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It is regrettable that Swamp Thing was not renewed by DC Universe before the second episode aired. More to the point, it is regrettable that the show was not renewed, period. The second episode of Swamp Thing is a strong expansion of the pilot. Of course, it presents a great deal to chew on.

The Story so Far

There are two major plot-threads to track during this episode.

We had to brighten this shot a bit, but hell yes

Abby and Alec

Reeling from the apparent death of Alec Holland, Dr. Abby Arcane continues her CDC work in Marais. The illness from the swamp is still spreading. Local police have also tied up a solid source of information by turning Alec’s lab into a crime scene.

She finds comfort with Liz Tremane and meets Liz’s partner, Margeaux. Abby and Liz then seek out potential leads for Alec’s information. Abby visits Avery Sunderland (Will Patton) in an attempt to gain access to the lab he funded for Alec’s research. Avery ultimately refuses to grant the CDC access to the research as it is all proprietary. However, he and Abby find some form of reconnection regarding the death of Avery’s daughter, Shawna.

Abby and Liz later make their way to the room that Alec rented from Daniel Cassidy (Ian Zierling). Cassidy is a former actor and video-store owner. Abby finds some video logs from Alec and watches them for evidence. Ultimately, she finds herself missing him. During this time, she learns that Susie has fled the hospital into the swamps.

Susie has a mysterious connection to the Swamp Thing and seeks him out in the swamp. However, she accidentally witnesses a game officer being murdered by two men hired to retrieve the mutagen dispersal devices. Fleeing from the particularly malicious of the pair, she is rescued by the Swamp Thing in a particularly brutal sequence.

Abby tracks down Susie who is with the Swamp Thing. On a boat with Matt Cable, Susie reveals to Abby that the Swamp Thing is frightened and alone. She also says his name is Alec.

A Family of Secrets

Regarding the Sunderlands, Maria (Virginia Madsen) consults Madame Xanadu (Jeryl Prescott) about the pain of losing her daughter. Maria has been dealing with it for years. Trying to help, Xanadu uses her powers to bring comfort. Yet, the balance of good and evil has shifted in the swamp. Xanadu warns Maria to move on from her pain. She does not, however. At the end of the episode, she is seen with a manifestation of the long-dead Shawna, in her bedroom.

Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand)

Avery, meanwhile, is using his power in town to clean up the mess that came with the mutagen research. Concerned the research is responsible for the illnesses, he summons two of his consultants. These two are Caroline and Jason Woodrue (Selina Anduze and Kevin Durand). He tasks them, the inventors of the accelerant, to determine if the accelerant is at fault for the local illnesses.

What Stood Out

Swamp Thing’s second episode is a strong follow-up to the pilot that continues what works about the show. The show is all in when it comes to the mutilation and mutation of bodies both to and around the Swamp Thing. One particularly grizzly sequence features a psychic connection between Susie and the Swamp Thing. In shock and pain, he tears away chunks of his form, which Susie feels. Each tear is visceral and has amazing Foley work.

Relationships between characters are also developing at a solid pace, even as new characters are introduced. The scene between Abby and Avery is excellent and provides a genuine bit of catharsis with some menace. This week features Abby working with officer Matt Cable who is still very much nursing a flame for her, even after she left Marais. Naturally, there is some tension there that does not manifest at the most appropriate time.

The key relationship that develops here is, oddly enough, Abby and Alec. Abby doesn’t quite know how she felt about the rogue scientist, but the scene where she watches his video logs is incredibly sweet. It makes for a good way to keep Andy Bean on the show, even as Derek Mears takes over as the Swamp Thing.

The death of the man who was chasing after Susie is also incredibly gross and satisfying. With any luck, the show will be able to keep up that intensity throughout the remainder of the series.

Final Verdict on Swamp Thing

“Worlds Apart” serves to wrap up the basic narrative of the pilot episode in a very satisfying way. It also establishes the new normal of the show with the Swamp Thing quickly being introduced into the action as a violent and mysterious force. The show is also not being weighted down by questionably written relationship drama and instead, these characters are proving to be quite compelling.

The show is still quite dark, visually, and that could be a problem in the long run. We’ll see.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Deep Roots

Two particularly significant DC Comics connections appear this week in the form of Daniel Cassidy, also known as the Blue Devil. Jason Woodrue, also known as the Floronic Man, also makes his first appearance. How far the show is willing to go with their storylines remains to be seen, however. We are likely not going to see an empowered Daniel Cassidy, though wrapping up the season with the origins of the Floronic Man would make a lot of sense.

What a fun moment

The show also presents a much different, more voodoo-oriented take on Madame Xanadu. They have also made her blind as well. Her scene with Maria Sunderland was a real treat, so this should be a great interpretation of the character, despite being outside of the comics wheelhouse.

Please continue to join us each week for the remaining episodes of DC Universe’s Swamp Thing.

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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