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Hello Mutants, and welcome back to the weekly recap of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. Remember that you can catch the double feature on Fridays at 6pm PST only on Shudder.

So, what did Joe Bob have in store for us this week? Well, how about perhaps the oddest pairing of films yet? It’s metal vs. classical this time, and yet chainsaws are always invited to the party.

DEATHGASM (2015)

Opening Rant: Tesla cars (Joe Bob is not a fan)

DEATHGASM is a 2015 New Zealand horror comedy film about a teenage metal band that summons a demonic entity by playing ancient sheet music. The film is the directorial debut of special effects artist and rotoscope artist Jason Lei Howden. The film stars Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, and Daniel Cresswell. What makes the film stand out in particular is the soundtrack, featuring the likes of Emperor, Axeslasher, Nuslaughter, Beast Wars and other great metal bands.

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Joe Bob was particularly glowing in his praise for DEATHGASM. The film, directed by Jason Lei Howden, earned 4 stars. There was a great deal of discussion on Joe Bob’s part regarding the metal soundtrack and the film culture of New Zealand, where the movie originates. In particular, the film was part of a New Zealand horror competition where filmmakers were able to pitch horror films and receive government money to film their projects. Joe Bob did address some of the similarities between DEATHGASM and Braindead, of course, while mentioning several of the other major New Zealand horror core films. Basically, all the other New Zealand horror core films as Joe Bob points out correctly that… there simply are not that many outside the ones we all know.

Yet, the most interesting insights Joe Bob provided in the episode were the parallels between DEATHGASM and 1983’s Trick or Treat. Namely how much DEATHGASM seems to borrow from and reference that classic film. Naturally, being a post-2000s New Zealand film, there was mention of the whole Hobbit-dominated production industry down there, particularly in that Howden worked on some of those very films.

This was a solid film and really had some insane, adrenaline-pumping energy that would get any horror fan excited. However, as good as it was, the film was just a bit too self-aware. Self-awareness is not an inherent issue, of course, as many great films have it, but in the case of DEATHGASM there are moments where the film’s cleverness cannot mask some issues with plotting. Just as Joe Bob points out during one of the breaks, it takes heavy plot to get the two leads to the record shop midway through the film. This self-awareness is also worn too easily on the sleeve, which tends to be a trend in a lot of 2010s horror movies and horror comedies. The film is hilarious as hell though and it has a very dry sense of humor that one can expect from New Zealand. Additionally, the gore is absolutely top-notch. Plus, it has demon zombies getting messed the fuck up by sex toys. Haunted MTL gives DEATHGASM 3 and 1/2 stars.

Best Line: “You’re pretty good at whacking those off, bro.”

Not the strangest scene in the movie, but still pretty up there.

The Changeling (1980)

Opening Rant: Craft whiskey (Joe Bob is not a fan)

The second film of the night couldn’t have been more differently in tone and pace from DEATHGASM. The Changeling is a 1980 Canadian psychological horror film about a haunted house. The story follows a grieving composer who, after the loss of his family, moves into a 30 room mansion to work on his music. Naturally, the man finds out he is not alone, and that something from the other side is steering him toward a chilling mystery. The film was directed by journeyman/auteur Peter Medak and stars George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, and John Colicos. Widely considered a slow-burn experience, The Changeling is a cult classic, but it also has a reputation of having pretentious fans. Naturally, this is something to be addressed in The Last Drive-In.

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Joe Bob’s assessment of The Changeling puts the film below DEATHGASM at a rating of 3 and 1/2 stars. Before fans of The Changeling get unnecessarily worked up, the film is definitely not drive-in fare and Joe Bob’s rating is very generous given then huge lack of blood and boobs that make up the usual diet of the drive-in mutant. Therein lies the challenge of showing a classic, moody ghost story in the drive-in setting. The Changeling is an excellently done film, as JBB indicates during the run-time, but it is so incredibly different from any of the previous films on the Shudder marathon, with the single exception of The Legend of Boggy Creek.

With that being said, watching such a movie with Joe Bob Briggs himself to guide us is a rare treat. Joe Bob’s encyclopedic knowledge of film, particularly when discussing the incredible breadth of work of Peter Medak, is invaluable. Some of JBB’s best bits in the episode, however, revolve around veteran actors George C. Scott (who was a real piece of work) and Melvyn Douglass. Perhaps most relevant to Haunted MTL, however, was Joe Bob’s assessment of Canada itself in relation to the U.S. film industry, as “Canada is like out sweet little brother” and acknowledging the role of “Canadian funny money” during film production in the 70s and 80s.

