Gringo Fantastico is a retired luchador presenting Troma films from the safety of a deteriorating recreation center tucked into chaotic Tromaville. He is begrudgingly accompanied by the French-Canadian demon piñata Francois who criticizes and disparages Fantastico throughout each episode. This week’s special guests are the Adams family (Wonder Wheel Productions). New episodes release on the first of each month on Troma NOW.
Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre returns for Chapter Tres with “Hellbender and the Mixologist’s Mirror.” Initially premiering on October 1st, Gringo Fantastico (Nate Turnpaugh) hosts Charles Kaufman’s Mother’s Day (1980). The film is based around a rape-revenge plot and is Toby Poser’s personal pick because the “vengeance in it is satisfying.” This one very much deserves a content warning for being a prime example of a Troma film.
Behind the Mask
Cutting into footage that once again feels ripped directly from the past, the episode begins with Fantastico apologizing for his prior poor behavior. Rather, he emphasizes he has been “told to apologize.” Things appear to go well before agitation kicks in and Fantastico attacks the interviewer. Better luck next time, I guess.
Fantastico’s anger is once again centered around his mask. Audiences can feel the growing desperation to free himself from his alias. Throughout these segments, Turnpaugh crafts a surprisingly emotional look at Fantastico’s psyche. Who among us hasn’t wanted to rip off the socially-acceptable mask they’ve created to reveal the feral human beneath it? I never thought I’d relate to a luchador so much.
Humor and Hijinks
Entering Tromaville’s recreation center, the audience can see Halloween decorations. These touches help the set feel lived-in and create mental images of Fantastico and Francois bickering over their placement. Bringing in another Halloween tradition, Fantastico looks into a mirror and repeats “Bloody Mary” three times. Imagine my surprise when he walks out with an actual bloody mary. Which Francois promptly turns to “just a goddamned V8.”
Speaking with Turnpaugh, he reveals the entire episode’s script came out of him thinking of this particular joke. “I’m not going to waste this joke just as a throwaway gag.” When his wife learns of his intentions, she apparently says, “That’s really funny. You’re really stupid.” The joke expands and changes throughout the episode, and leaves me laughing each time.
Humor and fun is a key tenet when it comes to Turnpaugh’s production style. As he puts it to his crew, “We need to do it and we need to do it well, but it needs to be fun for everyone.” His primary concern with production is always ensuring he’s meeting his crews needs. With this episode in particular, he wanted his guests to have the best possible experience. He even calls in a mutated janitor to set up their chairs.
The Adams Family
Toby Poser, John Adams and Lulu Adams are three-fourths of the family which makes up both the film company Wonder Wheel Productions and the band Hellbender. Zelda Adams is unfortunately unavailable to join the rest of the family for their interview. When Fantastico asks how they made it through Tromaville to the rec center, they assure him they’ve had plenty of “inoculations.”
The Adams family has previously been interviewed on The Last Drive-In, albeit in a different configuration in season three. Toby, John and Zelda are present for that interview and it is Lulu who is unable to attend. Turnpaugh’s interview style gives Joe Bob’s a run for the money when presented with a comparison between the two. The most notable difference which works in Turnpaugh’s favor, is his choice to have all present members of the family together from the start of the interview.
The family does seem to be a little too excited to be in Indiana, where Turnpaugh films Disasterpiece Theatre. John says, “We’ve driven through Indiana so many times and we have to look at it. Now we’re part of it.” Turnpaugh reveals in our interview he had treated the family to a full course of Hoosier hospitality in a very short amount of time.
“I had a one day window to get them in, shoot them in, and ensure they got back in time,” he says. After picking them up from the airport, they all go to a restaurant for what should be a quick meal before bed. It instead turns into a three-hour conversation over food and drinks. When the family is in need of good coffee and tea the next morning, Turnpaugh knows just where to go.
“I drive them out and I take them to my parent’s house.” He describes the ensuing encounter much like any between family friends, despite just meeting each other. Lulu plays with the family dog, John discusses carpentry with his father, and Toby and his mother share conversation. “My parents have been big supporters of this show, which helps.”
