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As we gear up for a strange WrestleMania this coming weekend, I thought now would be a good time to talk about one of the contenders and a Dark Deviation in the World Wrestling Entertainment sphere – The Fiend.

WWE’s Bray Wyatt (Windham Lawrence Rotunda) is no randy when it comes to putting horror into his wrestling. During his NXT days, he founded the faction The Wyatt Family with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Later on, The Wyatt Family joined Raw, continuing the creepy backwoods origins and its Bayou/voodoo cultist imagery. This led to Bray Wyatt eventually facing John Cena at WrestleMania XXX, in a weird match between the “Eater of Worlds” and the current host of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” on Nickelodeon.  unsplash-logo🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič

Bri loves ponies, glitter, and tearing you a new one

After Bray Wyatt was defeated by Cena, the Wyatt family still kicked around for a while, sinking disappointing lows when Randy Orton joined the group.

I cannot even understand what I’m looking at

The group officially disbanded in 2017. Bray Wyatt still wrestled (and even teamed up with the “Deleter of Worlds” Matt Hardy for and after Wrestlemania 34), but never fully rose to his full potential.

Until April 2019.

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture.

In April 2019, strange occurrences started happening on the live feed of WWE. Short and ominous clips of strange, grotesque puppets began airing. Soon, they became longer segments of a “children’s show” called “Firefly Fun House”, featuring a intensely cheerful Bray Wyatt with his puppet friends: Mercy the Buzzard, Abby the Witch, Ramblin’ Rabbit and Huskus the Pig Boy.

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And this is a friendship that will never EVER end…

During its first full segment, the new and improved Wyatt destroyed a cardboard cutout of his old self with a chainsaw and cheerily told viewers that all they had to do was “let [him] in”. Thus began the catchphrase and constant request throughout the show as it became more sinister in tone and the request increasingly became more demanding. 

Too late, Babadook. Bray has a catchy song.

Over the following weeks, Bray began to gleefully mention HIM, the one who was able to finally give him safety and comfort. He talked about this new friend as a mentor and guardian, teaching him how to control the darkness and to not be afraid. How this friend is also a friend to you and to me…

All we have to do is let him in…

And a fun arts and crafts project for the kids!

The Fiend Emerges!!!

Three months later, HE appeared.  No one saw it coming, least of all Finn Bálor. Poor Finn Bálor.

In July, The Fiend made his unofficial debut as all the lights went dead during Monday Night Raw as Finn was in the ring. Only seconds later, the lights flashing on to reveal The Fiend had destroyed Finn within the darkness. 

After some matches, some wins and some losses, we have The Fiend going after old rival John “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-grader” Cena in the next Wrestlemania on April 4-5th, 2020. Cena accepted this challenge, but the stipulations of the Firefly Fun House match are not yet known. However, I doubt it includes a rap battle between The Fiend and Cena, so we can all be rest-assured.

The Character:

Bray Wyatt (Windham Lawrence Rotunda) is a master story-teller and a terrific actor. The lead-up and the reveal of The Fiend is one of the best and scariest things that the WWE has ever had in its history.

I am so, so glad that he was given creative license to try this and to try the Wyatt family, because that was absolutely the foot-in-the-door for this character. Wyatt not only has the charisma to pull this character off, but the passion behind it to make it work. Without both, this could have been a hot mess and fallen flat. It’s a bold move that has paid off big – for fans, for Wyatt and for the company.

According to some theories, this character has been in his mind for quite some time and they are major layers of complexity. That’s what makes it resonate so much with the fans. This persona is carefully crafted – from personality, to moves, to the horrifying and hideous mask.

The Mask:

Yowie wowie! There’s a good reason why that mask is as mother-snuggling terrifying as it is. The mask was first designed by tattoo artist Kyle Scarborough, owner of The Washington Tattoo Collective. But as horror aficionados, you’ve most likely seen the work of the official mask creator before. Once the sketch was given the green light, it was then handed to horror legend and special effects icon Tom Savini’s studio and created by Savini, Jason Baker and Ell Farrington. 

Not only is it utterly horrific, but needed to be completely wrestling-proof. That means he had to be able to see every dropkick coming his way or could be seriously hurt. It had to be easy to breathe in, and breathable itself for all the sweat and movement of getting, say, dropkicked in the face.

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Truly a work of art from Bray Wyatt, Kyle Scarborough, and Tom Savini’s team, this is an instant classic and iconic mask in horror history.

The Lantern:

A little while after the construction of the mask, Wyatt also asked for at least one other accessory that we know of…his own head.

He’s just here to light the way…

Again, Wyatt went to Scarborough for the concept art.

