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Welcome to “Notes from the Last Drive-In,” Haunted MTL’s review and recap series of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder. This time we cover the “Halloween Hoedown” which brought us 1983’s Angel, and 1980’s Terror Train. We also were given two pretty important guests when it comes to modern horror – director David Gordon Green and mega-producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions. They stopped by the trailer (yay, back at the trailer!) and talked a bit about the upcoming Halloween Kills, horror as a whole, and even joined in on some light Halloween fun.

But, looking at the movie selection – it doesn’t feel very Halloweeny, does it? Let’s get into it, shall we?

Angel (1983)

Angel (1983) is Roger Vincent O’Neil’s exploitation revenge thriller about teenage Molly, who by day is a sweet honors student, but by night is Angel, a sex worker on the streets of Hollywood Boulevarde, living with an eclectic community of sex workers and outcasts. However, Angel soon finds herself in the midst of a serial killer’s spree who targets people in her line of work.

The movie is not exactly horror but certainly delves into horror themes of predation, loss of innocence, poverty. It is a very tense film and at times it can be absolutely gutwrenching. In lesser hands, the film may have come off as cloying and preachy, but the approach here is excellent and ultimately becomes a rousing story by the final act. It may seem strange to read, but a film about a 15-year-old sex worker is quite an empowering film, arguably feminist to a great degree.

The Last Drive-In Halloween Hoedown Angel (1983) poster
The poster does a terrible job of selling this movie.

It is the brainchild of Robert Vincent O’Neil who directed and co-wrote the film with Joseph Michael Cala. The film was produced by Donald P. Borchers and distributed by 80s genre-powerhouse New World Pictures. The cast is led by then 21-year old Donna Wilkes playing Molly/Angel, with Dick Shawn, Rory Calhoun, and Susan Tyrell rounding out the oddballs she associates with. Cliff Gorman plays Lieutenant Andrews, the copy who keeps an eye out for Molly, and John Diehl plays the nameless killer.

As a whole, the performances are fantastic across the board. The film uses its veteran and character actors to a great degree of effectiveness. Particularly those in Molly’s street family. Dick Shawn and Susan Tyrell have some utterly fantastic exchanges, and Rory Calhoun, the western veteran, ends up as the coolest gun-slinging street uncle anyone could ask for. Gorman’s portrayal of a hard-working cop is good and actually results in a cop who does good things – though some of his methods may be questionable. It is especially helpful that there is no sign that he wants to help Molly beyond the fact he genuinely is worried about this kid. In a lesser movie, it might play up some sort of cringe-inducing romantic element.

The two performances I would focus on here are Donna Wilkes’ and John Diehl’s. Wilkes is good, even as a relative unknown, to keep up with actors like Shawn, Calhoun, and Tyrell. She is completely charming and does some fantastic emoting with her eyes. Her work as Molly crafts an incredibly sympathetic and strong character. This is especially true as her character changes and grows, becoming the hunter by the film’s final act. Her rich characterization and growth are complemented by John Diehl’s enigmatic and unstable killer who remains unnamed, with only a single line of dialogue after he has been chased down by a 15-year-old girl wielding a revolver in her canary-yellow sundress. True to his skill here, he eats an egg in the most disgusting and horrifying way ever seen and it is a wonderful, stomach-turning bit of characterization.

As for the more technical elements of the film, the cinematography of Andrew Davis is excellent. Using some clever camera tricks and B-roll he manages to really populate the scenes during a time when crowds weren’t as heavy. His photographic eye would serve him well as a director of action thrillers like Under Siege and The Fugitive. Also, he directed Holes, oddly enough. Charles Bornstein’s editing, particularly during the final “chase” of the film is also excellent and combined with Davis’ framing goes a long way toward making the role reversal work.

Also of note, the score by Craig Safan utilized heavy synthesizers and gives the film the aural landscape of the 1980s without diving too deep into what would become the cliche 1980s sound. Even more impressive is that the score was written in less than a week.

Joe Bob-servations

Joe Bob’s observations about the film are about what you would expect: funny and educational. Many of his observations and facts about the production naturally work their way into my review for context. What I want to talk about is a bit of fun during the segments. The prevailing theme of the night was a level of cantankerousness regarding the fandom and the previous Halloween special. It was fun and the grouchy Joe Bob character was quite welcome but also felt a little too defensive at times.


But the main draw of the evening was our venerable host sitting down with David Gordon Green, director of Halloween (2018), and the upcoming Halloween Kills. Green was a great guest for the show, showing his chops when it came to discussing the film. One of the more interesting discussions was on the state of horror, particularly in the streaming world, and what was ahead for David Gordon Green, including an upcoming Hellraiser show.

