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Ghosts and women are drawn to each other, that’s a solid Wiki fact (source needed). Something about an other worldly love that transcends all boundaries sends shivers down her spine, literally because that dude’s cold dead. 

This is a tale we’ve seen over and over again in movies about widows and roguish ghost sea captains, in Star Trek: The Good One, in Baywatch (as previously discussed), in that Donald Trump classic and in, well, ‘Ghost’

Girls love them some incorporeal D. And this isn’t a Ray ‘Ghostbuster’ moment played for laughs – these stories are serious as a heart attack…and then the heart attack victim haunts/seduces a living woman.

Same is the case in this strange and wild doozy of a film, ‘The Carpenter’.

All hail Wings Hauser, the harbinger of 80’s cheese!

The Plot:

Our Main, Alice, has the most polite nervous breakdown by boredly walking around her apartment before carefully and methodically cutting up one of her husband’s suits. He comes home and is mildly upset. Off to the funny farm with you,  you basket-case!

After an apparent hospitalization of weeks, she’s feeling better and her husband has bought them a new house in the country because making huge life decisions without consulting your spouse in the middle of a mental health crisis is the Flemish way to say “I love you”. Or “I wish for your inevitable downfall”. I can never remember which.

Good news for the husband, Alice becomes instantly enamored with the house and connected to it.  

Too bad the house is old and needs work, but not to worry! There are several gross and obnoxious young men who can fix it up on her husband’s tenured (?) professor’s salary. But from these young men, only one catches her eye. 

Enter Wings. Working only all hours of the night, Wings Hauser plays Ed, a carpenter- no, THE carpenter. Just a salt-of-the Earth, old-fashioned man who loves to get down and dirty with the house and she is into it. In the late nights, they wax poetics about how people are dumb and lazy now, and how great the house is. They form a friendship and maybe something deeper…

But can their love affair survive his sordid past, her lackluster marriage, the mysteriously missing crew members, and most importantly, the fact that he may have an incorporeal D?

Thoughts:

This is actually refreshing. It has all the cheese and glamour of the 80’s, but with a spine of sentimentality running through the film. Surprisingly, this is a love story. A messy and strange one, sure, but a love story. It’s not going to blow your mind, but there’s enough to it that is an entertaining watch and an interesting spin. 

With such a bland title, I was surprised with the weight it did hold. I think having Wings as The Carpenter was a huge part of it. When you have your top bill as “the other” and not as Alice’s husband, it turns to focus around on its head. It’s a wonderful little “what if” trip.

The only thing that I would have changed is not show the asylum or have the breakdown bigger. In the MST3K classic, ‘The Screaming Skull’, this was wonderfully illustrated. The main character, Jenny, was emotionally distressed when moving into a new place, fragile but hopeful. We never saw Jenny in the asylum (this ages very poorly), we just saw the aftermath. I think this would have been better in The Carpenter, especially as a way for the characters to interact with each other. 

Plus maybe another kill in the movie…A nosy mailman or something…Spread them out. They weren’t paced super well.

But as a directorial debut…this was pretty darn good and fun. A little gem for an 80’s night. 

Brainroll Juice:

Boy, oh boy, I will have to write a whole article one day about mental health in horror movies, huh? There’s a lot to cover. That’s my third dissertation, I guess. Or a whole other podcast (I do those by the way).

Honestly, I liked Alice a lot. She was not a push-over. She was strong in her beliefs and convictions, even regarding her health. Her husband kept trying to get her to take sleeping pills and she was like, “But I don’t need them. I sleep okay.” The only time when she didn’t sleep through the night is when Wings is frickin’ hammering and sawing at 3 in the morning. 

Stupid ghost carpenter. I have WORK IN THE MORNING!!!

When they bond, it’s actually charming. He seems to appreciate her in ways her husband doesn’t (husband seems just to dismiss her, but he’s also having an affair with a student, so he’s a busy guy). And when she disagrees with her husband and Wings, she’s no shrinking violet. She’s not Shelley Duvall in ‘The Shining’, tightly wound and clutching onto each cigarette for dear life. She’s clear about her boundaries, while also being vulnerable and, yes, susceptible. 

Lynne Adams did an amazing job at pulling this off. So, while the initial breakdown and asylum was rough campiness, she did a wonderful job at bringing life and gravity to the character. 

