Scream Queens: Beware of Young Girls – Dean “Hannibal” Munsch (Review)

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It is difficult to say whether Scream Queens show creators Ian Brennan, Ryan Murphy, and Brad Falchuk are that clever or just desperately throwing every horror reference they think of into the series.  Since the gags, like the Hannibal Lector references in Beware of Young Girls,  or that, not so, sly dig at Ouija that really hit the funny bone so hard it hurts, the former appears to be the truth behind these three conspirators.  Before looking at the episode overall, however, l mad props go to Jamie Lee Curtis and her Dean Cathy “Hannibal” Munsch “Quid Pro Quo, Clarice,” indeed.

The plot line this week reveals that Gigi (Nasim Pedrad), while not necessarily one of the Red Devil’s, is on a revenger murder spree with a partner, and she is not happy at the lack of progress.  Dean Munsch is a definite Hannibal Lector fan, and the local detective investigating the serial killings qualifies as the dumbest law enforcement official ever and Chad is lactose intolerant. 

Scream Queens introduces a new (Temporary?) character Feather McCarthy (played by Tavi Gevinson) who fell in love with Dean Munsch’s Beatle  loving husband, back in the day.  Pete (Diego Boneta) and Grace (Skyler Samuels) bring Feather in to question her about the dean.  The former Kappa Kappa Tau member reveals how she fell in love with her Beatles 101 instructor. 

*Sidenote* Diego does his brilliant Matthew McConaughey again. What a party trick. Now if he can do Christopher Walken…

The girl Feather also tells the two investigating students that someone, the dean,  tried to kill her with Dr. Munsch’s “iPod thing that you plug in and picks up music from the air” aka a transistor radio (as pointed out  by Grace).  The girl has the radio put in her bath by, we learn later, Dean Munsch, who states  that she distrusts anyone whose “bush” is that large, as they must be hiding something.

The sorority house stages Chanel #2’s funeral, at the start of the episode, where Emma Roberts delivers the funniest eulogy ever:

“This dumb dead whore also used her high-ponied wiles to seduce my man into rubbing uglies with her. So I hope you all grasp the concept that this is what happens when you rub uglies with my man… You end up dead! So, have fun being dead, Number Two. You were a stupid, little trollop, and I hope you’re burning in hell right now. Amen.”

Only Roberts could deliver this line  with such conviction.  She also, later in the show, asks Chanel #6:

“Why do you have nine tampons? How big is your cooch?”

Sexual, snort-making jokes aside, the episode had a plethora of horror homages, or nods and winks, and at least one “show-business”  gag.

The entire Feather and Dr. Munsch relationship was a clear reference to the “Chairman of the Board” and his short relationship to the former wife of Woody Allen, Mia Farrow. Actress Gevinson, who plays Feather, sports a bowl hair cut, similar to that worn by Farrow when she and Frank Sinatra were an item.  (Cattiest remark of just about ever goes to Ava Gardner who sniped, after seeing  Farrow (who looked a lot like Vic Gevinson  does in this episode), “I always knew Frank would run off with a boy…”)

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Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow allusion?

During the scene where Feather finds her older lover murdered, Dame Shirley Bassey can be heard singing her version of Sinatra’s hit, “That’s Life”. Clearly a nod to the “old days of Hollywood.” Another, not so old, reference has Grace telling Gigi that her dad deserves a girlfriend who does not dress like Brenda Walsh.

Walsh, of course, was the character portrayed by Shannen Doherty in 90210.  Shannen has one of the worst reps in town as being a pretty nasty bit of stuff to work with. Whether these rumors are true or not does not matter, as the clear indication is that Gigi is not a nice gal either. This could be  “double nod”  as Doherty also hosted Scare Tactics where viewers pranked their friends with a great scare. (Later hosted by Tracy Morgan.)

With all these things going on, amid Emma Roberts getting some of the best lines of the series thus far, “The movie Ouija? No. No one did!” In response to Chanel #3 asking if Chanel had seen the film.  Chanel also gets numerous digs in at #5, as evidenced during the ouija board sequence, “Does her vagina have teeth?”

