Project SPN Rewatch: Hollywood Babylon
(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)
Season 2, Episode 18: Hollywood Babylon
Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:
After a stagehand is apparently killed by a spirit on the set of a horror film, Sam and Dean head to Los Angeles to investigate. They learn that it was only a publicity stunt, but a studio executive (Gary Cole) soon dies at the hands of a ghostly woman—a young actress who committed suicide in the 1930s after being seduced and then fired by a studio executive. Though the brothers salt and burn her remains, another producer is killed. Sam then notices that the Latin used in the film’s script is an actual summoning ritual. The writer, Martin Flagg (Michael B. Silver), tells them that the rituals are from the original script written by production assistant Walter Dixon (Benjamin Ratner). They confront Walter, who admits that he has been summoning spirits to get revenge against the people he believes ruined his script. He destroys the talisman used in the rituals, but the now free spirits kill him for what he did.
I recall this being one of the earlier funny episodes (I would say after Tall Tales perhaps).
We open on a girl outside a cabin calling for her friends in the dark. She wanders around looking for them, and something creeps up on her, frightening her. It’s one of her friends, who tells her that their friends are dead. She refuses to leave them but he runs off. Then something creeps up on her again! As she screams, we realize that this is a movie! They’re on a set!
The girl, Tara – the actress – talks to the director, who tells her that they’re going to do it again, but they need her to dial up the scream. She says it’s hard when she’s looking at a tennis ball (as a stand-in for the ghost or whatever the bad guy is in the movie) but the director assures her that it’ll look creepy after the effects guy get in there.
One of the crew tells Tara and another actor that he thinks there’s something spooky going on – they tease him for thinking the set is haunted, once he walks off.
Cut to Tara on set rehearsing her lines, trying to work on her scream. Suddenly, she hears something and as she walks around, she finds the crew guy’s dead body! Then she screams for real!! Yikes!
(Sidebar: Kripke said in an interview that all of the notes that the producer gives the characters on this movie are taken word for word from notes the CW gave them on Supernatural!)
Sam and Dean are taking a tour of the studio. LOL GILMORE GIRLS REFERENCE!!
Dean seems totally star struck, which is hilarious. Sam tries to tell him they are here to work, not to take a vacation (LA). Dean says after everything with Madison, he thought Sam could use some R and R. But Sam wants to work.
They’re here in light of the crewmember’s death and rumours that the movie set is haunted.
When Dean finds out that Tara is the actress they’re going to meet, it turns out that he’s a big fan of her work.
Here’s the studio guy giving the director notes on the movie, the notes taken from The CW to Supernatural! He calls Dean over to get him a smoothie. He mistakes Dean for a PA (production assistant). Sam steps in and says they’re on it. Sam explains PAs are kind of like slaves.
The boys investigate the set. This episode, by the way, is full of funny scenes of Dean stuffing his face with food. The boys watch as the actors film a scene where they read some sort of spell or incantation from an old book.
They cut and Dean tells Sam he didn’t find any EMF, being a PA sucks, but the food is delicious. Sam is not interested in the food. But he found out that four people died on this stage over time. The boys are thinking that they could be dealing with a vengeful spirit. Dean sees Tara and goes over to her, awkwardly complimenting her. Haha Dean without his cool is funny. He asks her about finding the crew member’s body, and she tells him that there was blood coming from his eyes and mouth, and that she saw a shape. She wasn’t really sure what it was, but it was something. Dean asks her about the dead guy – did she know him? Turns out no one really did. Tara had a picture of him – she takes Polaroids of all the crew when she does a movie – and shows Dean. “Son of a bitch”.
Sam and Dean show up at Gerard St. James’ house – the dead guy (Frank)! Dean says he’s a fan. The guy has been in some horror movies. He invites them in.
He tells them the producers brought him in for the day to fake his death – rumours of a haunted set would get some great free publicity for the movie. Building buzz. Say he’s the new lonelygirl, lol! The ghost Tara saw was projected on a screen. He doesn’t feel guilty about messing with anyone. He just plays the part, he doesn’t write it.
Sam says they’re very glad he’s alive and well, and they head out.
Back on set, the actors and crew are filming again. They cut and they seem to be getting some weird feedback so the sound is no good.
The studio guy gives the director some more ridiculous notes. This character’s hilarious. “The rules aren’t really landing”. The studio guy walks away to check messages on his Bluetooth and there’s a ghost behind him! It’s a woman. He starts talking to her, thinking she’s an actress on the film. She has some neck wounds. She ghosts over and takes off her robe, then turns and walks away. Of course, he follows her.
The actors are filming again, and the dead studio guy falls into the scene, hanging from a noose!
In the next scene, they’re filming again. The crew are talking about the studio guy – he killed himself, shouldn’t they hold off shooting?
