In Culture Shook, hosts Mia Mamone and Maia Brown dive in deep to random parts of the current (and, in the case of this episode, past) pop culture zeitgeist. This week’s topic – spooky...ish... movies. We tried to create a bracket but didn't execute it properly because we are not sports nerds. NBN apologizes for the inconvenience, but only a little.
Mia Mamone: I’m Mia...
Maia Brown: And I’m Maia...
Mia: And this is Culture Shook...
Maia: Spooky Season Edition!
Mia: Basically, what we’re going to do today is a pretty straightforward tournament bracket of spooky-ish, Halloween-ish movies.
Maia: Okay, so basically the way the game will work is we have 16 movies that we have picked via the Internet and we randomized them and we made a bracket — which you can reference at any time. Our first matchup is Coraline vs. Don't Look Under The Bed.
Mia: Oh God, this is tough.
Maia: See, I'm biased here. I don't really- okay, I don't remember Don't Look Under The Bed that well.
Mia: I remember it because it gave me such terror when I watched it as a kid. It's a great movie, a great Halloween movie. It scared the shit out of me when I was a kid and in the next few years, probably when I was like 7, 8, 9, I had this phobia when it would become October. I knew it was coming on Disney Channel, that they would show the commercials for Don't Look Under The Bed. For those of you who don't know, it's about imaginary friends who, once you stop believing in them, turn into boogiemen. It's horrifying.
Maia: That is scary, that's a scary concept.
Mia: There are some really scary costumes and images and they go into this horrible boogieman nightmare world. Coraline, on the other hand, is so good.
Maia: I feel like this is probably the creepiest matchup that we have. These are the two in this that I feel like border on being...
Mia: Coraline is pretty insidious, actually.
Maia: It's creepy, yeah.
Mia: Yeah, that's very true.
Maia: They wanna take her eyes and put buttons on them.
Mia: Yeah, no, that's fair.
Maia: If you haven't seen Coraline, I'm not even going to tell you what it's about because you need to pause this and go watch Coraline. It's honestly lowkey feminist.
Mia: Required viewing, yeah.
Maia: Coraline invented weird girl culture, in the best way possible.
Mia: Blue hair...
Maia: She has fits, she has blue hair.
Mia: She does have fits.
Maia: She's got a little bob, a bisexual bob!
Mia: Coraline is bisexual.
Maia: Coraline is like 9.
Mia: That has to be canon though. I'm gonna tweet Neil Gaiman and ask.
Maia: Are you really doing it right now?
Mia: Sometimes he responds to people.
Maia: I mean I said what I was going as the beginning of this. I would pick Coraline.
Mia: I think just for nostalgia, I would pick Don't Look Under the Bed. But I agree with your points about Coraline and I love it, so I'm fine with going with Coraline.
Maia: Okay, so Coraline is gonna pull ahead of the first round.
Mia: I just tweeted Neil Gaiman, by the way, so we'll see.
Maia: If he responds by the end of the episode we'll read it out loud.
Mia: It's probably going to happen, honestly.
Maia: Okay! Round Two, we have Casper Meets Wendy vs. The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Mia: So Casper Meets Wendy, there are a lot of Casper movies, but this is the one with Hilary Duff where she has her little red cloak and her little bangs.
Maia: Which is honestly not a look, but...
Mia: Nightmare Before Christmas, if you don't know what that is, I don't know what to tell you.
Maia: You've clearly never been on Tumblr.
Mia: Yeah, like, sorry. They're very different. If I had to choose, probably Nightmare Before Christmas because it's versatile.
Maia: If we're giving points for being iconic, you can't walk into a Hot Topic without seeing the Nightmare Before Christmas merch.
Mia: And it's been years. It's been so long.
Maia: I feel like the culture is shook by Nightmare Before Christmas.
Mia: Yeah, I think we have to.
Maia: Alright, we're moving it on. Halloween[town] II: Kalabar's Revenge vs. Twitches. Twitches was my nostalgia movie. Me and my sister used to watch it, and like pretend to be the twitches and like, it was fun. It was cute.
Mia: That is cute. Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge is just a really good sequel, I think a sequel that might be better than the original. Marnie has her cool-ass star blue velvet cloak.
Maia: And original Marnie is still playing Marnie.
Mia: Yeah, she's still there.
Maia: Which is really important.
Mia: Kimberly J. Brown?
Maia: Of Quints fame.
Mia: Of Quints fame, indeed. I watched that all the time. It was a good continuation of the story but also like Marnie was older, she was a teenager, there was some more romance, she was more edgy.
Maia: She was more interesting, to be real.
Mia: And Luke was still a goblin but they made him look cuter. You know his reveal at the end of the first Halloweentown he was really ugly because he was a goblin. But they made Luke look cool.
Mia: He was a cute goblin in the second one!
