AKA: Don’t Be a Dummy
I fell in love with the girl at the Puppet Show
We open on a PoV shot backstage during a talent and puppet show rehearsal as a creepy voiceover says, “I will be whole.” On stage, we have one very off-key Cordelia Chase singing The Greatest Love of All and an exasperated Giles dismissing her. Kind of rude of him, because she hadn’t even gotten to the sparkler portion yet.
Our trio walks in to rib Giles about his assignment as Talent Show Coordinator. Mr. Snyder, the new principal (RIP Mr. Flutie) wants him to interact with students more. Snyder overhears this student-teacher interaction and decides that Buffy, Willow, and Xander also need to be more integrated with the school. As such, they will be required to participate in the talent show. He explains that Principal Flutie was too touchy-feely for his liking, and Sunnydale will neither touch nor feel on his watch.
We also learn that Buffy is wigged by puppets as Sid, our titular puppet, takes stage for his rehearsal slot. He is actually talking, much to the shock of the puppeteer Morgan. The rest of the rehearsing students believe this to be an actual ventriloquist act.
In the locker room, we get the creepy voiceover once more as he attacks a student: “I will be flesh.”
Leave your heart on the stage
Chaos abounds at an additional rehearsal. Willow has decided that a dramatic scene is the easiest talent they could do. Sid the puppet starts sexually harassing Buffy and Willow, and he allows Morgan to take the fall. Or, at least, he partially takes the fall. Buffy does threaten to turn Sid into a Dura-Flame log.
Principal Snyder and Giles talk about all the misfortunes Sunnydale High has endured recently. While he would prefer to blame our Scoobies for it all, his current plan is to run a tight ship. Then a scream comes from the locker room.
Emily, the dancer seen at rehearsal, was found dead with her heart removed. Giles says some demons will remove hearts, but typically with their claws and teeth. Emily’s heart was neatly cut out. All but Buffy assume a simple human murder, until our Slayer reminds them of the Hellmouth of it all.
The Scoobies interview everyone in the talent show in an attempt to trace her last steps. Everyone says they saw Morgan with her last. They also describe Morgan as “always rubbing his head and moaning.” Our sweet Cordy is devastated, because “Emma” was her best friend and the murder could’ve been her. Never short on an existential crisis, that one.
Buffy talks to Morgan. He rubs his head a lot. She eventually yells at him after Sid tries to end the conversation. Morgan makes a half-hearted attempt to explain before giving up and leaving.
The Slayerettes are all too willing to blame Morgan, but Buffy says being a weirdo doesn’t necessarily correlate with being a murderer. Giles cautions everyone not to rock the boat with Principal Snyder. They cannot afford additional scrutiny.
It’s the Puppet Show, not Puppet Tell
Buffy artfully breaks into Morgan’s locker by slamming the lock out of the door. It is after hours, though, and Principal Snyder does not condone loitering, heart-removing murders, and smoking. Before Buffy is forced to leave, she sees Sid the puppet’s case is empty.
Backstage, Morgan and Sid are arguing. Morgan does not want to “do it.” Sid says he must, because Buffy is clearly the one. She will be the last one before he is free.
That night Joyce tells Buffy she is excited to support her at the talent show. Buffy tries to direct her away from doing so. Her mom tries to dig deeper at what’s bothering her, but eventually encourages her to get some sleep.
And sleep Buffy does – until she wakes to something in her covers. Joyce rushes to check her room, only to find the bed empty. Buffy is clearly stressed, and her mom tries to calm her. Joyce also recommends she not go to sleep with the window open. Buffy murmurs that she didn’t.
Cordelia is arguing with Giles about her placement in the talent show. Her song is sad and sappy, but a rock band is before her. The mood will be all wrong. Giles stares at her for a moment before saying something about her hair, prompting her to run off in horror to check for herself. Apparently Xander gave him this tip.
