Move over Jerry Lewis, we’ve got a new king of worthy causes. Joe Bob Briggs brings the heat enough to melt even Doc Payne’s black heart with his season finale of the Last Drive-In (TLDI) with Joe Bob Briggs.
If you haven’t seen the show before, Joe Bob Briggs is the wise movie sage who is equal parts Wild Turkey and Lone Star Beer. Hailing from deep into the heart of Texas (ok, how many of you heathens clapped?), Joe Bob’s (seemingly) two missions in life are ‘numero uno’ to bring the world a joy and understanding of horror, and, ‘numero two-o’, to bring back the bolo tie. The first mission appears to be a complete success and the second is still too close to call.
As every review show needs a counterbalance, Joe Bob finds his in the form of Darcy the Mail Girl. The perfect counterbalance can take a diamond of a show and Will it into the perfection of princess cut beauty. Darcy provides the perfect foil to Joe Bob. She’s the Crosby to his Hope; the DLR to his Van Halen; the OJ to his Toast (no, not THAT OJ! oh, I miss Norm). Although they can be worlds apart on topics such as Halloween III (my theory is they made the new Halloween trilogy so people see Halloween III in a better light. I call it the ‘Star Wars effect’), they align where it counts. I have never seen such a kinder, compassionate, and giving duo. They are what is sorely underrepresented on this spinning rock of ours.
The show starts with the countdown graphic and hits full sonics with John Brennan’s earwig of a theme for The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. The introduction hits like smooth jazz (sorry, Small Hands, I said smooth Jazz. JAZZ!) and we rock on from there. All the Mutants know the game–a talk, a drive-in total with various Fu, a few jokes, and a lot of heart. This show has introduced me to some of the best horror (Train to Busan) and some of the worst (looking at you Cannibal Holocaust. Note to producers: if you are killing animals for ‘realism’ then how come you aren’t snuffing the actors too? Pussies!). These are movies, for good or ill, that many of us may have not known existed let alone seen if it weren’t for Joe Bob Briggs.
In this, his show brings us together as a family of horror aficionados (and whatever the Spanish word for aficionados is). A family that truly cares for its members (and even some of the other body parts, too). I’ve been around various fandoms and I have to say that the Mutant Fam is largest group of the most genuine people who truly care for each other since Hereditary.
Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together for Goodness!
The season finale of TLDI has, traditionally, been a charity event. As you know, HauntedMTL is big on charity so to see The Last Drive-In going all in on some of our favorite charities, it became a synergistic movement to join in the tweet-a-thons, the bidding, and the general donation drives that they push forward.
Give Give Give
You know what a great gift would be for any horror fan? Shudder. You know what an awesome gift for any horror fan? The Lost Drive-In. But how about a truly amazeballs out of this world masked singer is rigged! I MEAN JERICHO LOST? HOW THE HECK? Errmm…I digress. I meant to say, ‘a truly amazeballs out of this world gift for any true horror fan?’ ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING from this set of auction-for-charity items. Click on through to the other side (of the internet where you can bid on things for a good cause). Hey! Maybe the auction isn’t your speed. No problemo! We’ve got you covered, Mutant Fam! Check out these Fright-Rags that go for charity! Jim has a few from last year and he has to say these hoodies are dang comfy and warm. Don’t believe me? Check them out yourself!
Sure sure, we get it. Maybe you’re more zen than me and materialistic things aren’t your boat floating device. How about putting a lil’ bit into a good cause directly? Here are the links to the ‘4’ charities of that night. All of them worthy of some dough-ray-me, if you get my drift.
- Jeannette Rankin Foundation – They give a special kind of scholarship for women over 35 who don’t have a college degree but are too poor to go to college, making it possible for them to stop working long enough to get a degree and re-start their lives on a new track.
- March of Dimes – A longstanding and celebrated charity organization, their mission is birth defects. Their original mission was the eradication of polio.
- Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance – They fund hundreds of local organizations that are involved in taking care of racehorses after their careers are over, including turning them into therapy horses and providing the medical care needed for animals that are frequently retired because of injury.
- Motion Picture & Television Fund – This is the non-profit that runs the Woodland Hills, California, retirement home for actors founded by Mary Pickford 100 years ago.
The Reason Why Joe Bob and Darcy Matter
The reason why we (HauntedMTL) push Shudder and all things Joe Bob so much is because we believe in them. We believe in them as people. I cannot accurately express how much Sean and Craig have helped us find our voice. I can never thank Joe Bob and Darcy enough for having been instrumental in allowing us to grow that voice. It’s with that grace that The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs brings the old and new horror fans into one place. A place where we can be ourselves. A place where we are entertained by a collection of out of this world cosplay from Darcy, killer knowledge drops by Joe Bob, and some out of this world guests from the ‘who’s who’ in the horror world. Face it, Shudder might as well rename itself to ‘The Last Drive in with Joe Bob Briggs, and also special guests’.
