You know that bizarre phenomenon where you will go months or even years without watching a certain show, and then when you finally sit down to watch, it’s always the same episode every time? Throughout the years, The Tale of the Hungry Hounds was that episode for me when it came to Are You Afraid of the Dark?. I wouldn’t see the show for a long stretch of time, I’d see some random channel was running it, get excited, tune in, and find out it was this damn episode again.
It doesn’t help that I don’t feel this episode is particularly good.
In our campfire opening, the group makes fun of Kiki and….Brunette….because they think they heard an animal (I totally heard it too you guys, don’t worry) and then question if they heard an animal. Calling them chickens doesn’t really seem fair since they simply asked “hey did you hear an animal” in a calm and collected manner. Had they gone the opposite route and got all “Fuck you hear them wolves?! I pissed my pants and now I’m crying!” then the obnoxious chicken noises would be fitting. Here though, it’s a stretch. Oh and Gary is all up his own ass and angry that Kirsten (Clueless TV show girl’s actual character name) is late. Also there’s further evidence that this group of people actually don’t really like one another as Kiki assumes Kirsten late because she’s prissy and doesn’t want to do any of the work, the work being lighting a match and throwing it into a campfire pit.
Anyway it turns out all these events are related as Kirsten is late because she is walking a hound dog named Elvis, who of course is also the cause of the aforementioned animal noises. Also Asshole kid says “He ain’t nothing but a hound dog”, further reminding us that it might be ok if he “accidently” were to fall into the fire. I did get a bizarre laugh out of Brunette’s random mention that “my dad says Elvis is king” and how literally nobody acknowledges she spoke.
Let’s begin our tale!
This is another episode starring a familiar actor before they actually became famous. Here it’s Mia Kirshner from The L Word, The Vampire Diaries, and Not Another Teen Movie. She plays our lead Pam, who spends her time going through her attic and trying on old clothes that belonged to her ancestors. She’s up there with, Amy, whose shirt is the single best representation of the 90’s I have maybe ever seen. The two of them find a locked chest they are unable to open, and then they have to go feed the dogs. Sooooo it’s a pretty uneventful opening scene, though we do also learn that Pam looks identical to her deceased Aunt who used to ride horses. That may or may not come heavily into play soon, I don’t want to say too much.
We then learn that Pam is a total badass and rides a horse without permission. Or spends time with a horse and maybe rides him? It’s not made clear whose horse this is and whether or not they are actually cool with Pam just showing up like this. Either way Pam’s Mom conveniently shows up and does not want Pam to have anything to do with horses. So in order to make the situation safer, she slams on her car horn so that the horse gets spooked and rears up, knocking Pam to the ground. The irony seems to be lost on Mom as she chastises Pam for being in a dangerous situation, tells Pam she can’t have riding lessons (clearly still haunted by the Aunt’s death) and then makes everybody go back home. Good thing Mom was here to prevent something exciting from potentially happening!
Suddenly there’s a Ouija board in play, and those always lead to positive situations. The two of them try to talk to some dead people, and the dead people don’t take long to respond back, immediately spelling out “LET ME OUT” (I did find it kind of funny that at first Amy pronounces it all as a single word). So right away we know it’s related to that locked chest they found in the attic, and if any doubt remained, the very next thing the board spells out is clearly the combination to the lock.
They go back up to the attic, try the numbers, and sure enough the chest opens. The fact that the numbers given to them by a dead person were in fact the numbers needed to open a locked attic chest doesn’t upset them nearly as much as it should. They hardly seem fazed at all by it. Inside the chest they find Pam’s Aunt’s old riding gear. Pam tries on the riding jacket and immediately becomes possessed and time travels, which is exactly the reason I don’t ride horses.
A door in the attic opens, leading to a floating staircase placed in the middle of a field outside at night, when it was daytime just minutes before. Amy follows Pam as she zombie walks through the field and a forest, convinced that this is all just Pam fucking with her. That’s some pretty intense denial there Amy. Even if the zombie walk were a put on, how do you explain Pam moving the physical location of the attic, defying the laws of physics by creating a suspended staircase, and finally shoving the sun around so that it has suddenly become night? It would absolutely be the world’s best prank, but most likely out of her capabilities.
