AKA: I will live vicariously through you one way or another
Warm up your cold open with some fire
Witch starts off with some heavy emotional labor. Buffy and Giles are helping Willow and Xander move through the grieving process for their good pal Jesse.
JUST KIDDING. We’re only on episode three, baby. There’ll be plenty of time for that feelings nonsense later (I’m looking at you, seasons 5 and 6). No, today we’re going to listen to Giles liken cheerleading to a cult. He attempts to forbid it, but Buffy forbids his forbiddance. She says she just needs something safe and normal in her life. The quick cut to a bubbling cauldron clues us into the irony.
Willow and Xander accompany Buffy to tryouts, where the latter gives her a bracelet. It says “Yours Always,” which Xander insists was pre-engraved on all of them. Yuck. Cordelia tries talking shit to Willow and Buffy, but Willow is more interested in catching up with Amy. Amy and Willow used to have brownie-eating sleepovers, but more recently Amy lost a bunch of weight training several hours a day with her mom. That’s enough backstory for the cold open, though, because would-be cheerleader Amber is on fire and Buffy has to put it out.
The gang reconvenes in the library to speculate about spontaneous combustion, which is often tied to rage. Willow offers to hack school records to see if Amber has a history of outbursts while Xander asks around. Buffy says they don’t need to help, but they’ve decided they’re the Slayerettes. These leads end up going nowhere.
Back at the Summers house Joyce is muttering dismissively as Buffy describes her day. She doesn’t actually know what Buffy was auditioning for. Buffy not-so-subtly remarks that Amy and her mom train together, but Joyce points out that she has a gallery to run. Single-parenting in SoCal ain’t cheap.
At the next day of tryouts, Amy runs into Cordelia. Literally – she knocks her over. Cordy gives Amy this long spiel about her dreams of being a cheerleader and what that would entail. She makes vague threats about what will happen if she didn’t make the team.
Amy is unsurprisingly bummed, and because you can’t spell “Buffy Summers” without “Bummer” our favorite Slayer is here to commiserate. It turns out they each find themselves living with single mothers as the result of divorce. Amy feels like she needs to live up to her mom’s cheerleading legacy and the pressure has been mounting since her parents’ split.
Meanwhile Xander is going on and on about Buffy to Willow and I am already so sick of this subplot. He is asking Willow for advice on how to ask Buffy out and calling her “one of the guys” all in one breath.
If you’re not first…
The results have been posted: Cordelia is on the team, Buffy is first alternate, and Amy is third alternate. Despite the term “alternate” Xander assumes this means they made it-made it and is a bit too cheery when delivering the news.
We see the bubbling cauldron again, this time with a voice cursing Cordelia. (Amazon’s closed captions completely ruined the mystery of who the titular witch is.)
Joyce has been briefed on this episode’s theme, so upon hearing Buffy didn’t make the squad she encourages her daughter to join Yearbook like she did in high school. Joyce just wants Buffy to stay out of trouble, and Buffy just wants her mom’s support.
Xander tries to ask Buffy out, but THANK GOD Cordy is acting weird enough for Buffy to need to cut him off and follow her. At her driver’s ed course, the instructor insists Cordelia drive – even though Cordelia says she isn’t feeling well and has apparently failed three times. Seriously, dude, you’re going to have her drive you and two other students when she is vocally expressing her inability to drive safely?
We get a blurry PoV shot and, shock of shocks, Cordelia crashes the car. She winds up standing in the street, completely blind. She is only saved from being hit by an oncoming truck (whose driver was all too willing to hit a pedestrian) by Buffy.
Back in the library Giles theorizes witchcraft is the source of the trouble. The Scoobies deduce it must be Amy since the prior two victims – and Amy’s mom – were cheerleaders. Buffy doesn’t blame her since she knows the pressure Amy’s mom is putting on her. This is especially nice of her considering she is no longer an alternate due to Cordelia’s untimely blinding. Buffy is officially in the target pool.
