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Welcome back to Haunted MTL as we cover Chucky – S1 E6 – “Cape Queer,” the latest episode of the ongoing series featuring America’s favorite killer doll.

This series of reviews will be spoiler-free for the events of each episode but will bring up plot points from previous episodes as needed to contextualize the current week’s events. For a spoiler-centric view, please turn to the podcast Kids’ Stuff for a detailed discussion.

Chucky – S1 E6 – “Cape Queer”

One Chucky takes steps forward and raises his body count while another loses access to his inhabited body. Meanwhile, Jake and Devon get in touch with some iconic survivors of Chucky’s previous murder attempts. Lastly, moms take the center spotlight in this episode and Junior has his worst week ever.

How Was It?

This week’s episode of Chucky, “Cape Queer,” might be the best of the season so far. After an episode that served as a breather and place setter, we see that this sixth episode raises the stakes for the season significantly and introduces some real game-changing moments for the show. This episode also marks the return of series favorite Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) and Kyle (Christine Elise). But, before we dive into the rest of the review, credit where it is due. Samir Rehem directs an excellent episode full of shocks, clever cinematic parallels, and juggles multiple character arcs. A lot of that credit goes to the writers of this episode, Nick Zeigler and Sarah Acosta, who have the task of arranging the first third of the final arc of the season.

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Chucky - S1 E6 - "Cape Queer" screencap, Chucky feigning shock
Just Chucky being a little shit. You love to see it.

And boy, what an arc this will be. The series opens with a major update on what exactly is going on with Andy and reintroduces Kyle. Much like last week’s episode that reintroduced Tiffany Valentine/Jennifer Tilly (it’s complicated) and Nica Pierce, inhabited by Chucky’s soul, we play catch up with some clips from the films and a quick answer to what happened to Andy after Cult of Chucky. As far as Andy and Kyle go, their introduction is hilarious and terrifying, befitting two traumatized people on a very specific mission. It makes one wonder how far they might go in order to destroy Chucky for good.

Meanwhile, Tiffany reveals she knows more about Nica!Chucky’s current situation than she initially lets on, and we learn what their purpose in Hackensack is. So those pieces are in place and the relationship is much more complicated due to what is becoming an increasingly icky development when issues of consent are invoked. As for our Hackensack locals, Jake (Zackary Arthur) and Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson) take their relationship forward in a satisfying way while Junior (Teo Briones) and Lexy’s (Alyvia Ayn Lind) relationship becomes strained. And that is before one of the most shocking deaths in the series yet. We even have a strange development regarding Miss Fairchild, the teacher who seems cool… but may harbor a secret.

The episode puts everyone through the wringer and has characters reassess their relationships. Relationships grow and dissolve across the episode, all while the current Chucky ramps up his murder-spree in a brazen way. We are really in the final act of an 8-hour movie now. Maybe the best episode of the season given the amount of character development across the different subplots. There is so much that we could talk about but that would be going into spoiler territory. For now, just know that if you are a fan of the show, this episode is five out of five Cthulhus. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Chucky – S1 E6 – Kill Count and Spotlight

Four kills in this one, one in the past with another young Charles Lee Ray sequence (again, played by Fiona Dourif). The other three are contemporary. One is a totally cathartic moment fans will love. The other two, particularly the earlier of the pair, are shocking, sad, and deliciously cruel. One evokes the original Child’s Play and is definitely the highlight of the episode.

Seeds of Chucky

Some elements of this week’s episode are callbacks to previous installments of the series. They may hint at the return of key figures from the past. Some other references to other horror classics may sneak in as well. Here are some of the highlights.

  • Apparently the original title for this episode was going to be “Mother’s Day” which might have been too on the nose.
  • Speaking of the title, “Cape Queer” is a fun pun that also pays tribute to the homage toward Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear (1991) that is directly invoked in the plot.
  • We get a major callback to Child’s Play with one of the deaths.
  • This week’s title card is shattered glass with reflections of Chucky. Make of that what you will.
  • We get the origins of Tiffany’s red car. Yes, that is worth noting. It has been with us since Bride of Chucky.
  • We learn how Andy got out of his predicament in Cult of Chucky and, well… Andy definitely has some issues.
  • Andy’s walk seem a little off? Well, he did get stabbed in Cult. A nice carryover from the film and sets up that we are not that far removed from the 7th film, timeline-wise.
  • The poker scene is a reference to Jennifer Tilly’s insane poker skills.
  • The realtor we meet is the same woman who got the razor-apple in episode two.

We will be covering the show episode-by-episode on Kids’ Stuff – A Chucky Podcast. However, don’t expect spoilers in these written reviews. You can expect them to fly during the podcast. If you missed the latest show, follow it on Spotify, listen to it on Haunted MTL, or find it on your favorite podcast app.