What’s Mutant Fam all about?
Fam is a hashtag that gets thrown around an awful lot (looking at you Kardashians! Lest we forget Bajor!!). One thing that really sticks with me is that Joe Bob and Darcy lead by example. I’ve been around a lot in different fandoms or BTS or weird cults that make you wear those uncomfortable rubber clothing and fornicate through a hole in the sheet whilst riding a seesaw that’s pushed by no fewer than 13 little people, including at least four rotating members of Little Feat…errm..sorry..where was I?
Right! The Mutant Fam! I can tell you one thing — it is damn rare to have entertainers who are as loving and caring towards their base and each other as Joe Bob and Darcy. One of the first lessons you learn in entertainment is ‘nobody is really your friend’. Jon Stewart taught me that (for clarity: in an advice way not by doing anything bad) years ago. It held true, more or less. We are in a consumer industry and sometimes that thing being consumed is you.
One more time, with feeling…
I have to say something about the letters that Darcy gives Joe Bob at the end of the show. Sometimes the letters are funny; sometimes they are touching; they are always heartfelt. The latest episode was no exception.
I won’t go much into what the letters were about. If you want to hear Joe Bob read them, and I encourage everyone to do so, you can check them out at the end of the special. They were moving. It was a combination of what was said and how it was said. The words in print found the perfect orator in Joe Bob. His genuine concern for people he has either met but briefly or not at all is an ingredient usually missing in this world. In a world that seems unable to communicate with itself, we find solace in a man from Texas telling us, ‘the drive-in will never die’; a motto easily translated into ‘we love you all.’
The letters at the end of the last show put a lot into focus for me. I’ve lived a (perhaps turbulent but) charmed life. Joe Bob demonstrates a connection with his fans through those letters that makes me grateful to be connected even if via socials (Hey, baby, your Insta or mine?) to the show and its wonderful fan base. In this, we find each other as we need be nothing more than ourselves. The Mutant Fam is truly a family.
I’ve done a podcast on this; I’ve plugged them in almost every show I’ve ever been on (much to the chagrin of my manager); and I’ve even (so far in the lead, at least) bought a pair of used panties and some wood from them. The score for this one? Prefect five out of five Cthulhus. Now, run over to that screen and click on some goodies for your loved ones. Get a few hoodies. Maybe a shot glass or twelve (after these past few years we need a little release). Maybe you’re not in the financials to donate as you wish. Hugs are a currency all but forgotten in this post-pandemic pandemonium (hey, kids! That’s called alliteration! Go impress an English Prof or your next Tinder match with that one).
Love on ya.(5 / 5)
#ChadGetsTheAxe Coming Out September 1st
But sometimes there comes a film that’s smartly written, full of humor and social commentary, plus great acting. Oh, and scares that actually scare the shit out of me.
Almost a year to the date, I got to watch such a film called #CHADGETSTHEAXE that I saw as a screener for FilmQuest Fest in October, 2022. And I was blown away by the talents of director/co-writer Travis Bible and co-writer/producer Kemerton Hargrove; starring Spencer Harrison Levin (Black Jesus), Michael Bonini (New Amsterdam), Taneisha Figueroa (Duck World), Cameron Vitosh (Walker), Brandon Doyle (Murder Made Me Famous), and Shun Hagins (Snitch).
Mini-Review, I swear it’s short:
And, I know, I know, I know. ‘But Brannyyyyk, isn’t livestreaming horror movies just a flash in the pan? Hasn’t it been done beforeeee?’ For one, stop saying it like that, it’s weird. For two, not like this. The care and attention that went into #CHADGETSTHEAXE is wickedly clever with such tongue-in-cheek humor of influencers, humanity, and the toxic culture of fandom. It’s the shining example of live-streaming movies because it’s so f-ing smart.
Case in point, the characters are living up to their personas. However, even when the personas are ragged and driven to the edge of life and death, we never see them as people, fully dimensional people, because we never see them break away from their devices. There’s never a shot that shows us ‘hey, this is a film, now let’s see them as the real character they are’. The actors are really carrying dual roles as the personas and the real people underneath; as they are struggling to keep up appearances in front of the millions of viewers.
Plus, don’t get me started on the characters within the livestream feed, along with running jokes and clues to the haunted house.
Anyway, I don’t want to give too much away as I’m going to be covering it on Streamin’ Demons soon. But I wanted to also tease about the fact that I’m going to be interviewing some VIPs from the movie for What’s Kraken? So, shhh, only tell your closest friends because it’s going to be incredible.
Join the Hype Train:
Adapted from an award-winning short with the same title, #ChadGetsTheAxe follows four social media influencers as they live-stream their trip to Devil’s Manor, former home to a Satanic Cult. Things don’t go well. And as the violence ramps up… so do the views.
