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We’re back with Joe Bob again this week at The Last Drive-In, exclusively on Shudder. Have you been watching them live? If not, you should really consider doing so and hopping on Twitter to join in the hashtag conversation at #TheLastDriveIn. It’s an incredible communal experience, and if I can take a moment to toot my own horn, it’s great to get retweets and the like from Joe Bob, Darcy, and the crew at Shudder.

Madman (1982)

Opening Rant: Staten Island (it’s like New York’s New Jersey!)

Madman is a 1982 slasher film set at a camp on Staten Island. The campers and counselors alike are menaced by “Madman” Marz, a former resident of the area who murdered his wife and child and was set to hang until he escaped into the woods. After a campfire tale he is unwittingly summoned by one of the campers. The film is loosely based on the Cropsey legend of Staten Island. Madman was also in production alongside The Burning (1981) and necessitated rewrites so the two films would not be so similar.

Madman stars Galen Ross (of Dawn of the Dead fame, under the name Alexis Dubin), Tony Fish, Harriet Bass, and Paul Ehlers as “Madman” Marz and directed by Joe Giannone. The film is probably most known for the iconic VHS cover.

Thank you,

Joe Bob Briggs was fairly generous with Madman, awarding it 3 stars. The film is particularly notable for Galen Ross’s desire to not be linked to it and the fact that few of the cast and crew went on to do much else. That is, of course, contrasted by Paul Ehlers, “Madman” Marz himself, who was a huge horror fan and was bothered that Madman was never really featured in Fangoria. That being said, it certainly probably doesn’t help that we later see Joe Bob holding up a recent Fangoria cover featuring himself. Kind of rubbing it in there, Joe Bob. What comes across most in Joe Bob’s asides, though, is his love for the folks of Staten Island and his knowledge of the lives of #mozzarellahairgel folks. For example, Joe Bob’s insights into Richmond College, where a large group of the cast and crew came from, were also quite hilarious; statistically speaking, 98% of us reading now are likely to be accepted there.

That being said, Joe Bob also suggests that Madman is a great example of the Three Aristotelian Unities. I’m not going to dive too far into it here, but the key here is that Madman is a tight little film, unified in action (a massacre), location (a camp), and time (one night). For fun, read that link and see how the French debated endlessly about the specifics of these unities.

Madman does have a couple of memorable things going for it. The Moog synth score is pretty fun, and the theme is incredibly catchy. Sadly, most of the enjoyment of the movie comes from some of the more earnest attempts at something much better that fail. To invoke TVTropes we’ll just go with “narm.” Overall the film is only a 2 star affair. Most of the enjoyment of the film (especially if you are not already one of the huge fans of it) comes from watching with Joe Bob. This film is worth the price of admission alone for the wonderful Joe Bob sing-a-long to wrap up the half of the double-feature.


Best Line: “Google that fucker.” (Joe Bob’s motto, not part of the movie. There are no really good lines in the movie, to be honest.)

The most horrifying moment in Madman

Wolf Guy (1975)

Opening Rant: Japanese monster films (Joe Bob talks about the lack of monsters in Japan).

The second film of the night was the 1975 supernatural cop and Yakuza film, Wolf Guy. Though to be more accurate, the full title is Wolf Guy: Enranged Lycanthrope. The film was loosely based on the Wolf Guy manga written by Kazumasa Hirai and illustrated by Hisashi Sakaguchi. The film stars Sonny Chiba (!!!) as Akira Inugami, a supernaturally powered cop who uses his abilities as the last survivor of the Wolf Clan to solve underworld crimes. The movie directed (and largely forgotten) by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi also stars Rikiya Yasuoka, Saburo Date, Koji Fujiyama, Tooru Hanada, Ryuji Hayami, Jiro Ibuki.


Of the two films of the week, Wolf Guy towers over Madman. Wolf Guy is a perfect film for The Last Drive-In with some amazingly totals, much like the Thanksgiving marathon’s Dead or Alive. I mean, 78 dead bodies, 26 breasts, and 27 gallons of blood definitely puts most films on The Last Drive-In to shame in sheer excess. Naturally, Joe Bob gave Wolf Guy the 4 star treatment.

Some of the great moments of the night included The Last Drive-In‘s art director Yuki (the Tokyo Cowboy) popping in to talk Japanese film with Joe Bob, including his experience working with Sonny Chiba. We were also treated to a special The Last Drive-In title-card featuring the show’s resident lizard, Ernie.

