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A cyclops monster and several other yokai on the cover of Along With Ghosts.
Along With Ghosts cover image for Shudder

Finally, we arrive at the final film in Tetsuro Yoshida’s Yokai Monsters trilogy, Along With Ghosts. The first two films were wildly different in tone, so what can we expect from this one? The third film hews closely to the first’s themes of humans disregarding traditions in favor of their own selfish desires. Despite this, Along With Ghosts is a step up from 100 Monsters in just about every way.

Three is a Tragic Number

The movie wastes no time getting to the desecration as yakuza boss Higuruma (Yoshito Yamaji) and his henchmen appear at a shrine in the wilderness. They plan to ambush a courier who holds documents that reveal Higuruma’s crimes. An old man praying can sense their ill intent and warns them that no blood should be spilled on the site, lest they be haunted by the spirits who live there.

Dozens of yokai behind the screens of a Japanese house.
“Hi, we’re calling about your car’s extended warranty.”

The couriers appear at the shrine and they are immediately set upon by the yakuza. In the scuffle, the couriers are slain and the old man is mortally wounded but manages to escape. Higuruma acquires the incriminating documents but loses them in a sudden gust and they fall into the possession of a young child, Miyo (Masami Burukido), who disappears into the forest. Higuruma will do anything to protect himself, so he orders his men to give chase and murder both the old man and the young girl.

Terrified, Miyo drops the document and runs home to find her grandfather, the old man praying at the shrine, laying wounded on the floor. He pleads to her to head to Yui, where her father supposedly lives. Higuruma’s men show up and Miyo flees, beginning a long tiring chase along the Japanese countryside to evade them and find her father.

Along the way, she finds help from farmboy Shinta (Pepe Hozumi) and a swordsman named Hyakutaro (Kojiro Hongo), whose history intertwines with the yakuza in unexpected ways. Even without the presence of the yokai in the background, the plot has many interesting turns to keep you engaged with the characters.

Hyakutaro guards Miyo from the yakuza. Caption: You think I'm going to watch two grown men beat up a little girl?
Hyakutaro is the rogue with a mysterious past ad a heart of gold.

Less Is More

Much of Along With Ghosts takes what was established in 100 Monsters and builds on it. The story itself has more characters and more development. Sets and scenery are far more varied as Miyo and her pursuers give chase across the Japanese countryside. The sweeping landscapes and establishing shots give the movie an almost Western feel as the characters traverse the landscape. Dusty roads with few travelers, small villages after sundown, dark wooded swamps, and overgrown haunted fields all contribute to the unique visual tapestry that is nearly a signature of this trilogy.

The only thing that the film pulls back on is the presence of the yokai themselves. While they are undeniably part of the story, they feature much less in the film than even in 100 Monsters. Even Kasa-Obake, the umbrella monster who was featured pretty prominently in the first two films fails to make an appearance.

Despite that, the yokai are far darker and more threatening in this installment. No silly Kappa antics against a demon or bouncing umbrella monsters tickling faces. These yokai are angry and vengeful, arguably more in keeping with their standard lore. There is a heightened threat to not only the yokai but also the human villains in this film as well. From the very beginning, it is clear that Higuruma and his men will do whatever is necessary to save their own skin – even if it includes killing a child.

Japanese rice fields in the countryside.
The landscape shots are a gorgeous addition.

More Than The Sum

Along With Ghosts is easily the most proficient film out of the trilogy, though you may find yourself wishing for more scares after the end. While there are a few good scares, it doesn’t have the same creep factor the other two films do. It makes up for this by having a more oppressive and tense mood through it.

So at the end of the day, which is the best movie in the trilogy? Well, it depends on what you are looking for. If you want a spooky ghost story, 100 Monsters will be your pick. Fun creature feature? Spook Warfare is the way to go. Engaging dramatic action? Go Along With Ghosts.

Any movie is a solid pick, no matter which way you cut it. You don’t need to watch all three in a row to get a solid movie watching experience. Still, I recommend watching all three, because your next favorite Japanese ghost movie might just be in here.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Along With Ghosts is currently streaming on Shudder

A Yakuza swordsman points his sword at one of the couriers.
This dude has a sword and is chewing on a straw, so you know he’s badass.

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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, 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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Movies n TV

Horror Noire, a Film Review

Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”

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Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.

As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.

The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.

Woman and man wearing a vote for candidate shirt, scared of something off screne
Image from “Sundown” Directed by Kimani Ray Smith

What I Like

Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.

My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.

However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.

Woman listening to a preacher amidst a crowd
Image from “Fugue State” directed by Rob Greenlea

What I Dislike

As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.

Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, Silenced

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Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.

Rodney Burford in Dahmer

And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.

Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.

Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship. 

Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.

Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar. 

At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.

Then, of course, things go bad. 

One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.

If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.

This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today. 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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