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Welcome to my grand gesture to celebrate Halloween, the best time of the year. Shudder is celebrating 61 Days of Halloween over the course of September and October, so I am going to join in the fun. Over the course of 61 days, I will be watching 61 movies.

Crazy? Maybe. I have been live-tweeting them as I watch. However, I am also going to be doing these weekly wrap-ups to rank the films I watch throughout the weeks. So, here are the five films I watched during week one, ranked. These aren’t so much reviews but more of impressions about the experience of these movies.

#5 – Bram Stoker’s Dracula

I hadn’t seen Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Dracula in about a decade prior to watching it and I remembered why I hadn’t seen it in a long time. This was my second movie of the week, but my least favorite of the bunch.

The film gets some things right, but I do not think Coppola is the best choice of a director for a vampire film. The film has the requisite sumptuousness of heavy shadows and Edwardian grime befitting Dracula, but the pacing, mixed-bag practical effects, an performances leave something to be desired.

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Part of my experience in watching these films is the process of live-tweeting. So please enjoy the Twitter thread of my reactions to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

https://twitter.com/hpkomic/status/1301355798212214784

#4 – The Shed

The Shed, a Shudder Exclusive, was a fun vampire film and I’d argue a better vampire film than Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This was my third movie of the week but only ranks in at number four.

The film is a fun little romp through a simple concept: A vampire is trapped in a teen’s shed and he can’t seem to keep people from getting killed by it. The film has some natural contrivances and becomes a home invasion film in its last 20 minutes, but for the most part, it is solid. The copious dream sequences are a bit of an oddity and the characters are written very broadly, but if you want to see a vampire really mess people up then you could do worse than The Shed.

https://twitter.com/hpkomic/status/1301723247986130944

#3 – The Nightshifter

The rank of three here carries the suggestion that this film, the fifth of my week, is strictly average, but that is not the case. The Nightshifter, a Shudder Exclusive, skews more towards the really, really good end of my spectrum and is only third on this list because of simple numbering. The film has some elements of other, stronger films, but the overall experience is well worth your time.

This is a fun ghost story made in Brazil. Does the film have some logic problems? Sure, what horror films do not? But the core concept, a morgue-worker who can talk to the dead is immediately used and blows up in the faces of the protagonist and his family. The story follows a man who exploits his gift of being able to speak to the dead for petty revenge which results in the death of his wife, turning her into a vengeful spirit who wreaks havoc on her family.

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https://twitter.com/hpkomic/status/1302399019566551040

#2 – The Room

Number two on my list, The Room, a Shudder Exclusive, is an exciting film of the dark side of wish fulfillment. This was my fourth movie of the week. The film follows a married couple who move into a strange old house with a dark history and a hidden room – a room which can make whatever objects one wishes for. The couple, dealing with an inability to have a child logically makes the worst decision they ever could in this situation and the horrifying implications.

The film is very moody and has an air of European sophistication as the terrors it delves into are more metaphorical and psychological. The performances are strong overall, with a notable exception. The ending is also simultaneously expected but also raises many difficult questions. The Room is definitely one of Shudder’s smarter offerings and offers a modern gothic horror that doesn’t revolve around monsters. It’s not perfect as it can get bogged down in pacing issues, but it is still worth a watch.

https://twitter.com/hpkomic/status/1302047466049564674

#1 – Color Out of Space

My favorite movie in this first week is the Shudder Exclusive Color Out of Space. It was also the first film I watched. The movie is pretty much exactly what I was hoping for coming in: A good adaptation of Lovecraft’s source material, visually inventive, full of weird mutations, and off-the-rails Nicolas Cage.

The film follows the tragedy that occurs on the farm of the Gardner family, outside of Arkham, where they encounter a strange meteor from space that begins to alter their lives in dramatic and alien ways.

The movie is a great modernization to Lovecraft’s original story of isolation and Richard Stanley has more than earned a crack at another Lovecraftian adaptation. Some plot contrivances are handled pretty well, so even a modern world with cell-phones still evokes the isolation of the original story. There is some dodgy CGI here and there but for the most part, the delivery of the visual oddities associated with the titular Color is well done.

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You can catch my live impressions here:

https://twitter.com/hpkomic/status/1301036593122213890

I started the week by just choosing movies at random, but then I discovered that Shudder posts a weekly schedule of premieres for the 61 Days of Halloween event.

So, next week, here are the film you can expect me to rank.

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David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

Editorial

Crashin’ in Roswell NM: Road Trippin’ with Jennifer Weigel

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So on my recent road trip to Miami AZ USA for my menstruation art installation, we decided to detour to Roswell NM en route home. To be honest, this was one of the best decisions of my life, up there with road trippin’ from Arizona to San Francisco along CA-Highway 1, and I will go into the details of why here soon.

Some of the signs: Roswell NM including city limits, UFO Museum and stickered parking sign, and Restricted Area from inside the museum
Some of the signs: Roswell NM

Roswell NM USA has totally embraced its alien history of the UFO crash in the late 1940s and subsequent government cover up. The whole town is alien-happy with beautiful hand carved wood totems, murals and statues everywhere celebrating otherworldly denizens of all types, though predominantly the gray aliens of the crash (and their green counterparts). Even the city logo features a flying saucer as the center of the letter “R”. It really is kind of incredible.

