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So, in the span of four hours, I watched Maniac and Heathers and I absolutely loved it. This week’s films come from that Last Drive-In impulse of pairing tonally different movies together. This is similar to the premiere and I hope it is a sign to come for the rest of the season: The Last Drive-In is at its best when it is offbeat.

As I did last week, I encourage you to follow the Haunted MTL Twitter feed and join in on the fun during the live stream. We’d love to have you.

Maniac (1980)

Opening Rant: Joe Bob talked a lot about similarities between Maniac and Joker, but transition more toward the panic around the clown.

We get more sleazy seventies this week with Maniac. Yes, the movie came out in 1980, but the work of making it and the whole aesthetic is pure 1970s. The movie is incredibly fun and grimy and has an absolutely legendary performance from Actor’s Actor Joe Spinell. Spinell is absolutely magnetic as Frank Zito, one of the great slasher characters who is also incredibly charming. The fact this absolute, well, maniac, is at all sympathetic is an incredible feat, especially given some of those really creepy elements of the character. You’ll see.

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William Lustig’s direction is strong and the film and the film absolutely soars during the sequence where Frank is stalking a woman in the subway. This scene is where the movie absolutely clicks and the paranoia and anxiety of this chase is fantastic. The scene is only second to a great photography scene where viewers have the pleasure of watching Spinell morph from charming-Frank to monster-Frank. It’s masterful. Too bad the ending (not the art-house death-scene, but rather the final shot) kind of cheapens the overall quality of the movie.

Joe Bob has a lot of praise for the film, but I am less enamored of it. Joe Bob awarded the film the full 4-star treatment. The film is good, do not get me wrong. It can be creepy, the effects are fun, and the killer is fascinating. Hell, the movie has the big daddy of gore effects, Tom Savini. Speaking of whom, having Savini on The Last Drive-In is an all-time-great get for the show. Savini was affable, charming, and had many great stories. He was like the world’s coolest uncle and it was fun to hear he and Joe Bob swap insider knowledge of film. The conversation surrounding Maniac’s infamous “exploding head” is definitely going to be posted on YouTube in the coming week.

Ultimately, though, I found Maniac kind of tame. Yet, something about the film just doesn’t work for me. For as much as Maniac gets for being controversial, I don’t find it all that intense. It’s fine. The film works, very well even, yet it’s something that I feel I could just pop on for fun than anything that would necessarily creep me out. It just does not have the same effect on me as it does others, but that’s okay. It’d be a while since I saw it, but compared to Blood Sucking Freaks it was just kind of… cozy. And even then, Blood Sucking Freaks didn’t really cross any lines for me, either.

Basically, what I am trying to say is… don’t hang out with me.

I thought about it a lot, but when it comes down to it I could only give Maniac 3 and 1/2 Cthulhus. It’s a fun movie, but the eye-rolling ending just burns away so much goodwill I have for it. Had the ending not made me roll my eyes I’d have given it an extra half Cthulhu.

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3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Best Line: “I know, but to me things change. People die. But in a picture or painting, they’re yours forever.” – Frank Zito

You don’t want to see his “oh”-face.

Heathers (1989)

Opening Rant: Joe Bob takes on San Francisco.

We get to the best movie of the night after a brief break. Heathers is a pitch-black high school comedy, with the ultimate irony being that it’s not really the kind of Drive-In movie that one expects from a Joe Bob Briggs selection. But that’s okay. One of my favorite moments of season one was the artsy The Changeling, and it’s nice to have something a little outside the norm of the show. A couple of these films a season are welcomed.

As for Heathers, its not really a horror film, though it makes several horrific statements about teenagers, society, and high school. The situations presented are awful and there is no way in hell to make Heathers today given America’s continuous trauma of mass-gun violence in schools. Yet, as screwed up a world as Heathers presents, we have to laugh because it also feels just so true to life.

Heathers made Winona Ryder a star, despite claims to the contrary by Beetlejuice fans. Sure, perhaps Beetlejuice was a mainstream hit, but Heathers was a bold choice of role that put her on the radar of darker film fans. Of course, this is all opinion, but it’s hard not to see how iconic Winona Ryder comes across in the film in so many scenes. She obviously was not alone, however, and her work was balanced by the absolutely manic energy of Christian Slater who seems to be channeling the spirit of Jack Nicholson. Slater’s JD might be one of the best Holden Caufieldesque shitheads committed to film and to watch the “bad boy” facade wash away into the pathetic, ineffectual dweeb he ends up at the end of the film is so, so satisfying. It’s explosive, even.

