We’re going to Joe Bob’s Heartbreak Trailer Park for a celebration of love… of a kind! Welcome to Haunted MTL’s “Notes from the Last Drive-in,” where we cover the fun of Shudder’s best series featuring the venerable Joe Bob Briggs. In a special Valentine’s Day event, we feel the love as Joe Bob welcomes special guests to the trailer, including The Boulet Brothers from Shudder’s Dragula, as well as Drive-In legends Frank Henenlotter and James Lorinz.

So, the question is, did viewers feel the love during Joe Bob’s Heartbreak Trailer Park? Did the night’s films, Black Roses (1988) and Frankenhooker (1990), leave the fans fulfilled?

Let’s find out.

Black Roses (1988)

Black Roses is a 1988 metalsploitation horror film directed by John Fasano. The movie stars John Martin, Ken Swafford, Julie Adams, and Carla Ferrigno. It also features an impressive soundtrack of metal, including Tempest, Lizzy Borden, and King Kobra. The members of King Kobra would make up the Black Roses in the film.

The film follows a teacher at a high school (Martin) who grows concerned about the effect a band, Black Roses, is having on normally straight-laced students in the town of Mill Basin. The town’s parents express concern, but the demonic frontman of the band tricks them as he pulls more of the local children under his thrall.

Poster for 'Black Roses' (1988) one of the movies on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs Heartbreak Trailer Park on Shudder
The poster is pretty dang cool.

The story isn’t great. This Satanic Panic metal film plays on the anxieties of the censorship crowd by presenting a movie that makes the case that maybe metal does push kids to bad behavior. The film is a satire, but the film doesn’t quite hit the satirical note to be very effective. Broadly, I found myself wishing the film were a little more extreme in its depictions of chaos. The town under Satanic influence seems localized to a block or two, and most of the bad behavior is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. The film would have been stronger if it had given into excess as the titular band urges.

The performances are nothing to write home about either. John Martin as Matthew Moorhouse, the teacher, is good given what he has to work with. But really, the most memorable thing about the cast I recall is a brief appearance by Vincent Pastore, “Big Pussy” himself, screaming as he gets eaten by a monster spawned from a record. Not even screen-horror-legend Julie Adams does much here, playing a social crusader who doesn’t get a lot to work within the film’s scope.

Visually, this film doesn’t offer much beyond a handful of fun creature effects. The framing is primarily flat and budget-friendly, much like the Canadian tax shelter used by the production. I wasn’t overly impressed with how the film looked. With that said, the creature effects were a lot of fun, as practical effects usually are. It just feels so small-scale and feels like a direct-to-video affair, which it was.

The real appeal of the film comes from the music. Bang Tango, Lizzy Bordon, Hallow’s Eve, and Tempest are among the bands who contributed to the soundtrack. As for the fictional Black Roses, the band comprises actual metal performers, most notably Carmine Appice of Cactus, King Kobra, and Blue Murder.

Though, from the director of the MST3K staple Zombie Nightmare, I expected a bit more of this movie. Especially given it is a favorite of the Boulet Brothers, the first guests of the evening.

Joe Bob-servations on Black Roses

Our venerable host Joe Bob Briggs was joined at the “Heartbreak Trailer Park” by the Boulet Brothers of Dragula fame. Overall, the guests and the host were affable and played well off one another, with Joe Bob asking about the world of horror drag and the Boulets’ party scene between dispensing information about the film. It is an example of shrewd calculation of Shudder’s part to take two popular shows and generate some crossover viewership. Still, it is ultimately fun, and there is no shame in that at all, especially with how fantastic the Boulet Brothers are as guests.

The Boulets offer a fun way to introduce a little glamour and filth onto The Last Drive-In, and as a whole, the Valentine’s Day angle worked well enough. It helps that Swanthula and Dracmorda Boulet are generally game and quick on their feet. Their story about the “teacup incident” is one of the grosser things presented on the show in the first half of the evening.

