I’m still picturing how such a crazy idea of an all black and white campy horror movie episode got pitched in the writers room and made it through the initial brush off. Not that I mind, for “Monster Movie” is brilliant, but still, it’s so nice to see that a show has established itself enough where it can get away with such goofiness and not get protests from the network. Granted, such episodes are for the fans rather than the masses, and the lower ratings for these episodes prove that, but fans matter most.



Every trick in the movie making book from the 1930’s is done here. Someone did their homework, and I credit this to be the most technically perfect episode of the series. We discover no detail is spared the second the old Warner Brothers logo fades on the screen, the same logo that kicked off such Warner classics as Jezebel, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca. The credits roll, with names displayed in creepy block letters while eerie music playing prominently in the background. My only complaint so far is that the black and white is too clear. Everything was so grainy back then. I’m sure that’s asking for too much authenticity though.


 
A dark hazy night and the Impala’s headlights zoom from the horizon to the increasing sound of running violins. The darkish Impala swishes by, and after a lightening flash “Welcome To Pennsylvania” is changed to “Transylvania.”This supposedly takes place in Canonsburg, PA, which is known as the most radioactive town in America. I’ve been through it on my way to Pittsburgh a few times myself, and the statue of hometown boy Perry Como alone tells me this town is off.



Dean turns off the scary music (the radio around here sucks, hee) and we hear the rumble of the Impala, reminding viewers this is still a Supernatural episode. Dean is geeked about the prospect of cutting off some vamps heads, Sam is in a dour “the world is ending” mood. Good thing they’re going to Oktoberfest, Sammy needs to loosen up a little. Dean properly sets the perspective. “It’s like the good old days, honest to goodness monster hunt. It’s about time the Winchesters got back to tackling a straight forward black and white case.” Ah, there’s that Ben Edlund biting wit! 
 
The Impala goes off in the horizon and a giant circle closes around it before going to black to signal end scene. I never understood why the old films did that but hey, cool to see it here. Loud Polka music plays (The Happy Schnapps?) and the outrageous Oktoberfest village set appears, with plenty of men in lederhosen and gorgeous women in maiden outfits with short skirts, one even posing for a picture from a tourist. The hokey small town festival banner is shown just in case we don’t know what’s going on. ”Oktoberfest”, complete with strange sponsors like 97.2 FM Rocks. ”Classic Rock that Rocks.”So classic rock doesn’t roll? I don’t know how many times I’ve been to podunk festivals here in Ohio that had a banner ripe for my instant nitpicking. They make it too easy. The black and white scenery is interrupted by one of those ugly bright green CW banners, and man do they stick out like a sore thumb against the black and white background. It ruins the authentic look, not that they aren’t annoying during regular episodes.  



Sam and Dean get out of the Impala in suits. Wow, they look just as great in black and white as color. The white shirts stand out more. Given the German costumes everywhere, they’re overly dressed. Dean mentions they still need to see the new Raiders movie, and Sam says he already saw it. “You were in Hell.” “That’s no excuse.”Aw, come on Dean, when are you going to accept Sam went on with his life?
 
 
Dean naturally spots the big pretzel, buys two, and what’s this, Sam takes a bite?? Sam?? The brother that never eats?? Not only does he take a bite, he digs in as vigorously as Dean. Man, Sam has changed since Dean’s been in Hell. 

 
The brothers chomp away and sexy blonde girl in skimpy German costume walks by. For a true old-fashioned Hollywood recreation, the damsel in distress must be a knockout blonde. There were never brunettes and redheads would have appeared as blonde. They both ogle, but then Sam finds the sheriff, and they’re agents Angus and Young. Fantastic! We’ve been waiting several seasons for AC/DC aliases. There’s another reminder that this is a Supernatural episode.
 
They examine the body in the morgue, and the sheriff thinks the whole thing is a shame, happening during tourist season and all. Sam pulls the sympathy for the victim card. ”Definitely not the thing Marissa Wright needed.” In those days, heroes were highly moral and there was a clear line between right and wrong. Sympathy for victims disappeared when films with high body counts and anti-heroes like Bonnie and Clyde came along. The sheriff has a profile. “Some Satan worshipping Ann Rice reading gothic psycho vampire.” Sam shrugs, actually agreeing with that assessment. Who knew Ann Rice could wreak such havoc?



