I’m writing this introduction before actually sitting down and rewatching this episode but I’m reasonably confident this is one of the Goosebump stories where somebody becomes an animal. I remember one where a guy became a bee, another where at least two people turned into chickens, and I’m sure this one involves a kid turning into a dog. They went to the “dude becomes a _____” well quite often and I don’t remember it working out too well any of those times.
Now I don’t know about you, but turning into a dog doesn’t sound like a horror story to me. It sounds like the best shit ever. Seriously, I can’t be the only one who sits at home staring at their pet (in my case it’s two cats) and thinking “You lucky son of a bitch, you have it so good.” Here I am stressing about work or what to make for dinner and the cat’s only stress is “Hmm, should I eat before or after my six hour nap? Or both? Oh decisions!” It’s a pretty great arrangement so the idea of turning into an animal (unless it’s like a turtle or some shit, now THAT would be a scary story) is more amazing than terrifying.
But let’s see how they spin it here!
Our first scene we have our lead running away from a pack of dogs while very unconvincingly telling them to “go away you dumb dogs.” You see it turns out this happens to him every single time these dogs see him. Dogs hate this motherfucker. He also has allergies so he isn’t supposed to be running. He eventually hides in a tree, hoping all the while that nobody sees him because he must look “like such a jerk.” Would anybody really think that if saw him? “Ha, look at that asshole, about to be torn apart by those dogs. What a jerk.” The people in his neighborhood must be pricks. He also starts mentally taunting the dogs and I really hope his speaking voice is a better actor than his thinking one.
Oh well, it’s safe up in the tree at least. But oh shit no! The branch is snapping! So he falls to the ground and the dogs do….nothing. They seriously just sit there and stare at him. It’s like in grade school where the girls would chase the boys around during recess, or vice versa, and then if you actually caught one you had no fucking clue what to do next. These dogs have finally caught up to their prey and they seem baffled about the next step.
His best friend Lily shows up and….saves the day? I don’t know she tells the dogs to leave and they do but I have to believe they would have left on their own about 10 seconds later. So Lily always wears a gold coin around her neck and also each of her eyes is a different colour. Both of those points are mentioned in the voiceover so they are obviously going to come back and play an important role at some point.
I finally looked this guy’s name up since I don’t think the episode has said it yet. Larry. The guy’s name is Larry. So Larry and Lily are in a band with their other two friends and they are so shitty that the actors can’t even convincingly pretend to enjoy their own music. They have an audition coming up for a gig to play at some kid’s birthday party. Lord I hope their competition is even slightly better or else that poor child is in for the shittiest birthday party in existence. Even The Omen birthday party where the maid kills herself in front of everyone would have a leg up.
After band practice, Larry finds this bottle of “Instant Tan”. The product label clearly wasn’t well thought out as it reads “Instant Tan Gives You an Instant Tan.” Gosh bottle, thank you for that explanation. The title wasn’t quite clear enough and I was seconds away from putting it on this Caesar salad so thank god you added that second part. If only all products would be so courteous. “Peanut butter cookies are cookies made of peanut butter.” “Windshield washer fluid is fluid you can wash your windshield with.” I joke, but give it five years.
None of the group, except Larry, seems to mind that they found this bottle on a shelf in a random garage and so they immediately start applying it liberally. Larry though calls them out and makes the rational statement that the bottle could have come from anywhere and maybe they shouldn’t rub that shit all over their bodies. They call him a chicken and everyone knows that once the chicken card has been played, you have to do whatever the task is. So Larry throws that…it looks kind of like shaving cream….all over his body.
One of the friends, who I’m pretty sure has not been given a name, does the smart thing and reads the label AFTER they have all already applied the stuff and discovers that it expired in 1991. Even considering this episode was made in 1996, that’s some really old instant tan. Larry plays a prank where he starts screaming “My skin! My skin!” while his friends look on in horror. Then he reveals “awww it was just paper towels” and they laugh it off. Wait what? Paper towels? So they thought your skin had turned whiter? We don’t actually see the skin he’s yelling about so we’re never sure what the prank is but if the answer was “awww paper towels” it was definitely a really shitty one. To get him back his friends are going to I think spray paint him but Larry gets out of it by promptly fainting.
He wakes up back in his room where his doctor is chastising him for running again. Larry is given a shot, something we find out happens frequently, and the doctor departs but not before sharing a grim look with Larry’s parents. So we know they’re hiding something.
Later that night Larry is talking to his adorable kitty Jasper (who should probably hate Larry based on where I think the plot of this episode is headed) about his stupid allergies and about how his parents will kill him if they find out he used some old tanning lotion that he found in a garage. I don’t think they would kill you but holy hell would they ever lose respect for you, and probably never trust you to make rational decisions ever again. Also remember before when I was hoping that speaking voice Larry was a better actor? Yeah no such luck there it turns out.
Suddenly Larry has hairy-ass hands. Like, Robin Williams hairy. Actually, and I’m not even joking, based on a photo I just reviewed of Robin Williams, this kid still may not be on par with what he’s got going on there.
God remember when I wrote these as just quick reviews and not beat by beat plot summaries? Those were the days.
Anyway, Larry heads to the bathroom and shaves all the hair off while his parents harass him. Man, this kid is not a good actor. Also how did he discreetly dispose of that giant mound of hair? They cut away before they show us. Maybe the book explained it more.