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Really, though, Heathers is one of those writerly movies. It’s oft-quoted, it’s marveled at for its structure, and it is a tight movie. Its incredible work by a first-time screenwriter in Daniel Waters. He absolutely nails the teenage voice that would continue to thrive in future teen films. A lot is said about John Hughes having influenced film regarding teenage characters. Waters is right up there with him, full stop. If the film has a weak spot, it might be Michael Lehman’s direction; it’s not bad, but barring a couple of scenes it doesn’t really stand out either. Lehman would go on to direct a lot of television.

Joe Bob’s assessment of the film comes off as perhaps the biggest surprise of the night. Of course, it’s not odd that Joe Bob would like Heathers. It’s a good movie. But the fact Joe Bob gave Heathers the full 4-star treatment is very interesting, especially given his usual half-star deduction for a lack of breast. The overall exuberance of the film carried throughout the host segments, however, and his insights into the cast were particularly welcome. This was especially interesting when he was discussing Shannen Doherty and her experience on the set, but his bit on the insanity that was Christian Slater was also quite fun.

I really don’t throw the word “perfect” out there a whole lot, and usually, when I do it is usually irony. I can safely say that, without irony, Heathers is a perfect teen-centric movie. It’s not at all flawless and in today’s climate elements of it are fairly antiquated. But none of that matters because it is darkly funny, well-plotted, and probably is one of the better representations of high school out there. With that said, it only makes sense that I’d give Heathers the Five Cthulhus treatment. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Best Line: “My son’s a homosexual, and I love him. I love my dead gay son.” – Kurt’s Father, at the Funeral.

#Queen

HMTL Drive-In Totals

As usual, we start with the official Drive-In Totals in handy tweet form!

Here are our totals for this week!

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  • $30,000 porn dollars
  • 6 Scathing Review Excerpts
  • 7 Beer Cans
  • 2 Darcy Cosplays (Frank Zito and
  • 1 Darcy Imprisonment
  • 1 Yuki Sighting
  • 250 Page First Draft
  • Stalking Fu
  • Dwarf Porn Discussion Fu
  • Vomit Fu
  • Croquet Fu
  • Gratuitous Flopsweat
  • Gratuitous Cliffsnotes
  • Gratuitous Disco
  • Joe Bob Cosplaying
  • Texas Joking
  • Chinese Joking
  • “That Guy Award” for Glenn Shadix
  • “Silver Bolo Award” for Cousin Barnabas of the Collinsport Historical Society
Darcy’s bulge could have been bigger.

Episode Score

The best Drive-In pairings tend to be the most bonkers. Nobody in a sound state of mind would pair Maniac and Heathers, but here we are, and we’re all the better for it. Again, another solid episode, but that’s pretty much the standard. The minute the show has a bad episode then we’re all in trouble. That begs the question though, what would a bad episode be? 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

One a final note, we’re trying to get Joe Bob and Darcy verified on Twitter. Join us, won’t you?

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

Movies n TV

The Boys, The Insider

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We’ve reached the second to last episode of The Boys, season four. And, as is appropriate for the penultimate episode of any show, things have to get a lot worse before they can get better.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Christmas is coming, and the whole world is getting ready. Ryan, despite being very clear that he didn’t want to appear on any TV shows or movies, has been strong-armed into participating in a Vought puppet Christmas special. He draws the line, though, when asked to sing about turning one’s parents in if they start talking about woke things.

Cameron Crovetti in The Boys.

Meanwhile, The Boys are trying to keep each other together. Butcher decides to take Sameer to the rest of the team. He also gets Frenchie out of prison, hoping they can make the Sup virus necessary to finally take down Homelander. Instead, this decision means disaster for one member of the team.

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What worked

I first want to talk about Ryan’s speech near the end of the episode. Because it was exactly the moral of this whole story.

Ryan’s dad is a monster. His stepdad is also kind of a monster. But Ryan is a good kid. He cares about people, about family. And while he loves Homelander and Butcher, he doesn’t want to be like them.

Even better, this speech sounded like something a kid would say. Ryan didn’t open his mouth and start sounding like a college student all of a sudden. He sounds like a kid who misses his mom and wants to live up to the good standards she set for him. And I think that’s terrific.

Speaking of Homelander, he shot himself in the foot in this episode. I said earlier in the season that his hubris was going to be his downfall, and I was right. Without Sage, he just has the same weaknesses he’s always had. He’s going to fail because he just isn’t clever enough or patient enough to succeed.

Without Sage, I think a win is in the bag for The Boys. This isn’t to say that Homelander by himself isn’t dangerous. It’s just that he’s more like a wildfire than a controlled burn. He’s going to cause a lot of damage, but not get anything he wants out of it.

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More’s the pity for him and everyone else who has to share his world.