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

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Book Reviews

The Dead Take the A Train Review: Queer Magic and Monster Mayhem

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“Julie crawled onto the table, straddling her intern, both hands around the knife. She torqued it downward, cursing. Brad shrieked harder.” -pg 57, The Dead Take the A Train by Cassandra Khaw & Richard Kadrey

The Dead Take the A Train is the first book in a duology by authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey. It was published in 2023 by Tor Nightfire (like the Scourge Between Stars, which I reviewed here). I was not previously familiar with Kadrey’s work, which most notably includes the Sandman Slim series. However, I was introduced to Khaw through The Salt Grows Heavy (review here), which I absolutely adored in all its twisted, gory glory. Therefore, I was thrilled to pick-up The Dead Take the A Train, which promised similar heart in a modern cosmic horror package.

In The Dead Take the A Train, a magical fixer named Julie must hunt down eldritch monstrosities threatening the lives of those around her. To do this, she has to go up against her shitty ex, a questionable angel, finance executives, and her own sobriety. When an old friend shows up, Julie is terrified to find herself making a retirement plan that doesn’t involve getting murdered by a demon.

The Dead Take the A Train is reminiscent of N.K. Jeminsin’s The City We Became, with both featuring queer characters tackling eldritch horror plots in New York City. In the same way, the novel was reminiscent of a gorier version of Dimension 20’s Unsleeping City actual play series. However, it clearly carves out a space for itself among the droves of cosmic-horror inspired love letters to New York City. For one, it is mostly unconcerned with borough beef, which (not to sound like a curmudgeonly Midwesterner), is so refreshing. The book also has a relatively novel way the world works, which helps it stay memorable.

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Overall, I really liked The Dead Take the A Train. First off, the characters are fun and easy to root for. Julie is a mess in pretty much every aspect, but her bad decisions are understandable and she is charismatic. Her romance with her friend, Sarah, also serves to make Julie more likable. It helps that the villains are so easy to hate too. What’s not to hate about rich Wall Street assholes engaging in human sacrifice? Speaking of which, I liked the juxtaposition of corporate Wall Street and cosmic cultists. The actions taken were evil, but more importantly, they were just business.

The prose was flowery, but not quite as much as in The Salt Grows Heavy. So, if you struggled with Khaw’s other works for that reason this may be a much easier read. Personally, I enjoyed the prose in both. There is quite a bit of gore in The Dead Take the A Train, but I didn’t find it to be overwhelming. I think you could still enjoy the book if you don’t love gore, though maybe not if you have a weak stomach.

One of the largest issues I have with The Dead Take the A Train, is the lack of clarity in power levels of the various characters. Especially since all their forms of magic work in different ways, it is sometimes unclear the level of danger present. This can also sometimes create room for plot holes. For example, Julie has a friend who is tapped into anything and everything happening online. This is an absurdly powerful ability (and is used as such). But there were moments where the main conflict probably could have been avoided or solved using that power. It also felt odd that no one else in this thriving magic community felt strongly about stopping a world-ending catastrophe. Because of this, the magic underground of NYC could feel smaller than I think was intended.

Having been familiar with Khaw’s work previously, The Dead Take the A Train clearly feels like a mix of Khaw’s style with someone else’s. This could be a boon or a hindrance, depending on your view of Khaw’s distinct prose and storytelling. Either way, if you are interested in learning more about the process or the authors, check out the interview they did for SFF Addicts Podcast!

Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey on the SFF Addicts Podcast

I recommend The Dead Take the A Train, especially for those who are fans of modern urban eldritch horror. The book is an even bigger steal if you are looking for danger, gore, and queer characters. Check it out! And keep your eyes peeled for the next book in this duology. 

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[USR 4.2]

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Movies n TV

Dolores Roach, A Fillet of Left Cheek

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The second season of Dolores Roach started with a bang. The first episode was dark, gristly and in a strange way whimsical. It certainly brought to light new elements of the character.

The story

We begin our story with Dolores somewhere, talking to someone. I’d like to be more specific, but that’s all we know right now.

She tells this unknown person about her flight from Empanadas Loco. How Jeremiah killed Luis. How she, whether she meant to or not, killed Jeremiah. How she then set the building on fire by blowing up the fryer in the kitchen.

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Scared and alone, Dolores then ran for the underground. Dragging her purple massage table she runs into a hole in a subway track and finds herself in a whole different world.

Almost at once, she finds a place where someone is living. There’s a hot plate, a kettle and several packets of ramen. Even better, everything has Jeremiah’s name on it, literally written on it. Exhausted and alone, Dolores makes herself a cup of ramen and goes to sleep on her massage table.

She’s woken sometime later by a small man named Donald. He knows her because he knew Jeremiah. Dolores proceeds to tell him an abridged version of events that led up to Jeremiah’s death. And by abridged, I mean she blamed Luis for everything, throwing him under the bus so hard I’m surprised she didn’t pull something.

Donald seems inclined to help Dolores. He tells her that if anyone messes with her she should go further down, down a stairwell that he points out for her.