By now, some may notice (about two of us) the outdated camera focus techniques being used in this film. In the days before Citizen Kane, focus of the camera was shallow, making the characters on the screen clear while the background was fuzzy. There weren’t many wide shots either, so only a small part of what was happening in the room was seen at a time. Sam and Dean enter the bar, Dean hits on the waitress from earlier (Jamie), and here is our first glimpse of Jensen Ackles going into iconic Hollywood leading man territory. ”I’m a Maverick ma’am, a rebel with a badge. One thing I don’t play by is the rules.” Wow, that sounds as ridiculous coming from Dean as John McCain. Yet Dean delivers it with a certain swagger that every Hollywood lead used at the time.

 
Jamie is unimpressed, as is Sam, as are half of us (the other half laughing their fool heads off). The brothers go speak to Mr. Brewer, who is drinking out of one outrageously sized beer stein. I want one! It would complement the giant martini glass on my bar. Sam and Dean try to play it straight, and Dean even says “we have a lot of experience with strange.” There’s our clue that this guy can top that. He swears it was a vampire, Count Dracula style, right down to the accent. Sam lets a smile slip, then hides it in an attempt to be professional.  I’m taken back to that same reaction he had when listening to the guy’s alien story in “Tall Tales”. I start laughing hysterically based on that memory alone, for I love “Tall Tales”.  



 
Mr. Brewer does his hilarious Dracula impersonation, which proves to be better than the actual Dracula we see later. Flash to Sam and Dean, who are both stunned. Time for a TiVo pause, for that look alone is worth about 10,000 words. As I wipe the tears from laughter away from my eyes, I go on. ”You do believe me, don’t you?” Faces still frozen in deadpan silence. The humor in this one is dry, just the way I like it.

 
Sledgehammer clue #1. Woman wipes lipstick from face, and the camera focuses on the napkin being placed on the bar. Dean asks for a giant beer by flirting with Jamie some more and Sam picks up that napkin for another close up, just in case we didn’t catch the clue the first time. Clues are far more subtle now, which is strange considering our attention spans are shorter. 

 
In this scene, Dean managed to surprise even me. I could never imagine such things coming out of his mouth, but then I remembered Ben Edlund is the writer, so anything goes. Once they’ve decided this case isn’t for them, Dean is ready to get in the mood of Oktoberfest. ”Beer and bar wenches.” Sam finds the term offensive (remember he’s playing the moral sidekick in this one), but Jamie plays along with Dean, making her the plucky leading lady.  
Then Dean completely shocks us with his theory that since he came back from the dead, everything about him has been healed. ”No bullet wounds, knife cuts, none of the off angle fingers from all the breaks, I mean my hide is a smooth as a baby’s bottom, which leads me to conclude, sadly, that my virginity is intact. I’ve been re-hymenated.” Oh, did he just go there? Ben Edlund is a warped man. I’m too busy giggling over the mere notion of Dean being pure. Sam agrees with my “angels can’t do that” thoughts. I’m waiting for Castiel to appear in thin air and say “that’s it, back to Hell for you.”


 
After Dean’s failed attempt hitting on Jamie, declaring the case is “not weird enough”, there’s a scene to fix that! Cut to phony studio setting, complete with fake moonlit backdrop, a wolf howl, fog everywhere and couple in the car. Girl hears something, horny dude tries to get her to put out, so naturally he becomes werewolf food. Cue the standard horror movie scream and this is all of a sudden their kind of case. 
Sam and Dean interrogate the girl, who’s telling her strange tale while sipping on an outrageously large soda, thus turning scared witnesses consuming large beverages into a running gag. I used the word “soda” since the setting is Pennsylvania, but in Ohio it’s called “pop”. Yes, strangely enough, that debate has come up at family reunions in the Keystone State. She declares the villain was a Werewolf and now Sam fights off a bitchface. Both he and Dean are less amused now. They’re off to the morgue. After nearly puking over the mangled mess (continuity!) they determine the culprit isn’t a psycho wannbe, but considering the heart is there, it’s no werewolf either. Still, the sheriff shows them canine hairs from the scene. This is getting too weird for even them.