Giles explains how they can determine if Amy recently cast a spell. The ingredients will all be conveniently located in their combo chemistry-biology class. Buffy spills the potion on Amy during a chaotic sequence where another cheerleader is also being cursed (her mouth just disappears. It’s just gone. I’d say this is one of the more disturbing shots of the episode.). The potion turns blue, which means Amy is the witch. Unfortunately, Amy realizes what is happening and steals Buffy’s bracelet for her next concoction. Back at her house, she takes out a lot of her pent up aggression on her mom and makes her mom do her homework.
The next morning Buffy is beyond peppy. She breaks her alarm, half apologizes/half argues with Joyce, says something about being the Slayer to Joyce, and sings “Macho Man” a lot. This translates to her literally throwing another cheerleader across the gym during pre-game practice. Of course, this means her stint as leader of Sunnydale cheers is over before it really began.
Willow and Xander carry Buffy to the library, and she’s basically the drunk friend on the precipice between very happy and very sad. In a nice callback to Xander and Willow’s earlier conversation, Buffy says Xander is like one of the girls.
Giles diagnoses Buffy with a nasty case of Bloodstone Vengeance. They’ve got about 3 hours to either reverse the spell or cut off Amy’s head. Buffy votes for the former, because she still doesn’t blame Amy for all of this.
Which witch is which?
Buffy and Giles go to Amy’s house. They find Amy’s mom. Giles gives her this really intense dressing down before Buffy sees… a plate of half-eaten brownies?!! That’s right: the single characteristic we know about Amy is how we know she and her mom have swapped bodies. Amy’s mom told her she was wasting her youth which is just sad. I’m sad that all we know about Amy is that she likes brownies and her mom doesn’t like her.
They grab her mom’s spellbooks and head back to the school. Willow and Xander are at the game keeping an eye on who they still think is Amy. We get some more PoV shots from her perspective: flashes of Giles, Buffy, and the real Amy in the chemistry lab attempting to reverse the spells. She runs out of the game to stop them, and Willow and Xander follow her. There is a brief fight in the hall, which includes Amy(‘s mom) doing a Darth Vader choke out to Xander and a Jack Torrence to the chem lab door.
Giles has finished reversing the spell in time, but Amy’s mom is still crazed. She and Buffy throw each other around a bit. It’s witch versus slayer. Buffy deflects a spell meant for her with the reflective surface of a dissection plate. Amy’s mom is magicked away to live in her old cheerleading trophy forever. Amy gets to live with her dad now. And guess what: they’re making brownies this Saturday. Buffy and Joyce get a nice reconciliation as well.
Trav’s single sentence review of Witch: No wonder Amy’s dad left.
I really like this episode. It’s our first true monster of the week, but we also get some real-world storylines to parallel the supernatural ones. It also introduced us to Amy, the first of several recurring minor characters. (Don’t worry, we won’t talk about brownies anymore.) We also get a better sense of Buffy’s moral compass and how she differentiates good and evil at this point in time. (4 / 5)
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Movies n TV
The Wolf of Snow Hollow, a Film Review
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a 2020 horror comedy directed by Jim Cummings, starring Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome and Robert Forster.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a 2020 horror comedy directed by Jim Cummings. The cast of this horror includes Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome and Robert Forster. This R-rated film is currently available for DirecTV and Shudder subscribers.
Deputy John Marshall (Jim Cummings) faces a messy divorce, an ill father, a serial killer and crippling addiction. With Marshall’s life spiraling, he focuses on a mysterious killer plaguing the town. The brutality of the crime convinces locals that the murderer is a werewolf, a possibility Marshall cannot entertain. As John Marshall tries to keep order in the town, his conviction crumbles.
What I Like
The comedy reflects the spiraling chaos that runs through a control freak’s mind as they lose control. This comedy lands best as Marshal spirals further and further into disarray. Viewers should expect a dry wit layered with sarcasm. If this type of humor doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, The Wolf of Snow Hollow would be hard to recommend. Nearly every character plays their part to perfection, building off each other. Jim Cummings seems to have created a team to complement his project.
Another impressive comedic element comes from the film’s ability to jump between serious issues and comedy without the humor undercutting the weight of those essential moments. Though somewhat flawed, it remains consistently effective.
