Hello uglies, let’s talk about Dragula S4 E1, shall we? Welcome to “Well Red,” Haunted MTL’s weekly review and recap of Shudder’s horror drag competition, The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula. We’re going to catch you up on who slayed, who stayed, and who passed away. We’ll also give the overall episode a critique.
Dragula – S4 E1: What Went Down
“I’m Merrie Cherry and I’m scared as fuck.”Merrie Cherry, The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula – S4 E1
The episode began with a pretty long opening that set up not only an ancient ritual but a modern possessed mask story. It was a bit long, but the production values were great. The problem is that it takes away time to get to know the contestants. While I applaud the effort I mostly felt left in the cold with the opening.
Thankfully, we get a really fun introduction to this season’s competitors. They are shepherded into a haunted house and we get to know our competitors a bit. We also get some initial tension which will likely simmer throughout the season. Specifically, we get a pair of potential troublemakers in La Zavaleta and Merrie Cherry. La Zavaleta is particularly boisterous and that certainly carries through the episode. Merrie Cherry felt a little needy, taking offense at not getting a certain level of attention. Grim signs for what is ahead.
We also get introduced to HoSo Terra Tom and Astrud Aurelia who seem to have some mutual respect – and maybe a little more. We’ll need to see. We also have a lady duo alliance with Sigourney Beaver and Bitter Bettie. We’ll see how long that lasts.
The fright challenge this week was an extreme haunted house that subjected our contestants to a number of fun scare gags including a backward blind drop, a gag with a speeding car, a tumbling room, and plenty of masked meanies. It was a lot of fun to see the two groups make their way through, but the most significant moment involved Astrud Aurelia.
In the workroom, La Zavaleta snarked at Astrud Aurelia about collapsing in the haunt. Astrud revealed she had a traumatic encounter with a car once, and that the car gag in the haunt took her surprise. We also get some other shade, a great deal thrown at Formelda Hyde for being a masked queen. Masked queens have notoriously low life expectancies on Dragula.
The main challenge was to remake the look of a classic horror character, and we certainly get quite the spread.
- Astrud Aurelia – Xenomorph from Alien
- Koco Caine – Morticia Addams from The Addams Family
- Sigourney Beaver – The Bride of Frankenstein from… The Bride of Frankenstein
- HoSo Terra Tom – Other Mother from Coraline
- Merrie Cherry – Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – Ghostbusters
- Saint – Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- Jade Jolie – Sarah Sanderson from Hocus Pocus
- La Zavaleta – The Blind-Man from Pan’s Labyrinth
- Bitter Bettie – Elvira
- Formedla Hyde – Billy from SAW
There was some shade being thrown around the workroom, but not as much as earlier. Still, some personalities, alliances, and conflicts are forming. Things will certainly get more intense as the season progresses. One sign that our contestants may be in trouble – most were still applying makeup while the final looks warning sounded. Yikes.
The floor show was every bit as stylish as expected and the assemblage of looks, on the whole, was great, with some very, very noticeable misfires. In particular, La Zavaleta and Formelda Hyde made for the bottom two, and while Formelda Hyde could have pushed her look and shape further, La Zavaleta’s look was completely off, in my opinion. Rather than drooping skin associated with her character, La Zavalta’s “Blind-Man” came off as lumpy, flakey, and her motions didn’t really put emphasis on the hands which had the eyes – kind of the point of “the Blind-Man.”
The winning look was Astrud Aurelia’s punk-looking “Xenomorph” and it definitely deserved the win. The gesture was just right, the materials had the gothic-tech look of H. R. Giger’s art, and the tail on the costume was fantastic, creating a striking profile. A close second for me was HoSo Terra Tom’s “Other Mother” hitting all the points of the character and building on the look. I think HoSo is my early choice for the performer to take the grand prize this season. While she didn’t win this go, she was one of the top looks.
Also of note was Astrud’s rather loud pop upon winning and Sigourney’s very clear side-eye that followed.
