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Tonight a living legend (who isn’t Joe Bob Briggs) makes an appearance on the show as Roger Corman walks us through The Little Shop of Horrors and Humanoids from the Deep. Can you believe it? Another season of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs is over and done. We are also leaving the cabin in New Jersey, where the show has been since the pandemic started. It was a great night with solid movies and a sense of transition that, as we have seen on the show before, may also work as a series finale until Shudder finally confirms season 4.

So, how were the movies? What absurd cosplay did Darcy whip up? How many dogs were killed on screen this week? Let’s find out!

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Opening: There is only one type of gym that gets the Joe Bob seal of approval: a real shithole.

Shot in the tail-end of the 1950s over the span of two days, Roger Corman’s The Little Shop of Horrors is one of those important chapters of film history as a foundational independent project. Roger Corman directed the film, written by Charles B. Griffith. There is some suggestion the film could have been inspired by few other carnivorous plant stories floating around, but that is a murky debate. The film also should not be confused with the later Broadway musical, which was the foundation of Frank Oz’s 1986 film. All of this emphasizes the influence of this film, and more to the point, Roger Corman on the world of film as Drive-In fans and mutants have come to know it.

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The Little Shop of Horrors stars Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, and Dick Miller with a very brief appearance by Jack Nicholson, which became a major part of advertising the film in the decades since release. The whole cast is filled with Corman’s regulars, who could pull together an incredibly tight production. The movie follows Seymour Krelboined, a gardener in Mushnick’s flower shop who raises a strange plant that blossoms when it feeds on blood. What follows is a black comedy with elements of farce, rapid-fire dialogue, and a little bit of then-contemporary spoof. The cast finds themselves learning about the hunger of the plant and sometimes succumbing to it.

As a whole, the film is great. It is worth every bit of praise it deserves, even without factoring in the incredible circumstances of its production and conception. And Roger Corman, more known for his latter role as a producer, has great directorial chops here, rounding up disparate elements into a workable and compelling story. With that being said, sometimes the lassoing of broader ideas is a little more obvious. The dental scene, a classic, feels like more of an aside than a pivotal part of moving the story forward. The entire movie has this quality to an extent, feeling very stitched together but done well. It is just that some of the seams are fairly obvious. Given the speed at which the film came together, even in scripting, this isn’t surprising and is a testament to the talent of everyone involved. These issues are largely ironed out in Frank Oz’s musical adaptation in the mid-eighties, such as dropping the detectives and their narration.

The film does look rough in spots, with an obvious set for the flower shop, but it is also ridiculously charming, especially the Yiddish-influenced, handmade signs. Any time the movie is set outdoors, however, the screen becomes a blobby, shadowy mess. This isn’t uncommon in black and white films, and The Little Shop of Horrors is another example of this reality of limitations in 1950s films.

The film’s draw is the dialogue and the cast that delivers it with an incredible level of old Hollywood energy. Joe Bob mentioned that during the show, and it is something any film fan would be aware of – the dialogue was just faster back in the day. As for the crew, the four highest-billed actors, except for Nicholson, given his minor role, deliver masterclass performances. Jonathan Haze’s Seymour Krelboined is a neurotic, easily bullied bundle of anxiety that plays off every other character. Much can be said about Mel Welles’ blustery, scene-chewing Gravis Mushnick, but his performance is strengthened by the work Haze puts in. Another example of Haze’s talent comes with nearly any scene involving his hypochondriac mother, played by Myrtle Vail. In those moments, hilarious jokes fly fast, and the energy between them is stunning. Of course, Jackie Joseph is also fantastic as Audrey, playing a charming woman, but not adding much else, fairly common for the time, sadly.

Theatrical poster for The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
Animated adaptation when?

It is no shock that Joe Bob Briggs, a Roger Corman super-fan, has high praise for the film. He provided several great details about the production and crew, but the night’s theme was mostly a tribute to Roger Corman, who served as the final guest of the season. Corman stuck around for both films, and his interviews were fascinating, particularly when it came to the craft of film production. It just seems like further evidence Joe Bob needs a second show where he talks to talent.

