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Welcome to another episode of Brannyk talks about Small Town Monsters. We’ve explored aliens giving boo boos to cows, totally Bigfoot, a big ol’ stinky doggo, your tea-spilling ghost-witch, and an alien Bigfoot with a hankering for a good peanut butter sandwich. We have a new screener from Small Town Monsters!

So what’s on the dance card this time?

None other but the Joisey Devil himself. You know, the one who has a girlfriend made from cake ALLEGEDLY (no judging).

The Plot:

We’re back to the movie-within-the-documentary style, but sadly lacking our favorite dark cowboy, Lyle Blackburn.

Journeying into the Pine Barrens, folklorists, historians and locals weave the tale of this illusive devil. Back to its unearthly beginnings as a cursed child, or perhaps a wayward Quaker. Digging up its haunting past and the wake its legend has made.

Thoughts:

Yesssss, we’re back to our “Feature Film” segments like in Momo (and to a lesser extent The Bell Witch). Is the acting good? Not…really. Is it precious and beloved? Yes. Do I want to quote it to people who won’t understand it?

a picture of a kid saying, "you suck, Jake! You suck!"
You tell me

BLOODLINES: THE JERSEY DEVIL CURSE is the same vibe as Momo, using both the legend, but also a film within the documentary to tell the story. So does it work as well as Momo’s did?

Yes and no.

There are a few missing elements that were in Momo that were missing for BLOODLINES: THE JERSEY DEVIL CURSE, such as a real feel for the small towns around the area and the people who live there. I never got a true sense of the area or the locals like in Momo or in other Small Town Monsters series. The drone shots were beautifully done, but I would have liked to see some more local sites connected to the Devil.

On the other hand, the quality of the interviewees was incredibly good and they were very engaging to watch. The featured interviewees spoke with passion about the Jersey Devil, but also had a thoughtful knowledge and reverence. Not just for the devil, but for folklore and Americana in general.

One thing of note is that the Jersey Devil in BLOODLINES: THE JERSEY DEVIL CURSE is a scary CGI monster and not the lovable Momo who steals my sandwich.

The Jersey Devil is being a jerk and Momo the alien is telling him to be cool
As pictured above

Now, I don’t really have a problem with the CGI in BLOODLINES: THE JERSEY DEVIL CURSE (I know, quote me on that); however! There is one instance where they should have gone with non-CGI.

So, one of the sequences is a silent movie part. It’s actually really cute and I enjoyed the heck out of it. The only issue I had, and the opportunity missed was that they used CGI during this “silent” film, making it feel very awkward and stunted. It would have been so clever and amazing if they had a puppet or practical effect typical of that era as the monster instead. The CGI felt out of place there. It would have only added if there had been a puppet or even (more expensive but way cooler) stop-motion or Claymation. It would have added to the feel and authenticity.

A guy holding a puppet of the devil looking bored while the actress looks scared
(Terrifying)
Like an old timey movie - it reads: Oh my, this must be that loathe-some devil! Organ music intensifies.

Brainroll Juice:

While BLOODLINES: THE JERSEY DEVIL CURSE strayed a bit from the Small Towns aspect, it veered straight into the historical narrative. As a skeptic (hisss, booo), I appreciated hearing the historical and cultural impact the Jersey Devil had on early America. Especially about Quakerism during the era, and the rise of newspapers and their competitions with each other. I ate these segments up completely…much like a stolen PB sandwich.

I often think these kinds of facts are dismissed or omitted in paranormal documentaries in fear it will disprove or minimize the testimonials of witnesses or looking for these entities. However, these are imperative and fascinating facts as we see folklore change and grow in our timelines. Who was the Jersey Devil at creation, during the turn of the century, and to this present day? Breedlove answers those questions with BLOODLINES: THE JERSEY DEVIL CURSE. It’s not a debate if the Jersey Devil is alive and breathing this very moment, but what his mere presence has had within our nation. It’s talking the small town and growing it. Expanding upon it. And maybe that’s the natural progression for urban legends, folklore and culture. So, I appauld Breedlove for not veering away from that.

The Jersey Devil but gothic-looking

Bottomline: While you may find it slow in parts, this is one of my favorite Small Town Monsters. It’s smart. Full of heart. It’s back to the fun “Feature Presentation” segments that I love, and has a wealth of interesting information. If you’re curious about the Jersey Devil and its history, it’s definitely worth checking out.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

When not ravaging through the wilds of Detroit with Jellybeans the Cat, J.M. Brannyk (a.k.a. Boxhuman) reviews mostly supernatural and slasher films from the 70's-90's and is dubiously HauntedMTL's Voice of Reason. Aside from writing, Brannyk dips into the podcasts, and is the composer of many of HauntedMTL's podcast themes.

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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, 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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