There is also the line about #2 being Eiffel-Towered by Hitler and Satan…

Perhaps the best film homage is Jamie Lee Curtis as “Hannibal” Munsch. When the inept police detective arrests the dean for murdering her former husband, he calls for back up. Two more detectives arrive with a straight-jacket and once Munsch is wrapped in the item, a’la Lector, she is taken outside for the crowds to gawp at.

In the asylum, she delivers that The Silence of the Lambs line “Quid Pro Quo, Clarice.” She also sketches her dress designs, cartoon faced creations all wearing dresses of black.  Away from Lector land, but still in the asylum, Munsch also sings the praises of the “meds” she is on, the little blue ones especially…An obvious allusion to The Matrix and the choice of pills that Neo can take “The blue one ends the story…”

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Hannibal Munsch…

The Silence of the Lambs is also referenced at the end of the episode when Feather is put into a “Hannibal” cage, clear plexiglass and surrounded by space, in the middle of a huge room, wearing a straight-jacket and protesting her innocence.

Scream Queens is hysterically funny, clever, witty and full of homage moments. There are so many that one needs to either record the show and re-watch it repeatedly, in order to find all the references, or watch it once and miss loads of well written and delivered moments.

The series airs Tuesdays on FOX. Tune in and learn just how clever Ryan Murphy and his team of co-creators really are. Glee, hell…this is worlds better…and there is no teen angst or singing, just some great performers rocking it out of the park.

Scream Queens: Seven Minutes in Hell (Review)

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Before looking at the humor in Scream Queens, Seven Minutes in Hell, there a a few holes to look into (and no, despite a show that wallows in double and triple  entendres that is not another one) while chuckling at the “Someone always goes lez” line that is so politically incorrect.  The news is that the Ryan Murphy co-creation is steadily dropping in ratings and this could be down to viewers taking the show too seriously.

Example: Those pesky holes, aka plot holes, aka “wtf” moments.

In this episode, all the Kappa gals are trapped in the house. All windows and doors are locked, via a panic system; a’la Panic Room, when suddenly the power goes out.  As anyone knows  (Well, anyone who watches technical thrillers, Die Hard,  or even CBS’s Scorpion.) when the power goes out all electric powered locks go down. The house, once the power went off should have been “wide open.”

This was ignored however, just as after Chad comes over to break into the “locked” house by breaking a second story window,  he requests that his smart phone be hooked up to the sorority house speakers to jam some hot music and the group all dance to said music.

Hello? No power? Speakers need electricity…

And last, but not least in the blazingly obvious stakes, there is the broken window on the second floor where a few knotted sheets could have rendered everyone safe-ish.  Chanel, however, repeatedly states that they are all still trapped in the house (where the doors must now be open with the electric off) and recommends that they use the hidden tunnels to escape.

There were a number of other “holes” in the episode, but to be honest?

Who cares?

This was a fun episode and a chance for almost every “sister” to be funny as hell. Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) gets to pile on the comedy, with her wildly unplayed performance, and the entire exchange between Sam (Jeanna Han) and Lourd’s character is hysterical.  Sadly, Sam dies in the bathtub in the storage room. (Which points out another hole, 5 gives the gay pledge the key which was given to ZayDay (Keke Palmer) moments earlier in the episode.

Still, despite all the boo-boos in the show, how can one not love a series where Emma Roberts’ character admits to watching documentaries on A&E about the Mafia as a survival tool.   Or hosts a slumber party, suggested by new co-president Williams, where “someone always experiments with lesbianism and a serial killer strikes,”  which featured a “spin-the-bottle” game despite there being no guys there and Chanel #1 clearly did not get it.

Sam does, although she does not get a chance to benefit from 5’s experimental smooch too much before being snuffed out in the tub later. Something that Chanel numero five is responsible for.

