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I begin with an admission about The Shining. I never really cared for Stephen King’s original novel. It is a fine book, sure. It is a good read. But it does not stick with me in the way that Kubrick’s 1980 film-adaptation has haunted me my entire life. I never read Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep either, simply because it was not a continuation of the story that Kubrick committed to film.

The Shining is one of those instances where the adaptation is better than the book. This is a rare breed indeed; off the top of my head, I can safely include The Godfather and Jurassic Park on such a list.

The heart of the matter here is that, had I read Doctor Sleep, I am almost certain that the movie is better than the book. I say this because it is a pitch-perfect follow-up to Kubrick’s The Shining.

The Return of Danny Torrance

Dan Torrance finds himself stalking the halls of a long-abandoned Overlook

Doctor Sleep follows the crossing of paths between a survivor of the Overlook, Dan Torrance, a young, shining girl named Abra, and a collective of psychic vampires. Dan’s senses dulled by years of drinking and locking away the ghosts of the Overlook in his mind have left him directionless until he finds salvation in his friend Billy, A.A., and helping the dying travel to the other side in peace. With Dan’s shine off the radar, he thankfully misses out on catching the attention of Rose the Hat and The True Knot, a group of quasi-immortal psychic vampires, over the decades. This group hunts down people who shine and consumes their “steam,” or a manifestation of their shine.

Danny, however, finds himself newly awakened with his shine when he befriends a young girl named Abra, who shines so bright that The True Knot seek to consume her. How does Danny fight those who seek to consume his and Abra’s very gifts?


The film is directed by Mike Flanagan (of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House). Flanagan is also is credited for the screenplay. Doctor Sleep stars Ewan McGregor as Dan Torrance, Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat, and Kyliegh Curran as Abra Stone. The film also features Cliff Curtis, Zahn McClarnon, and Emily Alyn Lind.

What worked about Doctor Sleep?

Dan and Abra’s shining conversation weaves throughout the film in many ways

At heart, Doctor Sleep is very much about coping with trauma. Danny Torrance is haunted not only by his father’s violence but by the Overlook and its many ghosts who still crave him and his shine over the decades. This leaves us with Danny as a shell of a man in many regards, sadly echoing his father’s alcoholism and drifting from tragedy to tragedy. The Overlook left its mark, and much like how his role as Doctor Sleep helps the elderly deal with their deaths so too does the film Doctor Sleep help to provide closure and context for Dan.

Whereas The Shining is a very cold and impersonal film to depict the exploration of madness and isolation, Doctor Sleep runs warmer. The film is more crowded and concerned with the emotional wellbeing of the protagonists, and it serves as a companion piece to Kubrick’s classic. The Shining is the trauma and Doctor Sleep is the coping mechanism. At heart, these are very different films with very different aims, and yet they work together and build off one another.

The family that occupied the Overlook those faithful months before its closure was already destroyed before Jack, Wendy, and Danny stepped inside. The Shining ends with the impression that Danny would not be okay. It was not that sort of film, that sentimentality was beyond Kubrick. Danny grew up to be Dan, traumatized and never able to find closure with his mother. Doctor Sleep fills us in on that legacy, but it also provides hope that you could never find in The Shining.

Keep in mind that the film is not just Danny’s story, but also the story of Abra and Rose. All three narrative threads are strong. Just as Dick Halloran helped Danny to understand his shine, Dan, too, helps young Abra. “Ka is a wheel,” a thematic thread throughout King’s work of the last twenty years, plays out beautifully here. It also helps that Rose the Hat is a stunning villain; a dream-like figure with an undeniable charm and clear menace.

The film delivers exactly what you would want to see in a follow-up to The Shining. The nature of the Overlook’s ghostly residents ensures a key conversation occurs that I will not spoil here. You already know what it is, deep down, though, and I can confirm that it delivers chills.


What Didn’t work with Doctor Sleep?

Rose the Hat and The True Knot enjoying a disturbing meal

While the film as a whole is excellent, there are elements that could have been better. Namely, at 2 hours and 31 minutes, the film suffers from bloat, which likely stems from the source material. Flanagan has to accomplish a lot of things within that run-time, and it is a testament to the film that the runtime does not feel overly long. The film isn’t much longer than its predecessor, but it feels denser because of everything it needs to juggle.

A lot of that bloat most assuredly falls on the shoulders of King. The True Knot, while interesting, is a rather large group of antagonists. We only really know the names of five of them. The film could have easily excised a fair number of psychic vampires and still had the same effect and level of threat.

The same goes for catching up with Danny over the decades. His journey is fascinating, but it is also a long one. The film could have easily started with Danny at the hospice center, performing his Doctor Sleep duties. His backstory could be revealed in small moments here and there, but getting us up to speed with his selfless, yet hesitant existence takes a while.

These are all minor quibbles, however.

