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Netflix presents ‘Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’: What’s that smell?!

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

The story of the Milwaukee Monster, notorious serial killer and cannibal, the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer, and the repeated police incompetence that allowed him to continue killing, largely told from the point-of-view of his victims.

The whole entire show can be summed up in a single word – bleak. The colors are washed out of every last scene (with one exception, which Moxie will get to shortly), the scenery itself is practically rotting and wilting, the segments of Jeff’s formative years are full of little but utterly debilitating loneliness, the outlook of the police and general society for the early 90’s gay menfolk of Milwaukee is fearful and usually ignored, and of course just about anyone that isn’t lily-white is automatically assumed to be a troublemaker. Which is a glorious irony, given what the very-white man of the story is known for. Dahmer himself (Evan Peters) looks practically jaundiced every time we see him, like the evil on the inside is leaking to the outside and coloring his very skin every time he killed, a brilliant choice on the part of director Ryan Murphy. Indeed everything, from the neighbors’ impatience with the weird odors and noises emanating from Jeff’s apartment, to the sufferance of his too-trusting grandmother Catherine (Michael Learned) and her killing-grounds of a house, the insistence of Jeff’s father on not giving up his son despite Jeff continually screwing up, and the cynicism of the cops every time they actually bother showing up; it’s all rotting and sending up one hell of a stink, a lot like the trophies Jeff kept – aside from the ones he ate.

The single bright spot in the entire series, Episode 6 ‘Silenced’, is actually made so much worse because we know quite well what will happen, what has already happened, to the lovely soul that was Tony Hughes (Rodney Burford). Despite three large strikes that would have stopped lesser men – being a black man in America is never easy; being a gay man in the early 90’s makes you a target; and being a deaf man makes all of this infinitely harder – Tony insists on moving to the larger city of Madison to try and break into the modeling biz, where his lustrous spirit catches the notice of an actual monster haunting the gay bars.

The soundtrack of Dahmer – Monster, comprised mostly of poppy love ballads and happy dance tracks inspired from the 90’s gay club scenes, provides a strange tilt to the desolate atmosphere, especially when Jeff throws on seductive music for his bizarre love scenes … with corpses.

A good deal of the show is dramatized for, well yes, dramatic effect, emphasizing odd details and expounding on things that never actually happened, but by and large the show is pretty damn accurate. It is noted that Dahmer went into military service and got dishonorably discharged for it, but never why (excessive alcoholism and violence towards fellow soldiers, among other things), how Jeff as a youngling was considered at best odd and at worst a freak-o for wanting to do roadkill-hunting and taxidermy with his dad (dad was a bit of an odd duck too), and how he drank a lot but not how bad it actually was (medical standards would have pegged Dahmer as an debilitating alcoholic in his early teens). These details could have come from close inspections of Dahmer himself, but the one thing director Ryan Murphy insisted on was that the show would never be made from the POV of Jeff Dahmer himself. So, onward we go.

Jeff’s father Lionel, brilliantly played by Richard Jenkins, runs the whole gamut of emotions a parent feels for their wayward child – disgust at his terrible killing actions, resignation at Jeff’s inability to hold down a job or any kind of normal life, hesitancy and avoidance of the subject of his sons burgeoning homosexuality, shame at his own paternal inadequacies (and there are several), culpability in the monster his son became, and somehow still love, all hopelessly tangled together. Lionel’s second wife Shari (Molly Ringwald) does her best to remain a calm center of their disintegrating world after Jeff is arrested, whereas first wife Joyce (Penelope Miller), portrayed here as a mentally-unstable pill-popping ex with abandonment issues (at least as far as Jeff goes, she up and took Lionel’s second child David, Jeff’s brother, when she originally absconded), keeps popping up and furiously denying any culpability in “what Jeff did”.