Maia: We're being very superficial about this. I mean, Tia and Tamera were on top in the 2000s. They really were. I think that Halloweentown— all of them do like a world-building that's really interesting and that isn't as present in Twitches.
Mia: I agree.
Maia: Because it takes place in real life. Twitches is mostly like, they have the secret...
Mia: They go to Coventry a little bit.
Maia: Yeah, they go to Coventry.
Mia: But it's not, that world is not super developed.
Maia: I think it was cute. It gets my nostalgia nod. I think it was a cute movie about sisterhood and Black girls being cool. I feel like Twitches can translate better into real life. But if we're talking about a Halloween movie, what really puts you in that Halloween mood better than Halloweentown II. So I think...
Mia: It's more mystical, yeah.
Maia: I think it's gonna have to go on.
Mia: I think so. I think we're in agreement.
Maia: Our next matchup is gonna be Haunted Mansion vs. Rocky Horror Picture Show. I feel like there's a clear winner here.
Mia: I think so too.
Maia: Eddie Murphy was funny in Haunted Mansion but Rocky Horror, it's creative.
Mia: It's done so much.
Maia: It's iconic to the queer community.
Mia: I mean, every single— it's just a quintessential American experience, you know? Like going to see Rocky Horror.
Maia: I feel like Rocky Horror did some monumental work in establishing that Halloween is a gay holiday.
Mia: Coraline is bi, Halloween is gay.
Maia: Yeah! Coraline's bi, Rocky Horror's gay.
Mia: Rocky it is.
Maia: Next mash-up, we have Halloweentown vs. Hocus Pocus.
Mia: These are like the two classic— I'm very torn. I love the New England imagery and whatnot of Hocus Pocus and of course, it's just so iconic; Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker. But also Halloweentown, Debbie Reynolds and Kimberly J. Brown...
Maia: Okay, sidebar, I for sure used to get Debbie Reynolds and Julie Andrews mixed up as a child.
Mia: Both iconic grandmas!
Maia: Yeah, because they were iconic grandmas! Here's the thing that might be a hot take of mine about Hocus Pocus: I feel like the detriment to Hocus Pocus is that the scenes with the witches are really the only ones that matter to me.
Mia: That's fair, yeah.
Maia: I don't really care about the protagonist.
Mia: Don't really care about that.
Maia: And he has a crush on that girl, like, I don't really care about that.
Mia: Yeah, he's kinda just trying to get with that girl. It's a little...
Maia: I feel like Halloweentown has more, like as a whole package, more strength.
Mia: Again, feminism, there's great world-building. Also, in the first Halloweentown when Marnie's standing up to Kalabar at the end, when Marnie goes, "hey, Chocolate Bar," instead of "hey, Kalabar," that fucking kills me.
Maia: A wordplay queen. So we have at least two Halloweentowns going into Round Two. I wrote "Halloween-teen."
Maia: Next. Monster House vs. Spooky Buddies. Okay, we have never seen Spooky Buddies.
Mia: Never in my life.
Maia: We just thought it would be funny to talk about because we very briefly looked at the Wikipedia synopsis and it is wild.
Mia: It kept coming up on lists of best Halloween movies, so like, people like it.
Maia: So, if you don't know about the Buddies, they are the children of Air Bud?
Mia: Yeah I think so, Air Bud's kids.
Maia: Air Bud, the basketball-playing dog. They're being kidnapped to be sacrificed to the Halloween Hound, which is an evil hellhound who can open a portal to ghosts. But only if he has the souls of five puppies of the same blood. How specific is that?
Mia: And it was against... Monster House?
Mia: I'm gonna be honest, though I have never seen it, Spooky Buddies wins.
Maia: WHY? What do you have against Monster House?
Mia: Monster House is fine, but like, I would much rather— in this moment, I would much rather watch Spooky Buddies.
Maia: Do we wanna go with Spooky Buddies?
Mia: I do.
Maia: Okay, we're gonna go with Spooky Buddies, um, don't @ us about it. Our second-to-last matchup of this round is Addams Family vs. Halloweentown High. I feel like we already know who wins here. Gomez and Morticia have such a loving relationship!
Mia: I know! I saw a really great tweet about how Gomez really just loves his wife, and just really admires and respects her, and how that's so rare in a lot of movies and TV shows. It's always like, "haha, I hate my stupid bitch wife, whatever." But Gomez loves Morticia and that's really nice!
Maia: And she loves him too, they have a strong family.
Mia: The first two Halloweentowns are so good, but they just— it just drops off so much that I think we have to go with Addams Family.
Maia: I think so too. The last matchup— this is so fucking weird. We have It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown vs. Beetlejuice.
Mia: Yeah, I mean, I don't know what else there is to say. Winona Ryder. Sorry.
Maia: Great Pumpkin is. A. Dud. It's not cute— well, I mean it's kinda cute.