Dolores thanks him, then tries to go back to sleep. She’s soon woken again by a young woman collecting Jeremiah’s things.

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While Dolores has an issue with this, she’s willing to let it go. Until that is, this woman tries to take her table. Then, Dolores does what she does best. Because one thing is for sure. Dolores is going to take care of herself.

What worked

One thing I love about this series so far is that our main character, Dolores, is crazy. And hearing her rationalize her crazy is both terrifying and fascinating. I hate/love how sweet and soothing she can be. Even with the rat that she killed in this episode. She cooed at it, encouraging it to come to her, even calling it a subway raccoon.

Then she killed it and started crying.

I also love the underground community. It’s both horrific and whimsical. It reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which is full of worlds most people don’t see but are all around us. It’s also horrific because there are so many people that our society has failed, that they’ve gathered underground and made their own little society. That’s not great. There just shouldn’t be that many people who need homes.

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What didn’t work

Unfortunately, this episode did have two major flaws. And the first one is a personal pet peeve of mine.

In the last episode of season one, certain things were established. Dolores said she was carefully rationing her weed. She said she didn’t have anything to eat since coming down to the tunnels. She still had her massage table. This episode rewrote a lot of that.

Frankly, I hate when stories do that. It may or not make a difference to the story. It just strikes me as poor planning and lazy writing. This show has proven it’s capable of doing better.

All things considered, I thought this was a great start to the season. I’m invested in the story, curious about the new characters, and worried about the well-being of everyone Dolores comes in contact with. And that’s all as it should be.

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3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing, you might want to check out my latest sci-fi horror story, Nova. It’ll be released episodically on my site, Paper Beats World, starting February 5th.

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Movies n TV

The Golem (2019), a Film Review

The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz, starring Hani Furstenberg and Ishai Golan.

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The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz. The cast includes Hani Furstenberg, Ishai Golan, Kirill Cernyakov, and Brynie Furstenberg. As of this review, the film remains available to Amazon Prime and fuboTV subscribers with additional purchase options on other platforms.

Set in 1673, a small Jewish community faces hardships from others as the Black Plague spreads. When these hardships reach a boiling point, Hanna takes matters into her own hands. Having secretly learned to read, she seeks to perform a ritual that would create a protector for her people. Yet, this act brings about a steep cost.

a redheaded woman walks through a village.
Hani Furstenberg as Hanna

What I Like about The Golem

The film received three nominations in 2019. These nominations include Best Actress, Best Sound, and Best Cinematography from the Award of the Israeli Film Academy. While The Golem wouldn’t win these awards, the nominations indicate a strong film.

I won’t claim to know the accuracy and intricacies of the golem in relation to its religious origin, but the film certainly brings to life its concept. The effort to create such a creature and the toll it takes from the summoner create an emotional throughline for viewers to follow.

Hani Furstenberg’s Hanna and Ishai Golan’s Benjamin bring a complicated but realistic relationship to the film. Viewers see the love between them, even as their own society attempts to cast them from each other. They feel like a couple who understand the other’s wants and needs. However, we begin to witness the decaying of this relationship.

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Hanna, specifically, provides a complex character that incentivizes the viewers to root for and against her at different points in the movie. Though she navigates blatant sexism and discrimination, she remains far from flawless. These flaws and ambitions establish Hanna as an interesting character.

The Golem can be brutal. This film provides a period-accurate look into antisemitism and systemic oppression, which certainly evokes a different form of horror. However, the golem itself brings brutality through its smiting.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Triggers

As the film deals directly with systemic issues of 1673, understand that antisemitism, sexism, and hate crimes remain important elements within the film.

An assault leads to a miscarriage, which seems a point worth mentioning for potential viewers who are sensitive to such points. Fertility and bodily autonomy, generally, also play roles within the provided film.

If any of these are potential issues for your viewing experience, perhaps skip The Golem.

An obscured woman looks at a boy covered in mud. The setting is a forest.
The Golem takes Shape

What I Dislike about The Golem

Aleksey Tritenko delivers a wonderful performance for an interesting antagonist, but the role of Vladimir serves limited purposes. In many ways, he’s the representation of his societal antisemitism. While this remains perfectly valid, he somewhat disappears from the narrative until he becomes relevant. His marauders should be an oppressive threat within the society, looming over it with malice.

I can’t deny the lack of intimidation the golem’s aesthetic brings. While some films evoke an eeriness through silent children to horrific effect, this didn’t sit well with me. It should be eerie, but something was missing in execution.

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The Golem focuses on a more human horror than the supernatural elements might suggest. While not a direct critique, prepare your viewing expectations accordingly. The Golem remains a folk horror film, using the folk story to represent human evil and flaws. It won’t particularly haunt you with the gore.

Final Thoughts

The Golem brings the old legend of the golem folk story to life. If you thirst for a human horror that shines a light on the flaws of the people within, The Golem might satisfy you. However, it’s not a particularly frightening film, choosing instead to tell a story of loss and overcoming suffering. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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