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Welcome back to the Drive-In. This week Joe Bob joked about the lack of guests on the show and how this weekend’s feature would be received. Fans were fortunate to have an absolutely stacked back-to-back two weeks of fun guests, but there is something said to just having Joe Bob, Darcy, and the always vital Mangled Dick Expert Felissa Rose with us for the night. It’s another solid showing at The Last Drive-In this week.

This time we got two movies full of color, weirdness, and amazing music: Brain Damage (1988) and Deep Red (1975).

So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Brain Damage (1988)

Opening Rant: Joe Bob is not an Instagram fan.

So, Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage is a pretty special movie. The movie is at least partially connected to the first marathon’s Basket Case (1982) by a fun cameo, but it is little more than a silly cameo. One of Henenlotter’s other films, Frankenhooker (1990), would be a nice future film for The Last Drive-In. Brain Damage itself would go on to add two sequels in 1990 and 1991.

The main thing about Brain Damage is that it is unbelievably fun. It’s a strange film that deals with themes of addiction by creating a golden-voiced brain slug monster that serves as the drug epidemic metaphor. Shockingly, it works well because it believes in itself enough to be goofy and still commit to the strange morality of it all.

It’s not a scary film, however. Sure, it is gory and hilarious, but the presence of a talking drug slug, whose origins are explained in an absurdly long backstory-bomb, just presents no real frights beyond vague feelings of anxiety around drug addition. The movie is cheeseballs, basically, but that’s fine because it is so entertaining. I mean, the movie plays its goofy card pretty blatantly by bringing in an (uncredited) John Zacherle as Aylmer, the mind-bending brain parasite.

Joe Bob gave this film a full 4 stars and I am inclined to agree that it is a very quality movie. The Aylmer puppet is a huge jump above Belial from Basket Case, and even then, the puppet is just goofy enough to let you buy into the movie in a way that a CGI Aylmer never could. The insights into the production provided by our venerable host were as great as ever, of course. In particular, though, the fourth break chronicles the origins of the tune of Aylmer’s little musical number. It proved appropriately historical, insightful, and slightly out of place like a good Joe Bob deep-dive, given the feature was about a drug slug. Another interesting fact dropped by Briggs, however, was the revelation of a “shooting subway” in NYC for film-production.

Brain Damage continues Joe Bob’s 4-star spoils this season on The Last Drive-In and it is definitely one of those films where I’d agree with him on a higher score. The film is not perfect but the movie is just too ridiculous and fun. I plan on re-watching it a couple more times as soon as I can. It’s that good. Brain Damage is a 5 Cthulhu film.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Best Line: “Yeah, but when it comes to blood in my underwear, I want to know how it got there.” – Brian to Aylmer

The sound mixing here is on point, fitting, as it is all ear trauma.

Deep Red (1975)

Opening Rant: Joe Bob talks the Getty Fire in LA.

Dario Argento’s Deep Red (or Profundo rosso for you Giallo nerds) is one of those huge moments in Giallo film that has become legendary and is perhaps held up on a pedestal of sorts. When held at a distance like that, as some sort of art, it tends to have imperfections overlooked. So much has been written about Argento’s film. Even what constitutes the real film is up for debate and is storied. After all, there are so many different versions floating around out there and the film has been hacked up more than some Giallo women.

There is so much weight attached to Deep Red that it may come off as sacrilege among some of the horror community to label it as a fine movie. It is definitely up there in Argento’s creative works. The film is entertaining and stylish. But it’s also a significantly flawed piece. It’s very much style over substance. I liken it to an extended high-art music video, and given the origins of the band Goblin from this film, that seems fitting. Sequences are not so much organic expressions of the narrative but rather cool moments set to Italian prog-rock, albeit some amazing prog-rock. It’s got pointlessly strange setpieces inconsistent with the actual story being told.

This is very much a movie to have to play in the background of a party, or just maybe sitting back with something to drink with the volume way up for that amazing Goblin score. This is not a movie for a satisfying story. It’s just not good. It’s fine.

