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It’s been a few weeks since the last recap, but the show has marched on. I am going to continue to recap the series, but the revelation of cancellation just strips out a real sense of urgency. We have some other things in development here at Haunted MTL as well that have served to… distract. So, let me apologize about the lateness of this recap/review. We’re going to continue the project. The show is still great, which makes writing this series of posts kind of tough.

The Story So Far

This was a fairly low-key episode with a relatively undercooked bit of swamp evil and a plot of place-setting. That being said, the show is still fantastic.

Abby and Alec Working Together

The major narrative of the episode revolves around establishing the nature of Abby and Alec’s relationship given his new form. Abby is very much interested in doing everything she can to aid Alec in understanding his swampy fate. Alec, localized in the swamp, pursues the mysteries of the waters around Marais. The two essentially represent two different worlds and must work across their respective regions to solve the problems that bleed between them.

Unfortunately, this week, the threat feels a little underdeveloped.

Two men enter the swamp to cut down some trees that haven’t been picked over by local logging companies. The trees, enhanced by the pollutants, fight back, dropping a mummified corpse that was lost in the swamp on the men, scratching one of them.

The scratch causes hallucinations of one’s deepest nightmares, driving one of the men, a dishwasher at Delroy’s to kill himself when he hallucinates his arm under attack by a snake. He ends up stabbing himself in the arm repeatedly, and then for good measure jams his arm into the garbage disposal. During the struggle, Delroy, the owner of the bar gets scratched. Thus begins a low-key infection plot culminating with Abby herself getting infected.

Later, an infected and hallucinating Abby finds herself in Alec’s arms as he draws the evil from her and puts in back in the mummy. The mummy being the remains of a person who was infected by this evil and fled to the swamp to make sure it could harm no others. It wasn’t until Alec Holland arrived in the swamp when that could finally, truly happen.

The plot was fairly predictable, but it did a great deal of work to establish the what should be the standard, working relationship of Abby and Alec; a relationship that should be effective and entertaining.

Sunderland’s Schemes

It is not surprising that Avery Sunderland has a dark and tragic past. The episode opens with him destroying the remains of poor old Gordon and remembering an incident in his past where his most-likely abusive father berated him for being unable to kill a gator. The scene doesn’t really tell us anything we couldn’t have already assumed about Avery, but it should, hopefully, lay groundwork for a more significant revelation in the future.

The major thrust of the Sunderland subplot revolves around Avery’s manipulative nature; both toward the town and Maria as well. Avery still needs the dose of funding to keep Woodrue on the case regarding the biological properties of the swamp. While inviting survivors of “the green flu” to a crawfish boil, he spies Maria’s attention toward the young Susie.

Throughout the episode we see Avery manipulate everyone around him to try to get the young Susie into a position where he can bring her into the Sunderland home, to give Maria a new child to care for. Not necessarily out of the goodness of his own heart, however. After all, “the green flu” may be gone, but who knows what after effects might pop up. If only there was funding to keep Woodrue on the job…

Of course, he doesn’t know about the ghost of Shawna lurking around Maria… might there be a possession in the future?

Daniel and Xanadu and the Incoming Darkness

The cryptic teasing of Daniel Cassidy’s history and reason for being stuck in Marais moves at a snail’s pace this week. All we really learn is that he made a deal that forced him to stay in town. For comic fans already familiar with Cassidy, the implication is pretty clear, but for the average viewer, it is just more cryptic teasing. We do get a moment of heroism from Daniel when he helps disarm sheriff Cable that belies the nature of his potential future, however.

Meanwhile, Madame Xanadu is concerned her powers may be waning. She has hinted at the spreading darkness from the swamp, just as Alec has begun to sense if through the plant life in the area. Perhaps a trip to the source of the darkness on Xanadu’s part is what will bring these character together.

What Stood Out?

The scene with the stabbing of the arm and the garbage disposal was fantastic and keeps up that body-horror component of the show that has worked out so well so far. It’s been great that every episode has at least one incredibly gory or gross-out moment.

Also, kudos to the show for including the Swamp Thing in a daylight sequence, allowing us to see the details of the prosthetics and makeup. The work holds up incredibly well and, hopefully, means we’ll get some great, brighter lit scenes with the effects and outfit before the end of the series.

The Final Verdict on Swamp Thing

This episode is very much a place-setting episode, moving pieces around for a larger payoff. Thankfully, it was still very entertaining and keeps up the visual excellence that has been the hallmark of the show so far.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Deep Roots

Comic connections are initially a little sparse this week. No real new introductions to characters are made, so there is nobody new to introduce from the comics. That being said, there is an exception regarding Abby’s hallucination. We see her confronted by a faceless man who talks about her mother as he threatens and berates Abby. She’s had nightmares about this man since childhood. This man is potentially Grigori Arcane, her father, also known as the Patchwork Man. As for his being faceless? Well, we all process trauma differently… though he could also, literally have been faceless. We’ll see if we encounter Abby’s uncle Anton later.

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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