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.
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.
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.(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
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.
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 / 5)
Best Line: “My son’s a homosexual, and I love him. I love my dead gay son.” – Kurt’s Father, at the Funeral.
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!
- $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
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 / 5)
One a final note, we’re trying to get Joe Bob and Darcy verified on Twitter. Join us, won’t you?
My Best Friend’s Exorcism, a Film Review
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) is a R-rated horror comedy directed by Damon Thomas, available on Amazon Prime.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) is a horror comedy directed by Damon Thomas. Based on Grady Hendrix’s novel of the same name, this R-rated film stars Elsie Fisher, Amiah Miller, Cathay Ang, and Rachel Ogechi Kanu. As of this review, the film is available to Amazon Prime subscribers.
Abby Rivers (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen Lang (Amiah Miller) seek to escape the monotony of high school drama with their friends. However, in their efforts to have fun, Gretchen Lang encounters a troubling otherworldly demon bent on controlling her body. It’s up to Abby to help her overcome this demonic threat.
What I Like in My Best Friend’s Exorcism
The effects are surprisingly good. While not overwhelming, these effects never take me out of the film. Even the less realistic scenes fit the overall tone while looking better than expected or required. The 80’s aesthetic strengthens that believability.
Continuing that thought, My Best Friend’s Exorcism oozes the 80’s. Perhaps this comment should set an expectation for the viewer. I can’t exactly comment on the accuracy of the era, but it certainly fits the era of film. If 80’s films don’t interest you, consider looking somewhere else.
While I don’t meet the target audience, the jokes land and provide an enjoyable horror comedy feel. My Best Friend’s Exorcism focuses more on comedy than horror, but this remains a common trend in horror comedies.
The performances remain strong throughout, with leads Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller pulling off that best-friend chemistry. The cast purposely captures that 80’s nostalgia. Added to the campy nature of the film, one might grow irritated with the acting choices. For me, it certainly fits with the tone and setting.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Drug use might deserve a mention on this list. While I don’t find this egregious, I imagine this point, or some other technicality, earns the film its undeserved R-rating.
The possession lends itself as a rape allegory, with some characters even believing this to be the trauma Gretchen Lang suffers from. While this isn’t the case, the conversation remains for those who want to avoid such material.
Body horror describes a few scenes of the film, though sparingly. However, one scene convinces me to bring this up for those who get squeamish at the cracking of bones or slimies in the body.
A character is tricked into outing themselves and faces some homophobia because of it. This homophobia is rightfully taken as cruel, not condoned in the slightest, but it remains potentially triggering and deserves mention here.
What I Dislike, or Food for Thought on My Best Friend’s Exorcism
This film seems to earn its R-rating off some technicality. It is neither raunchy nor gruesome for those expecting that from their R-rated horror films. For me, it’s more an issue of setting expectations. I expect my R-rated horrors to hit hard. My Best Friend’s Exorcism doesn’t.
It would be unfair to expect something like Jennifer’s Body, as this is a lighter and zanier film. There are elements of sisterhood and bodily autonomy that echo the cult classic, but My Best Friend’s Exorcism remains an entirely campier affair.
In terms of performances that lack the intended impact, three over-the-top anti-drug spokesmen outstay their welcome. It’s clearly a jab at D.A.R.E., which certainly works in increments, but then one character becomes an important part of the plot and still keeps his caricature.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism fits the taste of an 80’s horror comedy fan. Don’t expect to be frightened at any point, but the comedy lands well enough. The film knows its niche and hits most of its targets. It’s hard to say if the film will stand the test of time, but it certainly earns its runtime.
(3.5 / 5)
American Horror Story Delicate, Rockabye
There’s a lot to unpack from this episode of American Horror Story Delicate, Killer Queens, so I don’t want to waste any time. I just want to take a moment and issue a trigger warning. This episode, and therefore this review, talks about several topics that might be upsetting. These include abuse, pregnancy trauma and miscarriage. It’s heavy. If you’re not up for that, here’s a link to my review of Tucker and Dale, which is considerably lighter and funnier.
Our episode starts with Anna trying to get the police to take her seriously about the break-in. There’s just one problem. No one was seen coming in or out of the apartment except Dex. No one shows up on any of the security footage. The police are convinced it’s just Anna’s IFV medication making her see things.
But Anna doesn’t have time to think about the break-in. She’s just been nominated for a Gotham award, and she needs to get into full Awards Show mode. Siobhan gives her something she calls B12 and tells her that her life now revolves around awards prep.
But Anna’s whole life can’t revolve around that, because she’s pregnant now. Even though she seems to be losing time. Like, weeks at a time without even realizing it.
Things just get stranger when she’s at the Gotham Awards and accosted by an overzealous fan in the bathroom. After the woman puts her hands on Anna’s stomach, she knocks her over and the woman hits her head on the sink.
Rather than aiding the woman, Anna goes out to accept her award.
Or does she? After throwing up blood on stage, she finds herself back in the bathroom, being helped up by paramedics.
Everyone agrees that Anna needs some rest and space to heal. So she and Dex go to Talia’s house in the country. There, of course, everything gets much worse. Anna starts to bleed after a yoga session and is taken to the hospital. There, she gets an ultrasound by Nurse Ivy. A nurse that no one else knows at the hospital.
Sadly, the bleeding doesn’t stop. And as we end the episode, it appears that Anna has lost her baby.