The next morning Larry quizzes Lily about whether she has seen any bizarre side effects from the instant tan. Do I need to capitalize it even if it’s not a real product? It seems to piss MS Word off when I do so I’m not going to bother. It turns into a weird, not very thinly veiled conversation about puberty as they both awkwardly talk about growing hair in strange places. Also it turns out everyone calls him Hairy Larry and he hates it. I don’t know why they call him that. He does indeed have hair but not an extravagant amount by any means. I think his friends actually rock more hair than him. I guess it must have been the only rhyming nickname they could think of.
After some more horribly stiff voiceover from Larry, they arrive at their friend’s house (turns out his name is Manny but I still don’t know which friend it is) and find that the entire place has been abandoned. Larry asks Lily if Manny (so many names) had mentioned moving and she says no but “you know Manny.” I guess that means Manny is a shitty friend and also a sketchbag who wouldn’t mention something as monumental as “oh by the way, leaving town in like 6 hours.” They search the home and find that Manny’s room is completely untouched. A creepy suited guy appears from Manny’s closet and says that the house is for sale.
These voiceovers get even more useless as Larry explains “that night at Lily’s we talked about Manny’s strange disappearance” which immediately cuts to them sitting there and discussing Manny’s strange disappearance. Thanks voiceover, I think we could have connected those elaborate plot pieces on our own. Between that and the instant tan bottle label, redundancy seems to be a recurring theme here. Lily’s parents don’t seem all that concerned, they too chalking it up to “well, you know Manny.” Seriously who was this Manny kid? I want to know more about this dude’s backstory and see why everybody seems to think so little of him.
During the dinner, Larry once again notices his hands are covered in hair, even shedding some of it onto the corn he has passed Lily’s father. He swats it out of his hand’s and gives some bullshit excuse about corn worms. Lily’s parents accept this instead of calling him a weirdo and demanding he leave their home, as most rational parents would do.
Larry runs upstairs to their bathroom to find a razor to shave off the sweater he’s wearing that’s meant to look like arm hair. Lily starts asking him immediately if he’s ok, not even giving him enough time to actually use the bathroom normally. Imagine closing a bathroom stall, locking it, only to then have someone knock two seconds later demanding to know what you were up to. Give the man a few minutes at least! Anyway he figures fuck it and leaps out the window and bails. Well at least he tries to but there’s a bunch of dogs waiting down below. He decides it’s better to deal with them then eat tapioca for dessert so he leaps down next to the most uninterested looking collie on the planet. I get that they couldn’t put this kid next to actual angry dogs but couldn’t they have just kept them out of the shot then? That dog looks sleepy at best. Instead of actually showing us a chase scene, Larry assures us through voiceover that there was a chase and he lost them. No need to actually show it, we can trust him. “Then I raced home”. Cue him running and then arriving home. This voiceover makes the shit in Dexter look like crucial information. Stop narrating pointless shit!
He finds a bunch of hair on his legs and I guess doesn’t care about being discreet anymore as he lets out a huge scream. His parents call over the doctor again and he gets another shot. The doctor says it’s likely a skin irritation as a result of stress because of the whole band audition thing. It’s clearly a bullshit line fed to him by his parents and at least Larry seems to realize that.
The next morning the hair is gone and as he walks to band practice he finds a dog wearing the same necklace as Lily, and she also has the same eye colours. The dog runs off and Larry goes to talk to Lily’s mom who says Lily doesn’t exist and to forget about her, the second thing being a bit of a conflict with the first thing. The parents drive off, luggage in tow, clearly skipping town. Larry runs back and tells his own parents who do the absolute worst job of lying ever. First they pretend to not hear him, then say the Lily dog was probably just a coincidence, then when that fails they just say “Well you must have imagined it”, before finally settling on “How about some roast beef?” Larry doesn’t want any god damn roast beef so he takes off running, all the while his narration telling us shit we already know.
He goes over to Jared’s house (I guess that was the other friend’s name) and finds another dog. This part I don’t get as he assumes the dog is Jared because “it sounds like him.” The fuck are you talking about? Did Jared bark a lot as a human as well? How could the dog possibly sound like him? Then Larry’s arm hair/thick sweater is back, the narration informing us of this in case we don’t have functioning eyeballs. By the time he gets home his face is completely covered.
Anyway so Larry is a dog now. The next scene plays up the reveal even though the foreshadowing couldn’t be more fucking blatant as Larry’s POV is from ground level and we can hear a dog panting! Oh and yes dog Larry still has the same terrible narration, don’t you worry about that. I will give some credit for the next shot which is the same image of the dog from the opening credits and the narration actually says “Well this is familiar.” Kinda meta, fine, I’ll take it. Anyway so I guess the doctor can turn dogs into people via those injections we saw Larry getting. It’s odd that amongst the things Larry lists as being awesome dog only things is “scratching in public.” Is that really something people aren’t supposed to do? The doctor shows up and has turned the family cat into a baby with fucking terrifying cat eyes. The end.
Well that was fucking stupid. This was a horror show whose entire premise was “uh oh, sometimes hair appears on my arms.” The resolution is completely rushed through, giving us no plausible answers as to why this guy was turning dogs into humans to begin with. What’s the point of doing it? Just to play God? Who would want to participate in this experiment? Were they compensated? Why did they let all of the dogs hang out together as humans? Wouldn’t they be scared they would all start to figure something was up? What’s the deal with that fucking cat baby? Why the narration? Seriously, why the fucking narration?
This one is easily the worst of the Goosebumps episodes I’ve watched to date but I have to say I’m pretty excited to watch the next one as I remember it quite well.