Despite the fact this is a horror comedy, the monster adds genuine horror to the film. Part of the mystery comes from that line between the possibility of a killer or a real-life werewolf, which I won’t spoil here.
The werewolf design, though traditional, is consistently believable. With one exception that felt purposeful in context, the creature works surprisingly well for a horror comedy.
Jim Cummings creates these rapid scenes that show time passing. As mentioned earlier, these scenes reflect Marshall’s mental state. It surprises me how clearly and haunting they convey information while noting elements of comedy. Again, not always perfect, but effective.
Trigger Warnings and Tired Tropes
John Marshall struggles with alcoholism, often falling victim to the disease. Despite the comedy label, this element remains mature and respective. Regardless, I understand this is a sensitive issue that worth noting.
The film can get gory and dark, but rarely more than a horror fan expects. However, one of the victims is a baby. Though no act appears on screen, viewers may require prior knowledge.
What I Dislike or Points to Consider
Don’t expect a detective tale or any focus on a mystery. If this movie is anything, it’s a character study of John Marshall. The killer isn’t a figure we uncover through available information. The Wolf of Snow Hollow focuses on the stress that unravels our characters as they investigate. The trailer was a bit misleading, creating a focus more centered on the mystery and comedy of the film.
Without going into too much detail, some of the deaths get overshadowed by those earlier-mentioned scene cuts. While I still stand by my praise of these scenes, some of these deaths needed more silence and longevity. Though I recognize this might ruin the comedy focus of the film, death should have weight in a story.
This film isn’t scary. While some moments might unnerve you, don’t expect to be haunted.
While not a traditional werewolf film, The Wolf of Snow Hollow remains a surprisingly effective horror comedy. If you like your humor dry and dark, this film might align with your taste. However, this barely makes the cut in the horror genre. Don’t expect to jump or scream. If this sounds like your taste, then give The Wolf of Snow Hollow a view.
(3.5 / 5)
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
Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule
Mutant family, please gather ’round as February kicks rocks and we shove our way into March. With the new month comes the shifting from winter to spring as death beautifully resurrects back to life, drunken patrons swarm our local bars like rabid locusts for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and of course new exclusives and returning favorites on Shudder to satisfy the horror fiend in us all. To quote the prestigious Samuel L. Jackson, “hold onto your butts” and let’s dive right into Shudder’s March 2023 release schedule.
While it is true that the release schedule for the start of 2023 on Shudder has been minor and slightly mixed, with films such as the much talked about experimental low-budget indie ‘Skinamarink‘, the surprisingly entertaining horror comedy ‘Sorry About the Demon‘, and writer/director Neil Marshall’s return to the genre with ‘The Lair‘. We also graciously received the wildly fun ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine” special, with season 5 currently in production and premiering later this year; though it can’t come soon enough. As we like to do here at HauntedMTL, let’s kick off March with Shudder’s newest exclusives currently streaming now and in the coming weeks.
Spoonful of Sugar – Now Streaming
Starting off this list we begin with director Mercedes Bryce Morgan and writer Leah Saint Marie’s latest film ‘Spoonful of Sugar‘, now currently streaming.
Millicent (Morgan Saylor), a disturbed college student working on her thesis about children with severe allergies, is hired to babysit little Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a sickly, mute child who suffers from every allergy under the sun. His mother Rebecca (Kate Foster) is an accomplished author currently focused on her newest book release, while his father Jacob (Myko Olivier) spends his days in the backyard working on frivolous carpentry projects. After experiencing a bizarre sexual awakening while using LSD as an alternative treatment for Johnny, she soon uncovers the family’s dark secrets as things begin to become unhinged.
Leave – Premiering Friday 3/17
After having been abandoned as an infant at a cemetery wrapped in a cloth with satanic symbols, Hunter White (Alicia von Rittberg) grows obsessed with figuring out who her biological parents are and why they seemingly abandoned her. However, as she gets closer to the answers she so desperately seeks, a malevolent spirit is warning her to leave.