Buffy tells the rest of the gang that she thinks Sid was in her room last night. Xander assumes it was a cat, and Giles and Willow are inclined to agree because Buffy has admitted to a fear of puppets.
Investigation isn’t for dummies
Buffy wants to get Morgan away from Sid so she can talk to him. Giles has found information about demons that collect body parts to take a human form. Morgan doesn’t quite fit this theory, though, because he keeps getting weaker while this particular brotherhood of demons are preternaturally strong.
Sid is with Morgan in class, and he is staring at Buffy. He is also answering the teacher’s questions and causing class disruption. The teacher puts the puppet in a closet, but he is still talking. She believes Morgan to be a very talented ventriloquist. After class she tries to check on Morgan, because he has been acting off lately. When she opens to closet to retrieve Sid, he is gone. Morgan said Sid knew to wait for him.
Xander reveals he took Sid so Buffy could talk to Morgan alone. Xander beats Sid against a desk to prove he isn’t real to a still-wigged Buffy. While she looks for Morgan, Willow and Giles research re-animation and organ harvesting, respectively. Xander babysits the dummy.
The dressing room is creepy and mostly abandoned, except for Principal Snyder. He does a harbinger-esque bit about Buffy not being safe on her own with everything going on lately. She assures him she can take care of herself.
Willow finds some information on possessed toys that harvest human organs. Now they want to believe Buffy. This is unfortunate timing, because Xander stopped watching Sid long enough to do some homework. When he realizes the puppet is gone, he yelps and jumps on a table. Willow and Giles do some yelping as well once they learn of the situation.
Buffy, meanwhile, has found Morgan… without his brain. As she reels back in horror, a chandelier drops on her and pins her down. Overhead we see the scurrying of tiny, wooden feet. Buffy works on getting free while defending herself from a knife-wielding Sid.
She escapes and manages to pin Sid against the wall. Then they each accuse the other of harvesting organs in order to become human. It turns out Sid is a demon hunter. He got turned into a puppet years ago. The demon he is hunting only needs a heart and a brain to remain human for another seven years. It is the last in a line of seven demons; Sid has already killed six.
The group figures if they can find out who is missing from the show they will know who the demon is. Sid has a plan: Giles will form the Power Circle to hype up the talent show participants while Buffy observes to see who is not there. Sid comes with Buffy to harass her some more. What is with these ageless dudes hitting on a fifteen year old? Sid also reveals that he will die once the last demon is dead, and he is relieved by this.
Cordelia is not relieved, because she is hit with stage fright. Giles suggests she picture the audience in their underwear, though they both agree it might be best to leave Mrs. Franklin out of that.
No one (who is still alive, anyway) is missing from the Power Circle. While Giles gets the show started, Buffy tries to find Willow and Xander. Sid has disappeared while she was gone, so she must find him as well. She feels a mysterious dripping when backstage and upon investigation discovers Morgan’s brain. The demon body rejected it.
Take a bow
Willow searches Morgan’s file. Though he was one of the smartest kids in the school, his attendance record was shoddy. It turns out he had brain cancer (hence the headaches). They believe the demon will go for the next smartest kid in school – Willow Rosenburg.
Marc the magician asks Giles for some pre-show help. His assistant is a no-show, and he needs Giles to pose in his guillotine.
Our trio determines that the demon could still be in the talent show, since it still needs a brain. They also realize Giles is a very intelligent person.
They arrive backstage to see Giles strapped in to the guillotine. Marc has his head positioned so his “brain can just fall right out.” Giles asked what the trick is, and Marc says there isn’t one. Buffy tries to fight Marc the demon while Xander frees Giles. Sid reappears and helps everyone get the demon strapped into the guillotine and cut off its head.
Sid says the heart needs to be taken out as well to truly end things. He stabs the demon’s chest then slumps over. Buffy picks up the dummy with some reverence just as the curtains rise. Principal Snyder looks at the scene and asks if the puppet show is avant-garde.
