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Grab your bags of candy corn boys and ghouls, for it is time for The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Haunted Halloween Hangout. Shudder’s horror host unveils two cult films this Halloween: Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001) and Popcorn (1991). Even better, he invited special guests Cassandra Peterson and Jill Schoelen to enjoy all the fun. How does this special stack up to previous engagements?

Let’s find out what Shudder had on offer on October 21, 2022.

Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001)

The first film of the Haunted Halloween Hangout was the highly campy 2001 pseudo-sequel to Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) that takes the favorite horror hostess and puts her in a classic horror story set in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania in 1851. The film plays fast and loose with Elvira’s modern, bawdy affect contrasting with the relatively-straight players around her involved in a family conspiracy in a decrepit estate. The film stars Cassandra Peterson as Elvira and a secondary role as a departed Lady of the House. She is joined by Richard O’Brien, Mary Scheer, Scott Atkison, Mary Jo Smith, and an uncredited cameo from voice actor Rob Paulson.

Peterson co-wrote the script with recently-departed Groundlings alumnus John Paragon, whom she would often work with. Most of the cast is pulled from the Groundlings as well. Director Sam Irvin took to the Roger Corman pastiche nature of the film and did a fine job playing the narrative straight and allowing Peterson’s Elvira to disrupt what is a pretty solid Gothic horror story. For a budget film entirely self-funded by Peterson and her then-husband Mark Pierson, the film also looks great when it needs to and noticeably cheap when it is most funny. Thankfully, Cinematographer Viorel Sergovici, a native Romanian, knew precisely how to utilize the on-location landscapes.


Chewing the Cardboard

'Elvira's Haunted Hills' (2001) poster, featured in Joe Bob's Haunted Halloween Hangout

Comedy-wise, this sort of film appeals to me. Some horror-hardcores may grumble about an Elvira comedy taking up a “Halloween Special Slot,” as though such a thing even exists. The jokes are widely inspired by bawdy, campy stage shows and are nothing many have not heard before. The real joke is how we buy into the film. Such as Peterson’s iconic character hanging the lampshade on and chewing the scenery of the kind of technicolor late-night horror many of us grew up with. It’s why Mystery Science Theater 3000 refuses to die. The old stuff is beloved, whether it is a gothic murder house or a burlesque joke.

I need to mention the role of Adrian, the Stable Stud, an unintentionally collaborative performance that earns the biggest laughs in the film. The seriousness of Romanian actor Gabi Andronache playing a character utterly straight with Rob Paulson’s hilariously dubbed voice is some of the funniest stuff I have ever experienced on The Last Drive-In.

With that said, the satiric edge of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is missing here. Elvira’s Haunted Hills trades essentially in farce and, while fun, is ultimately not as great as the first film. The first film has a little more heart. This one is more of a parody but doesn’t offer much more than some teasing of a genre and style. That being said, they tease it nearly as much as Elvira’s hair.

Joe Bob-servations on Elvira’s Haunted Hills

This year’s Halloween theme was the same as the past two Drive-In Halloween specials: namely, making up for the perceived lack of Halloween in previous specials. I think this has been mined a little much, but it still leads to some fun. I think the show is beginning to grow slightly referential instead of finding new angles. So much conversation between Joe Bob and Darcy was filled with things we’ve heard on the show a few times before. While I won’t say lazy, I would say undercooked. Ironically, spending a year in a cabin for “social distancing” produced some exciting material compared to recent forays back to the trailer set.

I also felt that the “airplane light” bit was slightly overlong. As fun as it was, the conversation could have been a bit tighter, and the director could have exercised more control in moving things forward. The breaks featuring Halloween trick-or-treat tips were neat and provided plenty of fun little Halloween references. Of course, the conversation with Cassandra Peterson was excellent, but I’ll discuss that further in the review.

Final Thoughts on Elvira’s Haunted Hills

Elvira’s Haunted Hills is an enjoyable farce of a film. The pastiche of the Roger Corman 1960s Poe adaptations creates an inherently limited audience, but this movie will land for them. The film skirts the line between gorgeous and budget where it needs to as well. Meanwhile, Cassandra Peterson’s Elvira does what is expected and decimates the fourth wall with jokes older than the castle where the film takes place. The film may lack the bite of her first film, but it is still an excellent watch for a Halloween party before you dig into the creepy stuff.


