and fear of being trapped in a situation without having any control over it is pretty scary for a kid.

 

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6. Detention

This isn’t just a ditzy episode about high school stereotypes stuck in detention, it’s about three teenagers who take ownership of their mistakes and learn a valuable lesson. Obviously written by a dad, but not too cheesy. The setting of the decoration-trashed school with no one around sets a terrific atmosphere, and the possible consequences of the unassuming kids ups the scare factor. In true horror way, however, I wish it would have ended with the prom princess going her own way.

 

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5. Seance

A younger sister wants to fit in with her big sister and her friend, and while following them around mercilessly, annoys the friends. Little sis, who also stars as a little sister in The Conjuring is the victim of a prank, but ups the ante she gets her revenge. Seances are fun and spooky, and I bet every younger sibling got a few ideas of revenge after watching this episode.

 

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4. My Imaginary Friend

Another twisty story that ends kind of sad because you don’t really see it coming. It’s about a boy with an invisible friend who’s kind of a bad-ass, and is very much a negative influence. The boy’s good-natured brother doesn’t get along with his sibling’s imaginary friend and the conflict between the two goes from bad to worse. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this episode such as listening to your conscience and being able to control what you’d created with your own mind.

 

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3. Terrible Love

A Valentine’s Day episode where a girl wishes for cupid to make the popular boy like her… but she goes too far, and their love turns sour. This is another example of a mature episode that discusses jealousy and obsession in love. It’s creepy in a very real way and I appreciate how it’s guessable but still likable it can be. There’s a spotlight on awkwardness and desperation, and isn’t that every teenager’s nightmare?

 

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2. Lovecraft’s Woods

Time loops (in my opinion) are not used enough in movies, and I’ve definitely never seen it be used in a kid’s show, so this is all sorts of awesome. It’s about three friends who are trapped in the woods. One of the kids gets bitten and turns into a horrible creature who tries to warn her friends. Werewolves aren’t my usual horror cup of tea, but I fancy a spooky stroll in the forest, mind you.

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1. Le Poof de Fromage

The kid painfully trying to have a funny french accent may be hard to sit through, and the plot may be… ahem… cheesy, but it’s silly and fun and original. It’s simply ridiculous and I like that about it. This episode is about a foreign exchange student who moves in with a family to hunt down the alien cheese puffs that are trying to invade Earth. It kind of reminds me of 10 Cloverfield Lane because of the paranoia and flip-flop beliefs. Must be eaten with the puffy Cheesies, not the crunchy ones.

Also read: Seasons 1/2 Top Ten

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The Girl in the Photographs (2015)

Score: 2/10

Length: 95

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, Painful Movie Mondays, murderer, slasher

This is a bad movie. I’m not even going to dance around it. I have no idea why Wes Craven produced this nonsense. It’s a horror American Apparel ad with Kal Penn as the douchey, famous photographer. He is “sexually inspired” by a killer-photographer who takes pictures of his victims. Real original. So the ass-hat goes after the murderer’s muse, because he wants to work with her first. Nonsensical. The killers were creepy, but that’s really the only thing the movie has going for it. No tension, bad music choices, bad character choices. Why were they trying so hard to make the characters funny? All of them were hard to watch. This is supposed to be a slasher film, kind of Screamlike, but it’s just a mess, and I was not at all sad when anyone died. The slashings were fine-lots of blood. But it’s like eating moldy toast with jam. Doesn’t really matter how good the jam is.

Masters of Horror: Imprint

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer)

Evil Category: black-smear-toothed, red-headed whores

Score: five out of five skin-sweeping scars

In regular Takashi Miike form, this episode is strange and intense. Considering the rest of the season is at times a little dull and watered-down, this was a fun finish to season one. I saved this movie for a night with sushi, and I’m going to have to have another sushi night because I want to watch it again. There was just so much going on I don’t think I was able to absorb it all. It’s about this guy (he’s in Charmed, acting as badly as he does in this episode) who is looking for his lost lover. Instead, he learns of her torturous death through the stories of a woman with distorted features. This gnarly, complex episode features everything from a weird little pimp with a nose scab to a conjoined hand twin. (What?!) At the same time, the colours are rich, the costumes are intricate, and it’s beautifully filmed. I didn’t love everything about it, but for sure, the best episode so far.

