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This week’s theme is… big, big messes. Seriously, both movies are full of gore, viscera, and the cleanup involved afterwards has gotta be insane.

We’re back with Joe Bob again this week at The Last Drive-In, exclusively on Shudder. It’s important to note, Mutants, that as of this moment Shudder has not committed to renewing The Last Drive-In for another round, so what I ask is that you take a moment to tweet @shudder with your desire for more episodes. Don’t forget the hashtag #TheLastDriveIn either!

https://twitter.com/hpkomic/status/1124515924688564226
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is just that sort of movie…

WolfCop (2014)

Opening Rant: Did you know that Saskatchewan is the Arkansas of Canada?

The first film of the night, WolfCop, is pretty much perfect drive-in fare. WolfCop is a Canadian horror comedy about a cop named (wait for it) Lou Garou. Lou is a fairly unimpressive cop in the small community of Woodhaven who spends most of his time at the bar. Well, soon enough he becomes swept into an investigation of cultist activity in town that results in him becoming a werewolf to violent and hilarious results.

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The movie was written and directed by Lowell Dean for the CineCoup Film Accelerator program. WolfCop stars Leo Fafard as Lou Garou, and features Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, Sarah Lind, Aiden Devine, and Jesse Moss. Jonathan Cherry as Willie gives a particularly inspired manic wing-man performance with a twist. Leo Fafard steals the show, however as Lou in deadbeat cop and WolfCop modes.

Reviews

Joe Bob was very enthusiastic in his discussion of WolfCop, awarding the film three stars. The film is violent, hilarious, and gory and in the words of Joe Bob, features “interspecies aardvarking.” The film, structurally, falls a bit flat which likely explains why, despite all the film has going for it, it only reached the three star level. That’s okay though, because the final act of the film is absolutely bonkers in the best way possible because the whole film is played fast and loose. The highlight of the night, of course, was The Last Drive-In mangled-dick consultant Felissa Rose. Thanks for your expertise, Felissa!

The big disappointment of the night for us, as Drive-In fans, is that there just isn’t a ton to talk about the movie compared to previous films. The film was made through the Cinegroup Film Accelerator program, but beyond that the team behind the movie and the cast has not done a ton since beyond a sequel, Another WolfCop. The most recognizable face in the film, Aiden Devine, is mostly a Canadian genre actor who might be recognized here and there. Unfortunately, unlike DEATHGASM, WolfCop doesn’t have enough interesting stuff going on around the movie. Nor has the talent around it had long enough to build interesting careers like some of the older films at the Drive-In.

As for us at Haunted MTL, WolfCop obviously gets a Canadian bump in the score. That being said, it is not like the film needs it. WolfCop is great, despite some plot problems, so we award it three and a half stars. There is some wonderfully loony special effects work in the transformation scenes, and the love scene between woman and beast is funny as hell.

If you are already a Haunted MTL reader, odds are this screenshot is all we need to sell you WolfCop

Best Line: “Grab some meth!”

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Opening Rant: The legacy of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

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The second film of the night is a masterpiece of feel-bad film. Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer is one of those movies that people love to be destroyed by, or absolutely hate. Again, tonight’s pairing is one of those strange combinations that has popped up on The Last Drive-In and results in a little bit of a tonal whiplash, like we saw during the pairing of DEATHGASM and The Changeling.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is not quite a horror film in the way Mutants are used to, and is more of a psychological horror film with true crime elements. The movie is a very, very loose adaptation of the supposed crimes of real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas and his partner-in-crime Ottis Toole. The film is notorious for being both controversial and critically praised. The fact the MPAA rated the film with an X-rating also increased the movie’s mystique.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer follows a period of time where a drifter and killer, Henry, lives with a prison friend, Otis, and Otis’ sister, Becky. The three are intensely damaged people who live in Otis’ Chicago apartment for a time. While Becky feels an abusive husband and tries to make a life for herself in Chicago, Henry introduces and educates Otis in the joy and art of murder.

It doesn’t get any more pleasant from there, folks.

The movie stars Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, and Tracy Arnold. Henry was directed by John McNaughton, who is also known for Wild Things (1998). The core cast of Rooker, Towles, and Arnold are superb and live in their parts so well the film almost feels like a documentary.

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Reviews

Joe Bob absolutely had nothing but praise for the film, awarding Henry four stars. The lack of interesting asides in WolfCop was more than made up for in the break segments for Henry, as Joe Bob not only had a great deal to say about the film, but John McNaughton himself stopped by the trailer to reveal some insights into the movie and the lasting legacy of one of the grimiest crime films ever made. Recounting the film of the harrowing “home assault scene,” in particular, revealed a lot about how special this movie truly is. In one anecdote about the film of the movie, McNaughton muses to Joe Bob at the time saying “none of us are going to Heaven” after filming one of the infamous murder scenes. It is a movie so sleazy that an actual real life video pirate played a video pirate in the T.V. shopping scene.