It wasn’t just Dragula getting a nod in the show during the night, either. Another Shudder original Creepshow has a connection to Black Roses in that one of the Creepshow writers, Frank Dietz, played the evil frontman of the band in the movie. Probably one of the most interesting Joe Bob factoids in the first half of the evening.

Final Thoughts on Black Roses

Black Roses is generally fun as a direct-to-video oddity, but it is ultimately too toothless to be satire and too tame to be a drive-in masterpiece. Joe Bob Briggs gave Black Roses 3 stars, but I think it was given a bump given it was a guest selection.

I can’t see myself giving Black Roses anything greater than 2-and-a-half Cthulhus. I had fun, but I think it was more because it was on The Last Drive-In rather than the merits of the movie itself. The real appeal of the film comes from the metal soundtrack.

2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

Best Line: “I’m going home… Or maybe to a bar, yeah, whichever I pass first.” – Matt, speaking for all teachers, everywhere.

Still from 'Black Roses' (1988) depicting a student turned into a demon, one of the movies on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs Heartbreak Trailer Park on Shudder
What, don’t you find her desirable anymore?

Frankenhooker (1990)

Now 1990’s Frankenhooker is what I expect from The Last Drive-In and is a perfect Valentine’s Day movie for the “Heartbreak Trailer Park.” Frankenhooker is a black comedy horror film directed by Drive-In legend Frank Henenlotter. The movie stars James Lorinz and Patty Mullen, a former Penthouse Pet.

The film follows the ambitious experiments of a power plant worker and medical school drop-out, Jeffrey Franken, who seeks to revive his fiance, who died in a tragically avoidable accident. Only he also plans on making a few upgrades, pulling him into the shady world of sex workers on the streets of New York to build his bride.

Poster for 'Frankenhooker' (1990) one of the movies on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs Heartbreak Trailer Park on Shudder
A true classic.

The film is a hilarious play on the classic Frankenstein story and offers incredibly dark comedy. Exploding bodies, piles of human limbs and breasts, self-regulating through a power drill in the head. The film is like a pitch-black cartoon and carries the same ridiculously fun energy of Frank Henenlotter’s other Drive-In classics like Brain Damage and Basket Case. Frankenhooker is, ironically enough, Henenlotter’s most mainstream film of his 80s and 90s output, but even then, it still revels in excess in the best way possible.

A lot of this film boils down to the performances of Lorinz and Mullen, and they each absolutely sell the hell out of this movie in their wildly different purposes. Lorinz carries the film as Jeffrey, a slightly amoral scientist who jump-starts his thought process via a power-tool lobotomy. Lorinz plays Jeffrey as sympathetic and worthy of scorn within the same scenes. While I am sure another actor could have delivered on Jeffrey, I can’t think of any. Lorinz owns the role.

Mullen, however, has a much smaller part in the film. Her character dies nearly immediately, and she does not get revived until the third act, where Mullen shines in this brief time as the undead streetwalker with a heart of gold who shouts “Wanna date?” and “Got any money?” to confused onlookers. Mullen plays this up wonderfully, and it’s no wonder that her delivery has become an iconic part of why this film is beloved among drive-in mutants.

The film looks pretty great, shooting on location for New York’s scenes, while the suburban setting of Jeffrey’s neighborhood and garage evoke a strange sense of whimsy I feel is akin to Edward Scissorhands. That being said, Frankenhooker is nowhere near as wholesome as that film – it is funnier, though. Regardless, cinematographer Robert M. Baldwin did well in shooting these two worlds. After all, there is a world of difference between New Jersey and New York.

Frankenhooker is one of those films that works as a thesis statement for The Last Drive-In. If it were in that inaugural marathon back when we thought this would be Joe Bob’s last rodeo nearly four years ago, this film would have been the highlight. It has blood, breasts, and beasts, features a drive-in legend is Joe Bob’s friend, Henenlotter, and is funny as hell.

Joe Bob-servations on Frankenhooker

Frankenhooker is dearly a beloved film by both Joe Bob and Darcy, and there was a much more enthusiastic feeling around it than Black Roses. Drive-In Mutants, in general, love the film. The only way to make a showing of Frankenhooker better is to bring on the man himself, Frank Henenlotter, to talk about it. He not only brought his memories but a prop breast for the show and even managed to bring James Lorinz with him.