Joe Bob Briggs gave Elvira’s Haunted Hills three stars. I feel the film is a strong one, but it may have a more limited appeal and lacks a little edge, so I am giving it four Cthulhus. A fun opener for the Haunted Halloween Hangout. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Still from 'Elvira's Haunted Hills' (2001), featured in Joe Bob's Haunted Halloween Hangout
Same, Elvira. Same.

Best Line: “Honey, when I spend the night in a man’s room, he’d better pay me.” – Elvira

Popcorn (1991)

The second film of the night, 1991’s Popcorn, is a somewhat debated cult classic with complex production history. The film follows a ragtag group of kids who put on a film festival full of William Castle gimmicks. Only to seal their doom as someone starts killing them off. It’s a fun set-up overshadowed by the short films seen in the theater with a raucous audience. It is this which the film is most memorable, which is a shame. Outside of the short movies and aside from some strange moments, there is a golden kernel worth acknowledging.

The film’s production history is incredibly troubled. You might best understand it by watching Joe Bob discuss it with lead actress Hill Schoelen. Yet there are still many questions surrounding it. While Bob Clark produced the film, he didn’t want to direct it and pitched longtime friend Alan Ormsby. However, Ormsby would be fired as he bogged down filming the short films. Porky‘s actor Mark Harrier replaced him. Around this time, the initial lead of the film was played by Amy O’Neill (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) but would be replaced by Jill Schoelen for unknown reasons. All of this occurred as the film was shot in a dilapidated theater in Kingston, Jamaica.

With that said, the “final” credits of the film include Mark Harrier as director, with uncredited sequences from Alan Ormsby and even Bob Clark, funny enough. The story was written by Mitchell Smith and adapted to a screenplay by Ormsby. The film would star Jill Schoelen, Tom Villard, and Dee Wallace. Ronnie Taylor would handle cinematography in one of the strangest gets for the film. The same Ronnie Taylor handled cinematography on Gandhi (1982) and A Chorus Line (1985).

“Who are we looking for?”

'Popcorn' (1991) poster, featured in Joe Bob's Haunted Halloween Hangout

Popcorn is a mess; the issues in production would bleed into the film and confuse what is a decent enough premise. The three short films are excellent; the raucous reaction of the audience is a highlight. Yet, the connective tissue is lacking. The film does several odd things, and some are fun, such as a spontaneous reggae show. I have the impression that Bob Clark desperately tried to save the film, given the mess in production. However, he was also displaced enough from it to let Harrier take the credit. The film does try to course-correct a bit, but it is ham-handed. The hilarious scene depicting convenient newspaper clippings in chronological order comes to mind.

The performances are where the film shines. Jill Schoelen and Dee Wallace are great, though Wallace’s role is somewhat familiar and limited, given the movie. Schoelen was admirable as a lead, working with an already uncomfortable and awkward shoot. The actual performance that saves the film is Tom Villard as Toby. Villard’s work in the movie is excellent – his presence, when unleashed fully, is magnetic, and he takes to the prosthetic makeup incredibly well. Popcorn shows him as a talent taken far too soon by complications due to AIDs. He died just three years after the release of Popcorn at the age of 40.


The film has an offbeat quality to it that I feel would have paired better with The Monster Club, but it works for a more hammy, winking sort of Halloween special. I think the time is right for a Popcorn remake. The prop-skeleton is there; rebuild the tissue.

Joe Bob-servations on Popcorn

For the back half of the evening, Joe Bob switched from traditional trick-or-treating pranks to Samhain festivities (appropriately mispronounced, of course). These bits were fun, and the budget druid costume was a clever nod. The Samhain jokes were a nice addition and a fun way to get into the history of the spooky season.