Lionel in his agony searches high and low for answers, for reasons, insight into the horrific actions of his eldest son, offering up his mother’s popping pills during her pregnancy and Lionel’s own supposed “dark urges” like a penitent sop to his imprisoned son, blissfully unaware of Jeff’s apparent disinterest in such things. Lionel tries writing a book about his experiences, tries going on talk shows to tell the story in his own words with his own pain, but very little of it seems to help. Lionel dutifully visits his son Jeff in prison, even encouraging Jeff to get baptized, and his sorrow at Jeff’s own killing seems genuine, though it is very likely there was an under-the-breath sigh of relief in there somewhere too.

Rather than focusing solely on Dahmer’s victims, and there are many not even counting the men and boys he actually murdered, but also their surviving families and his neighbors and the entire gay community were traumatized by the actions of a single, very white, man, the show pins down Dahmer’s next door neighbor Glenda Cleveland (Niecy Nash) as the main bothersome factor, at least according to the police. Cleveland calls the cops repeatedly, complaining about the smell coming into her apartment through the pipes connected to Dahmer’s place, the late-night screams and other inexplicable noises, and of course the night one of the youngest of Jeff’s victims, Konerak Sinthasomphone (Kieran Tamondong), was actually released from police custody back to Dahmer, who claimed that the dazed drugged 14-year-old boy was his too-drunk boyfriend. The cops’ reluctance to get involved with anything even partially homosexual-related is evident in every single interaction with them, and how they treat everyone who isn’t paper-white-skinned demonstrates clear bias against the entire BIPOC community that sadly continues in the USA, even today. Glenda Cleveland herself, after talking with Reverend Jesse Jackson (Nigel Gibbs) and being awarded a community service medal while fighting her own demons in the aftermath of Dahmer’s murder spree, gave the impression that while apologies after the fact are fine, it’s no kind of excuse on the parts of the cops, or the bosses that enabled them, or the bureaucratic red tape that has never once cared about the victims, and still doesn’t, to this day.

The insistence by Murphy to entangle Jeff’s killer lore together with the execution of fellow gay killer John Wayne Gacy, and Dahmer’s apparent fascination with the Psycho-inspiring Ed Gein, seems strange, but it is the kind of twist American Horror Story, another of Murphy’s projects, loves to toss at its audiences. The controversy that ensued after the premiere of Dahmer – Monster on Netflix, how none of the real-life victims and their families still living today were consulted for the making of the show despite being portrayed as exactly as Ryan could manage from court tapings and the like, only caused a rise in viewership.

Most everyone now knows who, and what, Jeffrey Dahmer was. The true-crime enthusiasts, the gore-hounds, the seriously deluded, and the downright sick like him, already bothered to read up on what happened to Jeff after the horrific events that transpired that landed him in prison and to a rather ignominious death while still inside prison. Beaten to death by a fellow inmate who was “divinely inspired to be the vengeful hand of God” just a little while after Dahmer’s prison baptism, has a delicious, almost righteous, irony to it. And to those folk decrying the casting of a “pretty-boy” as the notorious Dahmer have obviously not seen Peters’ other acting roles – Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh to name just a few – where he beautifully demonstrates that “pretty boy” face and charm often hides the most monstrous in plain sight. Jut like Jeffrey Dahmer did.

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‘Abigail’: Bite Me Harder Tiny Dancer

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A gang of misfit kidnappers find their tiny target far more bloodthirsty than they bargained for! 

So, unfortunately, the trailers gave it away and let’s be real that’s why most of us are here, the knowledge that the kidnap victim Abigail (Alisha Weir), codenamed by the would-be kidnappers appropriately as ‘tiny dancer’, is in fact, a vampire. Not a spoiler, point of fact, one of the film’s actual great selling points. And the reactions from the misfit club when faced with a real actual f*cking vampire, range hilariously from the blunt “no such thing as vampires” all the way to, “Are we talking True Blood or Twilight rules or what?” all while covered in buckets and buckets of blood. 

Anyway, the gang manages to subdue and abscond with the aforementioned Abigail, in a pre-prepared duffle bag, like you do, and converge to a new location, a house oddly similar to the one she was just taken from. Welcomed and given codenames by a man who introduces himself as Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito), our misfit club is told to simply hold down the fort in this strange old house with the girl chained up in a room and one person to attend her, for twenty-four hours, and they’ll all get paid. 