The Red Devil, despite its mask looking an awful lot like Jamie Lee Curtis’ Dean Munsch, may turn out to be Gigi and/or Denise since that were the only two character’s not seen.  Disregarding Pete’s not being there either since someone in the cast brought that up so it must be a red herring. However, Wes; Grace’s dad, only shows up at the end of the episode. After threatening to throw his daughter over his shoulder and carrying her out, daddy leaves empty shouldered.

With the masculine chest plate of the Red Devil, at least one of the two killers must be a bloke, although the man’s pectoral plastic molding is not the only “clue” to the killers gender. In the tunnel scene the killer comes at Chanel and ZayDay with an axe in each hand. At the risk of sounding sexist, there are not many women who could weld two heavy duty cutting implements that easily.

*Sidenote* In this episode it is revealed why Chanel #3 wears those earmuffs, which, apart from making her look cute, does look a little odd.  Cute ear coverings aside, it is also revealed that her fear of being accused of being the serial killer after everyone learns that her dad is Charles Mansion, was not unfounded. Although to be fair, only Chad reacted to the news.

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The body count, by the end of the episode, was three. Sam, who manages to a) see the killer’s face and b) reveals that she knew “it was you.” The second casualty was the poor frat lad who had his arms chopped off earlier.   Third was the last half of the Roger/Dodger twin set who buys it after being shot with a red (color-coordinated) nailer apparently with huge amount of nails in it.

Another of the funnier moments was Chad, who after “building up of his armless Dickie Dollar brother” deserts the poor guy when the killer turns up.  Just as amusing was Chanel #1 picking on poor #5. The “vagina with teeth” gag was so cruelly funny and a perfect indicator of Roberts’ character’s childish nastiness.

Lea Michele’s character is still vying for the creepiest girl in the house trophy and all the characters, except for Grace, are still vacuous airheads.  The combination of shallow self centered characters and a slew of horror film references still works brilliantly:

Chanel Oberlin: “That means the killer is still in the house!”

Farty McCandles: “Oh God, has someone checked on the kids?”

The clear reference to the 1978 Carol Kane film When a Stranger Calls  is just one of many nods and winks to iconic horror films  in the series.

It is not clear just why numbers are dropping. This show is special funny. Glee goes to American Horror Story funny, and without all the annoying High School Musical singing and dancing or Lady Gaga.

Scream Queens is anti-PC, irreverent and funny. As stated before, it is National Lampoon’s Animal House married to Sorority Row. Sit back and enjoy it.  This is hilarity with little semblance to reality and despite hints that Denise Hemphill is not dead, well worth watching. The show airs Tuesdays on FOX.

Scream Queens: Pumpkin Patch – Gigi and Her Boobs(Review)

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Scream Queens continues to play the Animal House hole card and deliver gags so fast that they seem to stumble over one another.  Despite the fact that the most annoying character to ever grace a television series  (Denise Hemphill) is still alive (Could show creators Murphy, Brennan and Falchuck  PLEASE let the Red Devil take this major irritant out? Please!) and that the series may be too campy for many potential fans, Scream Queens continues to deliver.

Whether paying a massive homage to Silence of the Lambs, or to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (featuring that film’s maze with snowdrifts) or revealing that Chanel #5 “regularly rubs one out while watching Dora the Explorer, this comedy horror show flings the jokes out with a rapidity that almost leaves the viewer breathless.

While the sex jokes are trotted out just as quickly as the horror film references in the show,  this week, Abigail Breslin’s character meets the twins who “spit roasted” her and they force her to choose which twin she wants, there are more “serious issues” being presented.

For instance, Grace (Skyler Samuels) walks in on her dad Wes,  (Oliver Hudson, offspring of Bill,  of the Hudson Brothers, and Goldie Hawn) going in for an evening of 90s mood music and desert after a salad date with Gigi (Nasim Pedrad).  Wes’ daughter is traumatized by the sight of Gigi on top of her dad and Grace also sees the woman’s boobs. 