In our only concurrent-with-credits scene of the series we see Buffy, Willow, and Xander struggle with their Oedipus recitations, to a smattering of laughter in the audience. Willow runs off frightened.
“All I could think of was Mr. Marbles.” – Trav’s one sentence review of this episode.
I have a lot of fun with The Puppet Show. It’s a monster of the week with a huge ick factor and some fun plot twists. We also get the introduction of Principal Snyder, who is a fantastic side character. (5 / 5)
Movies n TV
The Wolf of Snow Hollow, a Film Review
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a 2020 horror comedy directed by Jim Cummings, starring Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome and Robert Forster.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a 2020 horror comedy directed by Jim Cummings. The cast of this horror includes Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome and Robert Forster. This R-rated film is currently available for DirecTV and Shudder subscribers.
Deputy John Marshall (Jim Cummings) faces a messy divorce, an ill father, a serial killer and crippling addiction. With Marshall’s life spiraling, he focuses on a mysterious killer plaguing the town. The brutality of the crime convinces locals that the murderer is a werewolf, a possibility Marshall cannot entertain. As John Marshall tries to keep order in the town, his conviction crumbles.
What I Like
The comedy reflects the spiraling chaos that runs through a control freak’s mind as they lose control. This comedy lands best as Marshal spirals further and further into disarray. Viewers should expect a dry wit layered with sarcasm. If this type of humor doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, The Wolf of Snow Hollow would be hard to recommend. Nearly every character plays their part to perfection, building off each other. Jim Cummings seems to have created a team to complement his project.
Another impressive comedic element comes from the film’s ability to jump between serious issues and comedy without the humor undercutting the weight of those essential moments. Though somewhat flawed, it remains consistently effective.
Despite the fact this is a horror comedy, the monster adds genuine horror to the film. Part of the mystery comes from that line between the possibility of a killer or a real-life werewolf, which I won’t spoil here.
The werewolf design, though traditional, is consistently believable. With one exception that felt purposeful in context, the creature works surprisingly well for a horror comedy.
Jim Cummings creates these rapid scenes that show time passing. As mentioned earlier, these scenes reflect Marshall’s mental state. It surprises me how clearly and haunting they convey information while noting elements of comedy. Again, not always perfect, but effective.
Trigger Warnings and Tired Tropes
John Marshall struggles with alcoholism, often falling victim to the disease. Despite the comedy label, this element remains mature and respective. Regardless, I understand this is a sensitive issue that worth noting.
The film can get gory and dark, but rarely more than a horror fan expects. However, one of the victims is a baby. Though no act appears on screen, viewers may require prior knowledge.
What I Dislike or Points to Consider
Don’t expect a detective tale or any focus on a mystery. If this movie is anything, it’s a character study of John Marshall. The killer isn’t a figure we uncover through available information. The Wolf of Snow Hollow focuses on the stress that unravels our characters as they investigate. The trailer was a bit misleading, creating a focus more centered on the mystery and comedy of the film.
Without going into too much detail, some of the deaths get overshadowed by those earlier-mentioned scene cuts. While I still stand by my praise of these scenes, some of these deaths needed more silence and longevity. Though I recognize this might ruin the comedy focus of the film, death should have weight in a story.
This film isn’t scary. While some moments might unnerve you, don’t expect to be haunted.
While not a traditional werewolf film, The Wolf of Snow Hollow remains a surprisingly effective horror comedy. If you like your humor dry and dark, this film might align with your taste. However, this barely makes the cut in the horror genre. Don’t expect to jump or scream. If this sounds like your taste, then give The Wolf of Snow Hollow a view.
(3.5 / 5)
The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!
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.
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!
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!
. . . and that's only the beginning.#TheLastDriveIn pic.twitter.com/WfeTx0shNa— Joe Bob Briggs (@therealjoebob) March 16, 2023
Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule
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.
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
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
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
The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31
‘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
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
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.
John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31
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!
Gretel and Hansel
Spoonful of Sugar
The Company of Wolves
Jack be Nimble
The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2