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Since the entirety of October is officially Halloween this year (shut up, you!), we at Psycho Drive-In have decided to attempt to fill the month with thirty-one recommendations for horror-related movies, comics, books, TV shows, toys, games, and everything in-between. It’s gonna be a grab-bag of goodies we feel you should be exposed to, whether you like it or not! But don’t expect your standard suggestions for Halloween fun, we’re digging into some stuff that we love in the hopes that you might make this October a little bit weirder than usual.

Weirder in a good way. Not like what’s going on outside in the hellscape of 2020.

The Great British Bake Off is a beloved institution, in no small part because it is so different from most reality programming. The program celebrates the efficacy of home bakers, and mostly without including maudlin tales of misery uncovered by producers. It’s certain that some of the bakers have suffered, but for the hour or so they are in the tent, chocolate bombes and profiteroles take precedence. Time on screen is not dictated by character arc, but instead whether a contestant can turn out a properly boiled and baked bagel. The cast realize this and are able to develop a camaraderie that adds to the show’s charm. There is something affirming about watching skilled everyday people do something that brings them joy.

This good feeling carried over for most of the presenters and judges. Mary Berry and her replacement Prue Leith fit into the baking tent because they bring an immense amount of knowledge and a reserved mien that cracks to great effect when presented with extraordinary bakes or extraordinary amounts of spirits contained therein. Original presenters Mel and Sue were advocates for the bakers and worked actively to relieve whatever tension built up during the challenges, so much so that the duo threatened to quit on the first day of filming when producers tried to steer Bake Off contestants toward more standard reality confessionals. When the program jumped to Channel 4, the duo was replaced with Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, who brought a different, but still supportive, energy to the competition, augmenting Mel and Sue’s gentle innuendos and cheerleading with a pinch of weirdness that separated the show from its BBC beginnings without, as many viewers feared, ruining its relaxed, benevolent atmosphere. Matt Lucas has replaced Sandi in the most recent season, and his comedic skills gel with Fielding’s to maintain a steady presence of absurdity and uplift.

This leaves, of course, the second judge and only fixture on Bake Off, Paul Hollywood. He is the closet thing the program gets to being edgy. He flirts with some of the contestants, responds gruffly to others who have temerity to question him, and generally tries to cast proper baking as something on level with defusing a bomb or winning a karate match. In recent seasons, he has developed a branded form of approval: the Hollywood handshake. It’s not unusual for a television personality to have a “thing,” but the handshake, and the mythology that has been built around it, runs counter to nearly everything else on the program. Hollywood deploys it as an act of domination disguised as approbation, an acknowledgement that the lowly contestant has received approval from the gods. The handshake has mutated from merely an uncomfortable intrusion of alpha maleness to a show stopping event and subject for interstitial sketches.

Such is the power of its awfulness that Bake Off now works as a slasher film.

Stewart from Teignmouth has created an amazing feta and olive loaf. Hollywood chews contemplatively. My palms begin to sweat. He swallows and narrows his eyes; Stewart is mesmerized, flat-footed. Hollywood raises his hand. I’m gritting my teeth in anticipation, but Hollywood merely points his finger. Stewart is lucky today, but Beth from Didcot has added apricots to her soda bread. There’s a spark in Hollywood’s eyes. I’m crawling behind the couch.

A knowledgable viewer knows that he will eventually single out an unfortunate soul and bestow the cursed hand upon them, but there are enough stops and starts as to make the tension nearly unbearable. Hollywood is coy, wielding the handshake like a machete, feinting to offer a brief respite before delivering the killing blow. Like any good villain, Hollywood realizes the true power of his weapon is the dread that it inspires. And like any good horror fan, I keep returning to the scene of the crime, enthralled and repulsed in equal measures.

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