Mia: It's kinda cute, but you're not gonna sit down and actually enjoy...
Maia: I mean, Peanuts are cute or whateva. Alright, we are going with Beetlejuice. Now, we're moving into Round Two, and for this round and the next round, we are going to say out loud who we think should win at the same time. We will only debate about it if we say something different. First matchup: Coraline vs. Halloweentown. 1, 2, 3...
[Maia gasps loudly]
Maia: From the beginning!
Mia: I love Coraline, but I think Halloweentown always puts me in the fall, spooky, autumnal mood. And like, Coraline, I feel like I can watch and enjoy any time of year. But Halloweentown, obviously, I wanna watch it at Halloween.
Maia: This is the Spooky Season Edition of Culture Shook, so I feel like that is something that we should take into account. We love you so much Coraline, you are an icon, but I agree that Halloweentown should move forward.
Maia: We have Nightmare Before Christmas vs. Spooky Buddies. Please don't do this to me. Okay, 1, 2, 3...
Mia and Maia: Nightmare Before Christmas.
Maia: I was so concerned that you were gonna do me dirty.
Mia: No, I'm not gonna troll that hard. I'm not gonna troll that hard.
Maia: Halloweentown II vs. Addams Family. 1, 2, 3...
Mia: Halloweentown II.
Maia: Addams Family.
Mia: I feel like Halloweentown's already going on being represented, so I'm okay with going with Addams Family because it is also really good.
Maia: I really appreciate that. Last matchup — I don't even know what I'm gonna pick here — Rocky Horror vs. Beetlejuice.
Mia: I feel like these are probably the most evenly matched out of like— they're in similarity when it comes to like, the movies we chose.
Maia: Okay, yeah.
Mia: Which makes it hard.
Maia: 1, 2, 3...
Mia and Maia: Rocky Horror.
Maia: So with that, we are at our Final Four. We are going to do one more round. We have Halloweentown vs. Addams Family. 1, 2, 3...
Maia: Addams Family. I shouldn't be—
Mia: We should have known.
Maia: Yeah. I'm really clinging to it but I acknowledge that Addams Family is not a Halloween movie.
Mia: That's fair. Technically.
Maia: Technically. It does not— it's just, like, kinda spooky.
Mia: Yeah. And you know, they show that you can be creepy all year-round. And it's good.
Maia: It's almost limiting...
Maia: ...to call Addams Family a Halloween movie.
Mia: Yeah, I think its ambition is greater than that. So...
Maia: I'll let you have this.
Mia: Thank you!
Maia: Halloweentown is in the final. Next matchup, to see who will make it into our championship, we have Nightmare Before Christmas vs. Rocky Horror. 1, 2, 3...
Mia and Maia: Rocky Horror!
Maia: Okay. Our championship matchup is between Halloweentown and Rocky Horror.
Mia: Very similar films. Content-wise, of course. Both for children.
Maia: Yes. They are almost the same. When I was a kid, Halloweentown was everything.
Mia: Yeah. Really made me wanna be a witch when I was a kid.
Maia: But now...
Mia: Now we can appreciate things like Rocky Horror.
Maia: I'm at the point where Rocky Horror is also everything! The representation that it has inspired...
Mia: I just think of the Glee episode of Rocky Horror, and the scene in Perks of Being a Wallflower. Maybe it's less about the movies and more about growing up. And what changes as you grow up.
Maia: My parents' generation was super into Rocky Horror, our generation is.
Maia: I feel like the next one will be. And I feel like that's— I feel like that sways me in the end.
Mia: When I was a freshman in high school, I wanted to be really cool and edgy and I was like, "Mom, can I go to a midnight showing on Halloween of Rocky Horror." And she was like, "No." I was like, "Okay fine," kinda lost interest in it in high school. But then as I got to college, it was like "Oh wait, I can do what I want now. And I can go to Chicago to see Rocky Horror in the middle of the night on Halloween." And I think that's just— it's a really special experience. I think we maybe made our decision.
Maia: I think we made a decision! Alright, so, our winner of the Not-So-Spooky Movie Showdown is...
Maia: Rocky Horror!
Mia: Spooky Buddies!
Maia: We have to watch Spooky Buddies. We really need to...
[Music: "The Time Warp" from Rocky Horror Picture Show]
Maia: This has been Culture Shook.
Mia: We are Mia and Maia.
Maia: We hope this episode left you properly shook.
Mia: You can find us and all NBN podcasts on iTunes...
Maia: Anywhere that you can find podcasts, really.
Mia: We're there! Our theme music was composed by Audio Editor Tenny Tsang.
Maia: [whispered] An icon!
Maia: Happy Halloween!
Mia: Happy Halloween! Thanks for tuning in!
Maia: Did Neil Gaiman respond to your tweet?
Mia: No, he didn't, but someone liked the tweet.