Dean is in a headset, in full on PA mode. So funny.
Tara talks to the director, saying she’s upset and confused about the dialogue (why salt? Haha). Dean notices one of the crewmembers, Walter, getting upset and storming off.
Sam is frustrated because Dean is focusing more on the movie than the case. Sam got into the morgue and confirms for Dean that the studio guy’s death is real.
Dean takes Sam to the sound guy and has him play something for Sam. It’s audio of the weird feedback they were getting earlier. It’s EVP from the night the studio guy was killed. Dean says it’s a legit haunting now and they should take a look at this death scene.
They walk over to one of the trailers and put in the footage from the scene being filmed the day the studio guy died. They see a glitch in the footage and it turns out that it’s an image of the woman the studio guy saw. Spirit photography, Dean says. Sam recognizes her – she was an actress back in the 1930s who had an affair with a studio guy, which left her destitute. She hanged herself right into a scene they were filming – the studio guy’s death matches hers exactly.
LOL Dean as a PA (PA #7).
That night, Sam and Dean go dig up the actress’s grave. Sam asks why now, after 75 years, the ghost (Elise) would show up.
One of the producers – Jay – is walking around set on the phone, while the boys are at the gravesite. Suddenly the lights go out!
Dean opens Elise’s coffin and they salt and burn her bones.
Meanwhile, Jay is still walking around set in the dark and it seems that he isn’t alone! This ghost is missing like half of its face. Then the big wind machine turns on! And instead of blowing air, it seems to be pulling Jay in towards it! He gets sliced up. Nasty!
Ooh we get a commercial for the movie being filmed! So funny. The movie is called Hell Hazers 2: The Reckoning. Lol.
In 1966, an electrician died the same way as Jay, according to Sam. The boys wonder, why another ghost and why now? McG (the movie director) shows up and tells everyone to gather around. In light of Jay’s accident, and in cooperation with the authorities, they’re shutting down production for a few days.
Later, Sam and Dean are watching more dailies, and apparently the electrician was cremated. So they can’t burn his bones. Sam says maybe the spirits are trying to shut down the movie because they think it sucks – because it does. Haha.
Sam realizes that the book the actors are reading from in the movie to summon the spirits contains a real necromancer summoning ritual! What is that doing in a Hollywood movie??
They visit the writer to ask about it. They tell him they read the script and it was awesome (lol it’s so not). Sam says he liked the attention to detail – the Enochian summoning rituals and authentic language. The writer says Walter was the original writer. Turns out Walter isn’t some other PA – he wrote a wacky screenplay that this writer rewrote. But he apparently kept that authentic stuff in there from Walter’s script.
The boys read Walter’s original script (which Dean says is pretty good) and Sam says it reads like a how-to on conjuring and getting a ghost to do what you want – like kill people!
The other writer – who redid Walter’s script – is on set. Apparently Walter wanted to meet him. Walter confronts the other writer, saying the history and lore in his script was completely accurate but this writer replaced it with cleavage and fart jokes. He’s pissed off about his script being rewritten.
Walter summons a ghost! Clearly he wants it to harm this writer. It’s the electrician’s ghost (missing half his face). Looks like this writer is going to die the same way that Jay did.
Luckily, Sam and Dean show up just in time! The bros confront Walter about raising spirits from the dead and making them murder for him. Walter says he put his heart and soul, years of hard work into something, and it got taken and crapped all over. Sam tells him it’s just a movie, but Walter says he’s got nothing against Sam and Dean, and they can leave – but Martin (the other writer) has to stay. The boys say they can’t do that. Walter says he’s sorry and summons the spirits.
The electrician and two more spirits appear, approaching the brothers and Martin. The boys are chased around the set by the spirits, and end up in the fake cabin.
LOL DEAN QUOTING DIE HARD! “Come to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs”! That cracked me up!!
Martin asks how Walter is controlling them. Sam says it’s a talisman. Sam uses his phone’s camera to see the spirits and Dean shoots them with rocksalt rounds. Sam goes after Walter.
He tells Walter it’s over and asks for the talisman, but Walter smashes it, saying no one can have it now. Sam says that was a bad move – he just freed the ghosts. Sam and Dean can’t stop them now. Walter brought the ghosts back and forced them to murder, and they won’t be very happy with him.
He’s right. We see Walter get attacked by the spirits, literally tearing him apart.
Back on the movie set they’re filming again and Martin seems to have taken some inspiration from his encounter with Sam, Dean, and the real spirits. Hahaha.
Oh boy, Dean and Tara! If this trailer’s rocking, don’t come knocking…
I love this episode. It’s really funny. Kind of a MOTW episode, but one that has a good sense of humour, and especially lets Dean have some more comedic moments.