Friday, January 21, 2011

Goosebumps – vampire breath (TV Episode) – review

Directed by: Ron Oliver

First aired: 1996

Contains spoilers

This was from season 2 of Goosebumps, a kid’s horror anthology series based on the books of R.L. Stine.

Freddy and Kira
It begins with a monstrosity of a house under a full moon as wolves howl and an organ plays. Within the house is a family (and in the credits we learn their familial name is Renfield). Mom (Nola Augustson) and Dad (Robert McClure) are going out for the night and leaving twins Freddy (Zach Lipovsky) and Cara (Meredith Henderson) on trust. At midnight they turn thirteen and they shouldn’t go rampaging looking for presents.

As soon as Mom and Dad are gone they go rampaging looking for presents. It is all to no avail it seems, they are not in the normal hiding places. They end up in the cellar and Freddy is convinced they are in a box high on a set of shelves. He pulls the shelves over. Behind the shelves was a door; it is stiff with age but Freddy manages to push it open.

the crest on the coffin
Behind the door is a corridor with torches that are lit. Who is it that lights these things? They follow the corridor, as you do, and eventually get to a room and within it they see a coffin, resplendent with a coat of arms. Did they hear a noise, maybe, and they start retreating from the room and knock over a bottle. The bottle says ‘vampire breath’ and so Freddy opens it (you are now thinking that there are no depths of stupidity this kid won’t sink to, but then again he is only 12).

As they choke on the stench, the mist like breath goes to the coffin and it begins to open. On seeing the occupant awakening they leg it but he chases them down. He is Count Nightwing (Earl Pastko, who also played a vampire in season 2 of Forever Knight) and he is very thirsty. Will he drink the robust boy blood or the sweet girl blood first. Neither – his fangs are missing and some of the vampire breath is still in the bottle, containing the additional vitality he needs and that memory.

Earl Pastko as Count Nightwing
Trying to escape from him they end up on a slide, in his coffin, that takes them into a cavern filled with coffins – the vampires are out hunting they are told by a 'human slave girl' Gwendolyn (Krista Dufresne), who is actually really a vampire herself. Now, eventually they get away and I want to spoil the ‘twist’. Mom and Dad are looking for them and Nightwing appears and he is Mom’s father. Yes they are all vampires but the twins do not know this as you only come into power at 13. Nightwing has been missing for years (at least 13, as he knew nothing about grandkids). Logic holes… why didn’t they check behind the door and how did the kids miss their parents sleeping in coffins, drinking blood and avoiding the sun?

Okay the idea that a vampire can siphon off memory, vitality and magic in a bottle was interesting but fails as a concept when looked at logically. How do they cork said bottle, wouldn’t another vampire have to help them (and isn’t that risky as said vampire could steal their vitality)? The rest of the episode is juvenile and, quite frankly, I think insulting to kids – why have a twist that is so sloppy in plot logic just because it is a kid’s show? Pastko is quite good fun as Nightwing but no one else is much to write home about – that said they don’t have much to do either. 2 out of 10.

The episode’s imdb page is here.


RoseOfTransylvania said...

But monstrosity of house under moon and wolves howling sounds great image... only a rubber bat is needed!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Oh Rose, if only the plot (and the rest of the film) could have captured the mood of the opening (or indeed my description of it ;) )