The Hallow (2015)

Score: 4/10

Length: 97

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, foreign, woods, supernatural

The first thing I thought about this movie was: the only thing that could really ruin this is a naked, hairy, troll-like interpretation of a fairy. It’s not quite that, but the fairies are not the mystical, mysterious creatures I guess I am still hoping for in a horror film. These are more reminiscent of bugs, more specifically, when the mother from Coraline begins her transformation into a praying mantis. Big, hollow eyes and all. The Irish tend to be creative and gifted in developing a mood through the scenery and natural lighting that leaves you feeling cold and clammy, and this film doesn’t quite do that. I feel quite dry, actually (LOL). It’s about a family who moves to a small town and tresspasses on fairy property, aka the forest. The hunchy, pointy-limbed Hallowfolk do not appreciate this and try to steal the couple’s baby. They also apparently take people and turn them into half-human half-fairies. The big problem with this film is that it lets out its spooky characters pretty fast and then just drags on and on. Still another half an hour to go and I’m wondering when these people are going to die already. Can they just be gone or survive already and end this? There is a surprising mix of good and 1990’s terrible effects in this film. There is also a lot of running through the forest and baby screaming. Usually baby screaming is unbearable for me, but this baby has a unique scream and actually sounds like it’s afraid for its life instead of just needing a diaper change. Anyway, I was hoping for a magic fairy horror experience, but this is just another monsters in the forest film.

Film Face Off: The Conjuring 1 vs 2

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The Original, 2013

Score: 9/10

Length: 112

Rating: R

Frightful Feature: witches, ghosts, and dark spaces

The first Conjuring is FUCKING SCARY. Both in the theatre and at home. I will say the theatre experience was made more intense by the person behind me yelling “HOLY SHIT!” and “OH MY GOD!” at every scary part. But ridiculous person behind me or not, this film has intense tension and jumps. There is just so much build up and a really nice flow that doesn’t quite let you move anywhere except further to the edge of your seat. There are a lot of scares featuring the unknown, and incredible acting really solidifies these scenes. The film is smart and isn’t scattered or over-stuffed. The director, James Wan, directed the first Saw movie and will also direct The Conjuring 2, thankfully. This guy seems to know what he’s doing. Anyway, it’s about a famous duo- the Warrens (you might have heard of them)- who are paranormal investigators, working on a particularly nasty case. An evil entity along with a witch and a few ghosts have attached themselves to a family and don’t want to let go. We get to see glimpses of Annabelle, the witch herself, and the ghosts. Every character is created with craft, leaving some things to the imagination, and other parts well-imagined, boasting realistic makeup and effects which is a HUGE breath of fresh air. In my opinion, this is one of the scariest films of all time, and that’s saying a lot for someone who doesn’t find ghosts to be typically scary. Awesome acting, effective effects; loved everything about this movie except that I would have liked to see a little bit more of a cliffhanger at the end. Highly rated, highly recommended. No bullshit, and I appreciate it. These true stories, I tell yah.

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The Second Helping, 2016

Score: 7.5/10

Length: 134

Rating: R

Frightful Feature: ghosts and demons

Okay guys, I don’t generally like things, but here’s two in a row that are keepers. I can only find a few flaws, but luckily, there’s not too much bullshit going on. Tension, comic relief, uniquely attractive actors (Patrick Wilson- gorgeous even with those sideburns, Vera Farmiga-stunning; glowing), and a HORRIFIC NUN DEMON. Usually demony, Catholic stuff doesn’t scare me much (although I love it), but this menacing sister-dude leaves a lasting impression without being overly dramatic, making him more realistic. So here go the issues. The Warren’s daughter-why? And in both movies-but barely and for no real reason I can muster. Maybe she’s going to be the subject of the third movie (maybe, hopefully). And the crooked man. Nope. Unnecessary and cartoonlike; it didn’t feel like the character belonged in this film. I was cool with the grandpa and the nun. Don’t need to get all Insidious on me and throw in fifteen random villains that don’t below together. What does belong is the magical blend that Wan seems to create with his mystical horror wand. I care just enough about the characters to be bothered if they die, and the music is good- it gets me in all the right moods. No bad CGI, no over-the-top acting, not even too long. There are so many things that are hitting the mark in this film. Looking forward to Lights Out.

Willing to bet we’ll see at least one more flick in the franchise.

 

The Darkness (2016)

Score: 3.5/10

Length: 92

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, devil, supernatural, underground

This is nothing I haven’t seen before. A family goes on a trip in the canyons, a boy brings back some ancient relics and brings the demons home with him. The story isn’t too bad, but there is absolutely no tension and it just wasn’t executed well. AKA no scares. A little too all over the place for my liking with the black hand prints, and the runes, and dogs and such. I did really appreciate that there were minimal CGI effects and the demons were blurry, shadowing figures, only giving away the outline of their animal shape. But that was about all I was thankful for. I didn’t expect a lot from a movie with Kevin Bacon and Paul ‘Mad About You’ Rieser, and I got just what I expected. The final scene making sure we are aware the family lives happily ever after is the worst part of all. The mix of the ancient devil monsters and the black ink-obsession doesn’t seem to mix well, and I am hopeful that the ideas, separated, might make two decent movies, but unfortunately, that’s not what I watched today.

 

photo credit: https://www.youtube.com/