I am a Dario Argento fan, one of those Argentophiles that has written papers on some of his work. I totally understand how exhausting people like me can be. Joe Bob really sort of tore into Argento and his fans throughout the feature, which makes it puzzling that he awarded Deep Red a full 4 stars. This is where I feel I need to diverge from our Drive-In scholar. I don’t feel Deep Red is that great, nor do I feel Joe Bob Briggs’ assessment of it felt entirely truthful. Part of his assessment, at least to me, felt as though it was the equivalent of sugar-coating the bitter pill. Perhaps giving the movie the full Drive-In tally is symbolic, recognizing influence and legacy, but giving him some room to be honest about how up-their-own-asses some Argento fans can be regarding the movie.

The bits poking fun at the scholarship surrounding the movie throughout the feature were equally hilarious and pointed. As someone who has been up-his-own-ass about Argento’s work I felt a slight sting, of course; pointed glances from my girlfriend didn’t help. But I also really recognized the truth there. Just as there are Argento’s acolytes who write endlessly about Deep Red, I am one whose tastes align more toward Suspiria. I also recognize that I am a bit crazy about Suspiria, so the ego check provided by Briggs was welcome.

However, I firmly believe that diegetic sound has its merits in the discussion of film and no amount of teasing from the redneck vampire is going to change that.

Largely nonsensical and aesthetically stunning, Deep Red is a tough review, especially paired with a movie like Brain Damage that is itself largely nonsensical and aesthetically stunning. What separates the two is that one has an actual, thought out story between cool moments, and the other is just cool moments.

I can really only give Deep Red 3 and 1/2 Cthulhus out of 5.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Best Line: “Great! Really, that’s good. Very good. Maybe a bit too good… Too clean. Yes, too precise. Too… formal. It should be more trashy. See what I mean? Remember that this sort of jazz came out of the brothels.” – Marcus, the pretentious bitch-boy.

Thanks, I hate it.

HMTL Drive-In Totals

Shudder provides us with a handy recap of the totals for the two movies of the night.

But, what about our totals for the week?

  • 2 weeks of NYC subway scenes
  • 2 dirty bathrooms
  • 7 instances of brain listed in the drive-in totals
  • 7-million instances of “brain” being used in describing Brain Damage
  • 11 seconds (when the pre-show countdown ended and then relaunched at this point)
  • Surprise Eye
  • Surprise Robot Doll
  • Truck-Dragging Fu
  • Brat Smacking Fu
  • Drywall Scrapping Fu
  • Gratuitous Blue, Green, and Red
  • Gratuitous Goblin
  • Dick Mangling Expertise (thanks Felissa!)
  • History Lecturing
  • Ear Popping
  • Big Band Prostelyzing
  • Scholar Bashing
  • Cum Tripping
  • Door Bouncing
  • Butcher Joking
  • Polish Joking
  • Yuki Sighting
  • Darcy Jailing
  • Darcy Cosplay: Dungeon Girl
  • Silver Bolo Award: Dead Meat
Darcy has the weirdest boner.

Episode Score

Any Drive-In night is a good night, and this was very much a great, standard showing of the show. Perhaps relatively subdued in comparison to the first two nights with the amount of stuff that was going on, but those are exceptions and not the norm.

Tonight’s pairing was very interesting and I’d love to know more about why these movies were paired the way they were. It wasn’t as outlandish as last week’s double-feature, but there is something about seeing these two movies together that seems to be making a statement.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Hey, see you next week during the double-feature, yes? Be sure to follow us on Twitter. I take it over on Friday nights during The Last Drive-In showing.

Movies n TV

Dahmer, Lionel

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Most true crime content includes a dramatic courtroom scene. Two dashing lawyers face off, defending their clients no matter how gruesome their crimes were.

While there was a courtroom scene, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. It’s something that, again, I don’t think I’ve seen before. 

Let’s discuss. 

