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Spook Warfare, released in 1968, is the second film in the ‘Yokai Monsters’ trilogy written by Tetsuro Yoshida. Previously we looked at 100 Monsters, the first in this thematic trilogy. Though it was released in the same year as 100 Monsters, the two are very different films. Pacing, storytelling, tone, and even special effects have dramatically increased.

A Kappa is surrounded by many yokai spirits.
Spook Warfare cover image for Shudder

The previous film focuses nearly exclusively on humans and their disregard for the spiritual. Spook Warfare, on the other hand, puts the spotlight directly on creepy monsters from the get-go. It’s a lot more accessible than the previous movie and would have probably been a better way to start off the trilogy.

A fierce Babylonian demon(Chikara Hashimoto) is freed when grave robbers attempt to steal his magical staff. He buries them in a rockslide and immediately heads to Japan, as any ancient evil would. Upon arrival, he appears to Isobe, the local magistrate(Takashi Kanda, who played Tajimaya in 100 Monsters) kills him, and possesses his body by drinking his blood. Isobe returns and immediately begins destroying all of the holy altars and shrines, demanding his servants do the same.

Beefin’ Over Turf

The ruckus pulls the attention of a Kappa(Gen Kuroki) that lives in the palace pond. A self-proclaimed protector of the palace, Kappa is able to see through the demon’s disguise and attacks right away. However, the demon overpowers him easily and Kappa flees to a ruin where other yokai live to beg for help.

The magistrate is so popular and well-liked, even among the spirits, so they don’t believe Kappa and refuse to help. Back at the palace, Isobe’s daughter Chie(Akane Kawasaki) and the samurai Shinpachiro(Yoshihiko Aoyama) discover one of the palace workers drained of blood. Knowing they’re dealing with a monster, Shinpachiro contacts a Buddhist priest for aid in helping them dispatch the demon. They set a trap, but it ends up failing and the priest is killed.

The possessed Isobe demands his guards bring all nearby people to the palace so he can feed on them. As the guards are rounding up the villagers, two children escape and stumble into the ruin where Kappa is begging for help. A ungakiyo (usually a mirror, but appearing in this movie as a large bear who can project images of what is happening on his giant stomach by holding his breath – wild, right?) appears, informing the yokai the demon is named Daimon, an ancient spirit from Babylon. This confirms everything Kappa has told them and they decide to help the humans dispatch Daimon. Not just because he killed Isobe, but because it is their duty, as proud Japanese spirits, to expunge any foreign threats on their land.

Children ask the local yokai for help in a ruined house. Text: But our neighbors who were taken away to work as servants all came back ded.
The children ask the local yokai for help

Oh! What A Lovely Yokai War

As mentioned before, the tone for this movie is quite a bit lighter than the previous one – despite there being an actual, you know, WAR in it. There’s quite a bit of comedy and Kabuki-style acting in quite a few of the scenes. Straight away Daimon is a credible threat to the heroes in the movie. And despite some of the yokai’s shenanigans (particularly the over-confident Kappa), their individual personalities shine through.

Considering this film was made in the late 60s, the special effects, costumes, and monster puppets look pretty good! The lighting and blocking do a lot to cover the seams, helping the movie feel a lot more atmospheric. The humans play second fiddle to the yokai throughout but are still very well written and placed in this story.

Daimon, the Babylonian spirit, reveals himself to Isobe.
It’s Daimon’s world, we’re just living in it

Overall this is a much more accessible movie than the initial film in the trilogy. Like 100 Monsters, you’ll get more out of it if you are familiar with yokai history, but it’s not a prerequisite. Spook Warfare fits comfortably with the likes of movies that were hits in the late 70’s-early 80’s American cinema. People into movies like Gremlins, The Goonies or Little Monsters will feel very at home here. If you are love creature features, Japanese cinema or fun films, Spook Warfare should be on your ‘Must Watch’ list. Yoshida-san, you are two for two on the trilogy so far. Can you stick the landing? We’ll find out when we review Along With Ghosts.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Spook Warfare is currently streaming on Shudder

Rokurokubi, the long-necked yokai looks out from the shadows.
Ah, Rokurokubi, my beloved

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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Review: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

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The second half of the 1990s was a comeback of the slasher sub-genre, thanks to Wes Craven’s Scream. It was precisely because of its success that Kevin Williamson was able to pitch the script for I Know What You Did Last Summer. An extremely loose adaption of the book of the same title, it follows a group of teenagers who drunkenly commit a hit-and-run. They decide to – what a surprise – get rid of the body to get away with it. Let’s have a look at why this film is a cult classic of its kind, shall we? 