Finally, I am thrilled with A-Train’s redemption story. I love that he wants to be a good person not to save himself, but to be a good person. His honest, pure and warm reaction to that little kid smiling at him in the last episode was heartwarming. It changed him in a moment, bringing to light a goodness that he’s been keeping under wraps for a long time.

Jessie T. Usher in The Boys.

This, along with Ryan’s courageous speech, proves once again what The Boys does so well. Yes, it’s gruesome. Yes, there’s blood and balls and batshit events. Yes, someone occasionally gets ripped in half. But there is a true human goodness in the story. One that we catch glimpses of. There are good people among the monsters. There is hope for redemption.

What didn’t work

Of course, so few things in this life are perfect, and this episode was no exception. For instance, I was irritated by the insinuation that Butcher cheated on his wife.

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That just doesn’t make any sense. We’ve seen flashbacks of Billy and Becca. They were happy. He was happy. He was head over heels for her. And I don’t think it’s realistic or necessary for the character to throw in that he cheated. It does nothing to add to the story, it’s just a weird and offputting moment.

Doesn’t Butcher have enough to hate about himself? Can’t we just give him that at least he was a good husband?

Finally, I kind of hate that we ended up with Annie being caught. It’s just cliche, which is something I don’t normally say about this show. It feels lazy unless they do something very clever with it in the last episode. Which, I suppose, they might.

Next up is the season finale. And with this season being as insane as it has been, I’m expecting nothing short of bloody fireworks. And I mean literal fireworks of blood. At this point, would it surprise anyone?

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

The Boys, Dirty Business

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Episode six of The Boys was one of the most surprising episodes of the series so far. And that is certainly saying something. Because this season has so far been bonkers.

The story

Our episode today revolves around a party at Tek Knight’s lovely mansion. Yes, it does look just like Wayne Manor.

The Boys know that Tek Knight is working with Homelander on something, but they don’t know the details. So they decide to send Hughie in to bug the mansion.

Because that’s worked so well the other two times he’s tried to hide a bug!

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It should surprise no one that this time goes no better. Hughie finds himself in Tek Knight’s basement. And by that I mean his BDSM dungeon.

Meanwhile, the party upstairs is no less disturbing. Homelander and Sage are trying to convince some well-off political donors to support a cue after the election. When pressed for details on his plan, Homelander freezes. He looks to Sage for help, but she wasn’t recently shot in the head and still in the junk food stage of her healing.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, Neuman jumps in and saves the day.

Claudia Doumit in The Boys.

What works

If I’m going to say one thing about this episode, it didn’t hold back at all. I didn’t expect them to show a character masturbating, sitting their bare behind on a cake, or spraying breastmilk into someone’s face. But every time I thought they’d cut the scene and let something be left to our imagination, they did not do that.

Derek Wilson in The Boys.

This is a dangerous move. Whenever you show the monster, you run the risk of them not being scary enough, or gross enough. As Stephen King says in Danse Macabre, to leave this sort of thing to the imagination if the reader makes things so much worse. So when they finally experience the monster, they might say that this isn’t so bad. It could have been so much worse.

But in this case, they managed to avoid that by making the scenes, especially the ones in Tek Knight’s dungeon, so much worse than I imagined it would be.

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What doesn’t work

While this was a deeply disturbing episode in many ways, there was one really innocent and sweet moment.

And yes, I did have a problem with it.

Confronted by Firecracker, Annie decides to apologize for spreading rumors about her when they were kids. She tells her that she is genuinely sorry.

And I believe her. I don’t think Firecracker did, but I did.

So why is this an issue? Because I’m starting to think that Annie is maybe too nice. She is too good.

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I know that Annie is our good guy. But every one of the other good guys has flaws. Hughie let his pride get in the way and took Temp V. MM hid himself from his daughter instead of teaching her to work through her emotions. Kimiko is far too closed off and has a hard time trusting others. Frenchie numbs himself with drugs. And well, what hasn’t Butcher done?

It is unrealistic that Annie is just so kind and so flawless. We all have shadows in our personalities. We all have weaknesses, we all mess up. We all do things we wish we could take back. The fact that Annie doesn’t seem to have anything like that is not just unrealistic. It’s infantilizing.

Give her some deep dark secrets. Give her something real to regret.

This was a shocking episode, even for someone fairly jaded like me. I wasn’t expecting the sort of weird sexual depravity, though I guess maybe I should have seen it coming. It was dark, upsetting, tense, and funny as hell. And with just two episodes left in the season, I can imagine the stakes are only going to get higher.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

House of he Dragon: S2E4 – The Return of Trogdor!

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Instead of recapping this episode, I will link you to Strongbad, so you can see something with a dragon that doesn’t suck.

See you for Episode 5!

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