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Our Top 5 Filthiest Challenges on ‘The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula’

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Filth, horror, glamour.

You’ve heard the phrase a million times already as a fan of the Boulet Brother’s one-of-a-kind television programming. And while there are many glamorous and horrifying elements in The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula challenges, there’s also a cutthroat set of challenges designed for those who fall short in the categories of their performance and looks.

The exterminations can range from cringe-worthy to downright sickening, and many of them will stick with us for longer than we’d like. So why don’t we make the most of it, and look back on which ones we found the filthiest?

Honorable Mention: Drink Up, Landon!

While this was not a proper extermination challenge as many others were, it is still a challenge that undoubtedly gave viewers their fair share of gags. And not in the fun drag way, like literally had us gagging.

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Landon Cider showed the spirit of the world’s next drag supermonster when the show’s first drag king was forced to “drink” a chalice filled with spiders. It was a perfectly nauseating way to kick off the spectacle of the third season, but it also gave way to one of the season’s funniest quotes: “Aw, poor babies! You had to eat dead food? TRY EATING SPIDERS ON YOUR FIRST DAY!”

5. Buried Alive…With Friends (Season 1, Episode 1)

The challenge so nice; they had to go through it twice. This legacy challenge reared its ugly head once more in the Season 4 opener. Still, it only feels appropriate to put the original from the pilot episode “Wickedest Witch” in the fifth-place spot for what it started.

You can’t deny exactly how much claustrophobia this must unlock in people’s brains when they see it, especially with the unsettling green hue of the night vision cam filming Meatball, Loris, and Pinche as they go through it.

4. Organ Meat Surprise (Season 3, Episode 2…& Season 1, Episode 3)

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Like our fifth-place spot, they’re close enough that I’ll have to pair them. It’s up to you to determine the percentages of what freaks you out more: is it the blood and guts of a cow, or the raw brain of a pig? Regardless of which you choose, it’s 100% disgusting.

Most people are averse to eating sweetbreads and organ meats when cooked, let alone raw and slopped onto a plate for you to eat with your bare hands. If this challenge, and the fear of a possible prion disease from participating in it, didn’t get to you like that, I would recommend:

  • Watch Raw (2016); I feel like it’s right up your alley!
  • Seek immediate professional psychiatric help.

3. On Pins & Needles (Season 2, Episode 1)

While it was a valiant show of indifference to getting stabbed multiple times, Monikkie Shame’s deadpan reaction to being forced to take gauging needles didn’t exactly sway all of us watching from home over.

To all but the most enthusiastic of recreational body modders, the sensation of a needle during blood testing or flu season is enough to ruin our mood. So being repeatedly skewered with sharpened rods of thick metal was bound to get a serious reaction from most people. It was on-brand for a Cenobite challenge, and more importantly, it was a challenge that really felt up in the air as all three of our contestants held on throughout.

2. A Swim & A Sip (Season 4, Episode 2)

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As frenetic and borderline irritating the editing is for this challenge, it’s clear from how its cut that whatever the original footage was, it was probably too intense to show us; and that’s saying something, considering what we do get to see is a whole bunch of leeches feasting on our bottom two contestants.

Even as a big Bitter Betty fan, watching a gang of slimy invertebrates eating at her & Astrud Aurelia was hard, and I just wished the challenge would be over sooner.

1. (A Mental) Latex Allergy (Season 4, Episode 7)

A lot of the challenges have made me lean back in my chair. Most of them made me pull a face. But I only ever had one send a true shiver down my spine. And that one is the latex vacuum seal challenge. There was something so uniquely frightening about this “Exorsisters” challenge, and I think most of it comes from the presentation.

It instantly reminded me of Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor with its visuals and lighting. As brief as it all comes and goes, the formatting of this as a short film amplifies the show’s horror bend. This challenge relies a lot on the psychological horror of its imagery, and the thought of a second skin snuffing out your normal one is just the stuff of nightmares.

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With Season 5 on the horizon, I hope we can come back to this with an all-new list and a bevy of new scream-inducing challenges to survey and rank. Until then, you can tell us about your picks for the Extermination Challenge you found the most daunting in the comment section below.

Seasons 2-4 of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula is available to stream on Shudder.

Luis Pomales-Diaz is a freelance writer and lover of fantasy, sci-fi, and of course, horror. When he isn't working on a new article or short story, he can usually be found watching schlocky movies and forgotten television shows.

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Stranger Things Season 4: Vecna and the Hidden Message

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Warning: Potential Stranger Things spoilers lie ahead

The Stranger Things Season 4 trailer is here, and it’s left us with a lot to unpack. Of all the images that stand out when watching what’s to come for Netflix’s hit show, two of them have our hearts pumping the hardest. The first is the appearance of Vecna, the seemingly human hybrid who is set to play the villain this season. The second is a secret image hidden within a single frame of the trailer.

What could this villain mean for our Stranger Things friends, and what secret is hiding in the preview? Grab your Farrah Fawcett hairspray and memorize Planck’s constant as we take a look at the series’ newest villain and the mysterious picture lurking in the season preview.