Grace is upset but soldiers on, telling her dad that she is glad he has “moved on from mom” and “Um, but enough about me and my confusion and sad dead feeling inside.” Rather interestingly, Gigi’s boobs feature in another scene in the Red Devil’s lair. These two appendages may also prove to be a, gasp, plot point.

Standout Moment:

ZayDay down in the pit and the trapdoor being opened and seeing the devil with a small dog, a’la “Silence of the Lambs,” begins screaming.  A truly funny moment that did, amidst all the other funny gags, stand out. All that was needed to top this “homage moment” was the “First it rubs the lotion in…”

After the intrepid Grace, Gigi, Wes, Denise and Pete (Diego Boneta) head to the basement where ZayDay is being held, Hemphill hands out tasers to the team as they search for Williams.  Denise and Gigi team up and end up in  a room full of torture instruments, bone saws and  medical tools. As the two find the room and move in deeper to investigate, the lights are turned off (another Silence of the Lambs moment) and the women are stalked by the Red Devil who is wearing night vision goggles.

Denise accidentally tases Gigi in the boobs and the woman is hardly affected by the shot. She recovers quickly enough that she manages to tase the Red Devil in the throat. The “killer” is put down on the ground immediately from the shot.  Later, after the group discover that ZayDay is not in the basement, Gigi is followed by the Red Devil and she tells the figure that “he has to go.” Gigi then leaves for a “very special salad date.”

The implication appears to be that either Wes or Pete are to be the next victim.

That, however, is not important. The big question is, how did Gigi manage to be tased in the boobs and not end up on the ground like the Red Devil? Are they not real? Does silicone not conduct electricity?

Or…

Does Gigi have a secret, apart from apparently  knowing who the killer is,  that requires her to wear fake boobs? (Before readers rush to point out cancer, and other real life reasons for fake breasts, remember this is a television show that seems to be based upon an Animal House meets Sorority Row (2009) mashup…Okay?) Any suggestions, or theories can be left in the comments below.

Meanwhile, someone turned in Chanel #1 for murdering the cook, poor old faceless Ms. Bean,  and despite her father refusing to post bail, Oberlin gets out. Emma Roberts continues to kill it as the scheming vacuous sorority leader who bullies her minions and believes she owns Halloween.

Whilst ruminating on the whole Gigi boobs thing, take a moment to appreciate a show that dares to have its lead character explain to her teacher that the guy helping on an exam is “my Asian.”

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Chanel # and “her Asian.”

Scream Queens airs Tuesdays on FOX. Tune in and let these talented folks tickle your funny bone.

 

 

Scream Queens: Haunted House – Too Campy?

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Perhaps some people are more easily impressed than others, for instance, this viewer found the entire episode of Scream Queens Haunted House worth watching just for the extended Matthew McConaughey impression by Diego Boneta while preparing to question the  former Kappa in the trailer. That scene, as well as Grace’s father revealing that the scary thing about Children of the Corn is your inner child killing you, made the show.

There were things that still worked about the series, although not as well as last week’s episode Chainsaw. The character of Denise Hemphill has worn out her welcome, with all the campy eye rolling and hand waving.  The whole Niecy Nash act is overkill and adds nothing to the show…

But…

The other thing that made Haunted House delightfully worth watching was the unison scene with Nash and Boneta in the “hag” scene.  Hemphill and Martinez both reveal things learned about the house where ZayDay will hold her “haunted house” fund raiser.

Both of these scenes show a sort of genius that “gets it.” There are a few other things in the episode that work brilliantly, the “discovery” of the obligatory multiple victims. Like any decent slasher film, bodies have to be found; laid out in a grisly display to scare the heck out of the movie’s protagonist.

Chad and Hester (Glen Powell and Lea Michele respectively) who are obsessed with dead bodies, Chad fantasizes about necrophilia, find the dearth of murdered students and the decomposing Ms Bean in the haunted house and they both freak out accordingly. 

In the local coffee shop, they sit, in shock, and then tell the students in the place to avoid the house because of the dead bodies. The news galvanizes the other customers who all rush over to see the house of corpses.