Emma Roberts is doing a fantastic job playing Anna. Proving as always that American Horror Story actors are nothing if not flexible. I find myself wanting to compare Anna to Madison Montgomery from AHS Coven. They’re both actresses who experience abuse from men that one might, sadly, expect for women in their station and age range. Madison is gang-abused by frat boys, and Anna has her autonomy taken away from her as soon as a baby is in question.
That’s where the similarities stop. Can you ever imagine Madison saying, “You’re right, I’m sorry,” to literally anyone? She’d have snapped a man’s neck first. Anna’s body language, voice modulation, and the overall way she carries herself in the world is so different.
This is also part of what makes her relatable. I imagine many of the female-presenting people reading this can remember a time when we’ve said, you’re right, I’m sorry when they were wrong and we weren’t sorry at all.
I also really loved the amount of blood in this episode. There is so much blood involved in being a cisgender woman. It’s something we take for granted, but shy away from when in polite company. There was no shying away here. We’re made to see all of it. I don’t think the amount of blood in the miscarriage scene was overkill at all. If anything, it wasn’t enough.
Finally, it’s a small point but one that I appreciated. I bet you already know the one I’m talking about. When Anna is overjoyed to get to wear the same dress once worn by Madonna, Siobhan reminds her in a stern voice not to rip it.
If you didn’t get the joke, look up Kim K and an incident with the iconic Marilyn Monroe dress. I do appreciate anyone who can poke fun at themselves.
The reference to ‘don’t rip it’ with the dress was fun. I hate Kim K and her whole family, but that was funny.
What didn’t work
I’m honestly struggling to find anything in this episode that didn’t work. If I had to pick out something I didn’t like, it was probably that we got the barest cameo from Zachary Quinto. I really hope we get to see more of him as the season progresses.
Another thing I don’t like overall is the character Siobhan. I mentioned this last week, and I’ll try not to mention it again because I don’t see it changing. But the character in the show is a bare reflection of the one in the book.
Siobhan in the book was a loving, selfless friend. Which made the ending, well, let’s say impactful to avoid spoilers for both AHS and Delicate Condition. This version, if she continues as she is, is not going to have the same effect.
I’m also quite done hearing the internet swoon over what a great job Kim K is doing. She’s been acting her entire life, I’d be surprised if she wasn’t good at it. And she’s doing no better or worse than many other guest stars have done in the past seasons of American Horror Story. She’s not bad. But she wouldn’t be getting the credit she is if she wasn’t who she is.
Overall, this was a great episode. It was equal parts funny, gory and infuriating. At this point, my only real complaint is that there are only three episodes left until a season break. But now that the writing strike is over, hopefully the break won’t be too long.(4 / 5)
Cadaver (2020), a Film Review
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal and currently available on Netflix.
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal. This unrated film stars Thorbjørn Harr, Gitte Witt, and Thomas Gullestad. As of this review, the film is available on Netflix.
After an apocalyptic event, the survivors endure in a hopeless world. Among these survivors are Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad), and Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman), a family fighting the hopelessness of a lost world. Leonora desires to keep her daughter (Alice) hopeful, and when a theater opens in their decrepit city, she thinks she has found the solution to their despair. However, they will all soon learn how desperate people have become.
What I Like from Cadaver
Cadaver takes on a unique focus for a post-apocalyptic movie. While most in the genre tackle the question of where you find hope, the theatrical lens is not one I’ve seen before. It blends these two unique environments together for a pleasant concoction. As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I must admit I find my niche in the everyday lives of someone in such a world.
Leonora’s (usually called Leo in the film) dreamer nature in this horrendously hopeless environment creates a sympathetic contrast. This dreamer nature doesn’t excuse some of her choices, but she evokes sympathy. While most post-apocalyptic entries provide this balance of hope and survival, Leo’s creativity and passion for the arts give her hope and a more focused ideal.
The relationship between Leo and her husband also creates a nice contrast, as Jacob plays the rationalist and survivor. In this decision, both characters provide that post-apocalyptic dynamic of survival and hope. These interactions allow both actors opportunities to create friction as they pull the plot from their differing perspectives.
I had the chance to listen to the dubbed version, which sounds good. I’m not much for dubs, especially on Netflix, but they did Cadaver with respect and a focus on quality. At the very least, it’s competent and doesn’t distract from the viewing experience.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As hinted at earlier, there are some dumb decisions in the plot. While many fall within character traits, the actions don’t escape criticism. This flaw becomes incredibly repetitive when characters make the same mistake.
Implied suicide occurs throughout the film with one shown incident, but there are circumstances that change the context slightly. A world this bleak invites this depressive and dangerous state as a normality. However, one should prepare if this is a trigger.
What I Dislike or Considerations for Cadaver
Again, some decisions had me roll my eyes and endure the plot. This reaction isn’t exactly the experience I seek out in my horror. It’s more haunting to make sensible, or even intelligent, decisions and still endure unavoidable or unforeseen consequences.
It’s likely that nothing in Cadaver surprises you, which underutilizes the interesting premise. There are unique elements, certainly, but never a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s in that execution that Cadaver falls flat and fails to engage a viewer.
The film doesn’t exactly haunt the viewer, but the bleak world effectively depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocalypse. Don’t expect much genuine horror, but you can expect an appropriately uncomfortable and unnerving experience. In short, viewers of Cadaver likely want a unique twist in their post-apocalypse, not a traumatic horror.
Cadaver remains a unique viewing experience by adding a slight twist to its post-apocalyptic story. While not a haunting masterpiece, this bleak film will have you feeling the characters’ struggle. While lacking sensible decision-making skills, they are certainly sympathetic survivors struggling in a hopeless world. If this is your niche, it’s certainly worth a view.
(3 / 5)