Tonight’s theme is demons… and the people who love them… and who run from them, too.
We’re back with Joe Bob again this week at The Last Drive-In, exclusively on Shudder. It’s important to note, Mutants, that as of this moment Shudder has not committed to renewing The Last Drive-In for another round, so what I ask is that you take a moment to tweet @shudder with your desire for more episodes. Don’t forget the hashtag #TheLastDriveIn either!
And before we dive in to the Drive-In, I figure I’d toot my own horn again from the livestream.
Demon Wind (1990)
Opening Rant: That old idea of “this will hurt me more than it will hurt you.”
The first film of the night was that kind of drive-in cheese that is a perfect fit for us mutants. Demon Wind (1990) is a knockoff of The Evil Dead that is probably most interesting for the un-credited appearance of Lou Diamond Phillips as a zombie. Well, the Kung Fu magician is a nice touch as well.
The film follows a young man named Cory and his group of friends as they visit a farm that was owned by Cory’s family and has seen several bizarre and tragic deaths. After being attacked by demons, the group is forced to take shelter in the old farm and survive a night of terror, possessions, and surprisingly little demonic wind.
Demon Wind was directed by Charles Philip Moore and was only one of four films in his career. The movie features a group of very bland actors and actresses who look like knock-off versions of far more famous folks. The sole exception here being Stephen Quadros, the show-stealing Kung Fu magician. Other performances include Eric Larson, Francine Lapensée, Rufus Norris, and Jack Forcinito.
Joe Bob offered the film a generous 3 stars. The first half of the night’s highlight comes from Joe Bob attempting to summarize the 4 generations-worth of plot that Demon Wind eventually, inscrutably manages to work in. As always though, the insights into the filming were particularly entertaining, such as the revelation of the crew using the short ends of film stock, and using available fog for the foggy sequences of the movie as there was no budget for a fog machine. Wow.
As for the Haunted MTL review of the film, Demon Wind is strictly a 2 and a half star affair. It becomes a lot more fun when you pretend it is a spin-off of The Evil Dead with some doomed idiots and the random badassery of the Kung Fu magician. Also… those were some of the most Deadite-esque demon zombies outside of the Ash Williams adventures.
Best Line: “You killed me.” (Spoken like a disappointed mother)
The House of the Devil (2009)
Opening Rant: The theological origins of the concept of Hell.
The second film of the night was Ti West’s 2009 throwback Satanic cult film The House of the Devil. Ti West is a bit of a divisive figure in horror, sure, but no matter where you land on his work, The House of the Devil is certainly a much better film than Demon Wind… though maybe not as a drive-in movie. More on that later.
The House of the Devil follows a young babysitter named Samantha who, in desperate need of money to escape her awful roommate and pay for her own apartment, takes on a babysitting job. When she arrives at the house, however, she discovers that the job was not quite what was advertised. Regardless, she takes the job and spends a terrifying night seemingly alone in a spooky house, unaware of the sinister events she will become embroiled in.
The movie was written, edited, and directed by Ti West. It stars the magnetic Jocelin Donahue as Samantha, with Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov. Greta Gerwig has a brief, but memorable role, and there is a dash of Dee Wallace to add a little more flavor to this throwback film.
The House of the Devil, for someone who is unaware of its throwback nature, would likely see the film as a product of the late 70s early 80s, which the film purposefully evokes. Everything from the cameras used, the quality of the film, to the title card and lighting make this a film that really captures the grimy aesthetic of the late 70s to 80s slasher aesthetic.
Joe Bob awarded The House of the Devil 3 and a half stars. Joe Bob’s praise of the quality of the film and the sound design was effusive. In particular, there was a great deal of praise pointed at Jeff Grace’s score of the film, particularly how the score punctuates the noises of the house that terrify poor Samantha. Joe Bob did spend a great deal of time discussing Ti West as a filmmaker and horror audience reactions to the kind of “slow horror” that he tends to focus on in his work. At one point, Joe Bob describes Ti West as an “obsessive-compulsive only child” in a way that can only be described as endearing.
