Connect with us



This week at The Last Drive-In we see how music can elevate crappy films beyond being forgotten and turn already good movies into great ones. Our films this week could not be more different in tone, style, and quality, but they both have very, very strong musical choices. One film goes the route of a cult, horror-adjacent prog-rock band, while the other does Farsi dance and punk tunes.

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!

Contamination (1980)

Opening Rant: Gentrification (Riverplace Courtyard on the Square Plaza)

Contamination, sometimes also known as Alien Contamination, is a 1980 Italian cash-in on the popularity of Ridley Scott’s Alien. The film follows a smart aleck cop, a frigid Pentagon Colonel, and a traumatized astronaut who investigate a link between a coffee company and mysterious green eggs. These eggs explode, causing those who come into contact with them to explode as well. This was marketed in Italy as a sequel to Alien.


Though the movie is not a great movie, it does have a fantastic score by “The Goblin,” which Joe Bob points out is comprised of the remaining members of “Goblin” after some internal drama. The film was directed by Luigi Cozzi, best known for Starcrash. It stars Ian McCulloch, Louise Marleau, Marino MasĂ© and Siegfried Rauch. The film was also notorious as a video nasty.


Joe Bob awarded Contamination two and a half stars. In particular, the film has an amazing collection of Drive-In Totals that at one point leaves our loquacious host breathless. Part of the appeal, judging by some of Joe Bob’s breaks revolve around the sheet audacity of Luigi Cozzi, and to a greater extent Italian cinema of the 1970s and 1980s. Though, the film did receive a score deduction due to a poorly conceived, neck-up shower scene. The highlights of Joe Bob’s commentary, however, comes from his rather hilarious stories anecdotes of Luigi Cozzi who seemed like a real “character,” to put it lightly.

Haunted MTL can only really afford a star and a half for Contamination. The movie is a mishmash of stolen bits from other movies that are not even stitched together in a way that makes them work. The film has heavy, heavy doses of exposition, and the horror is lacking, to say the least. In fact, the movie during it’s final third becomes a second-rate James Bond film. Not even the presence of a cycloptic, evil alien master pulling the strings can save this mess.

But wow, that soundtrack is a good one.

Don’t touch strange eggs you find on abandoned cargo ships

Best Line: “Sewers are just as warm, damp, and comfortable as an incubator.”

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Opening Rant: What even counts as a lethal weapon? It is about 3 rants deep, here, but the main takeaway is that Nunchucks are legal in the State of Arizona! Happy ‘chucking, folks.


A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the 2014 Iranian-vampire-western fever dream, may seem like a strange fit for The Last Drive-In. However, given the unique pairings this season has brought so far the film serves as a much needed, artsy pallet-cleanser to Contamination.

The film follows two lonely people. Hard-working Arash arrives to care for his heroin-addicted father and soon he finds himself falling in love with an unnamed Girl who just so happens to be a vampire. The film is very unusual in that it is in Farsi, filmed in California, and feels like a stitched together series of vignettes. Of note, the soundtrack adds a great deal to the film, and as Joe Bob discussed during one of his breaks, many scenes are driven by the music.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, who makes a cameo in the film dressed as a Skeleton at a rave. The films stars Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi (in his only real film role), Mozhan Marnò, and Marshall Manesh. Also, special credit must be paid to the incredibly photogenic cat, played by Masuka.


Joe Bob seems particularly enamored with the movie, though admittedly confused about the interpretation of it. He awarded A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night three stars. In particular, he was complimentary about the visual aesthetics of the movie during his introduction. His insights into the movie were particularly appreciated because it is such a strange film in origin and interpretation. Throughout the episode Joe Bob cites complimentary similarities of Ana Lily Amirpour to directors like Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch. That being said, Joe Bob can’t help bu razzing the director for her very colorful interviews. In one particular segment he simply reads quotes from interviews with her to hilarious effect.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a wonderful and artsy vampire film filled with striking imagery and enough ambiguity to chew on for a week after. As Joe Bob stated at one point, a hundred people can watch the movie and come away with a hundred different interpretations. The film is loaded with dream-logic scenes, has a fantastic score, and carries some stellar performances. The film does try to get away with a more optimistic ending, however, which proves problematic given the explosive narrative potential in the final act. Overall, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a great vampire film and is a three and a half star treat.

The titular Girl who walks home alone at night

Best Line: “Mr. Cat! Mr. Cat! He’s really fun. He’s really fun.” Spoken like a true drug-dealing pimp with “Pussy Stretcher” tattooed on their face in Persian.

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

  • 1 open-air corpse pit
  • 2 yellow paramilitary bread delivery vans
  • 3 “eggs” on the TV (just Avocados)
  • 3 levels deep digression in a rant
  • 5 bedsheet hazmat suits
  • 5 production companies for one movie
  • 7 Twitter bans for Darcy (can we make it to 10 out of 10?)
  • Torso Exploding
  • Muffled Talking
  • Atrocious Dubbing
  • Homeless Joking
  • Chinese/German Fusion Restaurant Joking
  • Northern/Southern Zoo Joking
  • Vampiric Bullying and Skateboard Thieving
  • Awkward Post-Cocaine Snorting Vampire Seducing
  • Gratuitous Place-Setting Helicopter Shots
  • Gratuitous Glow-in-the-Dark Avocados with Slime
  • Gratuitous Colombian Folk Celebration
  • Gratuitous Cat Sitting
  • Darcy Cosplaying (as “The Girl”)
  • Flamethrower Egg Frying Fu
  • Spoiler Fu (Thanks Joe Bob!)
  • Overly Long Bathroom Entrapment Fu
  • Burning Cyclops Fu
  • Pretentious Interview 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.

Look at the kitty!

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

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.


Continue Reading