The film premiered at FilmQuest in October 2022 and Internationally at FrightFest Glasgow in March 2023 where it was well received by critics. #ChadGetsTheAxe was produced by Travis Bible, Eric Gibson, Kemerton Hargrove, and Frances O’Hanlon, while Dream Big Group serves as executive producers.
The Horror Collective is the genre label of Entertainment Squad — a production and distribution company founded by veteran producer Shaked Berenson (TURBO KID, TALES OF HALLOWEEN). The label’s latest releases include the Daytime Emmy nominated Limited Series DOOMSDAY, the killer-pants Shudder Original SLAXX, and the critically acclaimed horror-comedy SUMMONING SYLVIA.
June Title for Arrow Streaming
Welcome to June! There’s so much on the hopper for Arrow that I just have to give you, my friends, the hot goss.
June 2nd: Paul Joyce Documentaries
June 2nd kicks off the month with ARROW’s latest curation of Paul Joyce documentaries, this time looking at legendary filmmaker John Cassavetes, straight from the mouth of his friend and collaborator co-star Peter Falk (Columbo) in Out of the Shadows: The Films of John Cassavetes.
After a six year directing hiatus, Monte Hellman sat down with Paul Joyce and just talked for an hour while Joyce filmed. The result is Plunging on Alone: Monte Hellman’s Life In a Day.
June 2nd: the wild world of Ero Guro
What is Ero Guro? Well, the Japanese sub-genre of horror and pink films Ero Guro combines the erotic (ero) and the grotesque (guro) to deviant, decadent and unforgettable effect. ARROW’s Ero Guro collection features the unholy trinity of core Ero Guro films, Teruo Ishii’s Shogun’s Joy of Torture and Horrors of Malformed Men and Yasuzo Masumura’s Blind Beast, plus plenty more exciting, explicit and enticingly depraved delights to delve into.
Titles Include: Shogun’s Joy of Torture, Blind Beast, Irezumi.
June 6th: Warriors Two (US/CA)
After making his directorial debut with the intense The Iron-Fisted Monk and firmly solidifying his worth at Golden Harvest, Sammo Hung would be given more creative control behind the camera. Now able to inject more of his own personality, Hung would bring to life the more upbeat (yet only slightly less violent) Wing Chun cult classic: Warriors Two!
Predating the Ip Man tetralogy by three decades – as well as Hung’s own The Prodigal Son (starring Yuen Biao as the younger incarnation of Leung Tsan) by a few years – Warriors Two is one of the earliest films to authentically portray the teachings of Wing Chun while also delivering the kind of kinetic and pulse-pounding fights synonymous with the name Sammo Hung!
June 16th: Eli Roth Selects (UK/IRE/US/CA)
Splatter icon Eli Roth takes a stroll through the archives with Eli Roth Selects (UK/IRE/US/CA). “I absolutely love Arrow and have been a collector of their editions for years, and Arrow Player is the most streamed channel in my house. I’ve seen a lot of Select lists, and while I agree with them, I wanted to highlight some that people might have otherwise overlooked.”
Titles Include: Basket Case, Contamination, Madhouse.
June 19th: Toru Murakawa’s Game Trilogy (UK/IRE/US/CA)
Made at the end of the 1970s, Toru Murakawa’s Game Trilogy launched actor Yûsaku Matsuda as the Toei tough guy for a new generation. Matsuda was the definitive screen icon of 1980s until his career was tragically cut short by cancer at the age of 40, following his Hollywood debut in Ridley Scott’s Black Rain.
The Most Dangerous Game (UK/IRE/US/CA): In this career-defining triptych, Matsuda is Shohei Narumi, an ice cool hitman of few words, a steely trigger finger, and a heart of stone, hired in The Most Dangerous Game by a company bidding for a lucrative government air defence contract to take out the competition.
The Killing Game (UK/IRE/US/CA): Narumi finds himself caught in the midst of violent yakuza gang warfare, while his own brutal past catches up with him in the form of two beautiful women still bearing the emotional scars of his past assignments.
The Execution Game (UK/IRE/US/CA): Narumi falls for a mysterious saloon bar chanteuse who may or may not be part of the same, shadowy underworld organization as the rival hitmen he is employed to rub out. (I’m assuming the tough-guy way and not the sexy way)
June 23rd: SHAAAARKS!!!
Yessss, Cruel Jaws is coming to Arrow!
ARROW heads to the beach for some terror with shark attacks.
Cruel Jaws (US/CA): A huge shark terrorizes a beach in Florida, and the locals try everything to kill it.
Deep Blood (US/CA): Several young men have to stop an ancient native American evil in the form of a killer shark which is attacking a small beach community.
June 23rd: Sci-fi Stunners (UK/IRE/US/CA)
For the penultimate Season, ARROW boldly goes to the stars on June 23, seeking out new life and new cinema.