All of this culminates into a fantastico interview with the trio that feels like a good conversation between friends. The family fully buys into the conceit of the show, often throwing in references to Tromavilla and jabs at Francois. At one point Toby offers to kill Francois for Fantastico and the demon piñata is actually speechless.
As the family answers Fantastico’s questions, they build effortlessly off of each other. They tell stories about their family, past travels and productions and future plans. It is obvious they have a solid foundation of admiration and respect for each other. Wonder Wheel Productions itself gets its name from a series of sentimental family moments which they share in the interview. When they need more bodies for their films, they joke “How many cousins do we have?”
Toby, John, and Lulu also discuss their upcoming works Where the Devil Roams under Wonder Wheel Productions and Hell Hole under Blood and Honey Pictures. Where the Devil Roams is a film “with more our DNA in it” according to Toby, while Hell Hole is the largest production they have worked on.
Where the Devil Roams was originally set to be a Tubi exclusive, but it appears it will be premiering in independent theaters on November 3rd before becoming available to rent/buy the digital version on November 7th. Release information for Hell Hole is not yet available.
Punk Rock is an Attitude
This episode marks the first in-person guest interview Turnpaugh has done as Fantastico. He and Toby have built a friendship over time, and Toby believes Disasterpiece Theatre is “like watching your favorite band in a dive bar.” The show is punk-rock as fuck.
I can’t agree more. In its absolute defiance of normalcy, it is endlessly entertaining and informative. Fantastico’s development as a character is paying off and Turnpaugh’s abilities as showrunner, producer, host etc. continue to shine.
My rating for Chapter Tres of Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre: (4.7 / 5)
Follow @realfantastico on the platform formerly known as Twitter to know when to join in with the rest of the Fantasticats as they live-tweet each episode.
Joe Bob Briggs Creepy Christmas spooktacular: The Last Drive-In Special Charity phenomena
Famed horror host, Pulitzer Prize nominated, and Cracker Barrel aficionado Joe Bob Briggs is back in action, ready to bring some macabre merriment to your holiday season with Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas. It also gives us horror fans something to take into the new year, be that something Darcy’s panties (sorry, box, I tried) or just the intangible good feels of hanging with friends and supporting a lot of good causes.
The Return of Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas Special
The Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas event is akin to a Jerry Lewis telethon for Gen X, with a twist of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’. This ‘Briggs’ auction of sorts is a nostalgic nod to the past, especially for those who remember the telethons. The dread, however, has shifted from the … well… whatever Jerry was supposed to do (see Sam Kinison’s bit on this for more info) to that of evil goodies.
Without a doubt, this Joe Bob Briggs special is the event we eagerly anticipate each year. It’s a tradition, and a worthy one at that. We hope to see everyone on the interwebs, joining the ‘creepy links’ and engaging in the conversation (We’ll be on Threads and Twitter….tag us as you wish!) ‘live’ the only way anyone should ever watch a tv show (oh, and I guess on demand, but ya weirdos will never know the sting of the Iron Mutant Award!). ‘Live’ is the only way anyone should ever watch a TV show, especially ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ (as it’s far too hard to watch tv whilst dead).
Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas The ‘Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl’ special will hit the airwaves live on Shudder TV and AMC+ TV on Friday, December 15th at 9 p.m. ET. Fans of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ can also catch the special on-demand starting Sunday, December 17th.
