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Welcome back to Haunted MTL’s extensive recap and review series for Swamp Thing on DC Universe. The cancellation of the show definitely put a crunch of the episode order, and we see that play out in an episode that, while anchored by an iconic adaptation, is hampered elsewhere.

The Story So Far

Alec Holland?

It’s like a salad-bar

Woodrue has his hands, finally, on the Swamp Thing and spends the episode engaging in an incredibly gross and anxiety-inducing autopsy with a still-conscious Swamp Thing. The whole of the autopsy scenes is colored by sickly green lights, creating a sense of unease as the doctor carves his way through the plant-body of a being we have known to be Alec Holland.

Every instance of cutting, breaking, and severing is accompanied by crackles and snapping of vegetation, as Woodrue removes organs from Swamp Thing’s/Alec’s body, but… something does not seem right. Lungs, a heart and pulled from the body, but Swamp Thing still lives. Woodrue, excited, breaks the news to Swamp Thing that he is not Alec Holland. Swamp Thing is merely a plant that thinks it is Alec Holland.

Swamp Thing is eventually freed by the collective actions of Abby, Liz, and the Blue Devil. His body repairs itself, but his mind needs to heal. He journeys to the swamps, Abby following, and rises from the water, bearing a corpse in his arms…

The remains of Alec Holland.

Blue Devil Arrives

Blue Devil makes his introduction!

The Phantom Stranger finally unveils the purpose behind Daniel Cassidy’s presence in Marais, showing him a vision of Abby and Liz being murdered by mercenaries in a factory. This is only a possible future and one that Daniel can prevent.

Just as it seems that events will play out as seen when Abby and Liz arrive at the cement factory, we finally encounter the Blue Devil himself. Daniel, in his devilish new form, destroys the mercenary team in a spectacular fashion.

Sunderland Ambitions

The Sunderland family is fractured. Avery ties up a loose end by calling in a favor with a judge. Maria is institutionalized, and to rub salt in that wound, she is visited by Avery. They share bitter words, and Maria is surprised that Avery survived the attempted murder. Avery suggests she will never see him again.

Meanwhile, Matt Cable still rattled by the darkness he has seen, and the possibility of Avery being his father gets drunk at Del’s. Matt commits the cardinal sin of drinking while driving and crashes his car, leaving his fate up in the air.

Wood… rue

Woodrue opens the episode with a pointed scene with his wife, Caroline. He is incredibly excited, waking her, believing he has a solution to the problem that is her Alzheimer’s disease. She reveals she has had a nightmare; one that seems almost prophetic. But Woodrue is so excited he doesn’t really pay attention to her dire words… he is eager to pursue his science to save her.

Caroline is seen later by Abby and Liz, seeking Jason Woodrue. Her condition has tragically deteriorated, but Abby can do little for her as she must seek out Alec. Later, as chaos unfolds at the cement factory lab, Woodrue returns home for Caroline, only to discover she had taken all of her pills and is dying a slow and silent death.

What Stood Out?

The core of the episode is the autopsy and it is very satisfying to watch. It is a strong, central story and set of images, at least compared to other moments. Where the show pulls moments directly from the pages of the comic is where the episode is at it’s best.

The Final Verdict on Swamp Thing

The grade here is more reflective of the ambition than the actual results. The show being canceled plays out in this episode. It feels highly compressed and does not quite deliver the weight befitting of the revelations of the truth of Swamp Thing and the introduction of the true Blue Devil.

It is great to see the show attempt such a seminal piece of Swamp Thing lore, the but circumstances of the production ultimately drag down the strength of the concept. So much of the episode feels hurried and scattershot. Additionally, the long-awaited appearance of the Blue Devil was a bit underwhelming in that we do not really get to see him clearly.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Deep Roots

This episode pulls very heavily from one of the first issues of the classic Alan Moore run of the comic. The revelation that Swamp Thing was not actually Alec Holland, at the time, was incredibly shocking and revolutionary. The show squanders this a bit by jamming the episode full of characters and underutilizing some, like Abby and Liz.

However, the adaptations of some of Swamp Thing‘s most iconic moments and images on this show have been a pleasure to behold.

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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