One of the best bits from the host segment revolved around just exploring how influential Corman was. He is a modest man, so Joe Bob had to do a lot of the direction of the conversation in that regard, seeding stories for Roger to build on. The stories, though? Incredible, such as Roger’s experiencing taking acting classes and the ridiculous number of contacts he established by taking those classes.

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The Little Shop of Horrors is a classic film and an important piece of film history. It is not without its problems, however. Those problems made the film a bit more charming and ultimately allowed Frank Oz’s later adaptation to do its own thing – and quite well. They’re two different experiences grown in the same soil, but each stands on its own. Joe Bob Briggs gave The Little Shop of Horrors four stars, which is a fair, reasonable assessment of the movie. I am more of a fan of the musical, but I can recognize the original as the art it is. I still have some hangups regarding the film’s structure, but it’s definitely an objectively great film. I give it four and a half Cthulhus out of five. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Best Line: “Now, no Novocain. It dulls the senses.” – Wilbur Force, Jack Nicholson’s kinky dental customer.

A screenshot of the dentist and Seymour from The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
No bombastic Steve Martin musical number, sadly.

Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Opening: Building on the energy of The Little Shop of Horrors… we’ve slowed down as a society.

Ah, Humanoids from the Deep. We are firmly in the Roger Corman production era, and perhaps Roger at his absolute heights as a figure in the industry with this film. Is it the best of the films Roger Corman produced under New World Pictures? Not really. But it is enjoyable and a great slice of what ended up a career retrospective for this evening on The Last Drive-In. The film has all the ingredients necessary for a Drive-In movie and absolutely delivers on all three fronts: blood, breasts, and beasts.

Humanoids from the Deep (or, MONSTER!) is a 1980 science fiction horror film starring Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, and Vic Morrow. Like many movies that show up on the show, this one had a trouble production: the film is nominally directed by Barbara Peeters, but Jimmy T. Murakami’s uncredited contributions are the behest of Corman. The screenplay was written by Fredrick James, based on a story by Frank Arnold and Martin B. Cohen, who served as a producer as well. Another credit of note, the music was handled by none of than James Horner.

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The movie follows the local fisherman and community of Noyo, California. They are menaced by brutally escalating assaults by mysterious assailants who turn out to be murderous, raping fish-men from a nearby fishing company. Also, there is a subplot about indigenous cultures being abused by settling whites, themes of environmentalism, and small-town toxicity. There is also a bizarre scene with a puppet. It’s a great movie for Drive-In Mutants. For the normals? Not so much.

The plot is pretty loose, really only stretching a thin story over a few scenes of monstrous encounters. Nothing about the story itself comes off as surprising, either. It’s all very much in line with other films with the same sort of themes, but coming into Humanoids expecting something revolutionary in the narrative is a fool’s errand. Instead, the appeal from the film comes from the discrepancy between the actors and the material, the effects, and the unique way the monsters are handled.

The performances in the film are good, generally, and great surprisingly often. Given the nature of the film, some level of trickery was employed to get the scripts passed from the agents to the actors, and Roger confirmed as much in the show. Specifically, the film was pitched as a “psychological drama,” which is fantastic because that is so not what this movie is. But because a payday is a payday, the actors put their all into it. The performances range from the oddly compelling, if not a bit basic Doug McClure, to the incredibly compelling in Anthony Pena’s Johnny Eagle, to the ridiculously cartoonish villainy of Vic Morrow as Hank Slattery. The fact these actors put so much effort into this movie about killer fish-men snatching up women and slashing up men is astounding.

Theatrical poster of Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
Blood. Breasts. Beasts.

Oh, and those fish-men are amazing. A sizeable chunk of the film’s $2.5 million budget was wisely spent on the monster costumed by the legendary Rob Bottin (The Thing, RoboCop, The Howling). The monsters are damn good, especially when they emerge from the water. They also hold up incredibly well in a few underwater scenes. They are inevitably a bit goofy looking, as they are bipedal mutant salmon, but the elongated arms and strange features are the scary sides of goofy.