As the title would suggest, most of this episode was from Lionel Dahmer’s point of view. And Lionel, it should go without saying, is not in a great place right now. His son, who he loves, is in a hell of a lot of trouble. And Lionel is doing his best to make this whole mess not his fault.

Richard Jenkins and Molly Ringwald in Dahmer.

The fault, as far as he’s concerned, lies with Joyce. It should be no surprise to anyone that Joyce doesn’t agree. She’s been doing her best to distance herself as much as possible from her oldest son and former husband as possible. 

This doesn’t work, as reporters find and hound her just the same. 

With Jeff in jail, an angry population doesn’t have anyone to turn their anger on, except Jeff’s family. And they are all getting harassed. Jeff’s grandma, suffering from dementia, is having her home raided by the police. People are coming forward, claiming to be Jeff’s friends from childhood. We know that’s a like, Jeff didn’t have any friends. Accusations are flying against Lionel, that he sexually abused Jeff when he was a little boy. 

All in all, it’s hard to not feel bad for the Dahmers. Yeah, they were bad parents. They made some pretty serious mistakes. But honestly, no more than lots of parents. And most people don’t go on cannibalistic murder sprees. 

Now, to the court scene. Honestly, this was so hard to watch. 

Dahmer’s attorney tried to convince him that he can plead insanity like Ed Gein. On the off chance you don’t know who Ed Gein is, he’s the notorious serial killer who inspired both Norman Bates and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He killed women who resembled his mother, cut them up, and did stuff to them. And yes, just like it says in this episode when he was caught he sold himself out for an apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese on top.

Gein spent the rest of his life in a mental ward, and Lionel would like to see the same for Jeff. It’s hard to argue with him.

But that argument fails. And before sentencing, the families of the victims are allowed to speak.

They have a lot to say. 

This is what I meant when I said the courtroom scenes were unusual. We saw non of the actual trial, it was hopped right over. This is normally a dramatic moment in true crime shows. Instead, we see the impact that these murders had. Dahmer’s actions destroyed his family. He destroyed the families of the people he killed. 

DAvid Barrera, Matthew Alan and Scott Michael Morgan in Dahmer.

There is so much collateral damage when a life is lost. And that, I think, is what this episode is truly about. The extensive, heartbreaking collateral damage of Jeff Dahmer. 

With Dahmer sentenced to fifteen life sentences, I’m honestly not sure how we still have two episodes to go. One I could understand, but two seems a bit much. I’m hoping that the creators have some additional chapters of the story that we haven’t yet explored. 

I guess we’ll have to see. 

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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“The Menu” Gives Us A Bloody Good Time

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Writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy have outdone themselves with the plot of “The Menu.” Spoilers ahead!

The Plot

Yes, chef!

Tyler and Margot are attending a high-class restaurant located on a remote island for the meal of a lifetime. This meal comes at a steep cost: thousands of dollars ($1,250 a plate to be exact) as well as possibly your life. Those who attend the dinner at Hawthorne are the type who frequently ask: “Do you know who I am?”

Chef Julian does not care who you are, and after years of serving the privileged elite, he has had enough. Julian commands his chefs and the room with a loud clap, his chefs answering him in tandem with a bone-chilling “yes, chef.” Ralph Fiennes as Julian gives a shiveringly scary performance. Julian commands the space as well as everyone in it and Ralph Fiennes is dastardly, dark, and daunting.

Chef Julian’s sidekick is creepy herself, doing his bidding just as the other chefs do. Female subservience is addressed through this side character as well as sous chef Catherine, who created one of the courses that is served to the guests.

This course is introduced by Catherine telling the story of how Chef Julian tried to have sexual relations with her. When she denied him, he refused to look at her in the eye anymore. Before Catherine serves her dish, she stabs Julian with scissors in the thigh, getting revenge for his behavior. Julian acts none the wiser, pulling the scissors from his thigh before serving the diners the hunk of meat with the same kind of scissors plunged into it.

Everyone obeys Chef Julian except for Margot. Women and men in the room accept that this is their last night alive, not protesting too hard or trying to escape. Margot is the only fighter. Perhaps this is why she escapes.

