As Thanksgiving is coming up in America, I wanted to take a brief break from my usual complaining and wet-blanketing to give my thanks. My thanks to Horror, because of the genre and especially of movies, I am very grateful for. So, join me, won’t you, in this list of how horror has changed my life for the better?
First of all…
As you may know, I have dual citizenship in Michigan and Missouri, but I am now in Detroit. Proudly so.
However with the shadow of Thanksgiving upon us, now more than ever, I think it’s the time for a brief land acknowledgement.
Detroit has a rich history and was home to Native American tribes before the involvement with the French (but they were pretty much chill bros), the colonization of the British (d-bags to everyone for a while), and the displacement from the new immigrants, the Americans.
I’d like to take the time to honour those who were/are indigenous to the Great Lakes, the Anishinaabe, particularly the Three Fires people who are the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi (also seen spelled as Botawatomi).
In 1701, Detroit was founded with a large population of Indigenous people. However, in 1807, these tribes ceded the land of Detroit to the U.S. government. They were further displaced by the Treaty of 1836, after political, governmental, financial, and societal pressures forced their displacement from their own lands.
Although I will never fully know, nor understand, the full atrocities that happened during the founding of Detroit to these stewards of the land, I want to honour them and I find it important that I do.
“What Does This Have To Do With Horror?”
Have you NOT watched horror, pal? Have you not seen what not reflecting on our past brings? Have you not seen what happens when our history is not honoured or respected?! That’s, like, Haunted Houses 101. That’s a huge and major theme throughout horror. Contempt, ignorance, and dismissal of the past is met with repeating the past, often with tragic consequences.
Contempt can be seen in movies like Sleepy Hollow, Hocus Pocus, and The Disappointments Room. Ignorance in movies like A Nightmare on Elmstreet, Ernest Scared Stupid (yeah, I went there), and ParaNorman. And dismissal in The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, and The Shining.
Which leads to the 4 Things I’m Thankful For in Horror. Or what I’d like to call the 4 C’s.
As mentioned above, there’s a theme in many, many films of respecting the past. It’s easy for ghost stories to present this. Ghosts exist in these narratives to echo our past mistakes, whether societally like in Poltergeist or personally such as The Grudge.
Horror has taught me appreciation and interest in our history, as a race and regionally. To be honest, my favourite segments in Ghost Adventures or Buzzfeed’s Unsolved Supernatural are when people talk about the history of the place they’re investigating. Spooky goings-on are fun and all, but it’s the stories and past that give me a deeper appreciation of where we are in time and space, and who we are from then until now.
As I’m writing this, I am in my home built in 1946, with its drafty original windows, looking out onto trees that were seeded about a hundred years ago, and listening to an RCA (Vitrola) album that was produced about fifty years ago.
Horror makes me appreciate all of this. Not out of fear that something will come back to haunt me (trust me, I’ve tried, no luck), but genuine interest. Who placed their feet here before me? Who slept, ate, bathed, and dreamed here, years before I was even born? And who will live here after me?
And will I one day haunt a Chipotle that is built on this very spot where I now exist?
Speaking of Ghost Adventures, let’s give a hand to the show that made me stop believing in ghosts, or more aptly, what stopped me from being scared of them.
So, when I was younger (and much more Catholic than I am now), I had an intense fear of the supernatural. Fear and shy interest. They’re generally a two-sided coin. But I would actually refuse to watch anything scary because I was horrendously afraid of both what could happen and also my inability to deal with it when it inevitably did.
Little by little, though, I was slowly introduced to scary things, and by scary I mean not-at-all-scary 80’s cheesefests. First this was due to Mystery Science Theater 3000’s influence (another huge thanks to them, got me through many rough times) and the second was a ex-BFF who loved 80’s horror schlock.
Slowly, after time, I saw the inner workings of tropes, convoluted plots, the stiff acting, the…fishing wire, and so on.
I became more confident, not just in being able to watch spoopy things, but in my ability to analyze and assess in a tense situation. I had the ability to find flaws in the fear and fully confront many of mine.
Many of our fears are formulaic, habits even, and being able to accept that and embrace that took a lot of time, energy, and 80’s cheesefests.
Being able to see the flaws and fishing wire makes me feel more in control of my fears, or at the very least, the ways that I can relate and react to them.
So, you’re sitting on a plane and no one believes that there’s a dude in a gross fursuit on the wing of the place, but, like, YOU JUST SAW HIM.
I had such a huge fear of this growing up. That I would see something that no one would believe. Actually that happened, quite a bit, but maybe not in an ugly-fursuit-on-the-wing-of-a-plane kind of way that you’re thinking.
You see, I was…(sigh) the weird kid growing up. Yeah, I know, hard to believe since I’m a groovy stud now.
But when I was first dating Glorious Spouse, I specifically instructed, “If I tell you something, even if it sounds coo coo bananas, I need you to believe me.” And that’s because I would often be dismissed when I did speak up.
However, now that I’m in the fleshy, meaty thick underbelly of Horror, I’m finding out that a lot of people are afraid of that exact thing, actually. A lot of us have been cast aside, especially at pivotal moments in our lives. We are afraid of that solitude from the dismissal of others. We crave that open and genuine acceptance of our experiences. We need someone to say, “Dude, I did not see that uggo fursuit, but I trust you and your conviction…Also, are you William Shatner? I loved your Christmas album.”
And when I was watching Irrational Fear, the music really stood out to me when the characters were having a panic attack because it felt so familiar. The score sounded like the rushing of blood in my ears when I have a panic attack. Suddenly I realized that, in that moment, we shared something. We (the musician and director) had a similar experience; we had a connection.
Sometimes it’s through a moment of panic and vulnerability that we make a true, human connection and realize that we are not alone in the night. Yeah, sure, still afraid, but we’re not alone and we don’t have to be.
Which brings me here. Literally here, at HauntedMTL. I joined HauntedMTL one year ago this month.
Within that year, I have had the chance to meet some fantastic people in a moment of time that was crucial to have a community, a tribe. Prior to the pandemic, my social structure was already fractured. I had moved away from my BFF. I had changed jobs. My close friends had their own lives that they were busy with. And I was nursing the heartache of the death of a close friend/mentor.
Then I saw a small posting in Submittable for horror reviewers and thought, ‘Sure, why not?‘ I have been watching horror since my teens and doing silly haiku reviews every year for Halloween. Let’s take a shot at this.
Although a year can be chump change in the long run, it really depends on the year, doesn’t it? This year I have been able to find people, good people (and also Voodoo Priestess), to talk to everyday because of this site.
I found friends to make podcasts with and talk about real and serious issues close to heart.
I have found interesting and engaging fans of horror on Twitter (love specifically out to @BrotherGhoulish, @AllanaSmithee, @SpecterM91, and of course @thestitchkeeper).
I wrote my first full-on queer non-fiction piece (and for a good cause).
And I have been able to interview the DIRECTOR OF SKY SHARKS!!!
I mean, what a ride.
So, to those who have welcomed me in, either with your Hellraisers, Puppet Masters, Trick ‘R Treats, or Sadakos – it’s you I honour now.
Thank you for everything. Truly.
Stay safe. Be well. Happy Thanksgiving.
Crashin’ in Roswell NM: Road Trippin’ with Jennifer Weigel
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
American Horror Story Season 12, Delicate
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!
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.
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!
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!
. . . and that's only the beginning.#TheLastDriveIn pic.twitter.com/WfeTx0shNa— Joe Bob Briggs (@therealjoebob) March 16, 2023