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Hey-yo, kids. Recently I “went to” the Trans Steller Film Festival (Nov 26-Dec 3, 2023). And by went to, I mean I sat in my home like a grump, eating kettlecorn popcorn and a lukewarm diet soda.

It was heaven.

So, of course, being a horror critic (or something like that), I bought tickets to the Horror section of their short films, which included three shorts – THE SHACK – An Atmos-Fearic Thriller; THEYSUCK; and MICHAEL AND THE DRAGON.

Backstory, I didn’t read the small print and only watched the first one. Then the next day went to watch the other ones but my ticket expired so I had to pay again. So, that’s the REAL LGBTQ agenda…making me read the small print when I buy shit!

It's a meme that says, "watch all the films or you'll pay again" and Brannyk says, "that sign won't stop me because I can't read."

THE SHACK – An Atmos-Fearic Thriller

The Shack is about is a guy who has very loud music in his head, probably from drinking all the Cthulhu beer. He has a buddy come up into his hunting blind and then bonks the buddy on the head and drags him away. You think in some kind of caveman courtship, but no, it’s for a demon dressed in a raincoat to feed upon the friend.

Next he brings his son (who looks about the same age as he is) to the blind- er, shack? It’s not really a shack. It’s a hunting blind. And it’s really not all that creepy. And it does NOT look like it’s 100 years old like the son says. It looks like it was from the 70’s. It needs more centerfolds in it, like, of 70’s demons or something…

Anyway, spooky things happen and tentacle monsters. Things go downhill.

The issue I took (besides the music, because turn down that racket!) is that the ‘son’ is too old. If he were a twelve or thirteen year old, it would have been more emotionally impactful. The story would have been more interesting. Instead, the son looks old enough to drink Cthulhu beer with dad and it lowers the stakes. Especially as this hunting trip is meant to be a rite of passage.

The high points come from the demon itself – the tentacles and the actor. The makeup for the demon was good and the actor’s presence was appropriately creepy. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the woods and the mystery it was unfolding (although it’s been played out before). Otherwise, it was…good. Mostly. It was fine.

It's a pic of a guy holding another guy with headphones, yelling, "MAH SON". A demon doesn't give a fuck and shrugs.
2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)


Man, I wanted to like this one so much. UK NB vampires. Sounds incredible, right?

And some parts were incredible. The editing (while sometimes off, like the clothes washing scene) was stylized and crisp, as well as the cinematography. The music, when not rattling in my ears, was well-paced and energetic. Some of the scenes were clever and the locations were interesting.


The problem that bugged me the most was the writing, actually. It just…was bland. For a short about trans vampires. Like, how is that possible?

Truth be told, I think the largest reason for this was that the story didn’t really focus. It tried to be too many things all at once – friends falling out, falling in love, sexual identity, gender identity, uh…vampire identity? Looking for an apartment. Killing humans. Dancing. Dressing up like ghosts. Washing clothes dramatically.

I guess now’s the time to talk about the actual plot. Vampire Toy and their vampire roommate/romantic partner/friend (?), Novah, have a bit of a falling out. Toy is falling in love with a human! Hiss! A human realtor. Double hiss!! A human realtor cis-woman!!! Eternity amount of hisses!!!

As Toy gets more enraptured with this human, Adele, Novah figures enough is enough. Something drastic must be done. Is love enough to win the day? Or at least can Toy find their dream apartment?

Okay, so first – the names of ‘Toy’ and ‘Novah’…are so on point. I was chuckling. I mean, these are the stuff of Reddit NB memes.

It's a meme where there are two buttons - one says "have a normal name" and the other says "have the name of an inanimate object". The next scene is an NB sweating because they can't choose.

And there was a love of spit and love put into THEYSUCK, don’t get me wrong. I think the reason why I’m picking on this one so much is because of its potential. With a few tweaks and re-writes, this could have been a much stronger narrative and short film (possibly even as part of an anthology).

And I like Toy, but with the time and space we’re allotted with them, they usually end up looking sleazy with Adele or manic-pixie-dream-vamp literally dancing to their own tune. I was so looking for more vulnerability from them like in the first scene with Novah. I wanted to see that side of them. In fact, the parts with Novah and Toy were the strongest. They had good chemistry and were natural together.

The love angle with Adele and the chemistry there just felt flat and honestly…was unnecessary to Toy’s journey in their search for independence and perhaps sexual rediscovery.

All in all, I hope Lisbon Mombellet continues to make films. As I’ve said, the editing and cinematography were fun and stylish, with infectious energy. I was never bored while watching THEYSUCK and I enjoyed the parts of the whole. I think if Mombellet tightens up the writing, we’re in for some real treats in the future.

It's Toy with Adele, saying, "Hubba Hubba Happy Halloween" like a creep. And Adele is blushing and saying, "Oh! Oh! My! You're so quirky!"
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Michael and the Dragon


My God…

Interpretive dance…horror!


Interpretivedancehorror!!! OMG!

It's a picture of Brannyk being in love and saying Yesssss

I love it.

Micky Waickman plays both Michael and the Dragon – both equally masculine and feminine in the most beautiful ways. Cait Rowe, cinematographer, pulled an utterly impressive job and took my breath away with the shots. MICHAEL AND THE DRAGON is the proof of how much an experimental piece horror with very little cast and crew can achieve with clever camerawork, ingenuity, and talent.

Shooting in black-and-white was the correct choice and I’m not just saying that because it’d probably be on the now-defunct High Art Camp, but because it added to the horror and distortion of the film. Dreamlike and nightmarish, the dance and bodywork of Waickman was itself a juxtaposition of the story it wove.

And yes, I’m showing my bias of experimental horror, but THERE IS A FINE LINE between pretentious weirdness and actual art. This one was the latter and Director/Writer Ella Price should be incredibly proud. I sincerely hope to see more of her work in the future. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Bottomline for the Trans Steller Film Festival:

Was spending twice the amount really worth it?…


Of course! These small indie film-makers are the lifeblood of solid horror, and bigger and better things to come. I’ve said it before and I’ll say again, indie movies are precious and need to be supported. They are the babies of creators. And whether they fully hit the mark or not is irrelevant. The point is that there is creation, bridled only by lack of funds and resources. And it’s incredible to see what happens when there’s a dream that refuses to be deferred, especially by the minority of creators.

Horror is for minorities. For misfits. For the underfunded and underprivileged. Because that’s when it’s real and authentic. And horror, to be GOOD, desperately requires for it to be authentic. Maybe these won’t blow the door off anything yet. But maybe in a few years. Or maybe they’ll inspire someone else. Or maybe these directors and actors will move on to bigger things.

Yeah, yeah, I’m making it a fireside chat, but it’s true. These film festivals are the lifeblood of our community and we need to support them. I’m glad I’m an idiot and paid twice. They deserve it.


When not ravaging through the wilds of Detroit with Jellybeans the Cat, J.M. Brannyk (a.k.a. Boxhuman) reviews mostly supernatural and slasher films from the 70's-90's and is dubiously HauntedMTL's Voice of Reason. Aside from writing, Brannyk dips into the podcasts, and is the composer of many of HauntedMTL's podcast themes.

Breaking News

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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