Final Thoughts on Angel (1983)

Angel was surprisingly good. This was my first time seeing it and I was floored by how complex of a film it was. While I am not sure how well it worked as a Halloween film for a Halloween special, it is definitely a portrait of drive-in excellence. It seems that the series it spawned, of four films, is a case of diminishing returns, but the first movie was so good I wouldn’t mind seeing what happens to Molly going forward. I also didn’t mention this much, but the more progressive streak in the film also proved interesting and worthy of future exploration. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Best Line: “Well, we better get over there before she ends up in the tomb for the unknown hooker.” – Mae

The Last Drive-In Halloween Hoedown screencap of Angel (1983)
Molly’s got a gun!

Terror Train (1980)

The more traditionally “Halloween” film of the night was Roger Spottiswoode’s Terror Train – though that is more in spirit than setting as this movie takes place on New Year’s Eve. The film follows a group of pre-med students after a tragic prank three years prior as they board a train for a New Year’s Eve party. Unbeknownst to the partygoers, the consequences of their actions are fast approaching in the form of a mysterious, masked killer.

The film, early enough into the formation of key slasher tropes, is novel enough. It isn’t as meticulously approached as John Carpenter’s Halloween, nor as satirical as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, not as groundbreaking as Bob Clark’s Black Christmas. However, it is still a very solid slasher with some fun spins on what would become hallmarks of the genre. It also helps that the solid direction of the film by Roger Spottiswoode makes use of the claustrophobic setting quite well. How can a killer move so unimpeded in a commuter train? Spottiswoode does a good job at making the space itself a threat.

The Last Drive-In Halloween Hoedown poster for Terror Train (1980)
This train ride is no laughing matter.

Rounding out the production side of the film, the screenplay was crafted by T. Y. Drake and the overall producer was Harold Greenberg. The movie is a great example of that “Canadian Funny Money” period Joe Bob Briggs has mentioned before – where productions were given heavy tax rebates for shooting in Canada. Terror Train was specially filmed in Montreal during the coldest months of the year, and just after Prom Night had wrapped. It is an independent film, but found a distributor in 20th Century Fox.

As for the performances, the film features Jamie Lee Curtis as Alana Maxwell, who represents the final girl trope quite elegantly. The film also features veteran actor and rodeo cowboy Ben Johnson as Carne, the train’s conductor. Rounding out the cast, are Hart Bochner as “Doc,” Timothy Webber as “Mo,” Sandee Currie, Vanity (yes, that Vanity), and drag artist Derek MacKinnon. Also, for some reason, David Copperfield is in the movie – yes, the magician.

Jamie Lee Curtis is pretty understated here. She doesn’t have quite the type of leading lady role she did in Halloween and Prom Night and the character succeeds as likable through the sheer force of her charisma alone. Derek MacKinnon is interesting, though largely relegated to being disguised. Despite this, MacKinnon chews the scenery pretty well, particularly given the surprising reveal at the climax as to who the killer is. The best performance of the film is from Ben Johnson, but he plays a sort of stock character in over his head and trying to solve a mystery far above his paygrade, but goddamn does he give it his all. Also, David Copperfield does some magic tricks that just feel fake because we’re seeing them in a film. That is why you only see magicians do their craft in person.

Technically speaking, the movie is quite effective and doesn’t feel like a quick cash-in that some might assume. The cinematography of John Alcott is particularly effective given the relatively small spaces on the train. It also helps the effects team were able to make the train seem mobile when it was parked for the entire shoot. If Alcott sounds familiar it is because he was Stanley Kubrick’s most trusted cinematographer, working with him on 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, and The Shining. He won an Oscar for Barry Lyndon. One of Alcott’s innovations on the set was to rewire the lighting on the train and use dimmers outside of the train cars to help simulate the movement of a train.

Anne Henderson’s editing is great, giving the film enough angles per scene to give viewers a sense of space. As for the score, I didn’t find the film to have a particularly memorable soundscape. The music is just sort of there.

Joe Bob-servations

Naturally, there was a lot to say on Terror Train, a true slashic, but it seemed the real draw for the night was getting to hear Jason Blum, David Gordon Green, and Joe Bob Briggs talk all things horror, past and present. While Jason Blum’s energy felt a bit too “producer” at times, especially compared to Green and Briggs, his presence was quite insightful. Especially because he is perhaps one of the biggest names in horror production in history, let alone now. It was interesting to hear the trio talk about how movies come about and how modern-day creative partnerships work, and it was also rather reassuring. You get the sense that Blum understands the influence and precariousness of his company and he is quite keen to foster and empower relationships with creators, with Green seeming particularly close. It’s rather pleasant to see.


There was, of course, plenty of talk on Terror Train and classic horror. Particularly fun was the revelation that David Gordon Green’s Frankenhooker t-shirt came from Joe Bob Briggs himself. Green was a fan and sent in for it. An interesting discussion revolved around Green’s education at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts – a smaller school that has provided some great alternative voices in the film industry.