Final Impressions

It is a miracle that a successful sequel to The Shining can exist that manages to soothe the division that existed between Kubrick’s adaptation and Stephen King’s source material. The film really is a wonder. Something with this much baggage should not work as well as it does. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

How did you enjoy Doctor Sleep? Why not let us know in the comments? Meanwhile, stick around here at Haunted MTL. You never know what other Doctor Sleep content might show up…


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

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Joe Bob Briggs Creepy Christmas spooktacular: The Last Drive-In Special Charity phenomena



Famed horror host, Pulitzer Prize nominated, and Cracker Barrel aficionado Joe Bob Briggs is back in action, ready to bring some macabre merriment to your holiday season with Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas. It also gives us horror fans something to take into the new year, be that something Darcy’s panties (sorry, box, I tried) or just the intangible good feels of hanging with friends and supporting a lot of good causes.

The Return of Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas Special

The Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas event is akin to a Jerry Lewis telethon for Gen X, with a twist of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’. This ‘Briggs’ auction of sorts is a nostalgic nod to the past, especially for those who remember the telethons. The dread, however, has shifted from the … well… whatever Jerry was supposed to do (see Sam Kinison’s bit on this for more info) to that of evil goodies.

Without a doubt, this Joe Bob Briggs special is the event we eagerly anticipate each year. It’s a tradition, and a worthy one at that. We hope to see everyone on the interwebs, joining the ‘creepy links’ and engaging in the conversation (We’ll be on Threads and Twitter….tag us as you wish!) ‘live’ the only way anyone should ever watch a tv show (oh, and I guess on demand, but ya weirdos will never know the sting of the Iron Mutant Award!). ‘Live’ is the only way anyone should ever watch a TV show, especially ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ (as it’s far too hard to watch tv whilst dead).

Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas The ‘Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl’ special will hit the airwaves live on Shudder TV and AMC+ TV on Friday, December 15th at 9 p.m. ET. Fans of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ can also catch the special on-demand starting Sunday, December 17th.

A Creepy Christmas with a Cause

In its fourth year, the holiday tradition of The Last Drive-In goes beyond mere entertainment. It aims to use the platform to raise funds for four vital causes. The charity auction will feature unique props and exclusive merchandise from The Last Drive-In and memorabilia from Briggs’ illustrious 35-year career…including some of his unspoken work as John Bloom. I say Unspoken, because if anyone remembers the first Christmas Special, the autographed copy of Eccentric Orbits was featured (sincerely, a good book–check it out if you haven’t. Jim gives it 4.5/5)


The supported charities for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas will include:

The Mystery of the Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas Special

The anticipation for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas is high, with fans wildly speculating what films will be featured. Personally, nothing can beat the #1 top horror Christmas film of all time, the Easter classic: Passion of the Christ (if a snuff film about a guy who doesn’t fit in getting whipped and nailed up doesn’t scream horror story, I don’t know what does. Also: See Sam Kinison’s concept on crosses and resurrection). However, a Christmas movie I really want to see up on this is Hogzilla and Kiss Save Santa Clause! BOOMMM!! Christmas Won!

As we eagerly wait for December 15th, we wonder what surprises our favorite horror host, Joe Bob Briggs, has in store this time. Will there be exclusive ‘merch’ that Jim will buy and then accidentally put in a Toys for Tots box in the mall?

Join the Fun, Join the Cause, Join the Joe Bob Briggs Christmas event!

Are you ready to dive into the world of Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas? Do you dare to watch along and help raise money for a good cause? If so, join us at HauntedMTL on Threads (_HauntedMTL_) and maybe Twitter (@HauntedMTL) as we experience the thrill and chills that only Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy can deliver.

Remember, this is not just about indulging in some good old horror fun with ‘Joe Bob’s’ double feature. It’s about giving back and making a difference. So, let’s gear up to have a creepy Christmas with ‘Joe Bob Briggs’, filled with ‘christmas horror films’, ‘christmas demons’, ‘christmas slasher films’, ‘ho-ho-horror’, ‘yuletide horror’ and insightful ‘horror commentary’.Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas and make this holiday season memorable for all the right reasons! I’m sure Fright Rags will have another stellar set this year, too. They are perfect for the horror fan in your life (even if that fan is you!). I can’t wait to see what they have in store (no pun).

SPECIAL — IF YOU WANT Freeeeeeeee (as supplies last) Fright Rags Joe Bob Briggs merch for this year, just tweet/thread at us during the event and Jim will pick the one that makes him chuckle the most (you will need to give us your address and size in DMs)

No subscription to watch Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas yet? No problem! Check the link below:

AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit Joe Bob at

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Movies n TV

X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas



Airing in December of 1998, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas is a classic monster of the week episode of the X-Files. Except, of course, it’s ghosts, not monsters. Because it’s Christmas, and there’s no better time for a little ghost story than that.

The story

Our story begins like any good holiday evening should. Mulder is telling Scully a ghost story. They’re sitting together outside a supposedly haunted house on Christmas Eve, waiting for the ghosts of two lovers to appear. The story is that they killed each other eighty-one years ago, that very night. Mulder is very excited to see some ghosts. Scully would rather be at home celebrating the holiday.

One of these people has a family life and a dog. The other only has his partner.


Eventually, the two of them do make it inside, where they find an elderly couple named Maurice and Lydia. They seem like a nice enough couple until things start getting weird. Doors lock and unlock as they please. Lydia and Maurice seem to appear and vanish. And, of course, some dead bodies are found.