The movie, really, is all just set up from the final twenty minutes or so, featuring a massive attack on a local festival by the fish-men. It is a tight little film at under 80 minutes, but the story is mostly treading water until the attack. The film also, and perhaps most novelly, shows the monsters early on. Most creature features obscure the monster until the end. With Humanoids from the Deep, you’ll have seen at least a couple of the monsters in full during graphic sexual assaults or bloody slashing by the end of the first third of the film.

Joe Bob’s host segments continued to pull great anecdotes out of Roger Corman, especially on whether people can still produce films his way in today’s industry. To summarize Roger’s exquisite point: it’s hard today but still possible. Most of the other segment highlights were the increasingly absurd “six degrees of Roger Corman” reveals that emphasize his importance to cinema as a whole. Gale Anne Hurd? Martin Scorsese? Roger had a hand in shaping their careers. It’s astounding, really.

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Humanoids from the Deep isn’t what you could call a great film, but it is a great movie if we believe such distinctions exist. Humanoids is entertaining and has a certain limited cultural relevance, but it’s not for everyone. This one is for the Mutants. By that assessment, Joe Bob Briggs’ four-star rating makes sense. I swim in a bit of a different stream in my reviews, though. I think it is a ton of fun and one I’d watch again and again, but it’s not one I would argue is great. I’d give it about three and a half Cthulhus. 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Best Line: “Oh, come on, show me more than the head.” – Becky, talking about a ventriloquist dummy.

A screenshot from Humanoids from the Deep depicting a fish-man.
YEEHAW WE GOT OURSELVES A FISH-MAN FRICASSEE!

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

Our final drive-in totals of the season. I miss them already.

As for our totals:

  • 2 day shoot
  • 4 Yuki Sightings
  • 6 Degrees of Roger Corman
  • 9 gym rules
  • 14 dead dogs this season
  • 67 years of Roger Corman films
  • Flower Eating
  • Self Medicating
  • Vulture Joking
  • Rapid Fire Dialogue Fu
  • Self-financed Fu
  • Darcy Cosplay: Audrey (the 1986 version), and a Humanoid… from the Deep!
  • Silver Bolo Award: Good Bad Flicks
A screenshot of The Last Drive-In depicting Roger Corman being remote interviewed by Joe Bob Briggs.
Legend meets Icon.

Episode Score

Tonight seemed to be the end to what I hope will be dubbed the “Cabin in the Woods”-era of the show, which means I also hope we’ll have multiple eras of The Last Drive-In. I know my criticisms of the isolation of the cabin set and some remote guests have been a running theme through my reviews of the season and the previous specials. Still, I ultimately feel this will be a nostalgic chapter of our collective Drive-In experience. It’s interesting how seeing Joe Bob and Darcy (in Humanoid cosplay) evokes that nostalgia, which of course, is the overall reason why Mutants tune in week to week to watch the show on Shudder, to begin with. Nostalgia, whether drawn from movies we know, or even the comforting presence of a guy in a bolo tie drinking beer and waxing wise about a movie, is something that we needed to get through the last year or so.

So, I guess while I had my gripes with the cabin, I am ultimately going to miss it. Funny how that will work – there will be the inevitable nostalgia. I think we’re going to be able to continue building memories of the show for a while to come. The slickly-produced Drive-In Oath between the two films felt like something you would produce for a show you plan to keep around, not send-off. Time will tell. Regardless, as with every season and special, we come to a close with a wistful Joe Bob and something that can work as the last Last Drive-in. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Lastly, if you want a little more Joe Bob while you wait for the next special, consider Join Darcy’s Patreon, The Lost Drive-In. I am a member and have already received a great Blu-Ray full of great Joe Bob bits from his previous shows. She also posts fun clips from the archives on show nights, so there is a ton of stuff you can enjoy.

