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Sweetheart is a 2019 horror movie directed by J.D. Dillard and distributed by Universal Pictures. The famous Blumhouse Productions produced the film, which means a tight budget with some freedom of direction. At this point, Blumhouse Productions almost seems a genre itself.

Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) finds herself stranded on an island after an accident. As Jenn prepares to survive, she unravels new secrets of the island and a mysterious hole in the ocean. At night, Jenn learns she’s not alone. To truly survive, she most overcome her obstacles and let go of the past.

Kiersey Clemons as Jenn

What I Like

Kiersey Clemons is great as Jenn, able to carry the film in complete isolation or establish instant rapport as needed. I imagine this would be an ideal role for any actress, and she lives up to it.

The monster receives a lot of love. However, I will say that the creature isn’t consistently good. There are some moments with a prop and others when the budget couldn’t support the CGI needs. Regardless, the beast usually looks good or believable.

Beyond the aesthetic, this story follows a woman leaving her baggage behind. From a failed relationship to toxic friends, the beast embodies what needs to be left behind. Execution is lacking, making this analysis a bit headcanon.

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What I Dislike

What keeps Sweetheart down is that the baggage isn’t exactly clear. We find some possible points of toxicity—manipulation and possible gaslighting—but not her thoughts on it. It’s hard to pinpoint her perspective at points. It might simply be that Jenn is unreliable, but we are never given her side in contrast. Instead, Jenn usually looks shocked at certain claims.

I don’t need to know if Jenn is reliable or not, but we need to understand her perspective. Without her side, we don’t even know that she disagrees with her portrayal or to what extent she does. Despite this being my only direct criticism, it directly affects the quality of the film.

Another minor point, only loosely related to the point above, for “sweetheart” to be the title, I wanted more connection to the complexity that the term suggests.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Sweetheart is an interesting monster tale, overcoming the beast and the baggage of the past. However, Jenn lacked the exploration of her perspectives in contrast to others. Still, the film is engaging, and the cinematography is exceptional at times.

For another interesting aquatic monster tale, try Cold Skin.
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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Zeth received his M.A in English with a focus in Creative Writing at CSU, Chico. As a human writer, he published in the 9th volume of Multicultural Echoes, served on the editorial board of Watershed Review, and is a horror reviewer for Haunted MTL. All agree he is a real-life human and not an octopus in human skin. Fascinated by horror novels and their movie adaptations, Zeth channels his bone-riddled arms in their study. Games are also a tasty treat, but he only has the two human limbs to write. If you enjoy his writing, check out his website.

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The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!

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They say good things come to those who wait, and boy have we been patient. It has been close to a year since our eyes have indulged a full season of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs’, in fact, the season 4 finale premiered on Shudder July 1st, 2022. Since then, we have been able to satisfy our appetites with festive holiday specials sprinkled throughout the past year. Specials such as ‘Joe Bob’s Halloween Hangout’ guest starring horror’s favorite Mistress of the Dark, Elvira (played by the legendary Cassandra Peterson) and ‘Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together’. Last month was a treat in itself, as we were able to witness Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) marry one lucky couple for the first time on the show with Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine‘ special.

picture of Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl sitting in lawn chairs on the set of The Last Drive-In. Behind them we see a white camping trailer with red string lights along the top and a bright red and blue neon sign that reads "The Last Drive-In' in the background. Joe Bob is seen wearing an orange collard button down long sleeve shirt and black jeans with snake skin cowboy boots. His hands rest on his thighs as he invites you in with a warm smile. Darcy is seen sitting to Joe Bob's left wearing a mail girl costume with fishnet stockings, her legs neatly crossed over one another. Surrounding the two hosts is an ice box with empty beer bottles and cans resting on the top and an old tube screen television in the front of them.
host Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl on the set of ‘The Last Drive-In‘.

While the current changes in staff at Shudder have left fans questioning whether we will receive a new season of the popular series, I can happily say mutant family, we need not worry. In fact, to our wonderous surprise, Joe Bob Briggs has officially announced via Twitter, season 5 of ‘The Last Drive-In will be premiering April 21st, exclusively on Shudder! One thing that is noteworthy, is unlike previous seasons, it has been reported by 1428Elm that season 5 will be broken up into two parts of five double-feature blood-curdling episodes. Though we have not been provided the official release schedule for the second block of season 5, here is a sneak peek of what we can expect for the first half of the season:

April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama’s Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!