With that said, the real highlight was the interview with Jill Schoelen, who had a lot of fun insights into Popcorn. There were also other important topics, but perhaps the best moment was when Darcy and Jill did their own smaller interview in the middle of one of the breaks. It very much felt like two friends talking. Joe Bob’s interviews can be hit or miss; he tends to do well when talking to longtime friends and old hands in the industry. He was good with both of tonight’s guests, but the ease at which Darcy and Jill spoke was quite illuminating.

Final Thoughts on Popcorn

I love Popcorn. It’s not a great film, but it is pretty fun. It is a little toothless, though. For being a 1991 film, it feels rather trapped in the 1980s. It is interesting to see this gasp of a dying genre before a reinvigoration by Scream. In many ways, it reminds me of Uncle Sam – a film out of time.

The film is fun to watch, don’t get me wrong. I prefer it to Uncle Sam. Still, it carries a lot of baggage that is never conducive to a strong film. I would give Popcorn three and a half Cthulhus.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)
Still from 'Popcorn' (1991), featured on Joe Bob's Haunted Halloween Hangout
A sinister plan comes to fruition.

Best Line: “Without memory, there can be no retribution.” – Toby

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

As always, here are the official totals direct from Shudder’s Twitter account.

And we have our Drive-In totals revolving around the show itself. This week we have…

  • 1 Yuki Sighting
  • 2 Guests
  • 5 Rounds of “Applause”
  • 7 Utterances of “Penis”
  • 8 Presentation Boards
  • 13 Instances of “Thee-ate-er”
  • Gratuitous Candy Corn Slander
  • Gratuitous Mispronunciation of Samhein
  • Gratuitous Airplane Light Bit
  • Gratuitous Halloween Decorations
  • Budget Costuming
  • Checklisting
  • Vampire Joking
  • Halloween Joking
  • Eyes Roll
  • Plot Recap Fu
  • Production Recap Fu
Joe Bob, Darcy, and Cassandra Peterson on the set of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.
Legend Meets Legend – a Joe Bob is there too!

Episode Score for The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Haunted Halloween Hangout

Overall, the evening was fun, and the two guests did a lot for the experience. Cassandra Peterson and Jill Schoelen were absolute delights. Darcy has an opportunity to take a more active role in the episodes, at least when it comes to specific guests. her friendliness and charm proved quite the asset tonight.

As for the Halloween trappings, they felt decidedly more low-key than usual, but I think it worked. The “Trick-Or-Treat” and “Samhain” tips were a fun, punchy little gag. I’m not going to be one to complain about the movies not being Halloween-appropriate. That doesn’t bother me. The most important thing is that they’re fun; Elvira’s Haunted Hills and Popcorn are just that.

We have been spoiled as of late, especially in season four, with some creative gags and musical numbers on the show. I can’t justify them being able to deliver that every time, but I think this is the first time y felt that an aspect of the show was dialed in. There were a lot of recurring references in place of jokes. After years of doing this sort of thing, it makes sense, but I also hope that tonight was a one-off.

For this special, I have to admit the guests drew me in more than Joe Bob and Darcy – but that was bound to happen at some point. You can’t crank out hit after hit forever.


I give the Haunted Halloween Hangout three and a half Cthulhus. 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Darcy and Jill Schoelen have a discussion on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.
Darcy and guest Jill Schoelen have a fun rapport.

That is it for us here at Haunted MTL regarding Joe Bob’s Haunted Halloween Hangout. We’re looking forward to season five of The Last Drive-In and will continue to review, recap, and live-tweet the show. If you want to stick around for more coverage, look at our extensive coverage of Shudder, our favorite streaming service.

Please weigh in if you have some thoughts on the Haunted Halloween Hangout special. We’d love to hear them.

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain



American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.

Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. 

The Story

Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.

Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Delicate

Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.

But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.


Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.

You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby. 

What worked

AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.

Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.

This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us. 


I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.

This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.

What didn’t work

Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!

Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here. 

I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.

Juliana Canfield in American Horror Story Delicate

I feel like they’ve been railroaded. 

All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring.  4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Wheel of Time, Strangers and Friends



Episode two of Wheel of Time, widened the divide between the show and the books. Things are happening out of order, people are acting out of character. Whether this is to the detriment of the show, however, has yet to be determined. 

The story

One character missing from episode one was Rand. You know, our main character. But we finally catch up with him now. 