“The idea was to have the face that we know that he has, stretched over a lantern with a glow coming out of his mouth,” Kyle Scarborough said.

The lantern was also created by Savini’s studio, with the fear that it would get the boot because it was too scary. They were given the go-ahead…mostly. While the mask has been an easy sell to promote, the WWE has edited out the lantern for their Youtube channel, but it can be seen during its live shows. And, if you’ve got a spare $100, you can buy a replica on the website, complete with stitched eyes!

The Fiend isn’t above promoting and giving you a sweet discount…you just have to let him in

Bottom-line:

I have thoroughly enjoyed Bray Wyatt’s Fun House and The Fiend since Day 1.

I notice you, kouhai. I’m letting you in.

The Fiend is a fast fan-favorite and it’s easy to see why. A lot of time and preparation has been taken to create and perfect this character. While Wyatt has always dabbled and moved within the realm of horror in the WWE, this character takes it to a whole new level. He is a carefully crafted jump-scare and not just a quick gimmick. Bray Wyatt is one of the best entertainers they have right now in the WWE, regardless of his wrestling, regardless of his physical attributes. He has people terrified and loving it5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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When not ravaging through the wilds of Detroit with Jellybeans the Cat, J.M. Brannyk (a.k.a. Boxhuman) reviews mostly supernatural and slasher films from the 70's-90's and is dubiously HauntedMTL's Voice of Reason. Aside from writing, Brannyk dips into the podcasts, and is the composer of many of HauntedMTL's podcast themes.

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Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule

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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.

Shudder Exclusives

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

official film poster for Spoonful of Sugar. We see a vial filled with a red liquid, possibly blood being dripped into a young woman's open mouth. Her tongue slightly extended out ready to receive the scarlet drop. We see an individual in a space helmet standing in the background behind her, slightly blurred. The title Spoonful of Sugar reads in red capital letters.
Spoonful of Sugar‘ official poster.

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

official film poster for Leave. We see a hooded individual holding a silver inverted cross necklace engulfed in bright orange and yellow flames. The individual holding the flaming cross has yellows hands and long rotted finger nails. one eye peers from thick-long black hair. The title Leave is smeared along the bottom in bright blood.
Leave‘ official poster.

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

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The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31

Official poster for The Unheard. We see the main Character Chloe staring out of a window, the image has a static blur. as we only see Chloes pale face and bright blue eyes. The title The Unheard is seen below written in White bold font.
The Unheard‘ official poster.

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

image of Alice Krige as The Witch in Gretel and Hansel. She stares in the camera with a sinister smirk. Her head covered and body drapped in black clothing. Her right eye a dark grey/brown color with her left pale white...blind.
Alice Krige as “The Witch” in ‘Gretel and Hansel’.

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

Image of a werewolf transformation. A mans head is tilted back as the snout of a wolf begins protruding from his mouth. The fur on the snout white as the large fangles gnarl and growl. The mans eyes are a bright yellow and his hair long flowing brown locks. A terrifying image as his mouth extends in an inhumanely manner.
My, what big teeth you have…

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.

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John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31

Haunting ghoslty image of 8 figures standing in a cloud of mist and fog. They are outlined in eeire blue and white lighting. All we see is the outline of these ghostly figures and their glowing red eyes.
When the fog comes, run!

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!

Image list of the films releasing on Shudder for the month of March.
Shudder March 2023 film release schedule.

3/1:

Gretel and Hansel

3/2:

Spoonful of Sugar

3/9:

The Company of Wolves

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3/13:

Holidays

3/17:

Leave

3/20:

Jack be Nimble

3/27:

Ultra Pulpe

After Blue

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3/31:

The Unheard

The Fog

The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

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The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine Special Live Watch Party February 10th!

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The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub mascot, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine, premiering live at 9pm EST.

Love Spells Abound…

Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, as a special treat, Briggs has announced for the first time on The Last Drive-In, he will be marrying one lucky couple during the live showing. We here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo so, as is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the broadcasting of The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us  @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder@therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.

Drawn image of Joe Bob Briggs pouring  a drop of pink liquid into a clear glass potion bottled filled with a glowing red substance. To his left lies a book a magic spells with a golden pentagram necklace resting on top. Also on the books rests a human skull with heart shaped pupils for eyes hiding behind a pair of clear glasses. In bold white letters a text reads "Join us on February 10th as we live tweet The Last Drive-In Valentine's Day Special".
Follow @hauntedMTL for live tweets and replies!

What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.

