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I spent the day after Christmas arguing with strangers on Facebook. I spent a couple of hours grappling with a meme in my local community discussion group. The meme was such a dog whistle that I am surprised I have yet to have been mauled by a werewolf. It was a dumb meme that featured a “good ol’ boy” commenting on the idea that homeless and poor people today can check their food stamp balance on their smartphone. And yes, it had the requisite Confederate flag stamp on it.

While yes, this sounds like a horror story of someone having entirely too much time on their hands, it’s not necessarily what I want to discuss. The ensuing discussion on the comment thread hit on something for me: How has horror tackled class-division? More specifically… how has horror addressed themes of homelessness?

Class-Conscious Horror

Class-consciousness in horror is nothing new. One of the most recent and popular class-conscious horror series would be The Purge in which the elites exert control over the less affluent by creating “purge days.” As a whole, they’re not great, but they are at least trying to explore these divisions. 2008’s Repo! The Genetic Opera revolves around a megacorp that hunts down people who default on their payments on their organs. There are a lot of class-conscious horror films out there.

i09 had a list of horror films that deal with themes of class, but none of them are really hitting that spot I have been thinking about. I mean, there are some amazing films there, but not what I am quite looking for. I am specifically interested in how homelessness is explored in horror. Whether there is a movie that reflects the anxieties and traumas of having no safe space in a world that seems to hate and judge you constantly.

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The Homeless

The homeless are victims of increasing violence. The homeless population is seen by society, largely, as people not to be trusted. Evidence shows, however, that this should go both ways. Back in the mid-2010s, Japan had a rather public problem of the homeless being assaulted by Japanese youths.

Society conditions people to inherently distrust the poor and homeless. Often I was told that instead of giving money to someone who is homeless, that I should offer to buy them food… after all, they’ll probably just use the money of drugs or alcohol. It has taken a lot of reflection and growth to grow out of this conditioning on my end, but I highly doubt the majority of people do this, thus that distrust persists.

Another film, which I reviewed as part of my Drive-In recaps is Street Trash. It is not particularly flattering or sympathetic to the homeless. There are other horror films out there that feature the homeless, of course. For example, 2011’s The Tunnel, an Aussie found-footage horror film, features tunnels occupied by the homeless, but it isn’t so much about them. In my experience, if someone is homeless in a horror film, they’re most often a disposable body, an object.

Where are the homeless horror films where the terrorizing of the homeless is visible through their perspective?

Homeless Horrors

I live in an area that has many, many homeless people. I live south of Los Angeles, in a region known as the Inland Empire. While California as a whole is dealing with an increasing homeless population, so too is my county. Currently, I live across the street from a shopping center that is filled with the homeless and every couple of days I see them shuffled off by the police.

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My own feelings on homelessness are particularly strong because I have been there.

At this point, I am still very much searching for some media that tackles the pain and fear that comes with homelessness from the homeless perspective. One film I stumbled upon was a VR film titled The Killer that explores the metaphor of homelessness.

You can watch it on YouTube, naturally. It is a 360-degree experience and fairly immersive.

It’s interesting, but it doesn’t quite scratch that itch for me. The metaphor is just a bit too abstract. Closer to what I am seeking is the Korean animated zombie film Seoul Station, which I also happened to review. The film is distinctly Korean, but it does hit on some things I want to see using the lens of zombies.

It features homeless characters centrally, and it does explore how they are cast out by society. The homeless of Seoul Station are still victims, of course. Many of the homeless figures of the film die and are treated as disposable. But where Seoul Station succeeds is that many of the people who live on the streets, already having been cast out and forced to survive, have an advantage over those who have wealth and homes.

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So What the Hell am I Looking For?

To a degree, I am still trying to figure out what I want. I suppose I am waiting for a watershed moment for the poor and homeless in horror. I am waiting for that watershed moment. When will the homeless’ Get Out be released?

I have ideas – I am a writer – I can’t help but think of how I would tackle poverty horror stories when I am examining the media-landscape. But that is an entirely different topic from this one. I wanted to explore the idea of class-conscious horror and poverty horror. My admittedly informal survey tells me that, perhaps, there is a void needed to be filled, here. I believe that horror, as a genre, is a tool of social awareness. Perhaps we should use that tool to explore the plight of the homeless.