He’s living in a city with a woman named Selene. They don’t have what I’d call a super healthy relationship. She spends a bit too much time talking about her ex. 

Yes, for those of you who didn’t read the books, this is going to be important.


Rand is also working at an insane asylum. He’s kind and patent with his charges, but not all of his fellow caregivers are. 

Josha Stradowski in The Wheel of Time

Meanwhile, Lan and Moiraine are recovering form their Fade attack from last episode. Rather than taking the time to actually heal, Moiraine decides to head out to find Rand. Her team comes with her, which seems to really bother her. 

While that little hissy fit is taking place, Nynaeve is causing issues. Not by anything she’s doing, but by what she’s not doing. As none of the regular novice teacher have been able to get her to use the One Power, Liandrin offers to try. No one, including me, is thrilled with this. But, the Aes Sedai are desperate. They know that The Dark One is around, and they need Nynaeve to be ready. So, they let the person who’s driven other students to their deaths and actively committed multiple hate crimes take over. 

What could go wrong?

What worked

The special effects in this episode were really well done. I especially liked the dead fade nailed to the wall.

I was also pleased with the introduction of Elayne. Ceara Coveney is playing her, and doing a fine job. She’s warm, kind and sweet. I am thrilled that she’s around. 


One of the greatest things about Wheel of Time is the friendships between the characters. Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve and Egwene legitimately care about each other. Elayne seems to care for Egwene right away. I really love that. 

What didn’t work

One thing that bothered me in this episode, and frankly the last episode, was Liandrin keeping Mat in prison. I feel like this wasn’t adequately explained. Why does she have him? How did she trap him? What in the hell is she trying to get from him? Perhaps I simply missed something, and please let me know in the comments if this is the case. But it feels like some poor writing to me. 

I also don’t love how Moiraine is portrayed in this episode. Really, in this season so far.

I get that she’s never exactly been a warm person. She’s not personable, open, or kind. Some (most) fans of the book would likely agree that she’s kind of a bitch.

But she’s not a bitch for no reason. She certainly isn’t the sort to lash out at the people who love her because she’s in pain. And that’s what she’s doing through this episode. She’s taking her pain out on Lan. And that’s just out of character for her. 

Dónal Finn in The Wheel of Time.

It feels very much like a lot is being skipped over from the Wheel of Time books. But, so far at least, I don’t feel like anything vital has been missed. It feels more like the story is being streamlined. 

Yes, I understand how this might go horribly wrong. I think we’ve all seen that. But as of right now, the changes make sense for the switch in mediums. 

Now, let’s see if it stays that way. 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre: Francois and The Unicorn Review




Gringo Fantastico is a troubled luchador presenting Troma films from the safety of a derelict recreation center nestled in chaotic Tromaville. He is tortured by the French-Canadian Demon Piñata Francois who trash talks and hurls abuse throughout the episodes. This week’s special guest is Jonah Ray Rodrigues. New episodes release on the first of each month on Troma NOW.

The poster for episode 2 of Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre featuring special guest Jonah Ray Rodrigues.
Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre: Francois and the Unicorn featuring Jonah Ray

Roll the Tape!

Welcome back to Tromaville for Chapter Dos of Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre! Gringo Fantastico (Nate Turnpaugh) returns to the screen with guest Jonah Ray (current host of Mystery Science Theater 3000) to proudly host Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957). Turnpaugh espouses his love for the movie in our most recent interview and credits his friends with helping him to discover it. “They kept trying to get me to watch it, and one day I finally did.”

On a totally unrelated note, the Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines libel as “a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression.” For no reason at all, I choose to immediately correct the record and inform you that Fantastico actually hosts Herb Freed’s Graduation Day (1981).

A poster for Graduation Day. It reads "There are 200 seniors at Midvale High. And Seven days 'til graduation. The class of '81 is running out of time."

It shows a woman's face in a mirror, with a halberd shattering it.
A poster for Graduation Day (1981)

Turning Heel

We once again begin with grainy VHS footage of an interview from the luchador’s past. Much like the previous episode, Fantastico becomes upset at the prodding questions being asked of him. As this ongoing narrative continues to build, it is becoming obvious Fantastico is coming close to a breaking point.