The best moment of the night, however, is Joe Bob’s take down of the pretensions of those in the horror fandom who suggest that films that are inherently lesser if they rely on a lot of special effects. This is naturally preposterous as The Changeling is loaded with special effects, but particularly this is more getting at a division of the suspense vs. shock distinction in horror. As JBB pontificates, it is all art, it is just different tools being used. You wouldn’t criticize a pointillist for not making their painting out of clay, after all.

I am going to get a bit personal here. In these recaps I try to avoid putting myself into the experience too much, but with The Changeling, one of my all time favorite horror films, I cannot help it. The Changeling is an important film for me in my development as a fan of horror and it stands out to me as one of the most effective and downright creepiest ghost stories ever made. That being said, the film is not without faults, but the same can be said about any film shown on The Last Drive-In. What the presence of The Changeling at The Last Drive-In means to me is a sort of validation that I am not the only one who admires this strange and very basic, slow-burn ghost story. I don’t feel the film was best serviced in a pairing with DEATHGASM, but the experience of the tonal whiplash between the two definitely added something I cannot quite identify… but I like it. The Changeling is a film I fully intend to write about separately in the future here at Haunted MTL, so for now let’s just leave with this assessment of the film: it is a 4 star movie.

Best Line: “That house is not fit to live it. No one’s been able to live in it. It doesn’t want people.”

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The greatest séance scene in film history

Haunted MTL’s Drive-In Totals

  • 1 blue shirt with white trim
  • 1 oval bolo tie with turquoise stone
  • 1 Darcy Cosplay (Medina from DEATHGASM)
  • 1 name drop of another Haunted MTL favorite (1981’s Ghost Story)
  • 2 Joe Bob Fact Checking Notices
    • It’s “Gimli,” Joe Bob, not “Grimli”
    • Coal carts exist independently from trains. How else do you get coal from the train to the rest of the town?
  • 2 Plot-relevant chainsaws
  • 2 Power Rangers mentions
  • 3 Twitter bans for Darcy (for being a tweet machine during the stream)
  • 3 Shakespeare in the park references so far (at least 1 every week so far)
  • 5 improvised sex toy weapons
  • Dry Kiwi Humor Fu
  • Sword Jerking Fu
  • Joe Bob Spoils Ending Fu
  • Skeptic Fu (take that “based on a true story” gimmicks)
  • Marriage Counseling Joke Fu
  • Fast Car Joke Fu
  • Felissa Rose Dick Consultation Fu

#cocktopus

As always, please share your thoughts with us about The Last Drive-In. Also, please check out our other great content here at Haunted MTL.

Let’s close out with Joe Bob’s wonderful assessment of Joseph, the spirit at the center of The Changeling: “The ghost takes no fucking prisoners in this film.”

Movies n TV

Fallout, The Head

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Episode three of Amazon Prime’s Fallout continued the themes we’ve seen so far, with an added twist. With comedy and gore already blending, the story has added an air of tragic history for one of its least cuddly characters.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Walton Goggins in Fallout.

Our story starts with a flashback to before the bombs dropped. We see Coop, filming a movie. His wife is on set as well, and their adorable daughter. Coop has a comfortable life with a family he loves.

Isn’t that just a knife in the heart?

Back in the present, Lucy is traveling through the wastelands with the head of Wilzig. And she’s doing so with the same fear and joy that we’ve seen from her so far. Until that is, she runs into a Gulper. And after eating a defenseless deer, it swallowed up the head.

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Eventually, The Ghoul catches up with Lucy and decides to capture her. After using her as bait, he decides to drag her along with him.

Meanwhile, Maximus gets a message from the Brotherhood of Steel. Rather than coming clean, he claims to be Knight Titus and is accidentally sent a new Squire. That squire is Thaddeus, one of Maximus’s bullies from the base. And Maximus wastes no time in taking some sweet, sweet revenge.

Finally, we return to Vault 33. The vault is healing from the Raider attack and the loss of Lucy. Norm and Chet are being punished for letting Lucy leave, by being fired from their jobs. This throws Chet because he had a cool job.

Norm, on the other hand, didn’t like his job. He didn’t like any job. So, since this is the only way anyone gets punishments in the vault, he’s given the task of feeding the Raiders.

And talking to the Raiders was maybe not a healthy thing for Norm to be doing. He might learn something he didn’t want to know.

