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This week at The Last Drive-In we see how music can elevate crappy films beyond being forgotten and turn already good movies into great ones. Our films this week could not be more different in tone, style, and quality, but they both have very, very strong musical choices. One film goes the route of a cult, horror-adjacent prog-rock band, while the other does Farsi dance and punk tunes.

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!

Contamination (1980)

Opening Rant: Gentrification (Riverplace Courtyard on the Square Plaza)

Contamination, sometimes also known as Alien Contamination, is a 1980 Italian cash-in on the popularity of Ridley Scott’s Alien. The film follows a smart aleck cop, a frigid Pentagon Colonel, and a traumatized astronaut who investigate a link between a coffee company and mysterious green eggs. These eggs explode, causing those who come into contact with them to explode as well. This was marketed in Italy as a sequel to Alien.

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Though the movie is not a great movie, it does have a fantastic score by “The Goblin,” which Joe Bob points out is comprised of the remaining members of “Goblin” after some internal drama. The film was directed by Luigi Cozzi, best known for Starcrash. It stars Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino MasĂ© and Siegfried Rauch. The film was also notorious as a video nasty.

Reviews

Joe Bob awarded Contamination two and a half stars. In particular, the film has an amazing collection of Drive-In Totals that at one point leaves our loquacious host breathless. Part of the appeal, judging by some of Joe Bob’s breaks revolve around the sheet audacity of Luigi Cozzi, and to a greater extent Italian cinema of the 1970s and 1980s. Though, the film did receive a score deduction due to a poorly conceived, neck-up shower scene. The highlights of Joe Bob’s commentary, however, comes from his rather hilarious stories anecdotes of Luigi Cozzi who seemed like a real “character,” to put it lightly.

Haunted MTL can only really afford a star and a half for Contamination. The movie is a mishmash of stolen bits from other movies that are not even stitched together in a way that makes them work. The film has heavy, heavy doses of exposition, and the horror is lacking, to say the least. In fact, the movie during it’s final third becomes a second-rate James Bond film. Not even the presence of a cycloptic, evil alien master pulling the strings can save this mess.

But wow, that soundtrack is a good one.

Don’t touch strange eggs you find on abandoned cargo ships

Best Line: “Sewers are just as warm, damp, and comfortable as an incubator.”

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Opening Rant: What even counts as a lethal weapon? It is about 3 rants deep, here, but the main takeaway is that Nunchucks are legal in the State of Arizona! Happy ‘chucking, folks.

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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the 2014 Iranian-vampire-western fever dream, may seem like a strange fit for The Last Drive-In. However, given the unique pairings this season has brought so far the film serves as a much needed, artsy pallet-cleanser to Contamination.

The film follows two lonely people. Hard-working Arash arrives to care for his heroin-addicted father and soon he finds himself falling in love with an unnamed Girl who just so happens to be a vampire. The film is very unusual in that it is in Farsi, filmed in California, and feels like a stitched together series of vignettes. Of note, the soundtrack adds a great deal to the film, and as Joe Bob discussed during one of his breaks, many scenes are driven by the music.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, who makes a cameo in the film dressed as a Skeleton at a rave. The films stars Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi (in his only real film role), Mozhan Marnò, and Marshall Manesh. Also, special credit must be paid to the incredibly photogenic cat, played by Masuka.

Reviews

Joe Bob seems particularly enamored with the movie, though admittedly confused about the interpretation of it. He awarded A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night three stars. In particular, he was complimentary about the visual aesthetics of the movie during his introduction. His insights into the movie were particularly appreciated because it is such a strange film in origin and interpretation. Throughout the episode Joe Bob cites complimentary similarities of Ana Lily Amirpour to directors like Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch. That being said, Joe Bob can’t help bu razzing the director for her very colorful interviews. In one particular segment he simply reads quotes from interviews with her to hilarious effect.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a wonderful and artsy vampire film filled with striking imagery and enough ambiguity to chew on for a week after. As Joe Bob stated at one point, a hundred people can watch the movie and come away with a hundred different interpretations. The film is loaded with dream-logic scenes, has a fantastic score, and carries some stellar performances. The film does try to get away with a more optimistic ending, however, which proves problematic given the explosive narrative potential in the final act. Overall, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a great vampire film and is a three and a half star treat.

