Episode 121: Maniac Cop 2

The days are getting shorter… A chill is in the air… The smell of candy corn lingers… That can only mean one thing: It’s time for HOME FOR THE HORRORDAYS!

For this year’s spookytimes, we’re spotlighting a pair of holiday horror sequels. First up, our pal Stuart joins us to bear witness to the wanton police brutality of Maniac Cop 2! They thought they killed the zombie cop the first time around, but now he’s back and he’s making some new friends…

Obviously, the idea of a maniac cop certainly hits differently now than it did in 1990. But that doesn’t mean the film isn’t without its pleasures. For one thing, there are some truly spectacular car chases and shootouts. Action hounds will be right at home here…

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Freeform’s “31 Nights of Halloween” By The Numbers

For the past few years, cable channel Freeform has embarked on an October programming block called “31 Nights of Halloween”. Every night in October, Freeform delivers family friendly thrills and chills, mostly from the good folks at Disney, who have owned the channel since 2016.

The block began in 1998 when the channel was known as Fox Family, later ABC Family. In 2011, a single showing of Disney’s Hocus Pocus pulled in such high ratings (for a 20-year-old movie airing on cable), that the next year the channel programmed it nearly a dozen times. In the years since, the sustained popularity of Hocus Pocus emboldened the network to build an entire month of programming around that one film. Starting with a paltry 13 Nights of Halloween, the channel expanded to 31 Nights in 2018.

And that’s where we come in! Every year Freeform releases their October schedule, and every year I enjoy looking at the list and seeing what’s changed. How many more times did Addams Family get shown last year than this year, for example. Tastes come and go, corporate mandates shift to and fro, but one thing has always remained constant: Freeform is more than happy to make you watch Hocus Pocus until your eyes bleed.

This year, I decided to draw up a chart to show this change in action. Looking back at the last four years of Freeform’s Halloween schedule, which are the last four that have been a full 31 days, I counted up every time a given film or special appears on the schedule. I tried to include as much as I could. A few non-Halloween films didn’t make the cut (mostly Disney animated films, which Freeform shows all the time anyway), but I’d consider this fairly comprehensive. 

Here’s this year’s schedule for reference. And here’s the full chart:

Click for full-size!

RANDOM OBSERVATIONS

  • Only six films have appeared all four years: The Addams Family, Hocus Pocus, Monsters Inc., Nightmare Before Christmas, Toy Story of TERROR!, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Hocus Pocus is most often saved for primetime, this year only airing twice in the afternoon out of fourteen airings.
  • Calling this year’s airing of the Jaws films “The Freeform Premiere of The Jaws Trilogy” sounds nice, but the reality is that Jaws 3 airs at midnight on October 7th. Jaws and Jaws 2 air back to back at midnight on October 11th. (Also there are four Jaws films, and if there’s any Jaws we should ignore, it’s Jaws 3.)
  • We get four showings of Hotel Transylvania 2 & 3 this year, but the original is strangely AWOL.
  • From 2019 onward, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values have only ever aired back-to-back. As God intended.

THE BURTON DIMENSION

Tim Burton is far and away the most well-represented filmmaker here, with a grand total of seven films featured across all four years (eight if you count Nightmare Before Christmas)*. What’s peculiar is that Nightmare Before Christmas, a film that easily straddles the line between Halloween and Christmas, has been steadily disappearing from the schedule from 2018 to 2020, in both the 31 Nights of Halloween block AND the 25 Days of Christmas block. Chalk it up to fatigue, I suppose. It was the hottest cult Halloween film for years, but as you can see, it has handily been supplanted by Hocus Pocus as the reigning Halloween champ.

Elsewhere, though, in the entire four-year history of 31 Nights, Burton’s Edward Scissorhands has only aired twice: On October 3rd, 2019, twelve hours apart. 

Beetlejuice only made an appearance in 2020, but when he did he really made an impact, landing twelve slots on the schedule that year. This is likely because Beetlejuice is owned by Warner Bros, and Disney’s not gonna shell out the dough for a WB film unless they absolutely have to. In 2020, apparently they had to.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street saw a swift decline from 2018 to 2020, going from six showings, to one, to none at all. (Dark Shadows suffered a similar fate.) That could be due to Freeform shifting away from the older teen demographic and more toward kids and families. Or it may simply be because people realized Sweeney Todd isn’t all that fun.

This year sees the addition of two new Burton films to the schedule: The 2012 animated version of Frankenweenie, and his 2016 adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Only time will tell whether these find an audience the way Nightmare Before Christmas has.

DISNEY OWNS EVERYTHING NOW

When Disney bought out Fox in 2019, it was a seismic shift in the realm of which media conglomerate owns what properties. Case in point: The two live-action Scooby-Doo films, once staples of the 31 Nights programming block at twelve airings each, suddenly vanished in 2020. Just like with that Beetle guy, WB isn’t going to let Disney have the Mystery Machine unless they pay through the nose for it.

Another staple of Halloween TV is The Simpsons’ annual “Treehouse of Horror” episodes. For the last three years, Freeform has featured “Treehouse” marathons at least ten times a year. But along with The Simpsons, this year also sees Family Guy enter the fray with four blocks of Halloween episodes of its own.

And speaking of things definitely for kids, Freeform is also ‘premiering’ Alien and Aliens. Because when I think family friendly Halloween movies, I think of two hard-R alien mutilation flicks. It’ll be interesting to see how Freeform plans to edit around lines like “Assholes and elbows! I can’t wait for Die Hard to appear on this year’s 25 Days of Christmas block.