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What worked

The first thing I have to talk about is the massive creature called The Gulper.

This thing was fascinating. It was voracious, fast, and horrifying to look like. It was like a giant axolotl from Hell, with human fingers lining its whole mouth and throat. Why did it need fingers lining its mouth and throat? The better to drag someone down its throat and into its stomach. And the better to drag itself into my nightmares. This creature was well done.

The Gulper from Fallout.

On the flip side of this, I love the fact that the people of Vault 33 are so kind. They’re so willing to forgive, willing to care for their fellow man even when their fellow man is trying to kill them.

I don’t trust it, to be clear. But the perceived kindness from these people is uplifting. And I’m sure it will make whatever is going to eventually happen to them all the worse.

Of course, I can’t talk about the goodness of the vault dwellers without talking about the absolute horribleness of The Ghoul. The Ghoul is not a good person. He is cruel, and selfish, and clearly dislikes Lucy for some reason we do not yet know, and is probably not her fault.

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But we kind of understand how he got that way, don’t we? During the flashbacks, we see that he’s lost his wife and daughter. We also see that he was used as a mascot for the very company that created the vaults. And, while we don’t have any concrete proof yet, we can probably guess that these are not the good guys. Even if we haven’t played the games, anyone who’s even slightly genre-savvy can already guess that.

Which is the last thing I want to bring up here.

We know something stinks with the vaults. Something beyond the obvious issues of wealth disparities and the people left outside to die while those who could afford a Vault spot were saved. Something is rotten with the vaults, we all know this. What we don’t know is what form this rot will take.

Not yet.

What didn’t work

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Now, I wish I could say this was a perfect episode. But sadly, it wasn’t. And my biggest issue with the episode is with the character Maximus.

Now, I love Maximus. He wants to do good things in the world. He’s the underdog, and who doesn’t love that? He’s honorable and believes in the organization he belongs to.

I don’t love that he cannot do anything right. It feels like he wins fights by falling over and tripping into succeeding. And this character deserves so much more than that. Can we please, just once, see him be good at something or make a sound decision?

All that being said, this was still a fun episode. It was funny and bright, with an ominous feel and a horrific finger-ridden monster. I had a great time with it.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Little Gold Man

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Last night’s episode of American Horror Story Delicate was wild. From its star-studded start to its powerfully quiet finish, I was enthralled through every moment.

Let’s discuss.

The story

We begin this episode at the funeral of Dex’s mom. While he’s giving a eulogy, which was very nice, Ms. Preecher walks in. She shouts to the room that Virginia didn’t commit suicide, she was murdered. She also tells Dex to listen to his wife.

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What a concept!

Touched by this, or maybe just curious, Anna goes to the hospital to check on Preecher. She falls asleep at the hospital. When she wakes up, Preecher is gone. A nurse says that she was discharged to a group of women.

While at the hospital, Anna also discovers that she’s been nominated for best actress.

Kim Kardashian in American Horror Story Delicate.

At a publicity event for the awards, Anna runs into Cora. And she sees the coat she remembers from her late-night visit near the start of her pregnancy.

With the slightest amount of pressure, Cora spills it all. She and Dex have been having an affair, and Cora was trying to sabotage Anna’s pregnancy. So Anna, channeling her inner Madison Montgomery, kicks him out and heads to the awards ceremony with Siobhan.

There, Siobhan asks her if she wants an Oscar more than anything. If she’d be willing to give up anything for it.

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And Anna says yes.

The bargain is then sealed with a kiss.

Kim Kardashian and Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Delicate.

What worked

I’d like to begin, paradoxically, at the end of the episode. We’ve seen Anna have some terrible, loud, frightening hallucinations in this season. At least, we assume they’re hallucinations. But this one wasn’t loud. It was, in fact, very quiet. Anna is led off stage, without a word, leaving nothing but a puddle of blood behind.

In horror, like in all art, the notes you don’t play are as important as the ones you do. And the notes that weren’t played her rang like a bell.

I also appreciated that this episode describes why being a celebrity would be a huge pain in the ass. Imagine going to an event where the whole purpose is for people to take pictures of you while holding their product. Imagine if they invaded your personal space, sprayed things on you, put things over your eyes, and you were expected to smile and pose.