Alien crash site photo opportunity at UFO Museum
Alien crash site photo opportunity

One of the biggest draws is the International UFO Museum and Research Center, housed in the wonderful old theater building. This museum details the crash history as well as celebrating aliens in movies and media and examining newer alien sightings and abductions. It is very thorough and includes maquettes, statues, written accounts and an extensive research library, as well as an interesting art collection of various items.

Alien landing at UFO Museum
Alien landing

And there are TONS of fun alien themed curiosity shops. I will give a shout out to the newer Invasion Station north on Main Street where there had once been an old car dealership. I love the quirky nature of this particular store as well as their strong desire to promote local artists. Most of their wares are hand-painted in NM and feature designs by prominent local artists including one of the lead muralists in town (I bought a magnet of his). They also feature really alternative kitsch like KISS and Ace Frehley alien bobbleheads, marijuana and anal references, and such. All in all, our own Haunted MTL’s kinda folks…

Portrait of the writer at the Roswell Visitor Center (Yes even they have aliens!)
Portrait at Roswell Visitor Center

And the city is a huge tourist draw internationally, so you can meet some amazing and interesting folks from all walks of life who have caught the alien bug or at least want to check out all the hype. As a result of the tourism, the residents seem really laid back and accommodating (kind of like Hawaii but not quite as much) and there is a thriving art scene. And it’s totally my kind of art – weird and a little creepy. Anyway, I feel like I’ve finally found my peeps and am eager to return someday.

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.

If you’re feeling a bit extraterrestrial, I invite you to also check out some of my alien-themed stories here on Haunted MTL: LTD UFOs among us; my Drive-By short story; and LTD Abducted.

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American Horror Story Season 12, Delicate

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Killer Queens, I wasn’t expecting to be back so soon with American Horror Story info. But yesterday we were blessed with a teaser for the intro of Season 12, which we believe will be titled Delicate. 

A still from American Horror Story Delicate first promo.

We are looking at a Summer release for season twelve, but won’t know for sure until June, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Here’s what we know right now. 

First, yes Kim Kardashian is starring alongside Emma Roberts in a role that was written specifically for her. 

That’s the bad news. The good news is that AHS favorites will also be involved. According to IMBD, Charlie Carver, Rebecca Dayan, Cody Fern, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, and Denis O’Hare will be included this season.

AHS Delicate is different from other seasons in many other ways. It’s the first season to ever be written by just one writer, Halley Feiffer. This isn’t a writer most of us as horror fans will be familiar with. She’s written episodes of shows like Kidding, SMILF, and American Crime Story. The last one can at least be seen as a sister show to AHS. 

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As far as I have found, Feiffer has never written horror content. She is now the sole writer for an entire season of the most popular horror show in America. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just not what I would have expected. Most AHS writers are staff writers, actors from the show, or at least people I’ve heard of. So as we don’t have any former work to look at, we can only wait to see how she does. 

We also know what the source material is for this season. It’s a book called Delicate Condition, by Danielle Valentine. This book will be released in August of this year. Which also seemed strange to me. Normally a book would be, you know, published before it inspires additional work.

Even so, Delicate Condition seems like a fascinating story. According to Goodreads, it’s the story of a woman named Anna. Anna is trying to get pregnant but starts to believe that something dark is working against her. Her doctors don’t believe her. Her husband doesn’t believe her. Is she losing her mind?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t deeply interested in this book. And I have to assume that Feiffer and Murphy already have hands on it, to jump to this sort of decision.

By the way, Valentine at least is not an untested writer. Her first novel, How To Survive Your Murder, also made it right on my TBR pile. With a rating of 3.7 out of 4 on Goodreads, I think we can assume Valentine knows what she’s doing with the written word.

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This is all that we know about American Horror Story Delicate so far. What follows are my thoughts and opinions only.

My first thought is that this season is going to be dealing heavily with women’s reproductive rights. This is a topic a lot of us are concerned about right now, as it feels like every day women lose more and more rights to our bodies.

(By the way, if you want to help fight the good fight for body autonomy and get some spooky stories, we have an anthology for that. I have a story in it, as does the horrifyingly talented Jennifer Weigel. All proceeds go to support organizations that help women make their own health decisions.) 

American Horror Story has handled important political issues before. Last season, AHS NYC discussed the AIDs epidemic that went largely ignored in the 80s and killed hundreds of young gay men. They did this in the best way possible, in what this critic believes to be the only way fiction should handle heavy topics. They rooted the issue in a good story. A story that was pure fiction, but also true.

However, this season has a lot of red flags. Never before have I seen the guest star be the main focus so early. Never have I seen any franchise bank so much faith in an all but untested writer, basing work on a book that isn’t even published. And frankly, I’ve never been much of a fan of Kim K, or anyone else who’s famous seemingly just for being famous.

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I’m not rooting for this season to fail just because I don’t like the guest star. If Kardashian is good at this, I’ll be thrilled. I’ll be the first one singing her praises. But when everything we know so far is added up, I’m a lot more concerned about AHS Delicate than I am excited. 

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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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