As inevitable as the tides, the dopey druggie Dean (Angus Cloud) is the first to die, and we’re going to give that death-style points for inspiring terror right off the bat. The very controlling Frank (Dan Stevens, holy crap yes that is the guy from FXs Legion) is also of course the most suspicious – of everyone around him, sure, but also he himself is totes sus. We don’t learn terribly much about the musclebound tank who gets dubbed Peter (Kevin Durand), he’s your pretty typical little-brains-heart-of-gold muscle-for-hire any proper gang needs, right down to the bottle problem. Sammy (Kathryn Newton), well, even for being a purported hacker-type, she has, like, reality issues. Rickles (William Catlett), he’s arguably the most dangerous among them, ex-military and yet somehow here and involved in kidnapping for a few mills. Joey (Melissa Barrera) is our Final Girl, and though she has the inevitable problems in her recent past, she seems more capable of doing the hard thing and still somehow empathizing at the end of the day. Must be her burning desire to get back with her son. 

The fit hits the shan pretty quickly, and Abigail morphs from tiny dancer to tiny monster, though honestly, the way Abigail spoke the entire time in the film, if the ‘nappers had been paying close enough attention, would have been a solid clue. The performance from Alisha Weir as Abigail is incredible, as she literally dances a fine line between comedy, tragedy, and outright monstrosity. With a face full of makeup and the force of a tiny tornado to back it up, Weir brings to mind the great performances of the vampires in 30 Days of Night who saw the practicality in the need to trap their food, but also, play with it a bit first before feasting! Anything else would give away the absolute fun time that is Abigail, so you should go see it, out in theaters now!

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Scrubs Reunion: The Band Gets Back Together

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Fans of the beloved medical comedy series Scrubs were recently treated to a thrilling surprise when John C. McGinley, who portrayed the iconic Dr. Perry Cox, dropped a photo on Twitter hinting at a potential reunion project. The image, showing McGinley alongside his former co-stars, sparked a wave of excitement and speculation among fans who have been longing for more adventures with the beloved Sacred Heart Hospital staff.

While details about the reunion project are still scarce, the mere possibility of seeing the gang back together again has sent waves of nostalgia through fans who fondly remember the show’s original run from 2001 to 2010. Scrubs was not just a sitcom; it was a heartfelt exploration of friendship, love, and the chaotic world of medicine, all wrapped up in a quirky and often hilarious package.

At the heart of the show was the bromance between JD (played by Zach Braff) and Turk (played by Donald Faison), whose antics and deep bond served as the emotional anchor for the series. Their dynamic, along with the sage wisdom (and relentless sarcasm) of Dr. Cox, provided viewers with memorable moments that have stood the test of time.

As we eagerly await more news about the Scrubs reunion project, one thing is for sure: it’s time to dust off those old DVDs, rewatch our favorite episodes, and get ready to welcome back our favorite gang of doctors, nurses, and janitors for what promises to be a memorable reunion.

But Scrubs was more than just its main characters. The supporting cast, including the eccentric Janitor (played by Neil Flynn), the neurotic Elliot (played by Sarah Chalke), and the wise-cracking nurse Carla (played by Judy Reyes), each brought their own unique flavor to the show, creating a rich tapestry of characters that fans grew to love.

While the photo shared by McGinley has fueled speculation about what the reunion project might entail, whether it’s a one-off special, a new season, or something else entirely, one thing is certain: fans are eagerly awaiting any opportunity to dive back into the world of Sacred Heart Hospital.

In an age where reboots and revivals are commonplace, Scrubs stands out as a series that has the potential to recapture the magic that made it a fan favorite in the first place. With its blend of humor, heart, and unforgettable characters, a reunion project has the opportunity to not only satisfy longtime fans but also introduce a new generation to the joys of life at Sacred Heart.

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‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’: Rebellion with a cause

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The story of the rise of Coriolanus Snow, from teenage Capital City pawn to rising Dictator of the Hunger Games! 