The Drive-In’s resident kaiju

Naturally, what was most fascinating were the insights that were made into the production of such a fast and loose adaptation of a manga with a b-movie budget, including director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s apparent philosophy of “just keeping it moving” by throwing in fight scenes.

When it gets down to the Haunted MTL review, this film is loosely horror adjacent. There are no transformations into lupine form and the film is more of a Yakuza and martial arts story that was in the standard for Toei Studios. It is a notable and unique interpretation of the werewolf, however. Overall, the film is absolutely bonkers in the best way imaginable and is well worth watching. The score, for example, is particularly good, featuring some great 1970s sleazy sounds. Haunted MTL has to give Wolf Guy 3 and 1/2 stars, merely because the film was not quite enough of a horror film.

But damn, what an experience.

Best Line: “Right now I am a woman who wants an animal.”

The bullets just made him angry.

Drive-In Totals

  • 2 Black shirts with blue floral trim and an orange/slider bolo ties (Joe Bob wore the same getup on the Fangoria cover he displayed)
  • 1 Darcy Cosplay (Synthetic Wolf Guy!)
  • 1 Kaiju Rampage (Ernie messed up his little trailer and smashed the TV!)
  • 1 Awkward Spinning in Hot Tub Sex(?) Sequence
  • 1 Satisfying Neck Snap Foley Hit
  • 1 Reading Rainbow connection (and won’t you be surprised!)
  • 1 Wolf Mother-Wife
  • 1 Hair Trigger Final Girl Shotgun Blast to a Counselor Corpse
  • 2 Potential Future Films (The Burning and Willard)
  • 3 Aristotelian Unities
  • 4 Twitter Bans for Darcy (get your shit together, Jack)
  • 9 Sonny Chiba Films in 1975 Alone
  • 1060 dollars for Michael Barryman’s favorite wolf sanctuary raised by the signed figure auction from the Thanksgiving marathon
  • Attempting to Dislodge an Ax but Making It Look Like Vigorous Tandem Genital Rubbing Fu
  • Folk Song Fu
  • Suckle Fu
  • Synth Stings
  • Sonny Chiba Stares
  • Dive Bar Jokes
  • Catholic/Jewish Jokes
  • Sex Scene Face Maulings

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.

And, as always, beware the “Madman” Marz…

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

Movies n TV

Goosebumps, Cuckoo Clock of Doom



Named for the 28th installment of the original book series, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom has the least in common so far with its source material.

Thankfully, the story isn’t negatively impacted by this. I can honestly say so far that these episodes just keep getting better.

The story

After the last episode’s explosive ending, I’m sure we were all more than a little worried about James. I for one was worried we were going to have an example of the Bury Your Gays trope on a kid’s show.

Cover of R.L. Stine Cuckoo Clock of Doom

Thankfully, that’s not the case.

We go back in time again to Halloween night, and this time we see what James was up to.

Mostly he was up to trying to flirt with his crush. Everything seems to be going well until James lies about being interested in football.

He tries to leave the house, but instead finds himself back at the basement door when Isaiah is trapped and the cuckoo clock is going off. James then shows a remarkable amount of genre savvy and tries his best to escape the house. Each time he does, we see another version of him walking away.

Eventually, he devises a plan to break the clock at just the right moment, but not before he gets some intel on his crush’s favorite team so he can score a date.

Back in the real world free of the time loop though, James finds that he has far more worries. Every time he tried to escape the house, a duplicate version of him was created. And all of those duplicates are waiting for him.


Back at the Biddle house, though, there’s a surprise waiting. One of the James duplicates has brought Harold Biddle a box. A ventriloquist dummy-sized box.

An empty box.

What worked

The effects of this show so far have been wonderful. When the other characters hit a James duplicate, it doesn’t just die. It explodes in a Nickelodeon-style wave of slime. This is just fun, and I’m kind of sad there doesn’t appear to be more of the duplicates around.

I mean, I wouldn’t rule it out.

Ana Yi Puig in Goosebumps.

Did I mention that these duplicates appeared to smell like watermelon Jolly Ranchers when they exploded? That was a visceral detail that was both alarming and terrific. They could have smelled bad. They could have smelled like rotting plants or people. But no, they smell like candy.