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

Editorial

Crashin’ in Roswell NM: Road Trippin’ with Jennifer Weigel

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So on my recent road trip to Miami AZ USA for my menstruation art installation, we decided to detour to Roswell NM en route home. To be honest, this was one of the best decisions of my life, up there with road trippin’ from Arizona to San Francisco along CA-Highway 1, and I will go into the details of why here soon.

Some of the signs: Roswell NM including city limits, UFO Museum and stickered parking sign, and Restricted Area from inside the museum
Some of the signs: Roswell NM

Roswell NM USA has totally embraced its alien history of the UFO crash in the late 1940s and subsequent government cover up. The whole town is alien-happy with beautiful hand carved wood totems, murals and statues everywhere celebrating otherworldly denizens of all types, though predominantly the gray aliens of the crash (and their green counterparts). Even the city logo features a flying saucer as the center of the letter “R”. It really is kind of incredible.

Alien crash site photo opportunity at UFO Museum
Alien crash site photo opportunity

One of the biggest draws is the International UFO Museum and Research Center, housed in the wonderful old theater building. This museum details the crash history as well as celebrating aliens in movies and media and examining newer alien sightings and abductions. It is very thorough and includes maquettes, statues, written accounts and an extensive research library, as well as an interesting art collection of various items.

Alien landing at UFO Museum
Alien landing

And there are TONS of fun alien themed curiosity shops. I will give a shout out to the newer Invasion Station north on Main Street where there had once been an old car dealership. I love the quirky nature of this particular store as well as their strong desire to promote local artists. Most of their wares are hand-painted in NM and feature designs by prominent local artists including one of the lead muralists in town (I bought a magnet of his). They also feature really alternative kitsch like KISS and Ace Frehley alien bobbleheads, marijuana and anal references, and such. All in all, our own Haunted MTL’s kinda folks…

Portrait of the writer at the Roswell Visitor Center (Yes even they have aliens!)
Portrait at Roswell Visitor Center

And the city is a huge tourist draw internationally, so you can meet some amazing and interesting folks from all walks of life who have caught the alien bug or at least want to check out all the hype. As a result of the tourism, the residents seem really laid back and accommodating (kind of like Hawaii but not quite as much) and there is a thriving art scene. And it’s totally my kind of art – weird and a little creepy. Anyway, I feel like I’ve finally found my peeps and am eager to return someday.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

If you’re feeling a bit extraterrestrial, I invite you to also check out some of my alien-themed stories here on Haunted MTL: LTD UFOs among us; my Drive-By short story; and LTD Abducted.

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Breaking News

American Horror Story Season 12, Delicate

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Killer Queens, I wasn’t expecting to be back so soon with American Horror Story info. But yesterday we were blessed with a teaser for the intro of Season 12, which we believe will be titled Delicate. 

A still from American Horror Story Delicate first promo.

We are looking at a Summer release for season twelve, but won’t know for sure until June, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Here’s what we know right now. 

First, yes Kim Kardashian is starring alongside Emma Roberts in a role that was written specifically for her. 

That’s the bad news. The good news is that AHS favorites will also be involved. According to IMBD, Charlie Carver, Rebecca Dayan, Cody Fern, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, and Denis O’Hare will be included this season.

AHS Delicate is different from other seasons in many other ways. It’s the first season to ever be written by just one writer, Halley Feiffer. This isn’t a writer most of us as horror fans will be familiar with. She’s written episodes of shows like Kidding, SMILF, and American Crime Story. The last one can at least be seen as a sister show to AHS. 

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As far as I have found, Feiffer has never written horror content. She is now the sole writer for an entire season of the most popular horror show in America. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just not what I would have expected. Most AHS writers are staff writers, actors from the show, or at least people I’ve heard of. So as we don’t have any former work to look at, we can only wait to see how she does. 

We also know what the source material is for this season. It’s a book called Delicate Condition, by Danielle Valentine. This book will be released in August of this year. Which also seemed strange to me. Normally a book would be, you know, published before it inspires additional work.

Even so, Delicate Condition seems like a fascinating story. According to Goodreads, it’s the story of a woman named Anna. Anna is trying to get pregnant but starts to believe that something dark is working against her. Her doctors don’t believe her. Her husband doesn’t believe her. Is she losing her mind?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t deeply interested in this book. And I have to assume that Feiffer and Murphy already have hands on it, to jump to this sort of decision.