Bottom-line:

Fun 80’s romp with Wings Hauser into the problems of falling in love with a ghost who enjoys flipping houses at ungodly hours.

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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Movies n TV

Dahmer, Lionel

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Most true crime content includes a dramatic courtroom scene. Two dashing lawyers face off, defending their clients no matter how gruesome their crimes were.

While there was a courtroom scene, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. It’s something that, again, I don’t think I’ve seen before. 

Let’s discuss. 

As the title would suggest, most of this episode was from Lionel Dahmer’s point of view. And Lionel, it should go without saying, is not in a great place right now. His son, who he loves, is in a hell of a lot of trouble. And Lionel is doing his best to make this whole mess not his fault.

Richard Jenkins and Molly Ringwald in Dahmer.

The fault, as far as he’s concerned, lies with Joyce. It should be no surprise to anyone that Joyce doesn’t agree. She’s been doing her best to distance herself as much as possible from her oldest son and former husband as possible. 

This doesn’t work, as reporters find and hound her just the same. 

With Jeff in jail, an angry population doesn’t have anyone to turn their anger on, except Jeff’s family. And they are all getting harassed. Jeff’s grandma, suffering from dementia, is having her home raided by the police. People are coming forward, claiming to be Jeff’s friends from childhood. We know that’s a like, Jeff didn’t have any friends. Accusations are flying against Lionel, that he sexually abused Jeff when he was a little boy. 

All in all, it’s hard to not feel bad for the Dahmers. Yeah, they were bad parents. They made some pretty serious mistakes. But honestly, no more than lots of parents. And most people don’t go on cannibalistic murder sprees. 

Now, to the court scene. Honestly, this was so hard to watch. 

Dahmer’s attorney tried to convince him that he can plead insanity like Ed Gein. On the off chance you don’t know who Ed Gein is, he’s the notorious serial killer who inspired both Norman Bates and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He killed women who resembled his mother, cut them up, and did stuff to them. And yes, just like it says in this episode when he was caught he sold himself out for an apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese on top.

Gein spent the rest of his life in a mental ward, and Lionel would like to see the same for Jeff. It’s hard to argue with him.

But that argument fails. And before sentencing, the families of the victims are allowed to speak.

They have a lot to say. 

This is what I meant when I said the courtroom scenes were unusual. We saw non of the actual trial, it was hopped right over. This is normally a dramatic moment in true crime shows. Instead, we see the impact that these murders had. Dahmer’s actions destroyed his family. He destroyed the families of the people he killed. 

DAvid Barrera, Matthew Alan and Scott Michael Morgan in Dahmer.

There is so much collateral damage when a life is lost. And that, I think, is what this episode is truly about. The extensive, heartbreaking collateral damage of Jeff Dahmer. 

With Dahmer sentenced to fifteen life sentences, I’m honestly not sure how we still have two episodes to go. One I could understand, but two seems a bit much. I’m hoping that the creators have some additional chapters of the story that we haven’t yet explored. 

I guess we’ll have to see. 

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

“The Menu” Gives Us A Bloody Good Time

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Writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy have outdone themselves with the plot of “The Menu.” Spoilers ahead!

The Plot

Yes, chef!

Tyler and Margot are attending a high-class restaurant located on a remote island for the meal of a lifetime. This meal comes at a steep cost: thousands of dollars ($1,250 a plate to be exact) as well as possibly your life. Those who attend the dinner at Hawthorne are the type who frequently ask: “Do you know who I am?”

Chef Julian does not care who you are, and after years of serving the privileged elite, he has had enough. Julian commands his chefs and the room with a loud clap, his chefs answering him in tandem with a bone-chilling “yes, chef.” Ralph Fiennes as Julian gives a shiveringly scary performance. Julian commands the space as well as everyone in it and Ralph Fiennes is dastardly, dark, and daunting.

Chef Julian’s sidekick is creepy herself, doing his bidding just as the other chefs do. Female subservience is addressed through this side character as well as sous chef Catherine, who created one of the courses that is served to the guests.

This course is introduced by Catherine telling the story of how Chef Julian tried to have sexual relations with her. When she denied him, he refused to look at her in the eye anymore. Before Catherine serves her dish, she stabs Julian with scissors in the thigh, getting revenge for his behavior. Julian acts none the wiser, pulling the scissors from his thigh before serving the diners the hunk of meat with the same kind of scissors plunged into it.