Later when ZayDay finds that her fund raiser does indeed have real dead bodies in it, she calls 911 and speaks to a dispatcher who sounds suspiciously like Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, Justified) and considering how good Boneta was at doing McConaughey it would to be surprising to  learn that  he also “did” Goggins for the call.

Perhaps the problem with this comedy horror treat is the inclusion of too much comedy. Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan have thrown in everything, including the kitchen sink, with enough gags in each episode that repeated viewings are needed to get all the jokes, references and sly (and not so sly) genre homages.  Viewing figures are dropping steadily each week.

This may be more because of audience tastes being…out-of-sync with the show’s creator’s vision. Rather oddly, Scream, the MTV “salute” to the Wes Craven classic franchise, which missed the mark on so many levels, earned a second season, while the fans who normally flock to any  Ryan Murphy project have been tuning out.

It does beggar belief that viewers aren’t getting this show, too much comedy seems to equal death. (Something that would blow Mel Brooks away as all his films have loads of gags in them.) How can one not appreciate the interaction between Grace (Skyler Samuels) and her dad where her father says:

Wes: “No you were born in a hospital. I was there. I saw you come out of your mother…big mistake, by the way…”

 

The episode this week, sees ZayDay get kidnapped and at the end of the episode the “woman in black” is sitting in  a rocking chair surrounded by damaged dolls, in the haunted house and it is former Kappa Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) who is doing the wailing. 

It may help this series to have more Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts,  Diego Boneta and Oliver Hudson and a lot less Niecy Nash.  Regardless of whether Hemphill becomes the Red Devil’s next victim or not, the gags are numerous in this series and may be flying by the less conscious viewers. Is Scream Queens too camp for fans of comedy horror? 

As Bugs Bunny would say, “Mmmmm, could be.”

However it is most likely a case of too much on offer and this is confusing the target audience. It appears that  Murphy and co. may have aimed their latest offering more towards “Gleeks” who adore  that verse but who may be incapable of appreciating this one.

It has to be noted that the dining room scene with the obnoxious “frat” and his house brother whom the little group of Chanel’s attack is odd, yet funny.  Taking feminism to its most combative and extreme fells strangely satisfying yet disturbing on so many levels. Kudos chaps for putting this in, surrealistic comedy that works.

*Sidenote* The two films being watched, firstly by the trailer park gal (And how funny it this storyline? The implication being that if one leaves University sans degree, they become trailer park “trash.”) are “Leprechaun” and “Children of the Corn.” 

Scream Queens airs Tuesdays on ABC, if you love full tilt comedy that just happens to be set in the world of slasher films and all that entails, tune in, you will like it. Gleeks?  Maybe not so much…

Scream Queens: Chainsaw OTT Fun Continues (Review)

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The pilot of Scream Queens last week started off the over the top (OTT) fun with Ariana Grande’s character, Chanel #2,  tweeting about being murdered by the Red Devil.  Something that Denise Hemphill brings up later in the second episode and then the scene follows up with a gag about Instagram and an obviously dead Chanel #2 posting to the social network.

Chainsaw, the second episode of the Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk project,  is apparently Brennan’s baby, written and directed by, and he has obviously channelled his inner Wayans’ and Zucker’s into this installment. The first look at the series, in the pilot, contained a lot of Scary Movie type humor, but now the show has shifted into overdrive with its clear homage to all things Animal House as well as the more comical side of every sorority house slasher ever made.

Emma Roberts continues to slay her role as Chanel #1, aka Chanel Oberlin (“Hello Idiot Hookers”) who manages to make every insult that comes from her mouth hysterically funny. The actress can literally deliver the goods with each gem that spills from her vitriolic lips. The makeover prelude with Lea Michele is brilliant.

Speaking of Lea Michele…the whole makeover scene is her baby. While Roberts starts off as the lead, Michele as the new Chanel #6 steals the entire set piece. Looking beyond stunning after coming down the stairs, one of the girls tells the pledge how great she looks. Hester (Michele) replies that she is in agony without her brace but it is worth it; all delivered between gritted teeth shaped into a smile. Brilliant.