 
Back at the bar and what’s this, Sam’s eating again??? They both are chomping on burgers? This story is definitely weird. Pretty blonde waitress is back with larger beers, and the waitress wants Dean this time. So it takes a Werewolf mauling to make him attractive? We get another heavy handed clue of other waitress with lipstick on napkin. Dean asks if Dracula could turn into a bat, for that would be cool, and then gets beer foam all over his upper lip. I again go back to “Tall Tales” with the caramels stuffed in his cheeks. I’m pausing again for another fit of laughter. 

 
Next we see the Canonsburg museum, thanks to the clearly lit sign outside. There’s dark storage area with sarcophagus and a security guard on the phone asking where it came from, and this is where the lighting of the genre and era becomes rather noticeable. The room is covered in dark shadows, except for the swipe of light over the signs so we can read them, and partial lighting of the security guard’s face via reflections off the wall.


 
The light sprays on the lid as it slowly moves and the mummy rises from bright fog in the box into the dark room. That’s supposed to add a scary element for those of us that are immune to this tactic by now. It freaked the guard out, that’s for sure. We only see his stunned eyes while the rest of him is dark. He shoots and the bullets don’t hurt the mummy, letting us know whatever creature it is, it’s supernatural. The suspenseful scene is cut away to the outside of the building, where lightening strikes. 

 

Comments  

Tigershire
# Tigershire 2008-10-22 01:56
My friend and I have the same conversation about the whole Soda and Pop thing. Here in Canada most of us say Pop but in Florida they say Soda. Both are right as the whole term is "soda pop" but I digress. Michael Ecklund is the actor who plays our poor Mr. Ed Brewer. If you want to see more of his awesome acting you need to check out his role in Blood Ties. He plays Norman and he's fantastic. I was so excited to see him in this episode. I'm just sorry his part was small.

I loved this episode and I get the giggles just thinking about it. It was a welcome break from the awesome but intense path this season has been on so far. And a note to Dean. Doesn't matter how newly minted your body might be coming out of Hell - you will never, ever be a virgin again. Not with your mind. GRIN

Great review Alice.
Tigershire
# Tigershire 2008-10-22 01:56
My friend and I have the same conversation about the whole Soda and Pop thing. Here in Canada most of us say Pop but in Florida they say Soda. Both are right as the whole term is "soda pop" but I digress. Michael Ecklund is the actor who plays our poor Mr. Ed Brewer. If you want to see more of his awesome acting you need to check out his role in Blood Ties. He plays Norman and he's fantastic. I was so excited to see him in this episode. I'm just sorry his part was small.

I loved this episode and I get the giggles just thinking about it. It was a welcome break from the awesome but intense path this season has been on so far. And a note to Dean. Doesn't matter how newly minted your body might be coming out of Hell - you will never, ever be a virgin again. Not with your mind. GRIN

Great review Alice.
Tonia
# Tonia 2008-10-22 18:53
Great review as always. You write with great insight and humour. Did not enjoy Sam as a sidekick. Even Bob Singer recently said in an interview that Jared was amazing in comedy, so why he was so sparingly used I don't understand. All the other comedy episodes were gems because both boys had equal screen time. As much as I love Jensen and Dean, I am getting bored of the Dean Show and I am more shocked by this statement than anyone.
Tonia
# Tonia 2008-10-22 18:53
Great review as always. You write with great insight and humour. Did not enjoy Sam as a sidekick. Even Bob Singer recently said in an interview that Jared was amazing in comedy, so why he was so sparingly used I don't understand. All the other comedy episodes were gems because both boys had equal screen time. As much as I love Jensen and Dean, I am getting bored of the Dean Show and I am more shocked by this statement than anyone.
vichi
# vichi 2008-10-23 07:23
wow, great as always.I loved this episode and I saw it more than 10 times:-) Not kidding!
vichi
# vichi 2008-10-23 07:23
wow, great as always.I loved this episode and I saw it more than 10 times:-) Not kidding!
Narcissus
# Narcissus 2009-06-20 08:36
My first point is, how many months has it been between this episode and Dean's return from hell? I can't believe Dean, of all people, would wait that long to get laid after coming back from hell! I mean...there must have been countless hot waitresses and bartenders along the way...