Of course, the characters continue to steal the show. Margot and Isaiah could be said to be the main characters, but everyone comes into this with main character energy. They are all funny, all capable, all smart. And they all seem to care about each other.

I loved that James and Isaiah talked about how they were feeling. I think it’s important that we’re modeling that for young men. They talked about what was bothering them, and they made up.

Finally, though, we have to talk about Justin Long again. His acting in this just keeps stealing the show. He dances like a cartoon and jumps from joyful to violently furious at a moment’s notice. The character doesn’t know how to act, and watching him fail to act right in front of people never fails to make me laugh.

What didn’t work

I honestly can’t say that anything didn’t work in this episode. But there is something about the show that I, at least, don’t like.


There’s no real blood or gore. There’s more blood when I eat an actual jolly rancher because I always cut my tongue on them.

Now, this show is pretty clearly not for kids and young adults so there’s probably not a lot of need for too much gore and violence. But if the bloody stuff is more your style, like me, the lack of it might disappoint you.

Fans of the Goosebumps books will know that everyone ended with a twist. And the show so far has been no different. And the ending of this episode has been the best so far. The tension of Margot’s mom’s impassioned reaction, blended with the revelation that Slappy is somewhere in town is just too much. I can’t believe we’re only three episodes in and I am this invested. I hope you are too.

Viewer beware, I suspect things are going to get a lot worse for our characters before they get better.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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Movies n TV

Goosebumps, The Haunted Mask



Episode two of Goosebumps was honestly more fun than the first. It was dark, funny, infuriating and wonderful. Best of all, it has a killer twist ending.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Based loosely on the 1993 story of the same name, The Haunted Mask begins sort of partway through the first episode.

Cover of R.L. Stine's The Haunted Mask.

We’re introduced to a character we haven’t seen much of so far, named Isabella.

Isabella’s life doesn’t seem great. She’s all but invisible at school. She is responsible for taking care of her little brother. It seems like her only real joy is bullying people online. She was the person who tried to get Allison’s party canceled by sending the invite to her parents. Why? Because she is a very unhappy person.

Despite trying to get the party canceled, she decides to go anyway. At the Biddle house, a voice calls her down to the basement. There, she finds a mask.

The mask inspires her to do wild things. She wanders around the party, flirting with everyone. And she has a great time.

Several days later, after Isaiah breaks his arm, Isabella brings an expensive drone to school to get shots of the football team’s practice. Unfortunately, Lucas breaks it fooling around. And Isabella, tired of being ignored, says some awful things to him.

When her mother grounds her because she took the drone without asking, the mask compels her to do some awful things.


What worked

I would first like to talk about the storytelling structure in this season. It appears that we’re going to be getting the events of Halloween night multiple times, from multiple points of view.

Ana Yi Puig in Goosebumps.

I love this structure. It’s unique, and it allows for more mystery in a shorter period. It’s also more complex, showing just how much madness was happening, while just showing one part of the story at a time.

Another thing I appreciated was the evolution of the character Lucas.

On one hand, it’s easy to be angry at Lucas. Even if he thought the drone belonged to the school, it’s still kind of a selfish move to break it.

But Lucas just lost his father. We don’t know how yet, but we know from Nora that his death caused Lucas to start doing things like jumping on drones and skateboarding off the roof from his bedroom window.


We all mourn differently. Losing a parent as a teen is awful. So while we can all agree that he’s being a problem, he’s also being a sad kid working through something hard.

And the same can be said for Isabella.

Look, we still don’t know what the adults of this town did to make Harold Biddle haunt them. But we do know that these parents are messing up in all sorts of other ways. And Isabella is suffering from parentification. She’s being forced to play mom at home while being ignored by her classmates at school. Even without the mask, I could see her lashing out and trashing the house.

Finally, I love Justin Long in this series. His visual comedy was fantastic here, as he falls through the hallways. But he also manages to be scary as hell. His creepy smile and jerky movements are enough to make anyone’s skin crawl. I honestly can’t think of a living actor who could have played this better.

What didn’t work


If I have one complaint about this episode, it’s the music. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. Every song seems like it’s just screaming what the characters are thinking. Which isn’t really what I’d consider the point of a soundtrack.

Maybe it’s just a curse on RL Stine. None of his projects can ever have good soundtracks aside from the theme song.