In this installment, Denise Hemphil (Niecy Nash) continues to play the female version of Marlon Wayans’ character in Scary Movie, without the drug intake. Her lines throughout the series thus far are funny but one winces while laughing wondering when the PC police are going to strike.

Abigail Breslin has completely left her Little Miss Sunshine and Zombieland days behind her. The scene between Chanel #5 (Breslin) and Roberts is eyeopening and also requires a bit of wincing. Realizing that the young lady who is boasting of being “Eiffel Towered” is the same one who competes in the talent  contest in “Sunshine” is a little disturbing…but still so funny.

There are so many sexual innuendos that one can easily lose count. One of the best has to be the Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) line, “Cause munching box is what killed Michael Douglas…” (Note, Douglas is not dead for those who may have just panicked a little.) Later #3 comes out with a line that has nothing to do with sex but is still memorable. Discussing her family lineage she says to Sam (Jeanna Han) “You know Swenson? Swenson the frozen dinners, like Swanson’s for poor people…”

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Chad in The Warriors, A Clockwork Orange, West Side Story, boy band scene…

There are so many comic moments that it is hard to keep track. The whole The Warriors thing with Chad and his frat boys carrying bats and calling out the Red Devil but looking like A Clockwork Orange with their cricket whites on. Grace’s dad showing the film analysis class the Tobe Hooper 1974 original classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and his strange rambling summation of the film’s ending after.

Also the completely random but, oh so funny, battle between Coney the new mascot and the Red Devil after Aaron Cohen’s off screen monologue about how great it is being Coney and how he is never taking the costume off.

Back to Cody’s baseball bat carrying friends and their moment in the street against the two killers…Was that a riff on the 1975 Monty Python and the Holy Grail?  The “Come back and fight scene?” Answers in the comments please, or on a post card if you are over a certain age…

Scream Queens not only takes on all things from the slasher genre and makes over the top fun of it but also includes as many pop culture references as possible. Even the cast are culturally relevant. Ariana Grande,  Jamie Lee Curtis, and KeKe Palmer (one of the busiest young performers in the business apparently) are an example of the awareness of the casting directors and the show’s producers.

*Sidenote* How many folks instantly hear that YouTube kid’s song (Jenna Rose “My Jeans.”) when they see Palmer on screen? You know the one, “KeKe Palmer is wearing my jeans.” Never heard of the actress till that song…

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Wes, Grace’s dad, presents the best movie ever…

Back to the show, Curtis is still knocking it out of the park even when the dialogue and the action enter and  then go beyond ridiculous. The whole white noise gag bordered on idiocy yet both actresses managed to play it straight which made it work…after a fashion. A little too OTT chaps…just saying.

The show is still working though. The bit of almost Airplane! dialogue between Grace and ZayDay (Palmer) at the start :

“You want to put syrup on chips? You can’t be serious, right?”

“Yes, I’m serious.”

“You’re insane.”

Everything about episode two screams comedy. Dean Munsch’s  “Take back the night” speech and (disregarding the comedic Barfman and kelp in ice cream gag) Lea Michele’s character Hester’s rapt look while listening to the dean. Michele pretty much owned this installment on the sorority sister side. Watch that scene and you will see why.

The taser in the “nuts” gag, the chainsaw under ZayDay’s bed, the frat boy street battle…Chainsaw shoved comedy up front and slipped the horror under the bed with Williams’s granny’s protection present.

Charisma Carpenter (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) and Roger Bart (Desperate Housewives, The Producers) as Ariana Grande’s Chanel #2’s parents worked brilliantly for obvious reasons.

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Roger Bart and Charisma Carpenter…

All in all,  Scream Queens still manages to deliver in the comedy stakes even if horror took a reluctant backseat in Chainsaw. The show airs Tuesdays on FOX. Tune in to learn the latest slang words for sexual acts and non pc humor and to laugh uncontrollably.

 

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