The Verdict

In a world where we have seen a rise in slasher films, The Menu lives in a place between darkly satirical horror and a slasher film.

The Menu is whip smart, remarking on our class system, displaying those who can afford a $1,250 a plate meal on a remote island against the thought of the character of Margot. Margot is revealed halfway through the film to have been a sex worker, hired by Tyler to attend the dinner. His girlfriend, the original intended guest, had broken up with him and Tyler knew that there was never a table for one at Hawthorne.

Tyler knew everyone would die at the meal, yet still involved Margot, an innocent bystander who turns out to be the only one that makes it out alive. Chef Julian does this as it is clear he believes Tyler tainted his final menu experience by not bringing the guest who RSVP’d.

Tyler gets what is coming to him in the end. He comments on each course in mostly negative ways and snaps photos (which was expressly forbidden). Chef Julian asks Tyler to make him a meal since he knows so much more than anyone about cuisine. When Tyler’s meal doesn’t live up to Chef’s expectations, he is killed.

Margot is juxtaposed with the famous and rich at the dinner who can afford such an experience while she is being paid to attend. The film remarks on the lavish actions of the rich in the movie versus those who may not know where their next meal will come from.

Final Thoughts

The food that the film shows is gorgeous and conceptual, Chef Julian giving backstory to each dish. The film is the darkest version of Hell’s Kitchen I’ve ever seen. As a foodie and a horror lover, this film touched on all my favorite genres. It was deep, had something to say, and screamed it at the top of its lungs.

I respect the filmmakers and writers of this movie as it was compelling, engrossing, and kept me guessing, all while remarking on important social themes.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Dahmer, Cassandra

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Episode seven of Netflix’s Dahmer brings the spotlight, finally, to the hero of our story. Glenda Cleveland. 

Glenda was Jeff’s neighbor. And honestly, I can’t think of a worse neighbor. A horrific stench is always coming from his apartment. He has people over, and they make a lot of noise. 

While they’re dying. 

Niecy Nash in Dahmer

If you’ll recall episode one of Dahmer ended with all of his neighbors, including Glenda, being forced to leave their homes. The whole building was declared a crime scene. They’re not given any place to go, of course. 

Everyone’s got a few thousand dollars socked away for an unexpected motel stay, right? 

Fortunately, Glenda was able to get a motel room. And that’s where she is when Reverend Jesse Jackson finds her. 

Glenda pours out her story to Reverend Jackson. The rest of the episode consists of her dark and troubling encounters with Dahmer. 

The most compelling scene, I think, is when Dahmer brings Glenda a sandwich. He’s being evicted, and he knows it’s because she’s been complaining about the smells coming out of his apartment. 

He tries to pour on his little boy charm. He tells her that he got his apartment cleaned, just for her. He brings her a pulled meat sandwich as a present. 

Notice I don’t say pulled pork, because I’m fairly sure it was human meat. Or, it was just drugged.

Or both. 

This episode just hummed with tension and rage. I was so happy to see Reverend Jackson tear into the police in the most polite way possible. I hated seeing what Glenda went through. And even though I know she lives through this horrific encounter, I held my breath the entire time she was alone with Jeff. 

Dahmer is certainly not afraid to jump back and forth between the past and present. But they are careful to never do it in such a way that I felt lost. And I honestly think this was the best way to do it. 

The reason for this is that it adds a level of suspense that Dahmer might have lacked without it. Suspense is something that true crime stories can lack. Especially well-known ones. We have heard this story before. We know how it ends. But in presenting the tale this way, first from one point of view and then another, it reveals sides of it that we may not have seen before. 

Glenda Cleveland, from the trial of Jeff Dahmer.

I loved seeing the story from Glenda’s point of view. She was brave, determined, and selfless. She had every right to be furious at the way the police dismissed her concerns for years. And yet she continued to handle everything professionally. She never stopped trying to help people, even when no one else seemed to care. And for that, she is a true hero. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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