A Creepy Christmas with a Cause
In its fourth year, the holiday tradition of The Last Drive-In goes beyond mere entertainment. It aims to use the platform to raise funds for four vital causes. The charity auction will feature unique props and exclusive merchandise from The Last Drive-In and memorabilia from Briggs’ illustrious 35-year career…including some of his unspoken work as John Bloom. I say Unspoken, because if anyone remembers the first Christmas Special, the autographed copy of Eccentric Orbits was featured (sincerely, a good book–check it out if you haven’t. Jim gives it 4.5/5)
The supported charities for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas will include:
- Wildlife Conservation Network
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
- Every Mother Counts
- Solving Kids’ Cancer
The Mystery of the Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas Special
The anticipation for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas is high, with fans wildly speculating what films will be featured. Personally, nothing can beat the #1 top horror Christmas film of all time, the Easter classic: Passion of the Christ (if a snuff film about a guy who doesn’t fit in getting whipped and nailed up doesn’t scream horror story, I don’t know what does. Also: See Sam Kinison’s concept on crosses and resurrection). However, a Christmas movie I really want to see up on this is Hogzilla and Kiss Save Santa Clause! BOOMMM!! Christmas Won!
As we eagerly wait for December 15th, we wonder what surprises our favorite horror host, Joe Bob Briggs, has in store this time. Will there be exclusive ‘merch’ that Jim will buy and then accidentally put in a Toys for Tots box in the mall?
Join the Fun, Join the Cause, Join the Joe Bob Briggs Christmas event!
Are you ready to dive into the world of Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas? Do you dare to watch along and help raise money for a good cause? If so, join us at HauntedMTL on Threads (_HauntedMTL_) and maybe Twitter (@HauntedMTL) as we experience the thrill and chills that only Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy can deliver.
Remember, this is not just about indulging in some good old horror fun with ‘Joe Bob’s’ double feature. It’s about giving back and making a difference. So, let’s gear up to have a creepy Christmas with ‘Joe Bob Briggs’, filled with ‘christmas horror films’, ‘christmas demons’, ‘christmas slasher films’, ‘ho-ho-horror’, ‘yuletide horror’ and insightful ‘horror commentary’.Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas and make this holiday season memorable for all the right reasons! I’m sure Fright Rags will have another stellar set this year, too. They are perfect for the horror fan in your life (even if that fan is you!). I can’t wait to see what they have in store (no pun).
SPECIAL — IF YOU WANT Freeeeeeeee (as supplies last) Fright Rags Joe Bob Briggs merch for this year, just tweet/thread at us during the event and Jim will pick the one that makes him chuckle the most (you will need to give us your address and size in DMs)
No subscription to watch Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas yet? No problem! Check the link below:
AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit Joe Bob at www.shudder.com.
X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
Airing in December of 1998, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas is a classic monster of the week episode of the X-Files. Except, of course, it’s ghosts, not monsters. Because it’s Christmas, and there’s no better time for a little ghost story than that.
Our story begins like any good holiday evening should. Mulder is telling Scully a ghost story. They’re sitting together outside a supposedly haunted house on Christmas Eve, waiting for the ghosts of two lovers to appear. The story is that they killed each other eighty-one years ago, that very night. Mulder is very excited to see some ghosts. Scully would rather be at home celebrating the holiday.
One of these people has a family life and a dog. The other only has his partner.
Eventually, the two of them do make it inside, where they find an elderly couple named Maurice and Lydia. They seem like a nice enough couple until things start getting weird. Doors lock and unlock as they please. Lydia and Maurice seem to appear and vanish. And, of course, some dead bodies are found.
As Scully and Mulder try to find each other in this sprawling maze of a house, the ghosts are after them. They tell them terrible, insightful things about themselves and each other. The scary thing is that some of this is good advice.
The scary thing is how much of this Mulder and Scully needed to hear.
Eventually, our heroes escape, though they sure don’t exorcise the ghosts in the house or themselves. Lydia and Maurice are left to enjoy their quiet Christmas Eve in the comfort of their love, no longer a raging fire of passion, but a warm bed of glowing embers.
First off, let me say that I’m a sucker for a bottle episode. Especially in a show like X-Files. (And it is a true bottle episode, being the cheapest episode of the season.) For the most part, our story takes place in one location, with just four actors. It is tense, it is tight, and it is intimate.
Honestly, this episode has everything going for it. Of course, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson bring their A Game. And they’re joined by two of the funniest comedic actors of all time, Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. These people could read you the phone book and have you in stitches.