Final Thoughts on Terror Train (1980)

Terror Train is most certainly a classic slasher for a reason. it came out early enough to where the novelty of putting a masked killer in a different scenario or set-up didn’t feel like as big a shortcut as it does now, it had in-her-prime scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, and did something very interesting with the killer swapping costumes from kill to kill, servicing as a codifier of that trend early on. The film was also fairly progressive in casting a drag performer, Derek MacKinnon, as the killer without necessarily commentating or making a value judgment on drag. It is not the drag that is the problem here, it’s the killing! 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Best Line: Alana Maxwell: “No. Kenny, you’re better than he is. I’m sure you’re better than he is.”

Kenny Hampson: “I am. He didn’t know how to cut a woman into pieces.”

The Last Drive-In Halloween Hoedown screencap from Terror Train (1980)

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

As always, let’s take a look at the official Drive-In Totals:

As for our totals:

  • 0 Yuki (rectify this next time, Shudder)
  • 2 Street Dads
  • 2 Time Horror Hottie
  • 2 Guests
  • 3 1/2 Minutes of film to shoot with
  • Gratuitous Halloween discussion without showing Halloween
  • Gratuitous 70s Stage Magic
  • Gratuituous Samhain History Lecture
  • Gratuitous dissection of the term “microbudget”
  • Suprise Drag Night
  • Pumpkin Censoring
  • Halloween Joking
  • Abrubt Ending Fu
  • Half-assed Costume Fu
  • Joe Bob Fan Club T-Shirt Fu
  • Slumber Party Horror Movie Fu
  • Krishna Assault Fu
  • No Silver Bolo Award!
  • Cosplay: Taco Joe Bob, Caultiflower Pizza Darcy, Angel/Molly Darcy
The Last Drive-In Halloween Hoedown screenshot of Jason Blum and David Gordon Green
Blum and Green are game to chat with Briggs.

Episode Score

As a whole, the evening was fun but also felt unusually loose in concept compared to other specials. If it weren’t for a couple of the Halloween accouterments and a visit from some of the team behind the upcoming Halloween Kills, you’d be able to mistake this for a general night at the Drive-In. With that being said, an general night on the Drive-In is perfectly fine and if this were a midseason episode it would be great.

So no, Joe Bob, you didn’t “ruin Halloween again,” nor have you ever, but as entertaining as this was there is an expectation of something a little more thematically appropriate. One cannot necessarily fault the fans for thinking so – especially given the guests. All in all, a fun episode with a great double feature – but as far as a Halloween show goes, a little too far outside the margins. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

I hope you enjoyed this recap and review of Shudder’s The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. We don’t have a date for the return of the show for a full season, but we do know some more specials are on the way. Naturally, we are going to cover them as they release.

In the meantime, please share your thoughts with us about the show, the review, or the movies from the special. We’re dying to hear from you.


Movies n TV

The Boys, The Insider



We’ve reached the second to last episode of The Boys, season four. And, as is appropriate for the penultimate episode of any show, things have to get a lot worse before they can get better.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Christmas is coming, and the whole world is getting ready. Ryan, despite being very clear that he didn’t want to appear on any TV shows or movies, has been strong-armed into participating in a Vought puppet Christmas special. He draws the line, though, when asked to sing about turning one’s parents in if they start talking about woke things.

Cameron Crovetti in The Boys.

Meanwhile, The Boys are trying to keep each other together. Butcher decides to take Sameer to the rest of the team. He also gets Frenchie out of prison, hoping they can make the Sup virus necessary to finally take down Homelander. Instead, this decision means disaster for one member of the team.


What worked

I first want to talk about Ryan’s speech near the end of the episode. Because it was exactly the moral of this whole story.

Ryan’s dad is a monster. His stepdad is also kind of a monster. But Ryan is a good kid. He cares about people, about family. And while he loves Homelander and Butcher, he doesn’t want to be like them.

Even better, this speech sounded like something a kid would say. Ryan didn’t open his mouth and start sounding like a college student all of a sudden. He sounds like a kid who misses his mom and wants to live up to the good standards she set for him. And I think that’s terrific.

Speaking of Homelander, he shot himself in the foot in this episode. I said earlier in the season that his hubris was going to be his downfall, and I was right. Without Sage, he just has the same weaknesses he’s always had. He’s going to fail because he just isn’t clever enough or patient enough to succeed.

Without Sage, I think a win is in the bag for The Boys. This isn’t to say that Homelander by himself isn’t dangerous. It’s just that he’s more like a wildfire than a controlled burn. He’s going to cause a lot of damage, but not get anything he wants out of it.