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I don’t know what it is about being a celebrity that makes others feel entitled to a person. To talk with them, take their time, and share in their moments. To touch them without consent. Yes, there are way worse things happening to people. But this isn’t a great way to live. It’s no wonder so many of them go nuts. This is most clearly shown in the scene when Anna is sitting next to Preecher’s bed. She wakes up to find the older woman gone. But all anyone wants to talk about is how she was just nominated for an Oscar. At that moment, she doesn’t give a damn. She cares about this kind woman, and where she’s gone. Just like any other person.

Finally, I appreciated that this season didn’t do what so many AHS seasons do. Which is to say that this episode didn’t feel like the last episode. It felt like the penultimate episode. It felt like there was still more story to tell, not just loose ends to be wrapped up. I appreciate that the writers have finally learned that lesson.

For this season, at least.

What didn’t work

The first thing that bothered me in this episode was Cora’s confession. I said something about this during our live-watch event on Threads. (Join us next week for the finale. Bring popcorn and wine.)

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I don’t believe Cora’s confession. I further don’t believe that she just dumped all of this incriminating info on Anna with no more prompting than a wide-eyed look. There was just no reason for it. So, Anna saw her coat? Lots of people have similar coats. This feels fake, and she brought no receipts.

Tavi Gevinson in American Horror Story Delicate.

I also found Siobhan’s behavior confusing. At times she seems genuinely concerned for Anna’s wellbeing. At other times, she is more than willing to let her suffer and risk her pregnancy.

While this has been going on all season, it was happening every few minutes in this one. Either Siobhan cares about the welfare of that fetus, or she doesn’t. But she needs to pick a lane.

All in all, I don’t know what to expect from next week’s season finale. Anna has her Oscar, but now she might lose her baby. She might also get sucked into some horrible cult and experience a bad death. We won’t know until next week.

See you then.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Fallout, The Target

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Episode two of Amazon Prime’s Fallout was equal parts funny and bloody. This almost always leads to a good time.

The story

We begin this episode with the birth of some puppies that look like they’ve had a rough start to life. Each one is weighed, with the ones who fall short being incinerated.

One pup who is just below the correct weight gets a bit of a thumb on their scale. The scientist weighing them, Wilzig, writes down the proper weight. He later takes the puppy home to raise instead of putting them into what looks like an unforgiving training program.

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Eventually, we see Wilzig put some blue glowing thing into his neck. When a soldier comes for him, Dog attacks the soldier, and the two escape.

Ella Purnell in Fallout.

We go from there to the wilderness, where Lucy is recovering from the last episode and enjoying a campfire at night. Wilzig and Dog come out of the shadows, saving Lucy from a bug monster. Wilzig tells Lucy she should go home. And if she’s not going to go home, she needs to evolve.

The next day Lucy finds her way to a town called Filly. As a Pennsylvanian, it hurts me to spell it that way. Lucy is entranced by this town, though clearly put off by the fact that no one is very nice here.

She eventually finds her way to a shop run by a delightful woman named Ma June. Ma doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping Lucy. Or, frankly, having Lucy in her shop.

Or in her town.

Eventually, Wilzig is tracked to this same shop, being tracked by The Ghoul. This is our final primary character. Lucy defends Wilzig, being aided at the last moment by Maximus.

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Maximus, by the way, has been having a terrible time. After finally becoming a squire he’s disappointed to find that his knight, Knight Titus, is a terrible person.

Fortunately, Maximus doesn’t have to put up with Titus for long. After Titus gets the bright idea to go hunting, he’s attacked by a mutated bear. Maximus freezes, unable to save him. Then, well, he decides not to save him.

It was Titus’s idea to go hunt the bear, after all.

What worked

Walton Goggins in Fallout.

The first thing I want to draw attention to is the shootout scene at Filly. This scene checked every box a fight scene should check. It was fun to watch, with great effects. But it also gave us insight into the characters. Lucy is a decent fighter and has a strong moral compass. The Ghoul is callus and desensitized to death. And Maximus continues to be, well, sort of bad at this whole fighting thing. But with enough moral fortitude that we have a hard time blaming him.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the dog. Who’s name, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, is just Dog. Which is fine. He doesn’t need to have a name to be a very good boy. He’s sweet, loyal, and fearless.

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Also, puppies. Puppies are always great.

Finally, I’d like to shine a spotlight on Lucy’s reaction to the world at large. She is both amazed and terrified by everything. And while she certainly doesn’t want to be rude, she also doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. The best example of this is when she stops to ask for directions with a bright smile and a gun.

Once again, I don’t have anything bad to say about this episode. It was funny, dark, and fun to watch. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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