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Welcome back to Haunted MTL’s extensive recap and review series for Swamp Thing on DC Universe. Everyone seems to be in a key position now for the final two episodes in what has been a rather thrilling and satisfying season of horror television.

The Story So Far

Avery’s Swamp Trek

BOO! Lucilla says hello!

Having nearly been murdered by the sheriff and her son, Avery finds himself wounded and alone in the swamps of Marais. Avery has been in a character who, while maybe not entirely in control throughout the season, has had the air of someone who could get out of any setbacks. “Long Walk Home,” however, finds the industrialist at his most vulnerable. Delirious, Avery’s walk is punctuated with visions that flesh out his own relationship to the swamps; chiefly the murder of his father by the swamp itself. In a flashback, Avery watches his father dragged into a campfire by a tree that Sunderland, Sr. attempted to chop down.

It’s then that Avery is found by Swamp Thing. After being cared for, Avery offers to seek out a cure for Swamp Thing and meets with Jason Woodrue. Woodrue fills Avery in on the meeting with The Conclave that was taken over by Maria. The pair discuss the scientific advancements that could result from the study from the Swamp Thing, and Avery Sunderland gives in to his baser instincts, opting to capture the former Alec Holland for research purposes.

The CDC

Guest star Adrienne Barbeau

Abby, after her long talk with Alec last episode, returns to the CDC in Atlanta to continue her work, eager to help Alec in any way she can. Things are off, however, in that Abby is being received coldly by the powers that be and the samples she sent for analysis are being withheld from her. Abby encounters Dr. Palomar (Adrienne Barbeau) her new boss, who informs her that things will be much different from here on out. Abby is able to reconnect with her CDC-pal Harlan, but by the end of the episode, his fate is likely up in the air. Abby also gets the pleasure of being introduced to The Conclave’s Nathan Ellery who reveals how much he knows about the situation in Marais. Cornered by The Conclave, Abby flees back to Marais to warn Swamp Thing of what is coming.

“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

Someone was about to have a very, very bad day.

Swamp Thing rescues and cares for a delirious Avery Sunderland and introduces himself as the former Alec Holland. Avery, as expected, does not let on to how involved he was in Alec’s death. The pair have a deep discussion on the swamp and recent incidents. Swamp Thing hints at the nature of the rot in the swamp to Avery, suggesting that his own form, as the Swamp Thing, maybe the result of the Green fighting back. Avery, thankful to his swampy savior, offers to find a cure, which Swamp Thing does not outright dismiss.

Avery Sunderland and Jason Woodrue later enter the swamp, seeking out Swamp Thing. This is a trap, however, as The Conclave has provided a team to take down the creature of the swamp. They manage, using liquid nitrogen, to contain the Swamp Thing, ready to be carted off to a lab for Woodrue to begin his research.

What Stood Out?

The cinematography of Avery’s trek through the swamp was quite well done. The shots really added to the sense of delirium and exhaustion felt by the character, and the Swamp Thing’s reveal to Sunderland is handled quite effectively.

The Final Verdict on Swamp Thing

“Long Walk Home” is a strong episode that distills the three main figures of the show to what seems to be their essential, core struggles; Avery grapples with his past and ambition, ultimately repaying the kindness of his savior with what is sure to be inevitable torture. Abby Arcane, again finding herself torn between her professional world of the CDC and the mystical high-strangeness of the swamps ultimately chooses the Swamp Thing. The Swamp Thing himself, a tortured soul, finds his efforts to reconnect to the world of man exploited because of what he is. It’s all a very strong set up to the final pair of episodes in the first and the only season of Swamp Thing.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Deep Roots

The Conclave is a deep, deep organization in the comics, and their presence in the CDC should not come as a surprise to viewers as it is meant to establish that they have a wide base of power from which to draw.

Dr. Palomar, the CDC director who Abby clashes with, should be recognizable to any fan of Swamp Thing and horror in general: Adrienne Barbeau. Barbeau’s history in horror is worthy of an article in itself, but for our purposes, we’ll highlight her role as Alice Cable in Wes Craven’s 1982 adaptation of Swamp Thing. As with any adaptation there were changes between the source material and the adaptation, but Alice Cable is very much an adaptation of the Abby Arcane character.

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

Breaking News

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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