As Joe Bob stated at one point, if drive-in films are about sex and violence, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is sex and violence stripped down to it’s essentials. The film is disturbing and grimy in such a way that as viewers you feel complicit in the on-screen carnage. Needless to say, we here at Haunted MTL love that. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a four star film.

Worst movie night ever

Best Line: “Shit, I’ve got to have a T.V.”

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

  • Joe Bob Fashion: A white button up shirt with black, floral trim and an orange oval bolo tie
  • 1 Degloved face
  • 1 Sad, sad bowl of nachos (what even were those, Joe Bob?)
  • 2 Plot-relevant Eclipses (this week, WolfCop, last week, The House of the Devil)
  • 2 Eye Gouges
  • 3 Victims played by the same actress
  • 7 Producers on WolfCop
  • 6 Twitter bans for Darcy
  • Felissa Rose Mangled Dick Expertise Fu
  • Post-murder Sandwich and Coffee Fu
  • Rat Tail Comb Fu
  • Walmart Joke Fu
  • Five O’Clock Shadow Fu
  • Irishman, Italian, and Redneck Joke Fu
  • Gratuitous Whip Zooms and Pans
  • Gratuitous Chair Pratfall
  • Gratuitous Folklore Infodump
  • Gratuitous Movie-based Rap Song over Credits
  • Gratuitous Darcy Cosplay (as WolfCop)
  • Gratuitous TV Shopping Scene

As always, please share your thoughts with us about The Last Drive-In. Also, please check out our other great content here at Haunted MTL.

Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, Cursed Neighborhood

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Episode five of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was one of the best kind of horror stories. It is a dark, eerie tale of a mean house that is determined to destroy anyone who dares reside within it.

The story

Our story begins in 1682. A group of colonists are attempting to take over land that is very much not theirs. When the colonists are killed, they vow to curse the land.

Fast forward to modern times, and the land in question is a little suburban neighborhood. Carlette Norwood moves in with her husband, mother, and daughters. The house seems like a dream come true. Until, of course, their beautiful dream home becomes a nightmare. The curse of the colonists wrapped itself around the neck of each family member, turning them into people that they didn’t recognize. People who don’t exactly like each other.

What worked

While I wouldn’t say that the acting in this episode is flawless, it was several steps above what we’ve seen so far. Every actor seemed to understand their role and reacted in realistic ways. I was especially impressed by the young woman playing Angelique. She had the good sense to not overplay the role, giving each scene exactly the right amount of energy.

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Of course, there was one actress who way overplayed every scene. But rather than being terrible, it was terrific. And that was Chloe Zeitounian, who played the neighbor Stacy. Stacy the neighbor was creepy as shit. After an unnamed neighbor dies by suicide, Stacy shows up at Carlette’s house with a bottle of champagne, sipping coffee with a big old smile. Well, okay it probably wasn’t coffee.

Stacy was a fantastic character, and I hope there was a crazy neighbor just like her. I bet her house was haunted as hell, but she just decided that her ghost was like a stray dog that everyone else thinks is dangerous. She probably put a bejeweled collar on the colonist ghost and renamed him Kori spelled with an I on purpose.

Finally, I want to talk about the theme of ancestral curse and ancestral protections that this episode discussed.

Charles County was cursed by the colonists who took the land that rightfully belonged to the indigenous tribes. They took what their ancestors had given them, and left a curse in their wake.

At the end of the episode, Carlette talks about being protected by her ancestors. Ancestors that survived horrible things most of us can’t imagine. I am sure that their strength blessed Carlette, and helped her to save Angelique.

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What didn’t work

While this episode was certainly better than most of the season, it wasn’t perfect. The thing that most stood out to me as being frankly unneeded was the inclusion of maggots attacking Brian.

Paul A Maynard in Suburban Screams.

In multiple scenes, during which Carlette is narrating, Brian has maggots coming out of open wounds. Never once does Carlette mention a maggot issue.

It feels like there is a clear reason why the creators did this. This story doesn’t have a lot of blood, gore, or jump scares. And a core goal of horror content is to cause a reaction.

Stephen King has a great quote about this goal. “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

The inclusion of maggots in this story admits that someone involved didn’t think the story was terrorizing or horrifying enough. But it was. The story was freaky all on its own without the inclusion of our wriggling friends.

Is it true?

This might be an unpopular opinion, but aside from the completely unnecessary maggots infesting Brian, I think this episode is the most honest and accurate one so far.

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The thing about hauntings is that they’re seldom what we see in the movies. Haunted houses don’t have glass vases flying off shelves and wallpaper peeling to reveal 666 painted in blood over arcane symbols. Haunted houses dig into the minds of those who live there, causing bad luck and bad vibes. And that’s exactly what happened here. There are no massive explosions. No spirits throwing people downstairs or demonic dogs chasing children from the attic. This house dug into the hearts and minds of a loving family, ripping them apart.