What do you think of 31 Nights of Halloween? Any trends you find curious? Let us know in the comments!


*Because if I don’t acknowledge it was directed by Henry Selick, I’ll get a dozen comments trying to correct me. I know. You know. We all know.

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Stocking Stuffer #25: Nirvanna The Band The Show, “The Bean”

It’s been a long time since we’ve had the chance to sit down and chat about some TV, and this week seemed like a perfect opportunity. This week Bradford brings us an episode of the Viceland comedy series “Nirvanna The Band The Show”. The episode, titled “The Bean”, follows its stars’ attempt to sneak a float into the Toronto Christmas parade as a means of promoting their rock band that may or may not actually exist.

Christmas gags abound on this episode, including a surprisingly detailed homage to the finer points of Home Alone, and The Usual Suspects (for some reason). Meanwhile, our hosts reminisce about their own experiences with Christmas parades, holiday TV, and more!

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Episode 120: Santa Stole Our Dog!

Let’s try that whole Dog Days of Summer thing again, huh? Santa Stole Our Dog! absolutely has a dog in it, and this time it might even be important to the plot! Why on earth would Santa steal someone’s dog, anyway? Well friends, this is not the first time a little critter has followed Ed Asner home… And in order the tell the full story of Santa Stole Our Dog!, we receive a transmission from our sister podcast, The O/S/T Party, to suss out how the film managed to secure music from Dolly Parton. That ain’t even the half of what makes this week’s film so bizarre, so grab yourselves a cold one, buckle up, and join us on another wild ride to the North Pole…
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Episode 119: 12 Christmas Wishes For My Dog

Welcome, dear listeners, to the Dog Days of Summer! The season is winding down, but it’s hotter than ever out there, so what better time to stay indoors with a cool holiday treat featuring some cute little puppers? Well there’s a problem with that.

This week’s film, 12 Christmas Wishes for My Dog, was sold to us as exactly the kind of holiday/dog shenanigans we usually watch for this show. Instead, this film features dogs for roughly sixty seconds before ditching them for a story even the Hallmark Channel would call ridiculous.

Also in this episode: the boys bag on J5 for drinking trash, the movie completely destroys Bradford’s ability to do basic math, and we make more Butterfly Effect and Matrix references than any one Christmas podcast should make in an episode.

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Episode 118: A Karate Christmas Miracle

Happy Christmas in July, superfriends! You didn’t think we’d be doing one, but guess what? We’re doing one! And wow is this one a doozy…

A Karate Christmas Miracle is one of those movies that defies explanation. A kid sets out to teach himself enough karate to reach black belt by Christmas in order for his missing father to come home after a yearlong absence. Why is he missing? Who is responsible? Why is the kid having psychic phone calls to The Karate Kid‘s Martin Kove? All of these are questions we asked ourselves while watching this baffling freight train to Nightmare City.

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Episode 117: A Muppet Family Christmas

Welcome back, friends! We’re officially halfway to Christmas, so we figured what better way to round the corner on 2021 than with some toasty, heartwarming Muppet goodness!

“A Muppet Family Christmas” first aired in 1987 with a whole host of musical numbers, and due to copyright issues the special has appeared in a truncated form ever since. Unless you know where to look online… We dug up an original broadcast on YouTube, and that’s what we’re discussing today! So join us for a trip down memory lane as we discuss “A Muppet Family Christmas”, commercials and all!

Also in this episode, we discuss our own history with this special, the history of the Hess Truck toys, and the tangled rights issues that prevent this special from possibly seeing an official release ever again.

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Episode 116: Let It Snow

On this episode, we bring you one last film titled Let It Snow. This one is a romantic comedy from the late 90s, when indie cinema was all the rage and bucking Hollywood trends was a surefire way to get yourself noticed! That’s a fancy way of saying this movie doesn’t know what the hell its doing.

James and Sarah met on a snow day back in high school. His family is unlucky in love; she has too many quirks for her own good. Neither person comes across as especially dateable, but nevertheless a romance ensues. The will they/won’t they dynamic flies off the rails almost immediately, leading to a series of extremely poor decisions and questionable motives. But it’s okay, because it’s a rom com and people do stupid things for love, right? RIIIIIIGHT?????

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Episode 115: Let It Snow

Memorial Day has come and gone! Summer is unofficially here! It’s freakin’ hot outside!

So since we’re all sweating our butts off right now, we decided one good Let It Snow deserved another. That’s right, this week we’re discussing another film titled Let It Snow. This one is a horror film that comes to us from Ukraine, which is unique enough in its own right. A pair of dumb American tourists find themselves stranded on a Georgian ski slope with a madman on a snowmobile hot on their trail. You know how these things go…

As for the film itself? Ehhh… We’re less than enthused to have to break this one down. But don’t worry, there’s plenty here for us to get into! (Spoiler alert: we do discuss the ending.)

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Episode 114: Let It Snow

We’re finally back in the saddle this week with a Christmas movie that made all of us feel extremely old. It’s the Netflix original film Let It Snow, which follows three sets of teens on Christmas Eve, each in search of love in one form or another. Naturally, all of these stories converge, and we have a real Love, Actually situation on our hands.

This one actually turns out to be a pretty open and shut case for us. It is exactly the film that you think it is, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. So hop on in and join us as we beg for some snow!

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