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The titular Girl who walks home alone at night

Best Line: “Mr. Cat! Mr. Cat! He’s really fun. He’s really fun.” Spoken like a true drug-dealing pimp with “Pussy Stretcher” tattooed on their face in Persian.

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

  • 1 open-air corpse pit
  • 2 yellow paramilitary bread delivery vans
  • 3 “eggs” on the TV (just Avocados)
  • 3 levels deep digression in a rant
  • 5 bedsheet hazmat suits
  • 5 production companies for one movie
  • 7 Twitter bans for Darcy (can we make it to 10 out of 10?)
  • Torso Exploding
  • Muffled Talking
  • Atrocious Dubbing
  • Homeless Joking
  • Chinese/German Fusion Restaurant Joking
  • Northern/Southern Zoo Joking
  • Vampiric Bullying and Skateboard Thieving
  • Awkward Post-Cocaine Snorting Vampire Seducing
  • Gratuitous Place-Setting Helicopter Shots
  • Gratuitous Glow-in-the-Dark Avocados with Slime
  • Gratuitous Colombian Folk Celebration
  • Gratuitous Cat Sitting
  • Darcy Cosplaying (as “The Girl”)
  • Flamethrower Egg Frying Fu
  • Spoiler Fu (Thanks Joe Bob!)
  • Overly Long Bathroom Entrapment Fu
  • Burning Cyclops Fu
  • Pretentious Interview Fu

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.

Look at the kitty!

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

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Movies n TV

Cadaver (2020), a Film Review

Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal and currently available on Netflix.

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Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal. This unrated film stars Thorbjørn Harr, Gitte Witt, and Thomas Gullestad. As of this review, the film is available on Netflix.

After an apocalyptic event, the survivors endure in a hopeless world. Among these survivors are Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad), and Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman), a family fighting the hopelessness of a lost world. Leonora desires to keep her daughter (Alice) hopeful, and when a theater opens in their decrepit city, she thinks she has found the solution to their despair. However, they will all soon learn how desperate people have become.

Golden masks hanging on meat hooks over a dark background. Below reads: "Netflix: Cadaver."
Cadaver Netflix Promotional Art

What I Like from Cadaver

Cadaver takes on a unique focus for a post-apocalyptic movie. While most in the genre tackle the question of where you find hope, the theatrical lens is not one I’ve seen before. It blends these two unique environments together for a pleasant concoction. As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I must admit I find my niche in the everyday lives of someone in such a world.

Leonora’s (usually called Leo in the film) dreamer nature in this horrendously hopeless environment creates a sympathetic contrast. This dreamer nature doesn’t excuse some of her choices, but she evokes sympathy. While most post-apocalyptic entries provide this balance of hope and survival, Leo’s creativity and passion for the arts give her hope and a more focused ideal.

The relationship between Leo and her husband also creates a nice contrast, as Jacob plays the rationalist and survivor. In this decision, both characters provide that post-apocalyptic dynamic of survival and hope. These interactions allow both actors opportunities to create friction as they pull the plot from their differing perspectives.

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I had the chance to listen to the dubbed version, which sounds good. I’m not much for dubs, especially on Netflix, but they did Cadaver with respect and a focus on quality. At the very least, it’s competent and doesn’t distract from the viewing experience.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

As hinted at earlier, there are some dumb decisions in the plot. While many fall within character traits, the actions don’t escape criticism. This flaw becomes incredibly repetitive when characters make the same mistake.

Implied suicide occurs throughout the film with one shown incident, but there are circumstances that change the context slightly. A world this bleak invites this depressive and dangerous state as a normality. However, one should prepare if this is a trigger.

A girl to the left most side holding her mother's hand. Their father walking on the right most side. All wear golden masks as they walk a hallway.
Cadaver Family

What I Dislike or Considerations for Cadaver

Again, some decisions had me roll my eyes and endure the plot. This reaction isn’t exactly the experience I seek out in my horror. It’s more haunting to make sensible, or even intelligent, decisions and still endure unavoidable or unforeseen consequences.