We’ll get this out of the way now: I am a fan of Ti West and The House of the Devil is a 4 star film. It is important to note that the film is slower that most films on The Last Drive-In, and unfortunately it makes the Mutants a little cranky. It is very interesting to watch these films live and watch Mutants discuss it on Twitter. Much like week 3 when The Changeling was on, many fans seemed to complain about The House of the Devil being slow. The Changeling and The House of the Devil are amazing movies and worth watching, but… they are not necessarily drive-in sort of films that live up to the three Bs (Blood, Breasts, and Beasts).
Despite these films not being the kind of films expected for drive-in fare, I appreciate and value their presence in The Last Drive-In, though and hope we get more of these slow-burn creepers as they are personal favorites of mine.
Best Line: “I heard you college kids love pizza.”
- 1 tan suede shirt with white trim, with a silvery triangular bolo tie
- 1 creepy gas station in the literal middle of nowhere
- 1 rotten egg
- 2 ceremonial daggers
- 2 Joe Bob jokes (the British vs. the French, and handjobs)
- 2 Joe Bob clipboard sightings
- 3 warnings to “not go up there”
- 4 generations worth of plot
- 5 Twitter bans for Darcy
- 9 bland, identical teenage archetypes
- 18 day shoot for The House of the Devil
- Gratuitous 90s sexism and homophobia
- Gratuitous gun-totin’ old man
- Gratuitous hallucinatory she-demon titties
- Gratuitous home inspection
- Gratuitous blood slip and slide
- Gratuitous Darcy cosplay (as Samantha)
- Beer Can Fu
- Exploding Doll Fu
- Tongue Lash Fu
- Joe Bob Plot Summary Fu
- Surprise Lou Diamond Phillips Fu
- Vase Smashing Fu
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.
Movies n TV
If You Don’t Woe Me by Now
This is the second to last episode of Tim Burton’s Wednesday. And it’s kind of exactly what I expected it to be. But is that a bad thing? Let’s find out.
(Missed my last review? Click here to read it now.)
We begin at the funeral of the unfortunate Mayor Noble. While Wednesday seems to have been an invited guest, someone else in attendance isn’t.
Uncle Fester, played by Fred Armisen.
His visit couldn’t have come at a better time for Wednesday, as almost all of her friends aren’t talking to her. When Thing is brutally attacked, it’s even better luck that Uncle Fester is around.
This attack on Thing spurs Wednesday to speed up her search. With her uncle’s help, she breaks into the Nightshade library and finds that the monster attacking people is called a Hyde. A creature that can only be called upon by someone else.
This means that instead of one killer, we are looking for two. And Wednesday is pretty sure she knows who the killers are.
But of course, she’s still an idiot teenager, so she goes right ahead and confronts one of them, Dr. Kinbott, by herself. This has results that surprise no one.
After this, Wednesday learns her lesson and gets Sheriff Galpin involved to catch her suspected monster. Their relationship seems to be getting better after he caught her and Tyler in the Crackstone tomb watching Legally Blond and didn’t rebuke them. Maybe he’s softened on the idea of Wednesday dating his son.
Or maybe he wanted to use her to get around needing a search warrant for Xander’s art studio. Because why follow the law when you can risk the life of a teenager by sending her in to start grabbing up evidence in a flagrant disregard for the safety and rights of two kids?
Because that’s exactly what happened. Honestly, poor Xavier has gone through so much trying to be friends with Wednesday.
When you’re a fan of a certain genre, you’ll find yourself recognizing the beats of a story before they even happen. For instance, a murder mystery will often have a moment, right near the climax of the story, where it seems like the case is solved.
