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Disturbing, gritty, and at times gross, it’s a new take on the serial killer. Based on the novel by Todd Rigney, who also penned the screenplay, and directed by Scott Schirmer on a budget of just $8,000, Found is a film that takes the story of a serial killer and shows it from a different perspective. A child’s perspective to be exact. Marty is a shy kid that keeps to himself, his life seems pretty normal until he discovers a severed head in his brother’s room. That’s right, a severed head just sitting in a bowling bag in his brother’s room. The shocking part is, he’s not too concerned about it. The opening line, words that grip you from the start in their cold, dead hands, says it all; “my brother keeps a human head in his closet.” Tells you everything you need to know. There are two brothers, one keeps heads in his closet and the other is…kind of okay with it.

It’s not just one head though. His brother Steve has actually killed many people. He just switches the head out every few days. Usually, it’s black women and he often rips their hair out. Wearing his mother’s best kitchen gloves (she washes the dishes with those things man!), Marty studies these heads with morbid curiosity as if they’re just yet another shocking treasure a kid might find in his older brother’s bedroom. No different than porn, pot, or wannabe Satanic paraphernalia purchased from Hot Topic.

Marty may be willing to keep brother’s murderous secrets, but he’s not entirely accepting of it, or I guess I should say, comfortable with it. That changes, however, once he realizes the power it gives him. A power he struggles with. He starts looking at everything differently. A victim of relentless bullying, Marty lives like a mouse in a world of wolves. The brothers have a strange relationship that seems distant at times and codependent at others. As their relationship strengthens, the darker Marty becomes, and the more resilient he becomes toward his tormentors, viewing violence as the ultimate weapon against his own personal institutes of oppression.

It’s more than just a story about a kid who finds out his brother is a serial killer though. As I said before, it shows the mind of a serial killer from a different perspective, removing us completely from their viewpoint. There comes a point in the film where Steve reveals why he kills but the reason that he gives is clearly a lie. It may be what he tells himself, an explanation he’s made his personalized excuse, but in reality, Steve doesn’t have an answer, even he seems mystified when questioned. He’s aroused at the notion of inflicting pain but is either unaware of this or incapable of grasping the concept as fact.

Found shows the total lack of self-awareness that resides in the psychopath. Even they don’t always know why they do what they do, they just do it.

I’m going to be frank here and say that I believe the film to be slightly incestuous. The taboo theme appears twice, one in a more obvious context but it lingers very faintly throughout the film. It can be interpreted in any way one wishes but I feel that Steve’s borderline infatuation with his brother, especially near the end, crosses a certain line. However, it’s impossible to know what’s really going on in Steve’s head because everything is seen from Marty’s perspective. It’s both a strength and weakness of the film. Steve remains a huge question mark in the end. He seems to be a living contradiction when it comes to emotion; an angry teen who draws pleasure from pain but falls apart at the mere sight of his brother’s tears.

Found is layers on top of layers and like Rachel Green’s abominable English Trifle, there’s a meaty surprise inside. There is both a cultural and a psychological frame of mind presented with a large chunk dedicated to toxic masculinity. It is surprisingly well-rounded. Don’t look at the cover and write it off as another exploitive horror movie, it’s more psychological than anything else.

At its core, Found is a disturbing coming of age film that doubles as a study of the psychopath. It details the struggles of a boy coming into manhood, and the dangers of seeing his psychotic older brother, a stand-in for hypermasculinity, as someone to revere. My only real issue with the film has nothing to do with the plot but just the camera work that makes it feel like a home movie. Near the end, the quality adds to the realism portrayed in the story but it takes a while to get used to.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

‘Headless’

Headless isn’t really a spin-off of Found. It’s actually a movie within a movie that was popular enough to become its own feature. Headless appears as part of the plot in Found as a film Steve steals from the video store that serves as his inspirational “how-to” murder guide. A part of the fake feature is played in Found in a sequence that is definitely one of the more disturbing, and over the top, moments of the film. It goes past gooey, torture porn, and just dives headfirst into House of a 1000 Corpses territory.

The DVD and blu ray of Found features the full uncut version of Headless that appeared in the film, running at about 24 minutes. Fans, however, wanted more and in 2015, a full-length feature film based on the short was released and produced through a Kickstarter campaign. It’s a little hard to find now. It can be watched on YouTube and you can buy the DVD on Scott Schirmer’s website but aside from that, I don’t think it can be found anywhere else.

It isn’t the exact movie that Steve and Marty watched but it features the same character of the Masked Skeletal, once again played by Shane Beasley, doing what he does best. Going around decapitating young women. Headless is definitely for a select audience. The Terrifier crowd might get a real kick out of it. I personally disliked it because it was a nonstop gorefest that didn’t have much of a story aside from copying and pasting Ed Kemper’s biography into the screenplay.

There isn’t much of a plot. I actually found it quite boring, but that’s my own personal opinion, I’m sure there are many who would disagree. It tries to find a common ground between slasher and arthouse, revolving around the unnamed killer I refer to as the Masked Skeletal as he carries out his many grisly murders. Through flashbacks, we learn of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother and sister, who made him sleep in a dog cage that he continues to sleep in even as an adult. The abuse resulted in a hatred of women and a damaged psychosis that causes him to hallucinate a young boy with a skeleton head. The child, a possible representation for his stolen youth, directs him in his day to day life, including his many kills.

Headless is not something the average person would enjoy, not because it’s bloody but because it has almost no dialogue or character development and doesn’t follow the typical cinematic format. Imagine if Richard Rameriz or Kemper had a video camera. That’s what this is.

My favorite thing about Headless is the fake trailer that appears before the movie starts for a film called Wolf Baby, something that looks way more interesting than this.

1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

Photos are property of Forbidden Films.

Rachel Roth is a writer who lives in South Florida. She has a degree in Writing Studies and a Certificate in Creative Writing, her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies. @WinterGreenRoth

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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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Horror Noire, a Film Review

Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”

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Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.

As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.

The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.

Woman and man wearing a vote for candidate shirt, scared of something off screne
Image from “Sundown” Directed by Kimani Ray Smith

What I Like

Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.

My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.

However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.

Woman listening to a preacher amidst a crowd
Image from “Fugue State” directed by Rob Greenlea

What I Dislike

As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.

Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Dahmer, Silenced

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Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.

Rodney Burford in Dahmer

And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.

Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.

Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship. 

Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.

Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar. 

At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.

Then, of course, things go bad. 

One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.

If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.

This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today. 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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