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 / 5)
Best Line: “Yeah, but when it comes to blood in my underwear, I want to know how it got there.” – Brian to Aylmer
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 / 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.
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
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 / 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.