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Movies n TV

House of the Dragon S2 E1: Episode 1 Review and Recap – Son of a Son of a Sailor

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Alright, buckle up, mofos! The dragons is back, and oh boy, do they mean business. With the premiere of House of the Dragons, our thirst for the high-flying, fire-breathing drama that we’ve been missing since Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings new new new series, the boys, and uhh…possibly your toilet after a ghostpepper whopper is finally being quenched (unlike your bottom after said whopper).

Lets dragon-dive headfirst back into the twisted, power-hungry realms of Westeros, where the names Targaryen, Stark, and the rest of the totally not hard to spell/remember names reign supreme.

Usually, I write these reviews on the fly (no pun!), but since KYRIE CANNOT MAKE ONE DAMN MORE ASSIST (not his fault, he tried the rest couldn’t shoot for crap after the passes)…errrmm…I mean, I think I was watching the game that I definitely did not lose a few grand on. ONE LOUSEY ASSIST! errmm….HoD…right.

Let’s drink to remember all that happened last season cuz..well…yeah….I mean, doesn’t HBO have two elf looking series set in middle earth at the same time? I honestly don’t know if this is the one with Dumbledore or Legolaissisis or the Bowtie Doctor or…. well, you get the picture.

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We’ll remember what we totally forgot from last year, break down the key plot points (because who can keep up?), dive into the nitty-gritty details of this episode’s events, and speculate wildly about where Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen are taking us this time around in House of the Dragon season 2. So, if you’re ready to relive the glory, the gore, and the downright gut-wrenching politics of it all, stick with me. We’re in for a wild ride.

Immediate Recap: Remember last year? Me neither

So in this one:

Oh man, if your memory of last season is as foggy as mine, don’t sweat it! Let’s dust off those cobwebs and dive into a quick recap before we get lost in the new shenanigans of “House of the Dragon” season 2.

Basically, a bunch of white kids had sex with their King Daddy and that King Daddy went to one of the womens he was NOT *I think* sleeping with and said I will make YOU the heir to the throne–as long as nothing happens to me between now and the moment I will make this public and then yeah, you guessed it.

Ned Stark 2.0

I guess reusing old story lines is a good way to start a new series?

Now that you’re caught up…Let’s move to this new Season of “Who dey sleep with now?”

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The Wall and Starks are even more boring in the olden days?

So, here we are again with the Starks and that big old icy Wall. Remember how we left off with Jacaerys Velaryon flying up to Winterfell to buddy up with Cregan Stark? Yeah, me neither. I guess the only person to really remember is the North. Cregan gave Jacaerys the whole ‘Winter is coming” spiel—classic Stark move, right? Maybe one will live beyond this season?

Who dis? Who dat? (Robot Rollcall of faces n names)

Alright, let’s roll call because Westeros’ lineup can be harder to keep track of than a Hanson/Lindsay Lohan convention.

Not gonna lie. I can’t tell these people apart. One dude wears a bowtie and the other is a pirate or something.

Key Plot Points and Themes in Episode 1

Narrative and Character Development

Oh, the drama unfolds! In the heart of Dragonstone, Rhaenyra Targaryen’s world is rocked not just by political upheaval but also personal tragedy. As she comforts her son Lucerys about his heritage (Okay, so Jim had to google this because he forgot the kid was a bastard…like, seriously, that’s how much of an impact the whole ‘who the daddy’ thing made on Jim). Then people try to get some sort of alliance going but –again– since we can’t tell one character from each other, no shits were given.

Remember the original GOT? How we had our FAVORITES and we would really go “fuck these people’ if one of our favs died? Some of us even had a ditching kill point (mine was Tyrion or Arya). We don’t have that here. Would I be upset if Matt Smith’s character dies? Probably, but only because there would be one less person I could remember (that and eye-patch guy).

Oh, and Smith’s character pays two people to kill someone and they, of course, don’t kill the right guy just some baby rando.

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In short, nobody cared about any of the characters dying in this episode.

