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Welcome back to Haunted MTL’s extensive recap and review series for Swamp Thing on DC Universe. Sadly, this is where it ends. Swamp Thing was canceled early on in the year, shortly after the first episode aired.

The show was a pleasure to watch and recap, but unfortunately, the shortened episode order had a real effect on the final moments of the series. Let us take one last jaunt around the swampy-town of Marais.

Where the Stories End

Abby and the Swamp Thing

It is a real, real bummer that Abby became sidelined a bit during the latter half of the season. A lot of her work in the narrative was sort of that thankless stuff that dragged her away from the action and away from Swamp Thing. Though it was Abby who led the charge to rescue Swamp Thing, the Blue Devil showed up and stole the show a bit in an intense, creepy sequence in the last episode.

Sadly, Abby doesn’t do a whole lot in the finale. She is mostly relegated to reacting to events. The underlying tragedy of her falling for the not-even-a-human Swamp Thing is tragic, and Crystal Reed sells it, but there is just not much to do for Abby beyond reacting to what is going on around Marais. Her arc for the episode begins with her trying her best to connect with Swamp Thing, saying that he is still Alec. However, he must deal with his own pain and he heads into the swamp. So, she decides to work with Liz to find out more about The Conclave.

Swamp Thing, grappling with what he is, is visited by a hallucination of Alec Holland. Their conversation is haunting and effecting, and Swamp Thing comes to realize that Alec lives on in his own rudimentary plant-brain. What is most important is that Abby does not see him as a monster. Now Swamp Thing must decide who he will be.

The pair reunite in the lab of Alec Holland. She truly feels something for Swamp Thing, and that is enough for now. He warns her of the darkness that still lurks in the wild, but she refuses to give up on him. Together they will face the growing darkness that rises in the swamp.

Villainous Machinations Made Moot

Abby’s journey around Marais during the episode ties up some lingering plotlines. She goes to Maria to find some information, but the poor woman is too far gone. Madame Xanadu is there as well and offers Maria relieve in a delusion. Maria is gone now, consumed by a hallucination that her daughter lives and is there with her.

It is a tragic, sad ending for one of the stronger antagonists in the show.

Avery attempts to get involved with a group of paramilitary enforcers for The Conclave into the swamp to find the creature. This does not go well for him, as he is pushed aside outright by Ellery. Avery, rejected by The Conclave as a wildcard, turns to drink to deal with his woes.

The Conclave’s operation, meanwhile, is a resounding failure. The Swamp Thing uses his rapidly expanding control of plant-life to isolate and hunt down the team, led by guest star Jake Busey. It’s a brutal sequence that only leaves Ellery alive. Swamp Thing tells Ellery to let The Conclave know what has happened, and that they will not return to his swamp.

Avery, bottles deep by now, learns of Matt Cable’s accident and rushes to the hospital. Lucilia is there and he makes a desperate, grasping bid to reconnect to his would-be murderers. Lucilia tells Avery that will never happen. She’ll never forgive Avery for making Matt a murderer.

Lucilia leaves and sits in her cruiser. An angry Avery springs up from the seat behind her and stabs her. She blacks out. When she returns to consciousness, it is inside the trunk of the cruiser that Avery has sent into the swamp to finish her off. He watches the car submerge beneath the water.

The Loose Ends

Three principal characters also need to be covered in this finale.

Jason Woodrue’s story was a slow burn through most of the season, with little glimpses into the obsessive personality that lied beneath the arrogant exterior. The madness that is Woodrue really came forward during the penultimate episode “The Anatomy Lesson,” but goes full bore here. Kevin Durand plays Woodrue with a menace that reminds you of why he is a genre-darling. He menaces his wife, Carolyne, who is tied to a chair. Jason tries to feed her the cooked pieces of Swamp Thing’s harvest organs, believing they are the cure to her affliction.

He, of course, tests it himself, but he collapses. Jason regains consciousness, becoming even more of a terror and he tries to fight off Abby who does her best to help Carolyne. Unfortunately for him, Abby’s 911 call went through. We see Jason being led out from the house in handcuffs, screaming, almost feral.

In a post-credit tag, we see some time has passed in Marais where a previously comatose Matt has regained consciousness. He returns to the police department and finds it overgrown. He then stumbles upon a plant-man… Jason Woodrue, now the Floronic Man.

Our last visit with Daniel, The Blue Devil, finds him hurriedly packing up to finally leave town. He leaves the shop to Liz and, still wracked by the voice of the devil, speeds away from the town to an uncertain future. A future we’ll never get to see. At least his mission from The Phantom Stranger has been fulfilled.

What Stood Out?

Swamp Thing’s rapidly-growing power being unleashed on the mercenaries was a great way to show how much more powerful he has become. It also does a lot to establish him as a real danger if left unchecked. One could imagine in the future, had the show been given further seasons, Swamp Thing potentially succumbing to more feral, dangerous characteristics in his attempt to save the Green.

Sigh.

The Final, Final Verdict on Swamp Thing

As a series finale “Loose Ends” really just doesn’t feel satisfactory. It can work for a season finale, as many of the elements presented were meant to. Yet, the whole series sort of rests on the arrival point of “Loose Ends” and it just crumbles away. “Loose Ends” is a solid episode, but the weight put upon it just sinks the whole affair. It bounces around between a lot of stories and tries to tie them up. Some of these are better handled than others.

As a whole, the show just worked. It was respectful to the lore, adapted many key elements, and as a whole delivered something for Swamp Thing fans and casual viewers. At its best, the show was a Southern Gothic drama with a badass swamp monster and magic, and I will miss that.

Swamp Thing deserved better than to be canceled the way it was.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Deep Roots

We’re never gonna see Swampy go toe-to-toe with the Floronic Man, and that hurts.

Rest in peace, Swamp Thing. You were beautiful while you lasted.

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

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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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Movies n TV

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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Movies n TV

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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