The elimination challenge is an old one, but always fun. Israel got to seal La Zavaleta and Formelda into coffins, cover them in dirt, and pipe in some mealworms, crickets, and a little water. It’s not the most horrific elimination challenge we’ve seen, but it’s always a fun one. Between the two, La Zavaleta handled the whole thing a little better than Formelda which is probably why Formedelda was killed by our venerable hosts, Dracmorda and Swanthula. Unless maybe the club-kid boots are that big of a sin?
Winner: Astrud Aurelia (shown)
Top Looks: Astrud Aurelia, Koco Caine, Sigourney Beaver, and HoSo Terra Tom
Safe Squad: Merrie Cherry, Saint, Jade Jolie
Bottom Looks: La Zavaleta, Bitter Bettie, Formelda Hyde
The contestants this season have some serious chops and the production this season looks like it will be very impressive. Dragula should be a fun ride this season. However, the episode ran a little too long with an overstuffed opening. I found myself getting a little annoyed with the window dressing and wishing we spent more time with the ghouls.
Also, as much as I love drama, eliminating Formelda Hyde was the wrong move – La Zavaleta’s blind-man was the weaker of their bottom two looks and Formelda’s only real flaw was their scale wasn’t large enough. Now, instead, La Zavaleta is going to stick around and cause drama, which is fun, but feels a bit forced given that her look just didn’t serve.(3.5 / 5)
We hope you enjoyed our coverage of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula – S4 E1. Let us know what you thought of the competition and who you think will take the prize. We’d also love to hear your assessment of the looks. Which gagged and which were groaners?
Cadaver (2020), a Film Review
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal and currently available on Netflix.
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal. This unrated film stars Thorbjørn Harr, Gitte Witt, and Thomas Gullestad. As of this review, the film is available on Netflix.
After an apocalyptic event, the survivors endure in a hopeless world. Among these survivors are Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad), and Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman), a family fighting the hopelessness of a lost world. Leonora desires to keep her daughter (Alice) hopeful, and when a theater opens in their decrepit city, she thinks she has found the solution to their despair. However, they will all soon learn how desperate people have become.
What I Like from Cadaver
Cadaver takes on a unique focus for a post-apocalyptic movie. While most in the genre tackle the question of where you find hope, the theatrical lens is not one I’ve seen before. It blends these two unique environments together for a pleasant concoction. As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I must admit I find my niche in the everyday lives of someone in such a world.
Leonora’s (usually called Leo in the film) dreamer nature in this horrendously hopeless environment creates a sympathetic contrast. This dreamer nature doesn’t excuse some of her choices, but she evokes sympathy. While most post-apocalyptic entries provide this balance of hope and survival, Leo’s creativity and passion for the arts give her hope and a more focused ideal.
The relationship between Leo and her husband also creates a nice contrast, as Jacob plays the rationalist and survivor. In this decision, both characters provide that post-apocalyptic dynamic of survival and hope. These interactions allow both actors opportunities to create friction as they pull the plot from their differing perspectives.
I had the chance to listen to the dubbed version, which sounds good. I’m not much for dubs, especially on Netflix, but they did Cadaver with respect and a focus on quality. At the very least, it’s competent and doesn’t distract from the viewing experience.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As hinted at earlier, there are some dumb decisions in the plot. While many fall within character traits, the actions don’t escape criticism. This flaw becomes incredibly repetitive when characters make the same mistake.
Implied suicide occurs throughout the film with one shown incident, but there are circumstances that change the context slightly. A world this bleak invites this depressive and dangerous state as a normality. However, one should prepare if this is a trigger.
What I Dislike or Considerations for Cadaver
Again, some decisions had me roll my eyes and endure the plot. This reaction isn’t exactly the experience I seek out in my horror. It’s more haunting to make sensible, or even intelligent, decisions and still endure unavoidable or unforeseen consequences.