Hearing Joe Bob and Frank talk as friends and movie fans proved incredibly compelling. Mainly because they took the time to find their little indulgences, such as a discussion of Herschell Gordon Lewis. Hearing all three of the men discuss various interpretations and trivia about the movie was also entertaining as Frank can sometimes be a bit cantankerous in a funny way. Really though, Frank Henenlotter knows how to control the room.

Maybe one of the best bits of the night was the discussion of Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin, co-writer of Frankenhooker, who first met Henenlotter while working on a novelization of Brain Damage. Martin would be an essential figure to horror, as he was the original editor of Fangoria. Horror is often the domain of outsiders who find one another, and hearing these stories shows how tightly knit this community can be.

Final Thoughts on Frankenhooker

Every once in a while, The Last Drive-In plays a movie that can easily be declared the ultimate Drive-In movie. This time it is Frankenhooker. The film delivers on the promise of The Last Drive-In as a concept and evokes so many fun associations in drive-in movie history.

Frankenhooker makes the Heartbreak Trailer Park. Joe Bob gave Frankenhooker 4 well-deserved stars, a grade he would have given even if his friend Frank wasn’t on set. I am in agreement with our host on this one. Frankenhooker is a 5 Cthulhu film.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Best Line: “Yeah – Well so am I, Ma. Something’s happening to me that I just don’t understand. I can’t think straight anymore. It’s like my reasoning is all, uh, twisted and distorted, you know? I seem to be disassociating myself from reality more and more each day. I’m anti-social. I’m becoming dangerously amoral. I – I’ve lost the ability to distinguish between right from wrong, good from bad. I’m scared, Ma. I mean, I feel like I’m – I’m plunging headfirst into some kind of black void of sheer and utter madness or something.” – Jeffrey, knowing himself.

Still from 'Frankenhooker' (1990) depicting the titular undead escort working a John in NYC, one of the movies on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs Heartbreak Trailer Park on Shudder
“WANNA DATE?”

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

As usual, we have the totals direct from the show. Thanks, Shudder!

As for the Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals, we have…

  • 2 Darcy Cosplay
  • 4 Guests
  • 40 years of praise for Frankenhooker
  • 97 million women buying potpourri
  • 196 Million Roses on Valentine’s Day
  • Gratuitious Big Pussy
  • Grautitous Drag, Filth, Horror, and Glamor
  • Gratuitous Musical Performances
  • Topless Monster
  • Bodyless Tops
  • Brain Drilling
  • Sex Club Joking
  • United Way Joking
  • Teacup Storytelling Fu
  • Karaoke Fu
  • Poetry Fu
  • Overly Involved Teacher Fu
Still from The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs Heartbreak Trailer Park showing Joe Bob laughing with the Boulet Brothers from Dragula.
The Boulet Brothers are fabulous as ever.

Joe Bob’s Heartbreak Trailer Park Episode Score

Overall, this was a solid special for Valentine’s Day. Both sets of guests were very entertaining. Each group of guests provided a different kind of compliment to their respective movie. The Boulet Brothers were able to share a film they loved that maybe wasn’t my favorite of the evening, still had a level of camp, and made for a fun evening. Likewise, Frank Henenlotter and Frank Lorinz gave us the Valentine’s Day gift of a love letter to drive-in movie culture.

Throw in a couple of Darcy cosplays, karaoke interludes, prop limbs, and one shocking story about a teacup you have for a pretty memorable Valentine’s Day.

Don’t you just feel the love? I give “Joe Bob’s Heartbreak Trailer Park” 4 Cthulhus.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

And with that, Notes from The Last Drive-In takes a break until the next special or seasons of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs – whichever comes first. We’ll keep an eye out for the return of Joe Bob and Darcy on Shudder this year. We will continue to cover the show as it continues to air new episodes and specials.

Please let us know what you think of the review and recap. We would love to read your comments about the films as well. Please let us know what you think.

Until next time, Mutants.

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About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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