Vecna

Since Netflix released the episode-title teaser back in November 2021, viewers have speculated that Vecna would be this season’s villain as episode two is titled: “Vecna’s Curse.”

By the time the humanoid-looking bad guy first appeared in the trailer, the Duffer Brothers had officially confirmed that, yes, that is Vecna.

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A side-by-side comparison of Vecna from D&D and the villain in the ST4 trailer:

While the ST4 version appears to have played a game of “Got your nose” and lost, the similarities are uncanny, nevertheless. This strays away from previous iterations of Stranger Things’ treatment of D&D characters as many do not typically resemble their namesake.

As Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) explained in season 2, episode 8 of Stranger Things, they only use D&D characters to represent the monster they’re facing:

“Unless you know something that we don’t, this is the best…analogy for understanding whatever…this is”

Given that, examining Dungeons and Dragons’ Vecna and his attributes should reveal at least some of what to expect from the Stranger Things Season 4 malefactor.

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What does D&D say about Vecna?

According to Greyhawk Online, he is considered “one of the greatest villains.” This authority for D&D goes on to explain that Vecna was born human, taught magic by his mother, and then was “a powerful wizard who became a lich”.

(To put it simply: A lich is a type of undead creature.)

Furthermore, Greyhawk Fandom describes Vecna as being “the god of secrets” and influencing the knowledge domain.

Given all these things, it is a fair assumption that the Stranger Things version of Vecna may:

  • Have once been human
  • Possess specific knowledge, especially about the creation, existence, or destruction of the Upside Down
  • Be the most formidable opponent thus far.

Perhaps even more prolific than Vecna himself are his hand and his eye. Powerful artifacts in Dungeons and Dragons, Forgotten Realms Wiki explains that these parts of Vecna each give its user different abilities with the same clause: anyone who would wield this power would “[change their] worldview towards a neutral evil disposition.” Meaning, that this person would essentially turn evil and only look out for their interests with no feelings of guilt or compunction toward anyone who should stand in their way.

Will we see someone working with or under the influence of Stranger Things’ Vecna? Is this the “curse of Vecna” that the titular episode refers to? Moreover, if he was once a mortal…

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Who was Vecna before he was a Stranger Things Monster?

Interestingly, the actor playing this season’s villain is being kept secret for now. This leaves viewers pondering his human identity.

Given the unresolved disappearance of Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) from the show, along with the penultimate episode title: “Papa” (the childhood name Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) had for Brenner), there is speculation that the scientist who started it all may be the new supervillain.

However, viewers have also speculated whether this may be the return of Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) or the transformation of new cast member Victor Creel (Robert Englund). Even the possibility of a resurrection of Barb (Shannon Purser) has been postulated. Only time will tell.  Whomever Vecna may have been; his present form stands to make trouble for our group moving forward.

Hidden Message in ST4 Trailer

There is so much happening in the Season 4 trailer that it is no surprise that the following hidden image snuck right by many viewers.

The image above can be found at the 1:59 mark of the original trailer. Be warned; even at a playback speed of 0.25, it can be difficult to capture.

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YouTube channel New Rockstars highlights the numbers lurking in the image:

When examining the numbers emphasized by red arrows, it is revealed that each number correlates to a moment in the ST4 trailer. The hidden message is revealed when a viewer goes to the time listed and superimposes the hidden image over top. It is then that they will find the white portal for the corresponding timestamp now covers a portion of letters from the original scene.

To exemplify this with another screencap from the New Rockstars video:

Going to the fifty-two-second marker in the original trailer, and superimposing the hidden image on top, reveals that the white portal now covers the word “Hell” on the shirt Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) is wearing.

When this is done with each of the four timecodes, we are left with the jumbled words: “S Master M A I Hell.” When the words are organized by the chronological order of their time codes, the message: “I am Hell’s Master” is revealed.

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This has direct ties to D&D as Hellmaster is a class.

D and D Wiki defines this class as such:
“A hellmaster is a mortal who sold his soul to the dark legions for dark powers. He swiftly [learns] how to use his newfound power and conjure powerful nightmarish abilities.”

Could this be a reference to the ST4 villain Vecna, given his presumable post-mortal status?

While that is yet to be seen, what we do know is that this is only the first part of a puzzle.

When we went to IamHellsMaster.com, we were taken to a countdown with a picture of the clock featured prominently in the trailer. Now that the countdown has ended, we can click Enter, which leads us to a virtual Lite Brite with coordinates and different colored pegs.

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While we can’t give away all the answers, we can say that June 1st promises to be significant.

Although this has all the trimmings of becoming an augmented reality game, ARGNet is hesitant to call it one just yet.

As the penultimate season of Stranger Things gets closer, we are positive about one thing: We wish this was a never-ending story. *Cue Dustin and Suzie vocalization*

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The Most Killer Cold Opens of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula Season 4

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The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula’s move to Shudder arrived with its largest prize to date and some welcome production upgrades – c’mawn Shudder! Aside from a sleeker boudoir, stronger editing, and some other bells and whistles, one aspect that’s been noticeably elevated is the cold open at the start of each episode. I’ve always loved these artistic segments that tie into the week’s theme with flair and reverence for the horror genre, and now the higher-budget shorts are more stylish and spookier than ever.