By the way, Valentine at least is not an untested writer. Her first novel, How To Survive Your Murder, also made it right on my TBR pile. With a rating of 3.7 out of 4 on Goodreads, I think we can assume Valentine knows what she’s doing with the written word.

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This is all that we know about American Horror Story Delicate so far. What follows are my thoughts and opinions only.

My first thought is that this season is going to be dealing heavily with women’s reproductive rights. This is a topic a lot of us are concerned about right now, as it feels like every day women lose more and more rights to our bodies.

(By the way, if you want to help fight the good fight for body autonomy and get some spooky stories, we have an anthology for that. I have a story in it, as does the horrifyingly talented Jennifer Weigel. All proceeds go to support organizations that help women make their own health decisions.) 

American Horror Story has handled important political issues before. Last season, AHS NYC discussed the AIDs epidemic that went largely ignored in the 80s and killed hundreds of young gay men. They did this in the best way possible, in what this critic believes to be the only way fiction should handle heavy topics. They rooted the issue in a good story. A story that was pure fiction, but also true.

However, this season has a lot of red flags. Never before have I seen the guest star be the main focus so early. Never have I seen any franchise bank so much faith in an all but untested writer, basing work on a book that isn’t even published. And frankly, I’ve never been much of a fan of Kim K, or anyone else who’s famous seemingly just for being famous.

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I’m not rooting for this season to fail just because I don’t like the guest star. If Kardashian is good at this, I’ll be thrilled. I’ll be the first one singing her praises. But when everything we know so far is added up, I’m a lot more concerned about AHS Delicate than I am excited. 

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The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!

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They say good things come to those who wait, and boy have we been patient. It has been close to a year since our eyes have indulged a full season of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs’, in fact, the season 4 finale premiered on Shudder July 1st, 2022. Since then, we have been able to satisfy our appetites with festive holiday specials sprinkled throughout the past year. Specials such as ‘Joe Bob’s Halloween Hangout’ guest starring horror’s favorite Mistress of the Dark, Elvira (played by the legendary Cassandra Peterson) and ‘Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together’. Last month was a treat in itself, as we were able to witness Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) marry one lucky couple for the first time on the show with Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine‘ special.

picture of Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl sitting in lawn chairs on the set of The Last Drive-In. Behind them we see a white camping trailer with red string lights along the top and a bright red and blue neon sign that reads "The Last Drive-In' in the background. Joe Bob is seen wearing an orange collard button down long sleeve shirt and black jeans with snake skin cowboy boots. His hands rest on his thighs as he invites you in with a warm smile. Darcy is seen sitting to Joe Bob's left wearing a mail girl costume with fishnet stockings, her legs neatly crossed over one another. Surrounding the two hosts is an ice box with empty beer bottles and cans resting on the top and an old tube screen television in the front of them.
host Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl on the set of ‘The Last Drive-In‘.

While the current changes in staff at Shudder have left fans questioning whether we will receive a new season of the popular series, I can happily say mutant family, we need not worry. In fact, to our wonderous surprise, Joe Bob Briggs has officially announced via Twitter, season 5 of ‘The Last Drive-In will be premiering April 21st, exclusively on Shudder! One thing that is noteworthy, is unlike previous seasons, it has been reported by 1428Elm that season 5 will be broken up into two parts of five double-feature blood-curdling episodes. Though we have not been provided the official release schedule for the second block of season 5, here is a sneak peek of what we can expect for the first half of the season:

April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama’s Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!

Unfortunately, we do not have an official list of the brand-new double feature films for the first half of season 5 but, with amusing episode titles such as these, one can only imagine what grindhouse-classics will be joining ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ already eclectic list of sloshy goodness. For those impatient mutants eagerly waiting for more hilarious Joe Bob rant-filled commentaries, or those newcomers who’ve yet to experience the magic that is ‘The Last Drive-In‘, all previous four seasons, including past holiday specials are currently available to stream now on Shudder.

If you are just as big of fans of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ as we here at HauntedMTL are, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @HauntedMTL and join us April 21st as we tweet along with Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl for the season premier. As is tradition, we will be hosting live watch parties every Friday with each new episode, including fresh holiday specials. The road to season 5 is upon us…let the countdown begin!

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