Top not atmosphere makes a big difference

I must’ve said this in one of my previous reviews but to me at least, the setting in a movie can make or break the viewing experience. In I Know What You Did Last Summer, I always found it a paradox and also highly effective that the action occurs in a fishing town with tons of open land and the sea. However, the characters feel trapped to the point of suffocating by the choices they made because, despite all the roads leading out, they always end up back there. 

Four people stand around in a circle, mid argument. Left to right - Ray, Julie, Helen and Barry.
Dude, you promised to take acting classes! (source http://imdb.com)

Their small town is living in its own little utopia with beauty pageants, firework displays, and unsurprisingly, not a single person the group can turn to for help. I thought it was really well done and it doesn’t hurt cinematography in general is beautiful. 

Would the suggestions of the fans make sense?

Something that the fans of the movie have long debated is that they needed to swap the final girls of the movie, killing off Julie and making Helen the survivor. A lot of factors contribute to this. Sarah Michelle Gellar is phenomenal in her role and with all respect to Jennifer Love Hewitt, her portrayal pales a bit in comparison. Helen’s chase scene is one of the best if not the best in horror with how hard she fought for survival and how close she was to safety. On the contrary, Julie’s chip on the shoulder got on a lot of people’s nerves, mine included sometimes. 

One has to think of the narrative purpose of the two characters. Julie serves as the outright goody two shoes, the one who actively fights Barry to go to the police, and the one who shows the most obvious remorse for what they’ve done. Helen is meant to be the ditsy blonde, however, throughout the movie, she’s shown to have more going on and that the incident affected her just as much even if it wasn’t so transparent. 

Helen is at the forefront, looking ahead, scared. Behind her there are mannequins covered in plastic.
Not the kind of afterparty I imagined (source: https://bloody-disgusting.com)

Her endurance throughout the chase is a nice juxtaposition to the role she is meant to play, and to Julie’s scene later on (again, with all due respect, she does nothing apart from scream and run a bit) and the fact that she still dies after it gives a good gut punch that actually makes you care about these people despite their more than questionable decisions. 

When it comes to the guys, I don’t actually have much to say. Barry is a classic jerk stereotype and Ray is a glaring red herring throughout the movie (I would also say Freddy Prince Jr was the weakest actor out of the four but again, I am no acting coach, just my opinion). 

Final impressions

To sum up my thoughts on I Know What You Did Last Summer – it definitely has its flaws and asks the audience to suspend their disbelief (even for slasher standards). Regardless, it’s a staple entry of the genre and the 90s due to its atmosphere, tension-building, and for the most part decent acting. A must-have in your collection for horror buffs. No wonder it inspired a loosely based TV adaptation (its success is debatable but the thought still counts, right?)

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The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine Special Live Watch Party February 10th!

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The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub mascot, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine, premiering live at 9pm EST.

Love Spells Abound…

Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, as a special treat, Briggs has announced for the first time on The Last Drive-In, he will be marrying one lucky couple during the live showing. We here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo so, as is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the broadcasting of The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us  @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder@therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.

Drawn image of Joe Bob Briggs pouring  a drop of pink liquid into a clear glass potion bottled filled with a glowing red substance. To his left lies a book a magic spells with a golden pentagram necklace resting on top. Also on the books rests a human skull with heart shaped pupils for eyes hiding behind a pair of clear glasses. In bold white letters a text reads "Join us on February 10th as we live tweet The Last Drive-In Valentine's Day Special".
Follow @hauntedMTL for live tweets and replies!

What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.

Picture of Joe Bob Briggs, Darcy the Mail Girl, John Patrick Brennan and Yuki Nakamura standing together dressed in medieval costumes. A cardboard cutout of Tom Atkins stands between Darcy and Yuki. Darcy is seen drapped in a beautfiul elegant princess dress, satin white with gold trim. Yuki is seen holding a small wreath of purple, white, and yellow flowers that match his loud medieval king costume. Resting atop both their heads are golden crowns. Joe Bob Briggs is seen standing to the left of Darcy, as he smiles whilst wearing a half-put together jester costumer. Lastly, we see Brennan with two wooden recorders in his hand as he mimics playing them both dress clad in a bright yellow dress.
An unexpected ceremony during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You (2021) special.

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