Unfortunately, we do not have an official list of the brand-new double feature films for the first half of season 5 but, with amusing episode titles such as these, one can only imagine what grindhouse-classics will be joining ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ already eclectic list of sloshy goodness. For those impatient mutants eagerly waiting for more hilarious Joe Bob rant-filled commentaries, or those newcomers who’ve yet to experience the magic that is ‘The Last Drive-In‘, all previous four seasons, including past holiday specials are currently available to stream now on Shudder.

If you are just as big of fans of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ as we here at HauntedMTL are, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @HauntedMTL and join us April 21st as we tweet along with Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl for the season premier. As is tradition, we will be hosting live watch parties every Friday with each new episode, including fresh holiday specials. The road to season 5 is upon us…let the countdown begin!

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Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule

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Mutant family, please gather ’round as February kicks rocks and we shove our way into March. With the new month comes the shifting from winter to spring as death beautifully resurrects back to life, drunken patrons swarm our local bars like rabid locusts for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and of course new exclusives and returning favorites on Shudder to satisfy the horror fiend in us all. To quote the prestigious Samuel L. Jackson, “hold onto your butts” and let’s dive right into Shudder’s March 2023 release schedule.

Shudder Exclusives

While it is true that the release schedule for the start of 2023 on Shudder has been minor and slightly mixed, with films such as the much talked about experimental low-budget indie ‘Skinamarink‘, the surprisingly entertaining horror comedy ‘Sorry About the Demon‘, and writer/director Neil Marshall’s return to the genre with ‘The Lair‘. We also graciously received the wildly fun ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine” special, with season 5 currently in production and premiering later this year; though it can’t come soon enough. As we like to do here at HauntedMTL, let’s kick off March with Shudder’s newest exclusives currently streaming now and in the coming weeks.

Spoonful of Sugar – Now Streaming

official film poster for Spoonful of Sugar. We see a vial filled with a red liquid, possibly blood being dripped into a young woman's open mouth. Her tongue slightly extended out ready to receive the scarlet drop. We see an individual in a space helmet standing in the background behind her, slightly blurred. The title Spoonful of Sugar reads in red capital letters.
Spoonful of Sugar‘ official poster.

Starting off this list we begin with director Mercedes Bryce Morgan and writer Leah Saint Marie’s latest film Spoonful of Sugar, now currently streaming.

Millicent (Morgan Saylor), a disturbed college student working on her thesis about children with severe allergies, is hired to babysit little Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a sickly, mute child who suffers from every allergy under the sun. His mother Rebecca (Kate Foster) is an accomplished author currently focused on her newest book release, while his father Jacob (Myko Olivier) spends his days in the backyard working on frivolous carpentry projects. After experiencing a bizarre sexual awakening while using LSD as an alternative treatment for Johnny, she soon uncovers the family’s dark secrets as things begin to become unhinged.

Leave – Premiering Friday 3/17

official film poster for Leave. We see a hooded individual holding a silver inverted cross necklace engulfed in bright orange and yellow flames. The individual holding the flaming cross has yellows hands and long rotted finger nails. one eye peers from thick-long black hair. The title Leave is smeared along the bottom in bright blood.
Leave‘ official poster.

After having been abandoned as an infant at a cemetery wrapped in a cloth with satanic symbols, Hunter White (Alicia von Rittberg) grows obsessed with figuring out who her biological parents are and why they seemingly abandoned her. However, as she gets closer to the answers she so desperately seeks, a malevolent spirit is warning her to leave.

Leave‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/17 and is directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad, starring Alicia von Rittberg, Herman Tømmeraas, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, and Stig R. Amda

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The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31

Official poster for The Unheard. We see the main Character Chloe staring out of a window, the image has a static blur. as we only see Chloes pale face and bright blue eyes. The title The Unheard is seen below written in White bold font.
The Unheard‘ official poster.

The Unheard‘ follows the story of deaf 20-year-old Chloe Grayden (Lachlan Watson) after she undergoes an experimental treatment to restore her hearing. While recovering at her family’s beach home after the successful procedure, Chloe begins to fear she is not alone as she begins to experience auditory hallucinations related to the mysterious disappearance of her mother.

The Unheard’ is directed by Shudder alumni Jeffrey A. Brown (The Beach House) and written by brothers/screenwriting partners Shawn Rasmussen and Michael Rasmussen (Crawl), co-starring Michele Hicks and Nick Sandow. ‘The Unheard‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/31.