This was that episode. It appears like the case is solved, but it’s all a little too easy. And too early in the episode. Now, I don’t consider this a bad thing. It’s an expectation of the genre. Especially because this is a show for a young audience who might never have seen this before. And in this case, just because I saw it coming didn’t mean it wasn’t satisfying.
This one was satisfying because of the implications. The real monster is revealed now. And if you’ve figured out who it is, you understand how difficult a job Wednesday is going to have to prove it.
One thing I like about Wednesday is that there is no dishonesty in this child. If she thinks something, it comes right out. So of course she had no problem confronting her therapist as soon as she started putting the pieces together. Of course, the flip side of that coin is that she expects other people to behave like her. To be honest, at least some of the time. To attack from behind, and attack people other than herself to get her point across. Because, sadly, good people tend to judge others in the ways they would behave.
I loved the addition of Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester. And I wasn’t expecting him to do a good job, honestly. I’m quite used to Christopher Lloyd as Fester, so this was kind of shocking. But as always, he was great. He brought a sense of levity and joyous foolishness that this character should always have.
All in all, this was a great episode. My biggest criticism is that the twist ending isn’t as unpredictable as one might like. When you’ve been a selfish prick to everyone around you, and all of your friends are done with your shit, but one person is still fine with it, that person might just have some ulterior motives.
There’s just one episode left, and I’m excited to see how the story wraps up. I have high hopes for it. And I’m just thankful that the season has exceeded the rather dismal expectations I had for it at the beginning.
(3.5 / 5)
Movies n TV
The Beach House, a Film Review
The Beach House (2019) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown starring Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, and Jake Weber.
The Beach House (2020) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown. This film stars Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, and Maryann Nagel. As of this review, this film is only available on Shudder.
Desperate to rekindle their strained love, Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) escape to a beach getaway. They soon learn to find that family friends of Randall’s father, Mitch (Jake Weber), and Jane (Maryann Nagel), also had a similar idea. After getting used to each other, a mysterious fog engulfs the town. Unfortunately, they realize too late the danger they find themselves in.
What I Like
Body horror gets under my skin, and The Beach House certainly lives up to the standard. There’s something magical about creatures terraforming your body to their preferred environment, turning humans into nothing more than conscious prisoners in their own flesh. While I wouldn’t consider this film the most traumatic or unsettling example, it utilizes wonderfully grotesque scenes.
Aside from the body horror, the film drops a few Cosmic Horror–or Lovecraftian–vibes that go together perfectly. Another favored genre of mine, this combination ensures the odds are overwhelmingly against our human leads.
Beyond the grotesque, visuals might not overwhelm but certainly succeed in their goal. Several scenes provide an intentionally tranquil experience that contrasts with the grotesques and improves their effectiveness.
In terms of performance, each actor hits their mark. While some roles require less effort, each contributes to the plot as intended. The standout performance goes to Liana Liberato’s Emily, who acts as co-lead. She simply has the most to work with and lives up to the part.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As “body horror” should indicate, this film will hit hard for the more squeamish viewer. While horror by nature has some amount of grotesque, body horror brings that grotesque to the next level. While I don’t particularly find The Beach House hitting harder than its competition, it certainly respects its chosen genre.
What I Dislike or Considerations
A few scenic montages may hit or miss depending on your interpretation. While I have my own theories, that speculation goes beyond the scope of this review. Many of these scenes overlap more philosophical conversations and musings that may annoy or add layers. This strategy seems a common practice in Cosmic Horror, which forces characters to rationalize the irrational.
It’s hard for me to understand how secretive or known this event is supposed to be in the film’s world. Individuals know something outside of the town, with evidence implying governmental knowledge. This information creates a contrivance–perhaps, even a plot hole–because the characters had to reach this isolated town without any opposition.
One of the visuals didn’t exactly grab me. While I won’t go into too much detail, an effect looked too visually similar to a common animal that barely survives rain. It’s hard to be threatened by that. It also doesn’t exactly match up with some of the other visuals. Even the creatures that look similar to it still look different enough to provide a more alien assumption.