So Amy continues to follow Pam as she wanders through a graveyard. All of the headstones belong to family members and eventually they find the Aunt’s grave where Pam picks up a bone and starts talking about a fox who leaves her gifts. Once again, Amy is not nearly as affected by any of these events as any rational human being would be. Any normal person would have either run away or climbed a tree and hid by this point, or at the very least acknowledged that Pam has undeniably been possessed by the spirit of her dead aunt, but Amy seems pretty certain that Pam is just messing around.
Pam tells a story about how on the day of the hunt she saved a fox from her hungry dogs. She chased after the fox on her horse to ensure the hunters didn’t get him, and then something spooks her horse, who then throws her off. The whole thing is kind of dull (most everything since they arrived in this place has been) but THEN A GHOST HAPPENS!
An old dead guy shows up and starts telling Pam/Dora (let’s call her Pora from now on) that she should have fed the hounds while they were alive and how they were starving and I’m not honestly sure what is happening anymore. He lets out a final bellow of “Why didn’t you feed the hounds?!” before making a very weak attempt at chasing after them. I’m reasonably confident they could crawl away from him and he would still never stand a chance of catching them, but they take off running regardless.
They wind up at a barn where they are locked inside by presumably the ghost, who it’s revealed was Giles the stable keeper. Amy finally connects that the riding jacket Pam put on is the reason Dora has possessed her. She tries to get the jacket off of her but Pora ain’t having it, she is completely set on feeding the hounds. The hounds are in the next room and sound like they are ready to tear them up some humans, so Amy is not overly excited at the prospect of letting them out. She locks Pora in a stable or a cage or something, and then they try to get a suspenseful scene out of Amy trying to locate some kibble to give to the hungry dogs, while Pora breaks her way out of the cage or whatever she is locked up in. Then Amy struggles to carry the kibble over before Pora can open the door to the dog room. I don’t want to blow your mind, but it isn’t too effective of a scene when it comes to the suspense.
Amy is not successful in her attempt to carry dog food a few feet in a reasonably time and Pora opens the door. Out pour a whole bunch of adorable beagles! How am I supposed to take these guys as a serious threat, they’re so cute and awesome! Make them bark all you want, I know they’re only barking because they want to catch a Frisbee and just generally be awesome beagles. Anyway they “chase” Amy onto to a stack of hay, then that fox shows up so all the dogs chase off after him and Amy is saved. So the ghost fox rescued her I guess? Amy goes outside the barn where she sees Pora ride off on a horse. She chases after her, goes back up the floating staircase to the attic, and promptly winds up back in her own time period. Pam is no longer possessed by Aunt Dora, but she also doesn’t remember a single thing that just happened. It clearly really happened though, as Amy finds a handful of kibble pieces in her pants pocket .The end!
…..the fuck was any of that?! I remembered this not being a very good episode but I didn’t remember that it doesn’t really make any god damn sense. At the end of the story, Kirsten says the spell has been broken and the Aunt is no longer haunted by the howling of the hungry hounds. But the hounds weren’t fed! The door was opened and then they ran past the kibble and chased that fox. Did they eat the fox? What the fuck was that fox’s deal anyway? So he was friends with Dora and then she died protecting him, ok. So is that why he saves Amy at the end? Is it a pay it forward situation? Is the fox Haley Joel Osment? Did he really leave her presents? Is he just really smart like the Fantastic Mr. Fox? Why is this Giles guy such an asshole? Couldn’t he have just fed the dogs himself? How did he die? Who locked them in the barn? What the fuck do hungry dogs have to do with anything?! What actually spooked her horse? It doesn’t sound like the dogs have anything to do with it so why does that matter? Why does any of this help Pam’s Mom with the memory of her sister’s death? What are you talking about episode?!
So yeah this isn’t a good one. The plot doesn’t seem to make much sense and the whole thing is quite boring, with the board spelling “LET ME OUT” being the only moment that comes close to being effective. The only creepy thing here is knowing I’ve seen the main girl naked as an adult. That really gives me the jibblies.
Stay tuned though because oooooo man the next episode is a goodie!