But the writing is also exemplary. Mulder and Scully are forced to take a good look at how they treat each other, for better or worse. They have to consider their relationship, the way they live their lives, and the darker voices in their heads.
In the end, I think they come together beautifully.
Finally, I want to praise the location. The haunted house looks so much like Hill House, it can’t be an accident. It’s in turn freezing and warm, falling apart and beautifully maintained. The cobwebs and hanging sheets on the unused furniture are just classic. And with the massive fireplaces, bookshelves to the ceiling, and the well-stocked bar, the whole place has an air of old-fashioned comfort, left to rot.
What didn’t work
I honestly cannot think of one thing that didn’t work in this episode. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s dark. It’s the perfect Christmas episode of television.
In the end, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is a dark, spooky little tale. It’s filled with scares and chills but still manages to warm your heart. And if you want to fit a little more blood and gore into your holiday watch list, this is a great way to do it.
(5 / 5)
Released in 1997, it would be understandable if you confused this Jack Frost with the movie of the same title that was released in 1998 and starred Michael Keaton. We are not talking about the Michael Keaton Jack Frost because it’s not horror. It’s also not good.
(Look at that, you’re getting two reviews in one today. Merry Christmas.)
No, today we are talking about Jack Frost, starring Christopher Allport and Scott MacDonald. And it is possibly the most bonkers Christmas movie I have ever seen.
We begin our tale in a very messed up fashion. A little girl asks her uncle for a bedtime story on Christmas Eve. The uncle tells her about a serial killer named Jack Frost who was caught after leaving bits of his victims inside pies. But there’s no need to worry, the uncle explains. Because Jack Frost was caught and is being executed that very night.
And we won’t be hearing from these two characters again for the whole movie.
Instead, we cut to Jack, being transported to his execution. Somehow he manages to escape, only to be doused with some sort of acid and melted into the snow.
Meanwhile, the sheriff who caught Jack Frost, Sam, is trying to come to terms with his death. He’s thankful that he’s gone, but the nightmare just doesn’t feel over yet.
Then, of course, people start turning up dead in his little town. And in spectacular ways.
Slowly, Jack Frost seems to work his way through a family called the Metzners. Even though it appears that this family didn’t have a single thing to do with him. First, he murders their son, then proceeds to stalk the entire family.
Sam is joined by an FBI agent named Agent Manners and a scientist named Stone. Together they fumble around the tiny little town, trying to figure out how to kill Jack. Bullets do nothing. He can melt and slip through cracks. But hairdryers seem to do the trick.
I’m going to be honest here. Nothing in this movie was good. The effects were bad. The writing is bad. The constant snow puns are bad. The acting is bad.
But it is this exact combination of bad aspects that makes Jack Frost funny. It is so intentionally bad that it is hilarious. None of the characters are likable, so we’re not overly upset when they’re murdered in horrific ways. None of the effects look real, but they look fun. The writing is awful, but it’s hilarious.
And here’s the greatest thing about Jack Frost. Everyone working on it is having fun. You can just tell that every single actor is having the time of their lives. Nobody was having a single bad day on stage here. And that alone makes Jack Frost enjoyable to watch.
What didn’t work
One thing I have to say here is that the acting was just bad. It was not, I believe, intentionally bad acting. That is to say, it wasn’t a talented actor acting badly for comedic effect. This was just bad acting from almost everyone in the cast. The two exceptions are Allport and Marsha Clark, who plays Marla. Everybody else is overacting so hard that they’re pulling muscles. They’re chewing the scenery so much that they’re not going to have room for Christmas cookies.
To enjoy Jack Frost, you need to have a deep appreciation for campy effects, bad snow puns, and really inappropriate humor. It’s one of those movies where you turn off your brain, make sure all loose items are secured and your lap bar is completely locked, and enjoy the ride.
If you can do that, then you’re going to have a great time with this movie. If not, don’t worry. There’s lots more holiday horror to come. (4 / 5)