It’s likely that nothing in Cadaver surprises you, which underutilizes the interesting premise. There are unique elements, certainly, but never a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s in that execution that Cadaver falls flat and fails to engage a viewer.

The film doesn’t exactly haunt the viewer, but the bleak world effectively depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocalypse. Don’t expect much genuine horror, but you can expect an appropriately uncomfortable and unnerving experience. In short, viewers of Cadaver likely want a unique twist in their post-apocalypse, not a traumatic horror.

Final Thoughts

Cadaver remains a unique viewing experience by adding a slight twist to its post-apocalyptic story. While not a haunting masterpiece, this bleak film will have you feeling the characters’ struggle. While lacking sensible decision-making skills, they are certainly sympathetic survivors struggling in a hopeless world. If this is your niche, it’s certainly worth a view.
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Wheel of Time, What Might Be

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Episode three of Wheel of Time was easily my favorite so far. It’s dramatic, dark, and speaks to the growing concerns about evil invading the world.

Let’s discuss.

The Story

Let’s begin with Nynaeve. After showing little to no progress, Liandrin thinks she’s ready to go through the Trial of The Arches. This is an initiation that all Aes Sedai have to go through to become a sister. It’s dangerous, not totally understood, and doesn’t have a great survival rate.

One would think some cooler heads would prevail and not let the very new person do this so early. Especially since Nynaeve seems to have some issues with impulse control.

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But she goes into the trial, seeing first a scene from her childhood where her parents are attacked. 

The point is to walk back through the arches, leaving her family behind. This she does, but doesn’t look very happy about it. Her second trial involves finding herself back in Two Rivers, where a horrible plague has ripped through the people. Again, she has to walk away from the people that she cares about and come back to reality.

Zoe Robins in Wheel of Time

The third test is a little more tricky. It appears that Nynaeve comes back covered in blood, with no memories of what happened. 

Terrified, she runs from the castle only to find Lan waiting for her. 

In the real world, where Liandrin and the others are waiting for her, she simply never returns. 

This shakes Liandrin. She decides she’s done holding Mat against his will, and lets him leave. Excited, but also smelling a trap, he takes Min with him. 

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Still not sure why she had him to start with, but I guess it’s cool that she let him go.

Meanwhile, Rand is working with a familiar face at his hospital. It’s Logain, who we might remember as the false dragon from season one. 

Rand would love some advice about channeling as a man. But it appears that Logain might really have lost his mind.

What worked

My favorite scene in the episode was the one involving Perrin and Lady Suroth. This scene was perfect. 

First off, the character design for Lady Suroth was just perfect. Without moving more than a hand and the crook of her mouth, she manages to be terrifying. 

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The massively scary nails help, as does the headdress that is both beautiful and reminiscent of an insect. The sort of insect that seems likely to bite and lay eggs under the skin of a victim. 

Her absolute authority was terrifying. Uno certainly learned that. 

What was more scary, of course, was who was standing next to her. Does she think she’s the one in charge? Or is she perfectly clear on where stands?

What didn’t work

One thing that I don’t love about this season is, unfortunately, not likely to change. It’s true in the books, and it’s true in the show.

Daniel Henney in Wheel of Time

The ensemble cast structure doesn’t work for me. 

It fractures the story in too many directions. It’s too busy, there’s too much going on. At the same time, there isn’t enough going on with individual characters for me to establish an interest in all of them. 

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I care what’s happening with Egwene and Nynaeve. I care what’s happening with Perrin.

I don’t care as much about Rand right now. And she wasn’t as involved in this episode, but I don’t care about what Moiraine is going through either.

That could be because the world is coming to an end and they’re refusing to be team players. But maybe that’s just me. 

Overall, this was a fun episode. It feels like pieces are being put into place. The characters are getting ready for something big. Something that we can only see the beginnings of. 

Something that they clearly don’t think they’re ready for. 

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3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain

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American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.

Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. 

The Story

Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.

Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Delicate

Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.

But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.

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Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.

You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby. 

What worked

AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.

Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.

This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us. 

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I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.

This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.

What didn’t work

Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!

Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here. 

I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.

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Juliana Canfield in American Horror Story Delicate

I feel like they’ve been railroaded. 

All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring.  4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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