Apparently no one out here in post-apocalyptic Panem has heard of irony and so they name their children things like Coriolanus (Tom Blyth), Tigress, and further off in Hunger Games lore, after swamp plants like Katniss. Corio’s father was a legendary general and that is pretty much the only reason young Snow and his meager family of grandmother called Grandma’am (Fionnula Flanagan) and sister Tigress (Hunter Schafer) are tolerated here in the Capital City at all. 

Most of the snotty youngsters at the academy won’t let Snow forget how far his family has fallen, but he’s generally not concerned with them. What is concerning is the strong disapproval of the drugged-up Dean Casca Highbottom (Peter Dinklage) and the creepy attention of Dr. Volumnia Gaul (Viola Davis) as she lurks in the classroom sniffing out talent. The Dean feels very strongly the annual Hunger Games should end, while Gaul is violently adamant that not only do the Games continue, but that they get as much more attention as possible. And young Snow is stuck in the middle, when the yearly prize money normally awarded to the academy student with the best grades gets switched out for, you guessed it, the student that can make this years’ Hunger Games as entertaining as possible. 

Whilst the students are protesting this sudden change, the annual Reaping is about to commence, and big shock and surprise, Corio’s candidate from District 12 Lucy Grey Baird (Rachel Zegler) is chosen as a Tribute. This is where the film begins to really take off on musical wings, for as it turns out, Lucy Grey can sing. Boy, can that gal sing! She can sing, she can play guitar, she can work a crowd, she can calm things down, she can fire ‘em up too! And Corio, being no dummy himself, instantly plots ways to use his Tributes amazing voice to draw attention to her, and admittedly his own, plight! 

Though far too many people sneer at the idea, Corio takes his position as Mentor to his Tribute seriously enough to sneak onto the tram taking the Tributes to their habitat, which turns out to be a completely appropriate moniker, as this year the Tributes are held before the Hunger Games in a large zoo habitat so the weatherman ‘Lucky’ Flickerman (Jason Schwartzman), host of this years games, can MC the hell out of everything up close and personal! 

What happens at this years Hunger Games and the subsequent consequences to both Corio and Lucy Grey is actually only half the story, and the movie. Coriolanus has always had to be opportunistic, but learning to be absolutely ruthless when necessary under the tutelage of Dr. Gaul, who basically thinks it’s always best to be merciless, is an eye-opening education indeed.  Even after they’ve both been consigned to military service and his friend Sejanus Plinth (Josh Andres Rivera) decides to finally rebel, Corio and Sejanus continue to deceive each other and themselves, to accomplish their separate goals. Not even the love Corio swears he feels for Lucy Grey can save him, or them, from the adamant absolute necessity of the Hunger Games continuing. And after all that’s happened, Coriolanus Snow has gotten a terrific education in the best way to be the absolutely ruthless next Hunger Games advocate, and oh yeah, President of Panem. 

The movie does itself no favors by trying to stuff not one but two major storylines and a bunch of side storylines sadly introduced and then ignored, into the film. It would have been entirely possible to turn Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes into two different movies, separated between feathers and scales if you like, and do justice to the major storylines in both. Blyth gives a fine  performance as a young Coriolanus Snow, but the fact that President Snow is played by Donald Sutherland in all three of the Hunger Games films means Blyth has incredibly large shoes to fill. Rachel Zegler as Lucy Grey is absolute fire, and yes the actress did sing the songs in the film herself, including the Hunger Games franchise epic song, ‘The Hanging Tree’. Every time Lucy Grey opens her mouth and sheer soul-searing music comes out, it provides a distinct counterpoint to the soul-crushing ambition of Coriolanus Snow and further demonstrates the District and Caste separation Hunger Games is known for. And if, by the end of the film, Coriolanus Snow has come to agree that the Hunger Games must continue but perhaps under his own auspices, he has no one but himself to blame when another younger but still rebellious female blows it all up in his face! 

Choose rebellion or conformity for yourself in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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