There are moments when the infected chase our main characters by crawling at them. While the context works, with injured characters helping to sell them, I can’t help but find these scenes amusing as opposed to frightening. Yes, it’s certainly visually different from the plethora of zombies out there, but it’s also less frightening than zombies that leisurely walk to their targets.
The Beach House combines cosmic and body horror to create an uncomfortable film that tests its characters. For those who enjoy these genres, it will certainly entertain you, but I doubt it will frighten you. I imagine the mood to watch it again might strike me, but I’m not entirely certain it will stand the test of time. (3 / 5)
If this movie suits your fancy and you want more, Honeymoon seems an appropriate recommendation.
Movies n TV
Every Secret Thing, a Film Review
Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener, based on Laura Lippman’s novel.
Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener. This R-rated film stars Diane Lane, Danielle Macdonald, Dakota Fanning, and Elizabeth Banks. Based on Laura Lippman’s novel of the same name, the film adaptation is accessible through MAX and DirecTV.
When a little girl goes missing, Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) spirals into an all too familiar tale. As pressure mounts, Alice Manning (Danielle Macdonald) and Ronnie Fuller (Dakota Fanning) become the leading suspects. The strained frenemies unravel under the attention and reminders of their shared past.
What I Like
The film unravels in a non-chronological structure but makes it easy for the viewer to follow. It helps that the age difference clearly divides the younger actors, who change actors. One casting choice resembles their older counterpart, and the acting reflects a strong direction for their shared role.
Unreliable narration remains expertly communicated with scenes that change perspectives depending on whose perspective we view them from. This choice adds a reason to view the film twice, providing extra ambiguity for some of these events.
The camera gets up close and personal to an uncomfortable degree, which almost certainly presses the actors’ performances. This choice places the viewer in the character’s perspective and limits us from others’ perspectives to add extra credence to these biases.
Every Secret Thing provides a spiraling mystery that unravels with several twists and turns. Assuming the novel provided the outline, this film executes these points and keeps a consistently engaging experience throughout the runtime.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Child abuse and neglect remain the central plot points of Every Secret Thing. Little of this abuse appears in scenes, but there is no escaping the danger children are in throughout the film.
Self-harm and suicide are shown throughout the film (once in the case of suicide) through one specific character. It isn’t glorified or romanticized nor addressed with particular sensitivity. For those sensitive to these subjects, it might be triggering.
Racism, the assumed motive for the bi-racial victims, plays a small role in the film’s narrative. However, character motives remain more complex, but going further spoils some elements. This film decision does create the reality that bi-racial children are the victims of child neglect and abuse in the film with little additional context. It does invite uncomfortable speculation, but speculation it would be.
Sexual assault is another concern for viewers, specifically statutory rape. This issue seems particularly mismanaged, considering the survivor remains an antagonist. One can be both survivor of assault and an antagonist of a film without needing to discredit the assault. While little appears of this issue, and the manipulation angle can indicate a perspective shift, it’s hard to refute how the film wants to represent this attack.
What I Dislike
Loosely tied to the above point, one character seems mentally off and purposely so. This point doesn’t inherently create an issue, but there seems to be a choice to make this character a mastermind. Perhaps this is better addressed in the book, but the execution is far from perfect here.
A newspaper montage reveals essential information which feels oddly misplaced. Practically the entire setup for the film appears through this montage, which creates the necessity to read these headlines in the minimal time given.
As a horror, nothing but the events are haunting. Children being abused or kidnapped always haunts, but the terror of this remains secondary to the mystery. While the mystery is nice, this film won’t particularly scare the seasoned horror fan.
Every Secret Thing unravels a mystery of opportunism, selfishness, and deception. While the movie won’t haunt the viewer, it certainly unravels a mystery that shocks them. The nuanced and deceptive characters add a layer of engagement that creates a unique experience, but I doubt this movie will linger in my mind.
(2.5 / 5)