So yes, I do think this episode is likely true.

The further we get into Suburban Screams, the more I enjoy it. This episode was eerie, upsetting, and riveting. I hope that Carlette and her daughters are healing from this horrific journey. And I’m thankful to them for sharing their story. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Happy Father’s Day Herman Munster!

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Herman Munster would be so proud, collage by Jennifer Weigel
Herman Munster would be so proud, collage by Jennifer Weigel

Today for Father’s Day I want to celebrate one the best dads in horror ever: Herman Munster! Herman Munster of television celebrity is a perfect example of a good father in a genre awash in epically horrible parents. He is fun to be around, cares deeply about family, and has a huge heart. He is essentially the naive and loving Frankenstein’s monster despite his horrific appearance, and is aptly employed at a funeral home.

Herman is lovable, hardworking, and always ready with the physical humor dad jokes, even if he is too naive to catch on to his role in the punchlines all the time. He is devoted to his wife Lily Dracula and son Eddie and will do whatever he can to protect them. His generosity extends beyond just his own, with the family taking in his niece Marilyn (who is painfully normal by comparison to the Munsters), and father-in-law Grandpa.

Portrayed by Fred Gwynne, Herman Munster is kind of the epitome of the good father in horror. Sure, he’s a brute, and can be a little dim sometimes, but he’s really just a big teddy bear at heart, and always ready for a good laugh. And apparently Herman Munster was even nominated by his son Eddie for Father of the Year in Season 2, Episode 25, so it all comes around full circle. If the show highlight doesn’t load, you can find it here.

And to celebrate more great Hollywood celebrities, here’s a poem for Ed Wood and an homage to Theda Bara

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Suburban Screams, The Bunny Man

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Someone is stalking the children of Fairfax, Virginia. He comes bearing an axe. He comes from the forest. He comes in the night.

He comes dressed as a bunny.

The story

In the 1970s, the sleepy town of Fairfax Virginia was menaced by a man dressed as a rabbit. He stalked kids and teens with an axe while they were playing in the woods, or ‘parking’. Children were cautioned to not play outside after dark. Parents were terrified. The whole community was rocked by the horrific killer who, well, didn’t kill anybody. And who might have been a whole bunch of people inspired by a truly sad tale?

Still from Suburban Screams The Bunny Man.

The story begins a hundred years earlier. A man whose name is lost to time is accused of stealing a cow. For this crime, he’s sentenced to death because things were a lot tougher back then. The man escaped but swore vengeance on the town. A few days later several children were found hanging from a bridge underpass, butchered and hung as though they were slaughtered rabbits.

What worked

The biggest thing to love about this episode, the one thing that sets it apart from the rest of the season, was the presence of Historian Cindy Burke. Finally, we have an actual professional talking about one of these stories. Yes, there are still first-hand accounts. But that is how these sorts of stories work best. We have the emotional retelling of evocative survivors. But we also have a professional who is emotionally separated from the situation backing up these stories with historical knowledge.

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This wouldn’t have mattered as much in any other setting. But Suburban Screams has been clear from the start that it wants to be seen as a documentary. This is supposed to be real. And if you’re going to claim that your ghost story is real, bring receipts. As many as you can.

If we’d seen more historians, detectives, and police reports through this series, it probably wouldn’t have the bad rating it does on IMDB.

What didn’t work

Well, it might still have had a bad rating. Because the acting in this episode was, for lack of a stronger word, terrible.

I don’t know if it was the directing, the casting, or just a weak talent budget. But not a single person except for the man playing the Bunny Man could act in any of these dramatic reenactment scenes.

The worst offender was probably the child playing Ed’s childhood friend. This character was way overacted. It’s as though the child had seen a parody of how little boys behave, and was told to act like that. As this was a little boy, he was likely a bit embarrassed.

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And I know, I’m trash-talking a child actor. I’m trash-talking all of the children actors in this episode. But children can act. There are lots of examples of kids doing great acting jobs. Stranger Things is an obvious example. Violent Night is another. The kid can act. These kids couldn’t act.

Is it true?

Unlike most of the other episodes in this series, The Bunny Man is a story I’ve heard before. It is a legitimate urban legend that blossomed from a few firsthand accounts of madmen doing scary things dressed as rabbits in Fairfax County, West Virginia. These events probably inspired others to do stupid things like dress up like a rabbit and run around with an ax. Much like the people who decided to dress up like clowns and scare the hell out of people across the country in 2016.

So, yes, the Bunny Man is very much real. He’s real in the hearts and minds of pranksters and West Virginia frat boys. And he is based on some very real, very upsetting, actual events.

I honestly wish the whole season of Suburban Screams had been exactly like this. Filled with facts, first-hand accounts, and proof of scary events. This was everything I wanted in a supernatural/true crime story. So if you’re giving the rest of the season a pass, I would suggest watching this episode.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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