Sci-fi Stunners (UK/IRE/US/CA): There are other worlds than these. Come and explore them in this collection of cybernetic, planet-probing, time-travelling, cosmos-trotting, aliens-zapping, virtual and far-too-real adventures in Sci-fi Stunners – ARROW’s home world for the coolest Cult science-fiction films in the galaxy.
Titles Include: No Escape, Donnie Darko, Crimes of the Future.
Last but not least
Cosa Nostra Collection (UK/IRE/US/CA):
The most American of directors according to celebrated critic Paolo Mereghetti, Damiano Damiani (A Bullet for the General) nevertheless surveyed his own country’s mafia history unlike anyone before him, to critical and box office success.
Full of twists and a fascinating meta-commentary on cinema, Damiani points the camera at himself and the genre as he investigates the social impact of mafia violence, a fitting end to this survey of Damiani’s Cosa Nostra.
Titles Include: Day of the Owl, The Case is Closed, Forget It, How To Kill a Judge.
From Arrow Films, a recognized world-leader in curation and creation, ARROW is a premium platform giving audiences an unparalleled viewing experience across multiple devices, so fans can explore the films and TV shows that the Arrow brand is famous for.
Specially curated by members of the ARROW team, ARROW is home to premium film and TV entertainment, exclusive new premieres, cutting edge cinema, international classics and cult favorites – such as the works of Lars Von Trier, Brian De Palma, Dario Argento, David Cronenberg and Park Chan-wook, and brand-new short films from both new and established filmmakers.
In the coming months, ARROW will be adding Oscar-winning hits, European classics, Asian cinema masterworks, rediscovered Westerns, offbeat gems and much more as part of ARROW’s international strategy to support and celebrate the medium of film.
A horror author goes to Nebula Con
The Science Fiction, Fantasy Writers Association is one of the most prestigious organizations in America for speculative fiction writers. While horror is not specifically mentioned, we all know that it’s nearly impossible to discuss fantasy and science fiction without the shadow of horror creeping in.
Each year, SFWA hosts a convention for writers called Nebula Con. I have virtually attended the convention for the past two years. And if you’ve never attended, you might want to consider it. Even if your writing, like mine, is long in the shadows and short on the elves.
First off, I do want to be clear that Nebula Con is a convention for speculative fiction writers. There are some fan panels, like the one on the works of Robin McKinley, this year’s Grandmaster. But the majority of the panels and events are for writers.
That being said, there are panels for writers at every stage of their careers.
For writers interested in crafting better stories, craft panels abound. My favorite panel was the one titled For The Love of Short Fiction. This panel started with a reading of some of the best short works from 2022. Then, each panelist dug into what made that piece work for them.
There were several other terrific panels, including one all about constructing a realistic legal system in your fictional world and writing fictional podcasts. (Like I do.)
But, you might say, these are panels for sci-fi and fantasy writers. No, these are panels for speculative fiction writers. Horror authors who want to have any kind of career would do well to master the short story. And if you don’t think there’s room for some legal horror in the market, you are wrong.
While the craft panels were wonderful, the career and marketing panels were probably the most useful and valuable of the whole convention. Are you, like many other online creatives, worried about the effects AI-generated writing is going to have on our field? There were two informative panels regarding that. Are you wondering how writers’ relationships with agents have changed now that self-publishing is so prevalent? There’s a panel for that.
A lot is going on in the publishing world. It’s confusing as hell, my friends. And one of the ways we keep each other up to date is with conventions like this. What I got out of the panel most was that having a career in writing is possible. My fellow participants and I learned from writers who are doing the thing. It’s hard, but it’s possible.
Of course, a convention is more than just panels. There’s the chance to meet with other authors. This might be where a virtual convention seems to have a deficit. And while I’ll admit that meeting online isn’t the same as meeting in person, there are certainly perks. I was able to meet, chat with and share stories with other writers in a Zoom chat room. And I came away feeling much like I did as a kid, having met new friends at summer camp. Even if I wasn’t sitting across from them, it was great to be surrounded by other people who want to make a living scaring the hell out of other people.
All of this writing joy culminates with the Nebula Awards Ceremony. If you’re interested in catching the awards but didn’t make it to the convention this year, you can watch it all on Youtube. Each year speculative fiction authors of all kinds of honored, from written work to gaming to television. This year’s toastmaster was Cheryl Platz, an author, and actress. As a critic, awards ceremonies are usually something I usually force my way through. The Nebula Awards are a rare treat in that scene. Partially because there’s a chance I’ve met the people up for the awards. But also because the people involved are, first and foremost, writers. It’s amazing how much more entertaining events are when the people being honored are, you know, talented storytellers.
If you’ve been on the fence about attending Nebula Con virtually, I suggest giving it a try. The world certainly needs more stories that go bump in the night.