Returning Classic and Fan Favorites

Now that we’ve removed the veil for the new exclusive titles dropping this month, I think it’s time we reveal the returning classics jump starting our transition into spring for 2023. Allow me to highlight some of my favorite films returning to Shudder for March including ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ and ‘The Company of Wolves‘; grim re-telling’s of popular children’s fairy tales. We also cannot forget John Carpenter’s haunted coastal horror ‘The Fog‘; no, not the remake…thankfully.

Gretel and Hansel – Now Streaming

image of Alice Krige as The Witch in Gretel and Hansel. She stares in the camera with a sinister smirk. Her head covered and body drapped in black clothing. Her right eye a dark grey/brown color with her left pale white...blind.
Alice Krige as “The Witch” in ‘Gretel and Hansel’.

Directed by Osgood Perkins, ‘Gretel and Hansel’ is a terrifyingly dark and unique vision to one of history’s most famous childhood fairy tales. After being thrown out of their mother’s home, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her younger brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey), through the woods in search of food and work. The children soon discover a quaint cottage where a fragile old woman Holda (Alice Krige) offers fresh food and bed. The children accept all Holda has to offer, with little thought as to what may be asked of them in return.

Though it has been met with mixed reviews, ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ offers astounding performances by veteran actress Alice Krige as the films iconic Witch of the woods and Sophia Lillis as lead Gretel. Director Osgood Perkins does well to draw his viewer in with a beautifully haunting score and unnerving cinematography, making this one grim re-telling worth checking out at least once. ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ is available to stream now.

The Company of Wolves – Now Streaming

Image of a werewolf transformation. A mans head is tilted back as the snout of a wolf begins protruding from his mouth. The fur on the snout white as the large fangles gnarl and growl. The mans eyes are a bright yellow and his hair long flowing brown locks. A terrifying image as his mouth extends in an inhumanely manner.
My, what big teeth you have…

Continuing our list of returning classics, we have yet another bold re-telling of a beloved children’s fairy tale, 1984’s ‘The Company of Wolves‘. While the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood‘ has been retold through various forms of media, including numerous films, ‘The Company of Wolves‘ is a beloved horror interpretation with adult themes and memorable practical effects including one of the genres best werewolf transformations.

A wise grandmother (Angela Lansbury) tells her granddaughter Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) a disturbing tale of innocent maidens falling in love with handsome strangers … and of their sudden mysterious disappearances when the moon is full and accompanied by the strange sound of a beast in the woods.

‘The Company of Wolves’ is co-written and directed by Neil Jordan and stars Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Micha Bergese, and David Warner, streaming now.

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John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31

Haunting ghoslty image of 8 figures standing in a cloud of mist and fog. They are outlined in eeire blue and white lighting. All we see is the outline of these ghostly figures and their glowing red eyes.
When the fog comes, run!

Writer, director, musician, and horror master John Carpenter is a legend in the genre having provided countless classics such as ‘The Thing‘, a terrifyingly gruesome remake of ‘The Thing from Another World‘. Or his sci-fi action/horror ‘They Live’ where he deals with societal control through corporations and government. And of course, my personal favorite, the film that jumpstarted his career and created one of horror’s most iconic slashers…’Halloween‘.

1980’s ‘The Fog‘ is a terrifying shoreside tale of vengeful spirits haunting the fictional coastal town of Antonio Bay, OR. as they begin preparations to celebrate its centenary. Following exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in the town’s waters, a thick unearthly fog harboring the souls of those who perished rolls in and with them, the dark secrets of Antonio Bay’s past.

John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ stars scream queen and recent Academy Award winner Jamie Lee Curtis, genre alums Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, and Nancy Kyes, and was co-written by the late Debra Hill. ‘The Fog‘ will be available to stream on Shudder 03/31.

Full Shudder March 2023 Film Releases

For a full comprehensive list of all the titles being added to Shudder for the month of January, please refer to the graphic below. Please be on the lookout for our review of ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine’ to drop later this week here on HauntedMTL and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more Shudder news and spooky reviews!

Image list of the films releasing on Shudder for the month of March.
Shudder March 2023 film release schedule.

3/1:

Gretel and Hansel

3/2:

Spoonful of Sugar

3/9:

The Company of Wolves

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3/13:

Holidays

3/17:

Leave

3/20:

Jack be Nimble

3/27:

Ultra Pulpe

After Blue

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3/31:

The Unheard

The Fog

The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

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Movies n TV

She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…

I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.

Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.

It’s a guilty pleasure.

The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.

Shakira She Wolf
Madonna Express Yourself
Metropolis dance scene

Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.

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She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel
She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel

Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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