Everyone obeys Chef Julian except for Margot. Women and men in the room accept that this is their last night alive, not protesting too hard or trying to escape. Margot is the only fighter. Perhaps this is why she escapes.

The Verdict

In a world where we have seen a rise in slasher films, The Menu lives in a place between darkly satirical horror and a slasher film.

The Menu is whip smart, remarking on our class system, displaying those who can afford a $1,250 a plate meal on a remote island against the thought of the character of Margot. Margot is revealed halfway through the film to have been a sex worker, hired by Tyler to attend the dinner. His girlfriend, the original intended guest, had broken up with him and Tyler knew that there was never a table for one at Hawthorne.

Tyler knew everyone would die at the meal, yet still involved Margot, an innocent bystander who turns out to be the only one that makes it out alive. Chef Julian does this as it is clear he believes Tyler tainted his final menu experience by not bringing the guest who RSVP’d.

Tyler gets what is coming to him in the end. He comments on each course in mostly negative ways and snaps photos (which was expressly forbidden). Chef Julian asks Tyler to make him a meal since he knows so much more than anyone about cuisine. When Tyler’s meal doesn’t live up to Chef’s expectations, he is killed.

Margot is juxtaposed with the famous and rich at the dinner who can afford such an experience while she is being paid to attend. The film remarks on the lavish actions of the rich in the movie versus those who may not know where their next meal will come from.

Final Thoughts

The food that the film shows is gorgeous and conceptual, Chef Julian giving backstory to each dish. The film is the darkest version of Hell’s Kitchen I’ve ever seen. As a foodie and a horror lover, this film touched on all my favorite genres. It was deep, had something to say, and screamed it at the top of its lungs.

I respect the filmmakers and writers of this movie as it was compelling, engrossing, and kept me guessing, all while remarking on important social themes.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, Cassandra

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Episode seven of Netflix’s Dahmer brings the spotlight, finally, to the hero of our story. Glenda Cleveland. 

Glenda was Jeff’s neighbor. And honestly, I can’t think of a worse neighbor. A horrific stench is always coming from his apartment. He has people over, and they make a lot of noise. 

While they’re dying. 

Niecy Nash in Dahmer

If you’ll recall episode one of Dahmer ended with all of his neighbors, including Glenda, being forced to leave their homes. The whole building was declared a crime scene. They’re not given any place to go, of course. 

Everyone’s got a few thousand dollars socked away for an unexpected motel stay, right? 

Fortunately, Glenda was able to get a motel room. And that’s where she is when Reverend Jesse Jackson finds her. 

Glenda pours out her story to Reverend Jackson. The rest of the episode consists of her dark and troubling encounters with Dahmer. 

The most compelling scene, I think, is when Dahmer brings Glenda a sandwich. He’s being evicted, and he knows it’s because she’s been complaining about the smells coming out of his apartment. 

He tries to pour on his little boy charm. He tells her that he got his apartment cleaned, just for her. He brings her a pulled meat sandwich as a present. 

Notice I don’t say pulled pork, because I’m fairly sure it was human meat. Or, it was just drugged.

Or both. 

This episode just hummed with tension and rage. I was so happy to see Reverend Jackson tear into the police in the most polite way possible. I hated seeing what Glenda went through. And even though I know she lives through this horrific encounter, I held my breath the entire time she was alone with Jeff. 

Dahmer is certainly not afraid to jump back and forth between the past and present. But they are careful to never do it in such a way that I felt lost. And I honestly think this was the best way to do it. 

The reason for this is that it adds a level of suspense that Dahmer might have lacked without it. Suspense is something that true crime stories can lack. Especially well-known ones. We have heard this story before. We know how it ends. But in presenting the tale this way, first from one point of view and then another, it reveals sides of it that we may not have seen before. 

Glenda Cleveland, from the trial of Jeff Dahmer.

I loved seeing the story from Glenda’s point of view. She was brave, determined, and selfless. She had every right to be furious at the way the police dismissed her concerns for years. And yet she continued to handle everything professionally. She never stopped trying to help people, even when no one else seemed to care. And for that, she is a true hero. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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