Second, the scene in the bar where Dean's tells Jamie what he really does, I always thought he said 'some people pay'. Just checking.

Third, thank goodness they didn't go with the grainy quality pictures, all the better for us to drool at black and white Winchesters! ;-)
Narcissus
# Narcissus 2009-06-20 08:36
My first point is, how many months has it been between this episode and Dean's return from hell? I can't believe Dean, of all people, would wait that long to get laid after coming back from hell! I mean...there must have been countless hot waitresses and bartenders along the way...

Second, the scene in the bar where Dean's tells Jamie what he really does, I always thought he said 'some people pay'. Just checking.

Third, thank goodness they didn't go with the grainy quality pictures, all the better for us to drool at black and white Winchesters! ;-)
elle2
# elle2 2009-06-20 17:41
Hi, Narcissus,

I'm thinking Monster Movie is rather quick in the whole scheme of things. FIrst off this was meant to follow right after Are You There God but it got shuffled back in order to be mytharc heavy the first four. Are You There God is only three days after the end of Lazarus Rising (as stated by Castiel when he speaks with Dean in Bobby's kitchen) and while In The Beginning is possibly a few weeks after that it's likely not much further as Castiel and Dean do not have much of a rapport and and it's not likely he would have waited too long to alert Dean to Sam's 'extracurricula r activities" so a couple of weeks to a month at the most and we know MEtamorphosis is right after that so Monster Movie is perhaps a month after Dean was resurrected...t hat's my guess.

As for the line, yeah, Dean says...some people paint. Maybe an inside joke on painters????
elle2
# elle2 2009-06-20 17:41
Hi, Narcissus,

I'm thinking Monster Movie is rather quick in the whole scheme of things. FIrst off this was meant to follow right after Are You There God but it got shuffled back in order to be mytharc heavy the first four. Are You There God is only three days after the end of Lazarus Rising (as stated by Castiel when he speaks with Dean in Bobby's kitchen) and while In The Beginning is possibly a few weeks after that it's likely not much further as Castiel and Dean do not have much of a rapport and and it's not likely he would have waited too long to alert Dean to Sam's 'extracurricula r activities" so a couple of weeks to a month at the most and we know MEtamorphosis is right after that so Monster Movie is perhaps a month after Dean was resurrected...t hat's my guess.

As for the line, yeah, Dean says...some people paint. Maybe an inside joke on painters????
Lolita
# Lolita 2009-10-12 08:33
Yo! I had not realised Dean and Jamie got it on, until I read the comments. Because, simply, I had never realised what 'with a happy ending nonetheless' meant :shock: Is that like a pun? :oops:
Lolita
# Lolita 2009-10-12 08:33
Yo! I had not realised Dean and Jamie got it on, until I read the comments. Because, simply, I had never realised what 'with a happy ending nonetheless' meant :shock: Is that like a pun? :oops:
Jenny
# Jenny 2009-10-12 10:03
I was re-watching Monster Movie, so funny, and I read this article about it, so funny! What I don't get is why the Shapeshifter would do that lipstick-on-han dkerchief thing, or was that just a BOOM!Clue, suckas moment?
Jenny
# Jenny 2009-10-12 10:03
I was re-watching Monster Movie, so funny, and I read this article about it, so funny! What I don't get is why the Shapeshifter would do that lipstick-on-han dkerchief thing, or was that just a BOOM!Clue, suckas moment?
Lolita
# Lolita 2009-10-12 10:06
Haha, thanks, Alice! You are so ... painfully omniscient. A walking encyclopedia of ... supernatural references :lol:

I liked Jamie! She was cool. She goes down in the trivia books as 'just another one'. When will Dean ever fall in love? :P
Lolita
# Lolita 2009-10-12 10:06
Haha, thanks, Alice! You are so ... painfully omniscient. A walking encyclopedia of ... supernatural references :lol:

I liked Jamie! She was cool. She goes down in the trivia books as 'just another one'. When will Dean ever fall in love? :P