Edward Asner and Lily Tomlin in X-Files.

As Scully and Mulder try to find each other in this sprawling maze of a house, the ghosts are after them. They tell them terrible, insightful things about themselves and each other. The scary thing is that some of this is good advice.

The scary thing is how much of this Mulder and Scully needed to hear.

Eventually, our heroes escape, though they sure don’t exorcise the ghosts in the house or themselves. Lydia and Maurice are left to enjoy their quiet Christmas Eve in the comfort of their love, no longer a raging fire of passion, but a warm bed of glowing embers.

What worked

First off, let me say that I’m a sucker for a bottle episode. Especially in a show like X-Files. (And it is a true bottle episode, being the cheapest episode of the season.) For the most part, our story takes place in one location, with just four actors. It is tense, it is tight, and it is intimate.


Honestly, this episode has everything going for it. Of course, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson bring their A Game. And they’re joined by two of the funniest comedic actors of all time, Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. These people could read you the phone book and have you in stitches.

But the writing is also exemplary. Mulder and Scully are forced to take a good look at how they treat each other, for better or worse. They have to consider their relationship, the way they live their lives, and the darker voices in their heads.

In the end, I think they come together beautifully.

Finally, I want to praise the location. The haunted house looks so much like Hill House, it can’t be an accident. It’s in turn freezing and warm, falling apart and beautifully maintained. The cobwebs and hanging sheets on the unused furniture are just classic. And with the massive fireplaces, bookshelves to the ceiling, and the well-stocked bar, the whole place has an air of old-fashioned comfort, left to rot.

X-Files How The Ghosts Stole Christmas.

What didn’t work

I honestly cannot think of one thing that didn’t work in this episode. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s dark. It’s the perfect Christmas episode of television.


In the end, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is a dark, spooky little tale. It’s filled with scares and chills but still manages to warm your heart. And if you want to fit a little more blood and gore into your holiday watch list, this is a great way to do it.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Jack Frost



Released in 1997, it would be understandable if you confused this Jack Frost with the movie of the same title that was released in 1998 and starred Michael Keaton. We are not talking about the Michael Keaton Jack Frost because it’s not horror. It’s also not good.

(Look at that, you’re getting two reviews in one today. Merry Christmas.)

No, today we are talking about Jack Frost, starring Christopher Allport and Scott MacDonald. And it is possibly the most bonkers Christmas movie I have ever seen.

The story

We begin our tale in a very messed up fashion. A little girl asks her uncle for a bedtime story on Christmas Eve. The uncle tells her about a serial killer named Jack Frost who was caught after leaving bits of his victims inside pies. But there’s no need to worry, the uncle explains. Because Jack Frost was caught and is being executed that very night.

Marsha Clark in Jack Frost.

And we won’t be hearing from these two characters again for the whole movie.

Instead, we cut to Jack, being transported to his execution. Somehow he manages to escape, only to be doused with some sort of acid and melted into the snow.

Meanwhile, the sheriff who caught Jack Frost, Sam, is trying to come to terms with his death. He’s thankful that he’s gone, but the nightmare just doesn’t feel over yet.

Then, of course, people start turning up dead in his little town. And in spectacular ways.

Slowly, Jack Frost seems to work his way through a family called the Metzners. Even though it appears that this family didn’t have a single thing to do with him. First, he murders their son, then proceeds to stalk the entire family.

Sam is joined by an FBI agent named Agent Manners and a scientist named Stone. Together they fumble around the tiny little town, trying to figure out how to kill Jack. Bullets do nothing. He can melt and slip through cracks. But hairdryers seem to do the trick.

A still from 1997 Jack Frost.

What worked

I’m going to be honest here. Nothing in this movie was good. The effects were bad. The writing is bad. The constant snow puns are bad. The acting is bad.

But it is this exact combination of bad aspects that makes Jack Frost funny. It is so intentionally bad that it is hilarious. None of the characters are likable, so we’re not overly upset when they’re murdered in horrific ways. None of the effects look real, but they look fun. The writing is awful, but it’s hilarious.

And here’s the greatest thing about Jack Frost. Everyone working on it is having fun. You can just tell that every single actor is having the time of their lives. Nobody was having a single bad day on stage here. And that alone makes Jack Frost enjoyable to watch.

What didn’t work

One thing I have to say here is that the acting was just bad. It was not, I believe, intentionally bad acting. That is to say, it wasn’t a talented actor acting badly for comedic effect. This was just bad acting from almost everyone in the cast. The two exceptions are Allport and Marsha Clark, who plays Marla. Everybody else is overacting so hard that they’re pulling muscles. They’re chewing the scenery so much that they’re not going to have room for Christmas cookies.

Or oatmeal.

To enjoy Jack Frost, you need to have a deep appreciation for campy effects, bad snow puns, and really inappropriate humor. It’s one of those movies where you turn off your brain, make sure all loose items are secured and your lap bar is completely locked, and enjoy the ride.


If you can do that, then you’re going to have a great time with this movie. If not, don’t worry. There’s lots more holiday horror to come. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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