These openings and their respective closers – in which the exterminated queen stars in a flashy murder scene – truly blend a reality competition series with the horror films that the Boulets and their Monsters treasure so dearly. Like everything else on The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula, the concept is unique and adds to the excitement of tuning in each week. So, in honor of these devilishly entertaining shorts, the following are my Top 3 Cold Opens of Season 4, with a few runners up for good measure.

Episode 1 – The Witch Queens of Samhain: The best opening of the entire series, in my opinion, Season 4’s premiere brings us way back to one of the earliest competitions, The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Origins Serving us Galadriel from Lord of the Rings doing ASMR, an ethereal voice narrates the ceremony as a group of unholy peasants participates. We witness a barbaric extermination of yore, and a former Drag Supermonster is crowned, drenched in their competitors’ blood. Suddenly, we’re in the present-day, watching horror fans with newly acquired Boulet Brothers masks ogle their prize. One by one, the masks possess their hosts and transform them into killers on behalf of their Boulet overlords – you really should leave collector’s items in their original packaging, dearies. Later, during the Extermination, we see these masked minions hunt the bottom two through the woods in a music video homage to 80s slashers.

These sequences bookend the episode to let you know Season 4 is here in a big way. This isn’t simply a cute promo teaser or a bad skit…we’re given an actual, fantastical backstory to the series and an introduction to the season in the form of a legitimate short film. The imagery in the flashback is genuinely unsettling, and the present-day bit is the stuff of a classic slasher, gradually building tension as it goes. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were starting up Witch Queens IV: Curse of the Drag Queenon Shudder.

Episode 4: Hair Metal Strip Club: This opener welcomes the Boulets favorite episode of every season, the Monsters of Rock challenge. It fittingly and perfectly manifests their bad bitch attitude. After reintroducing us to Season 2 winner Biqtch Puddin’s iconically filthy janitor, we watch as the Boulets enter their club in transcendent hair metal couture and take a seat at the poles. Surrounded by male erotic dancers and (presumably) mounds of cocaine, the duo sits back for a show. Unfortunately, the male in their gaze spills a solo cup full of tequila all over Madame Swanthula, and, with the snap of her fingers, the cold-hearted bitch has him choked out between some meaty thighs. Unbothered, the party continues.

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Once American Idol introduced the world to Simon Cowell, every reality television competition felt it needed that one “asshole judge” persona to keep things spicy. The Boulets are not mean, but they don’t take anyone’s crap and effortlessly embody two fabulous c-words who, now and again, show a softer side to their Monsters. These two are who they say they are, not a pair of jesters delivering zingers for our entertainment (although they do have some good ones), and the hair metal opener is entirely their brand of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. The all-white contacts and the fact that we’ve never seen them out of drag certainly help to perpetuate their intimidating mystery.

 Episode 8: Murder Marionettes: Pupaphobians beware! This week’s theme may be Killer Clowns, but the real stars of the show are the marionettes made in the Boulet’s likeness. These cackling puppets welcome us to the Circus of Clowns and its journey into madness like the good satanic ringleaders they are. Soon, their clowns are on the attack, and innocent dolls looking for a show are spewing blood at high velocity.

Of course, the creativity displayed throughout a season of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula knows no bounds, but I was absolutely delighted by the appearance of these Barbies of the Bordello. Their pouty facial expressions and chaotic movements were a joy to behold, and I always welcome a dose of comedy with my horror. By the episode’s end, we’re even treated to marionettes of the Final Four awaiting judgment before the finale. I guess your very own personalized Annabelle is a nice consolation prize for falling short of $100,000.

Runners-Up: These two certainly stood out to me, but ultimately couldn’t murder the hair metal marionettes of Samhain.

Episode 2: Nosferatu Beach Party: In what is surely the zaniest cold open of the season, the Boulets let their guard down to reveal a campier side not often seen on the show. Shot in the style of a 1950s beach party flick, we’re treated to Drac and Swan letting loose with their men and moonscreen until an unwelcome outsider encroaches on their fun. All tea all shade to the exterminated queen of the week.

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Episode 7: Exorsisters: This blasphemous opener finds the Boulets in a tiny electric chapel, on the prowl for human sacrifice. Swan spits acid onto a crucifix via a nasty little practical effect, and it’s there they see a hunky priest at the pulpit. He’s forced to disrobe and is left cowering in fear and humiliation as they prepare for ritual sacrifice. It’s no “Judas” or “Montero” video in sheer production scale, but even so is fervently offensive to those of the cloth.

Horror openings often hook you in with a macabre precursor of what’s to come, and these gutsy Season 4 cold opens allow the show’s unique viewpoint to pop from reel one. With another season in the grave, I look forward to experiencing the Boulets one-up themselves for many more to come.

The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula is available to stream on Shudder.

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