Unlike the original Goosebumps series, there were moments in this episode that did startle me and unnerve me. Which is wonderful. And while it’s still clearly for kids, it’s something anyone can sit down and enjoy. I’m very excited for the rest of the season. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)


If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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Movies n TV

Goosebumps Say Cheese and Die



Released in 2023, Goosebumps is the latest in a line of content based on the insanely popular children’s book series with the same name. And if you’re here, I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you a lot about Goosebumps. Most horror fans are at least passingly aware of the colorful covers, dark plotlines, and surprise twist endings. Some of us even have a few of the original books lying around.

For nostalgia.

Cover for Say Cheese and Die, Goosebumps number 4.

With so many good and bad versions of the original stories floating around, I was unsure how to feel about this brand-new series. I was sure, however, that I had to watch all of it. Especially with the infamous Slappy appearing so prominently in the advertising.

So, how was the first episode?

The story


We start this episode with a flashback to 1993, and a young man named Harold Biddle. We don’t spend a lot of time with him. He comes home from school and goes right to the basement. There he starts writing some concerning notes in his journal. This is interrupted when a fire consumes the basement, killing him.

We then flash forward thirty years to the real start of our story. The Biddle house has just been inherited by a man named Nathan Bratt, played by the delightful Justin Long. He adores the place but is less than thrilled when a bunch of teens crash it for a Halloween party.

The teens end up not being thrilled either.

Now we come to our real main characters, Isaiah, Margot, Allison, and James. It is the four of them that planned the ill-fated party.

Zack Morris in Goosebumps

While in the house, Isaiah finds a Polaroid camera. He starts taking pictures of his friends, only to find that they don’t come out right. One of them, Allison, shows her on the ground in the woods, terrified for her life. Another shows Margot in a panic next to a snack machine.

Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he eventually sees both of the girls in those exact situations. The real trouble comes when Lucas takes a picture of him, and it shows him on the football field, horribly injured.


All of these near-death experiences seem to be caused by the flaming spirit of Harold Biddle. And it soon becomes clear that the adults of the town likely know more than they’re willing to tell about what went down at the Biddle house thirty years ago.

What worked

For someone who grew up with the series, and is therefore of a certain age, the first scene of the episode was a lot of fun. It oozed 90’s vibe in a way that’s immediately recognizable to most, and familiar to my generation. Well, insomuch as wearing flannel and coming home to an empty house is the pinnacle of being a 90s kid.

It was also fun for the constant references to books in the original series. Blink and you missed them, but I saw the Cuckoo Clock of Doom, Haunted Mask, and Go Eat Worms. These make sense, as they each have their episode this season. But I’m sure I missed a few. Please let me know in the comments.

That was a lot of fun for someone who grew up with the series. But it wasn’t so constant and all-consuming as to distract from the story. Someone could have never read a Goosebumps book in their lives and just enjoy this episode of television.


More importantly, younger viewers can watch this and feel like it’s for them. The main characters aren’t the parents, they’re the kids. And it’s clear even in this first episode that, even if it was the grownups who caused this horror, it’s going to be the kids that fix it.

This is a series that is for kids. And that’s great. It’s introducing a whole new generation to a series in a way that feels like it can be theirs just as much as it was ours when we were kids.

What didn’t work

All that being said, the story also felt a little dumbed down. A little too predictable. There was one line that particularly irritated me in this regard. When Nora goes to see Isiah’s dad in the hospital, she just flat-out says, “The children will suffer for the sins of the fathers.”

Not only is that just a bad line, it’s also a lazy one. It’s awkward and unrealistic. People simply do not talk that way. And we frankly didn’t need this information dropped on us. It was pretty clear during the football game that at least some of the grownups in town were going to be involved with this when we saw Nora recognize what was happening to Isaiah and try to stop the game. Kids are smart. They would have figured this out by themselves.


It’s also a really tired trope. Freddy and Jason after all, are both killing young people for the sins of their parents. It was a big part of the storyline in Hide. And while I get that this might feel relevant to the next generation who are all paying for the mistakes of Boomers that Gen X and Millennials have not done enough to solve, it’s also a bit lazy. I just feel like, if this is going to be our main story, it could have been a better one.

But this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy this episode. Overall, it was a fun start that left me with lots of questions. I’m excited to see where the rest of the season takes us.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


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