More’s the pity for him and everyone else who has to share his world.

Finally, I am thrilled with A-Train’s redemption story. I love that he wants to be a good person not to save himself, but to be a good person. His honest, pure and warm reaction to that little kid smiling at him in the last episode was heartwarming. It changed him in a moment, bringing to light a goodness that he’s been keeping under wraps for a long time.

Jessie T. Usher in The Boys.

This, along with Ryan’s courageous speech, proves once again what The Boys does so well. Yes, it’s gruesome. Yes, there’s blood and balls and batshit events. Yes, someone occasionally gets ripped in half. But there is a true human goodness in the story. One that we catch glimpses of. There are good people among the monsters. There is hope for redemption.

What didn’t work

Of course, so few things in this life are perfect, and this episode was no exception. For instance, I was irritated by the insinuation that Butcher cheated on his wife.


That just doesn’t make any sense. We’ve seen flashbacks of Billy and Becca. They were happy. He was happy. He was head over heels for her. And I don’t think it’s realistic or necessary for the character to throw in that he cheated. It does nothing to add to the story, it’s just a weird and offputting moment.

Doesn’t Butcher have enough to hate about himself? Can’t we just give him that at least he was a good husband?

Finally, I kind of hate that we ended up with Annie being caught. It’s just cliche, which is something I don’t normally say about this show. It feels lazy unless they do something very clever with it in the last episode. Which, I suppose, they might.

Next up is the season finale. And with this season being as insane as it has been, I’m expecting nothing short of bloody fireworks. And I mean literal fireworks of blood. At this point, would it surprise anyone?

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

The Boys, Dirty Business



Episode six of The Boys was one of the most surprising episodes of the series so far. And that is certainly saying something. Because this season has so far been bonkers.

The story

Our episode today revolves around a party at Tek Knight’s lovely mansion. Yes, it does look just like Wayne Manor.

The Boys know that Tek Knight is working with Homelander on something, but they don’t know the details. So they decide to send Hughie in to bug the mansion.

Because that’s worked so well the other two times he’s tried to hide a bug!


It should surprise no one that this time goes no better. Hughie finds himself in Tek Knight’s basement. And by that I mean his BDSM dungeon.

Meanwhile, the party upstairs is no less disturbing. Homelander and Sage are trying to convince some well-off political donors to support a cue after the election. When pressed for details on his plan, Homelander freezes. He looks to Sage for help, but she wasn’t recently shot in the head and still in the junk food stage of her healing.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, Neuman jumps in and saves the day.

Claudia Doumit in The Boys.

What works

If I’m going to say one thing about this episode, it didn’t hold back at all. I didn’t expect them to show a character masturbating, sitting their bare behind on a cake, or spraying breastmilk into someone’s face. But every time I thought they’d cut the scene and let something be left to our imagination, they did not do that.

Derek Wilson in The Boys.

This is a dangerous move. Whenever you show the monster, you run the risk of them not being scary enough, or gross enough. As Stephen King says in Danse Macabre, to leave this sort of thing to the imagination if the reader makes things so much worse. So when they finally experience the monster, they might say that this isn’t so bad. It could have been so much worse.

But in this case, they managed to avoid that by making the scenes, especially the ones in Tek Knight’s dungeon, so much worse than I imagined it would be.


What doesn’t work

While this was a deeply disturbing episode in many ways, there was one really innocent and sweet moment.

And yes, I did have a problem with it.

Confronted by Firecracker, Annie decides to apologize for spreading rumors about her when they were kids. She tells her that she is genuinely sorry.

And I believe her. I don’t think Firecracker did, but I did.

So why is this an issue? Because I’m starting to think that Annie is maybe too nice. She is too good.


I know that Annie is our good guy. But every one of the other good guys has flaws. Hughie let his pride get in the way and took Temp V. MM hid himself from his daughter instead of teaching her to work through her emotions. Kimiko is far too closed off and has a hard time trusting others. Frenchie numbs himself with drugs. And well, what hasn’t Butcher done?

It is unrealistic that Annie is just so kind and so flawless. We all have shadows in our personalities. We all have weaknesses, we all mess up. We all do things we wish we could take back. The fact that Annie doesn’t seem to have anything like that is not just unrealistic. It’s infantilizing.

Give her some deep dark secrets. Give her something real to regret.

This was a shocking episode, even for someone fairly jaded like me. I wasn’t expecting the sort of weird sexual depravity, though I guess maybe I should have seen it coming. It was dark, upsetting, tense, and funny as hell. And with just two episodes left in the season, I can imagine the stakes are only going to get higher.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

House of he Dragon: S2E4 – The Return of Trogdor!



Instead of recapping this episode, I will link you to Strongbad, so you can see something with a dragon that doesn’t suck.

See you for Episode 5!

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