These segments, while short, work to highlight Turnpaugh’s screenwriting ability. They feel authentic and demonstrate a solid understanding of wrestling culture. Crafting a compelling story can be difficult when it is broken into parts and spread across significant time. However, he creates bite-sized pieces of lore that manage to both satisfy and leave the audience craving more.

A Piñata by Any Other Name

Before the movie can start, Fantastico has to deal with the usual shenanigans from Francois. When it is time to bring out Jonah Ray for his interview from the Satellite of Love, Francois outright refuses. The interview must come at the cost of Fantastico’s soul. Fearing for the worst but desperate to continue the episode, Fantastico agrees to a one-day-only loan of his soul.


Enter Francine. She’s a sassy yet loving unicorn who only wants the best for Fantastico. She is complimentary and eager to help, offering her kind words in a sugary sweet voice. For all intents and purposes, she is the opposite of Francois. And yet, she is Francois. At least, she is Francois after consuming Fantastico’s soul.

The unicorn pinata Francine and Fantastico sit in the rec center together.
Francine and Fantastico

Inner Demons

Turnpaugh continues the ongoing theme of addressing his PTSD within the episode. He explains it as, “the whole concept of self-worth with the PTSD and things like that because that is a problem that I’ve experienced. When people are constantly negative towards you and you constantly have to defend yourself and you constantly be on edge and finally something happens and you don’t have to do that anymore. But you’re so guarded when that happens that you don’t know how to act.”

Throughout the episode, Fantastico chafes against Francine’s presence. He is unsure of what to do when someone speaks affectionately to him after suffering Francois for so long. The only punishments she doles out are rainbows that make you laugh. It’s unsettling and a little uncomfortable and is exactly what working to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk feels like.

The Satellite of Love

The interview segments with Jonah Ray feel like listening to old friends banter. Turnpaugh tells me he first met Ray at the Malco Drive-In Theater last year where they both attended Joe Bob’s Jamboree. He admits to being caught off guard when Ray knew who he was and was familiar with his work.

Jonah Ray is shown on the screen of an old television for the interview segments.
Jonah Ray beaming in on the Satellite of Love

Fame and the mental games it causes one to play ends up becoming a large part of the interview. When asked by Fantastico when he felt like he had made it, Jonah Ray responds “I don’t think there is a there, there.” He likens the fame game to climbing a ladder. “You’re […] looking up […] but you rarely look back down.”

One of the best portions of the interview is when Jonah Ray goes full meta and begins roasting the ego necessary to take on the role of a media host. It’s hard not to laugh when you remember this is coming from the mouth of one host straight into the ear of another. It is important to note that both men are playing characters as hosts, which according to Ray changes the dynamic.

New Place, Same Thing

Jonah Ray also spends time talking about the difference in production having moved away from Netflix and onto Gizmoplex. He says it has been a lifelong dream to host MST3K and the move has allowed him space to better bring his vision of hosting to the screen. Netflix, while important in bringing MST3K back, seems to have sucked some of the soul out of the show. He believes moving to Gizmoplex helps with delivering the level of quality fans expect.


Turnpaugh is familiar with format shifts, having moved his show from YouTube onto Troma Now. I ask how this has changed things in terms of production and he says while he has never felt more supported, he has started placing more pressure on himself. “The pressure is never from Troma.” Lloyd Kaufman clearly believes in the show, as he’s recently started giving it top-billing on the site. 

Back to Basics

The end of the episode brings back an extremely confused Francois. It seems consuming Fantastico’s soul didn’t go exactly as planned. Turnpaugh promises that audiences have not seen the last of Francine and that some answers may be coming sooner rather than later. You’ll just have to tune in next month to see what insanity happens next in Tromaville.

Francois sits in his ripped up picnic basket.
Francois the Demon Piñata

My rating for the episode: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Follow @realfantastico on the platform formerly known as Twitter to join in with the rest of the Fantasticats as they live-tweet each episode the Friday after release. Episode three features special guests Toby Poser, John Adams and Lulu Adams. 

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