It’s likely that nothing in Cadaver surprises you, which underutilizes the interesting premise. There are unique elements, certainly, but never a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s in that execution that Cadaver falls flat and fails to engage a viewer.
The film doesn’t exactly haunt the viewer, but the bleak world effectively depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocalypse. Don’t expect much genuine horror, but you can expect an appropriately uncomfortable and unnerving experience. In short, viewers of Cadaver likely want a unique twist in their post-apocalypse, not a traumatic horror.
Cadaver remains a unique viewing experience by adding a slight twist to its post-apocalyptic story. While not a haunting masterpiece, this bleak film will have you feeling the characters’ struggle. While lacking sensible decision-making skills, they are certainly sympathetic survivors struggling in a hopeless world. If this is your niche, it’s certainly worth a view.
(3 / 5)
Wheel of Time, What Might Be
Episode three of Wheel of Time was easily my favorite so far. It’s dramatic, dark, and speaks to the growing concerns about evil invading the world.
Let’s begin with Nynaeve. After showing little to no progress, Liandrin thinks she’s ready to go through the Trial of The Arches. This is an initiation that all Aes Sedai have to go through to become a sister. It’s dangerous, not totally understood, and doesn’t have a great survival rate.
One would think some cooler heads would prevail and not let the very new person do this so early. Especially since Nynaeve seems to have some issues with impulse control.
But she goes into the trial, seeing first a scene from her childhood where her parents are attacked.
The point is to walk back through the arches, leaving her family behind. This she does, but doesn’t look very happy about it. Her second trial involves finding herself back in Two Rivers, where a horrible plague has ripped through the people. Again, she has to walk away from the people that she cares about and come back to reality.
The third test is a little more tricky. It appears that Nynaeve comes back covered in blood, with no memories of what happened.
Terrified, she runs from the castle only to find Lan waiting for her.
In the real world, where Liandrin and the others are waiting for her, she simply never returns.
This shakes Liandrin. She decides she’s done holding Mat against his will, and lets him leave. Excited, but also smelling a trap, he takes Min with him.
Still not sure why she had him to start with, but I guess it’s cool that she let him go.
Meanwhile, Rand is working with a familiar face at his hospital. It’s Logain, who we might remember as the false dragon from season one.
Rand would love some advice about channeling as a man. But it appears that Logain might really have lost his mind.
My favorite scene in the episode was the one involving Perrin and Lady Suroth. This scene was perfect.
First off, the character design for Lady Suroth was just perfect. Without moving more than a hand and the crook of her mouth, she manages to be terrifying.
The massively scary nails help, as does the headdress that is both beautiful and reminiscent of an insect. The sort of insect that seems likely to bite and lay eggs under the skin of a victim.
Her absolute authority was terrifying. Uno certainly learned that.
What was more scary, of course, was who was standing next to her. Does she think she’s the one in charge? Or is she perfectly clear on where stands?
What didn’t work
One thing that I don’t love about this season is, unfortunately, not likely to change. It’s true in the books, and it’s true in the show.
The ensemble cast structure doesn’t work for me.
It fractures the story in too many directions. It’s too busy, there’s too much going on. At the same time, there isn’t enough going on with individual characters for me to establish an interest in all of them.
I care what’s happening with Egwene and Nynaeve. I care what’s happening with Perrin.
I don’t care as much about Rand right now. And she wasn’t as involved in this episode, but I don’t care about what Moiraine is going through either.
That could be because the world is coming to an end and they’re refusing to be team players. But maybe that’s just me.
Overall, this was a fun episode. It feels like pieces are being put into place. The characters are getting ready for something big. Something that we can only see the beginnings of.
Something that they clearly don’t think they’re ready for.(3.5 / 5)
American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain
American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.
Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.
Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.
But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.
Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.
You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby.
AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.
Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.
This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us.
I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.
This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.
What didn’t work
Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!
Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here.
I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.
I feel like they’ve been railroaded.
All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring. (4 / 5)