Conclusion and Looking Forward

As we wrap up our recap and analysis of “House of the Dragon” S2 E1, we have a lot to look forward to. We can look forward to (hopefully) character development so shits are given who is on throne or not or dead or not or fucking someone or not. So far, that hasn’t happened. The reason falls squarely on the shoulders of how they did Season 1: So. Much. Time. Shifts. Hard to care about someone you keep quantum leaping through their life at random.

I do hope this season has more plot and character development. I want to like this series. I think I can like this series, but honestly–if you did a side-by-side of the hobbit series and this…I couldn’t tell you which char was from what universe, and that’s not a good thing for either franchise.

This episode gets a pure rating of ‘maybe next time’ 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Seriously, if you think Jim is kidding about the two franchises looking alike, well….did you notice that he used LotR screenshots instead of GoT for some of these images?

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Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, Phone Stalker

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We’ve reached the last episode of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams. And now that I’ve seen the entire season, I’d like to say something directly to John Carpenter if I may. Mr. Carpenter, I’m a big fan. Have been since I was a child. So I ask this with all due respect. Did you lose a bet? Do you owe people money? Is that why you did this? Because otherwise, I’m entirely confused.

The story

Our last episode tells the story of a woman named Beth Spierer. Her life is shattered when someone starts to call her and deliver horrific, violent messages.

These calls and texts get worse and worse. They often include pictures of her with scratches over her eyes or pictures of a dildo. The calls start coming to her work as well.

Beth tries to change her number, blocks calls and even goes to the police. But no matter what she does, she can’t escape the horrifying calls from the violent stalker.

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What worked

The acting in this episode was fairly good. At least when compared to most of this season. It isn’t good when compared to most other shows, but for this episode it was fantastic. All of the actors involved knew what they were doing. And they are not part of the criticism I’m going to levy in the next few paragraphs.

Julie Stevens as Beth in Suburban Screams.

What didn’t work

I can honestly say that this episode of Suburban Screams should not have been made. Full stop, this episode should have died before it breathed its first breath.

My reasons for saying this are twofold. The first is that the story just isn’t that interesting. Please understand, that I’m not being dismissive of Beth’s plight. What happened to her, and what continues to happen to her, is horrible. I have nothing but sympathy for her. But her story, while touching, isn’t unique. Lots of people are stalked, harassed, threatened. A content creator I follow had someone try to break into her house with a screwdriver. My husband had a stalker before we were dating. A friend of mine had to stay in a shelter for a while because she was being harassed. And I don’t know a single person, man woman, or nonbinary, who hasn’t gotten an unwanted genital pic on social media.

It’s like finding out someone you don’t know and have never heard of before has cancer. It’s sad, but it’s not news.

Again, this isn’t at all to say that I don’t care about care about what’s happening to Beth. I care about her, and her wellbeing. This is the second reason why this episode should never have been made.

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There is no doubt in my mind that if Beth’s stalker is still alive, they know about this episode. They probably have a Google notification set up for Beth’s name. And we just do not know how this stalker is going to respond. Maybe they’ll get off on it. Maybe it will enrage them and they’ll do something even worse to Beth. Maybe they’ll feel so much shame for this they’ll decide to take out themselves and Beth in one go.

There was no effort to hide Beth’s name. Or the names of her friends. There was no effort at all to protect her from whatever fallout there was from this.

This is not Beth’s fault. She has had to do enough to protect herself. This was irresponsible of the showrunners. And if God forbid, something happens to any of these people, the showrunners will have to bear some of the responsibility for that.

I liked it so much better when we were talking about wet ghosts and pizza box ouija boards.

Is it real?

This question for this episode is, unfortunately, a no-brainer. Yes, I believe that Beth Spierer was stalked and harassed by an unknown assailant. Yes, I further believe that when she went to the police the detective probably sexually harassed her.

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This is why we chose the bear.

In short, of course, this episode is real. I honestly wish it wasn’t.

All in all, this whole series was a huge disappointment. And threatening the wellbeing of a stalker survivor was just the last straw. I don’t know if another season is planned. But if it is, I doubt if I’ll be tuning in.

1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

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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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