‘Leave‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/17 and is directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad, starring Alicia von Rittberg, Herman Tømmeraas, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, and Stig R. Amda
The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31
‘The Unheard‘ follows the story of deaf 20-year-old Chloe Grayden (Lachlan Watson) after she undergoes an experimental treatment to restore her hearing. While recovering at her family’s beach home after the successful procedure, Chloe begins to fear she is not alone as she begins to experience auditory hallucinations related to the mysterious disappearance of her mother.
‘The Unheard’ is directed by Shudder alumni Jeffrey A. Brown (The Beach House) and written by brothers/screenwriting partners Shawn Rasmussen and Michael Rasmussen (Crawl), co-starring Michele Hicks and Nick Sandow. ‘The Unheard‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/31.
Returning Classic and Fan Favorites
Now that we’ve removed the veil for the new exclusive titles dropping this month, I think it’s time we reveal the returning classics jump starting our transition into spring for 2023. Allow me to highlight some of my favorite films returning to Shudder for March including ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ and ‘The Company of Wolves‘; grim re-telling’s of popular children’s fairy tales. We also cannot forget John Carpenter’s haunted coastal horror ‘The Fog‘; no, not the remake…thankfully.
Gretel and Hansel – Now Streaming
Directed by Osgood Perkins, ‘Gretel and Hansel’ is a terrifyingly dark and unique vision to one of history’s most famous childhood fairy tales. After being thrown out of their mother’s home, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her younger brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey), through the woods in search of food and work. The children soon discover a quaint cottage where a fragile old woman Holda (Alice Krige) offers fresh food and bed. The children accept all Holda has to offer, with little thought as to what may be asked of them in return.
Though it has been met with mixed reviews, ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ offers astounding performances by veteran actress Alice Krige as the films iconic Witch of the woods and Sophia Lillis as lead Gretel. Director Osgood Perkins does well to draw his viewer in with a beautifully haunting score and unnerving cinematography, making this one grim re-telling worth checking out at least once. ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ is available to stream now.
The Company of Wolves – Now Streaming
Continuing our list of returning classics, we have yet another bold re-telling of a beloved children’s fairy tale, 1984’s ‘The Company of Wolves‘. While the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood‘ has been retold through various forms of media, including numerous films, ‘The Company of Wolves‘ is a beloved horror interpretation with adult themes and memorable practical effects including one of the genres best werewolf transformations.
A wise grandmother (Angela Lansbury) tells her granddaughter Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) a disturbing tale of innocent maidens falling in love with handsome strangers … and of their sudden mysterious disappearances when the moon is full and accompanied by the strange sound of a beast in the woods.
‘The Company of Wolves’ is co-written and directed by Neil Jordan and stars Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Micha Bergese, and David Warner, streaming now.
John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31
Writer, director, musician, and horror master John Carpenter is a legend in the genre having provided countless classics such as ‘The Thing‘, a terrifyingly gruesome remake of ‘The Thing from Another World‘. Or his sci-fi action/horror ‘They Live’ where he deals with societal control through corporations and government. And of course, my personal favorite, the film that jumpstarted his career and created one of horror’s most iconic slashers…’Halloween‘.
1980’s ‘The Fog‘ is a terrifying shoreside tale of vengeful spirits haunting the fictional coastal town of Antonio Bay, OR. as they begin preparations to celebrate its centenary. Following exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in the town’s waters, a thick unearthly fog harboring the souls of those who perished rolls in and with them, the dark secrets of Antonio Bay’s past.
John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ stars scream queen and recent Academy Award winner Jamie Lee Curtis, genre alums Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, and Nancy Kyes, and was co-written by the late Debra Hill. ‘The Fog‘ will be available to stream on Shudder 03/31.
Full Shudder March 2023 Film Releases
For a full comprehensive list of all the titles being added to Shudder for the month of January, please refer to the graphic below. Please be on the lookout for our review of ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine’ to drop later this week here on HauntedMTL and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more Shudder news and spooky reviews!
Gretel and Hansel
Spoonful of Sugar
The Company of Wolves
Jack be Nimble
The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
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The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!
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