Picture of Joe Bob Briggs, Darcy the Mail Girl, John Patrick Brennan and Yuki Nakamura standing together dressed in medieval costumes. A cardboard cutout of Tom Atkins stands between Darcy and Yuki. Darcy is seen drapped in a beautfiul elegant princess dress, satin white with gold trim. Yuki is seen holding a small wreath of purple, white, and yellow flowers that match his loud medieval king costume. Resting atop both their heads are golden crowns. Joe Bob Briggs is seen standing to the left of Darcy, as he smiles whilst wearing a half-put together jester costumer. Lastly, we see Brennan with two wooden recorders in his hand as he mimics playing them both dress clad in a bright yellow dress.
An unexpected ceremony during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You (2021) special.

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Evil Dead Rise Trailer is Here and It’s Gruesome!

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close up of Alyssa Sutherand sitting in a tub possessed as a Deadite. Her skin is pale and blotchy, thick sweat and plasma like substances runs down her face as her bright yellow demonic eyes stare into the camera. A light grin is on her face. Her hair damp and stringy adding to the sinister tone.
Alyssa Sutherland as Deadite Ellie in ‘Evil Dead Rise’

It has been a long few years since fans of the ‘Evil Dead’ franchise have been able to delve into the grisly world of the Necronomicon, with the last venture being the critically praised 2015 Starz original series ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’. Though short-lived running only 3 seasons, ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ was able to bring back beloved horror icon and franchise alum “Groovy” Bruce Campbell (‘Evil Dead 1&2’, ‘Army of Darkness’) as the legendary Ash Williams, as well as introduce a few new would-be fan favorites including Dana DeLorenzo’s rebellious badass Kelly Maxwell and Ash’s silly loveable sidekick Pablo played by Ray Santiago. Before ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ graced our living rooms, the last entry to splatter the silver screen was the much-loved 2013 reboot ‘Evil Dead’ written and directed by Fede Alvarez (‘Don’t Breathe’, ‘Crawl’) and starring Jane Levy (‘Don’t Breathe’, ‘Castle Rock’) as final girl Mia and Shiloh Fernandez as her protective older brother David. However, after a decade long hiatus, fellow Deadites can soon rejoice, as the fifth installment to the ‘Evil Dead’ franchise is mere months away with Lee Cronin’s ‘Evil Dead Rise’. 

Closeup of Lilly Sullivan as Beth covered in blood. Her short brown hair wet and damp with the crimson liquid as it runs down her face and arms. In her hand she grips a double barrel shotgun pointed at someone or something off-screen. Her mouth slightly ajar as she begins to speak a line of dialogue. Above her head are rusted water pipes indicative of a basement setting.
Lilly Sullivan as Beth in ‘Evil Dead Rise’

To add even further to the hype train, Warner Bro’s Pictures was gracious enough to drop the first official red band trailer for ‘Evil Dead Rise‘ today and boy oh boy, is it bloody! Not only do we get a terrifying first look at the film’s flesh-ripping demons but, we also get a sneak-peek of the many homages to previous entries whilst witnessing a bold, grim, and equally violent fresh take on the popular cult classic franchise. The official synopsis for ‘Evil Dead Rise’ reads: 

Official poster for Evil Dead Rise. The image features Alyssa Sutherland as Ellie holding her characters 2 children and younger sister beth. A sharp sinister smile floods her face as her demonic yellow eyes pierce the soul. Her Hands cradle her son and sister's heads in either hand. On her right hand we see a floral vine tattoo that wraps down her pinky, he left hand is injured and bloody. The Words "Mommy Loves You To Death" printed in white run down the poster above the film's title 'Evil Dead Rise'. The bottom of the poster provided the official release date of April 21st.
official poster for ‘Evil Dead Rise’

 “A road-weary Beth (Lilly Sullivan) pays an overdue visit to her older sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), who is raising three kids on her own in a cramped L.A apartment. The sisters’ reunion is cut short by the discovery of a mysterious book deep in the bowels of Ellie’s building, giving rise to flesh-possessing demons, and thrusting Beth into a primal battle for survival as she is faced with the most nightmarish version of motherhood imaginable.” 

‘Evil Dead Rise’ is written and directed by Lee Cronin (The Hole in the Ground), with franchise creator and horror maestro Sam Raimi (‘Drag Me to Hell’, ‘Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness‘) acting as executive producer alongside Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert. Those hoping to see “Groovy” Bruce reprise his role of Ash will be met with disappointment, as unfortunately he will not be returning, however, per Campbell the three of them have been “heavily involved” during the production. ‘Evil Dead Rise’ is scheduled to possess our theaters in the US, April 21. Until then, turn up the volume and flick off the lights for the official red band trailer of Evil Dead Rise’

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