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We’re past the halfway point for season two of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and I am already feeling sad. Let’s not dwell on what is coming to an end, however. We already have confirmation of a summer special, after all. For now, let’s dive into two movies that cannot be more different.

Tonight’s double feature consisted of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III (1990) and Jim Van Bebber’s Deadbeat at Dawn (1988). I was back to live-tweeting the double-feature for the night, so apologies now for any awful puns and jokes you see embedded into this review and recap.

The Exorcist III (1990)

Opening Rant: Toxic masculinity and a poorly thought out razor ad.

The sequel to the sequel to one of the most culturally important horror films of all time had a lot that could have gone wrong. What is amazing is that The Exorcist III is actually damn good despite the awful The Exorcist II: The Heretic. A lot of that is the result of the tenacity of the strange and passionate William Peter Blatty, author of the original Exorcist novel. That’s not to say that The Exorcist III is without flaws, however. The film has a number of issues, but ultimately these problems are not enough to derail what turns out to be a strange follow-up to the alarming possession of Regan MacNeil.

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The film is, foremost, a masterclass of acting. The acting here is so good that it sets George C. Scott opposite Brad Dourif and Scott is the one who comes off as subdued compared to Dourif. It is a very “talky” sort of film which seems unusual for a Drive-In feature, but it works. Most of the deaths occur off-screen, but it works. Like last season’s The Changeling, also featuring George C. Scott, The Last Drive-In makes room for something a little more measured and, I dare say, classier in its approach to horror. It is the film’s restraint in the visual excess of horror that allows what it does engage in to mostly succeed. Namely an amazing transition from Jason Miller to Brad Dourif via an editing trick and perhaps one of the finest jumpscares ever committed to film.

Yet, the film also has substantial problems. The murdering off of one key character sacrifices a fascinating homosocial relationship for cheap motivation. A strange dream sequence comes off as a budget Twin Peaks scene and is goofier than insightful. Lastly, a hasty attempt to include an exorcism into a story that didn’t need it ruins the ending to what was an overall creepily effective film.

So while The Exorcist III mostly does what is necessary of a good sequel, specifically for The Exorcist, too many issues mar it. As brilliant as some of Blatty’s choices were as the mind behind the film it is necessary to have a seasoned veteran to bounce off of when it comes to film.

Joe Bob’s assessment of the film is perfectly fine. Three stars is a fair score for the movie. He ultimately had a lot to say about it. There is a trend where the more mixed he is on a film the more in-depth Joe Bob’s analysis and discussion of the film usually come off. It makes sense because things we love sometimes are harder to discuss than things we can be critical of. The Exorcist III is just one of those films where it was a perfect storm of issues narratively and behind the camera while also navigating the legacy of the original film.

While the second feature of the night is definitely more fun and a better Drive-In movie overall, The Exorcist III provides viewers with the sort of material that drives them to watch the redneck horror host in the first place; an honest assessment of the film, both good and bad, with observations about the craft of film itself. It sounds dismissive to just say it is “typical Joe Bob,” but that is a good thing. This is a perfect example of the appeal of The Last Drive-In.

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I like The Exorcist III. I think people who claim to like it more than the original are probably being contrarians. It’s not a bad movie and it is probably the best sort of sequel to The Exorcist that a fan can ask for, but the fact remains that it is a deeply flawed film. Ultimately, I couldn’t rate it higher than three and a half Cthulhus. 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Best Line: “This I believe in… I believe in death. I believe in disease. I believe in injustice and inhumanity, torture and anger and hate… I believe in murder. I believe in pain. I believe in cruelty and infidelity. I believe in slime and stink and every crawling, putrid thing… every possible ugliness and corruption, you son of a bitch. I believe… in you.” – Kinderman to what is clearly Pazuzu.

Pictures taken seconds before disaster.

Deadbeat at Dawn (1988)

Opening Rant: Poop coffee.

I think I first saw Deadbeat at Dawn at the end of my junior-high years. I recall it was a shitty VHS bootleg and it came from a kid named Eli who was super into Insane Clown Posse and bootlegged VHS copies of the hentai Dragon Pink and Golden Boy for all of the weird kids at my junior-high which turned out to be a lot of us.

I mention this because this sounds sketchy and grimy and is sort of the perfect way to experience the sketchy and grimy film that is Deadbeat at Dawn. The film is juvenile and punk in a fundamental way of just not giving a shit and indulging in such bizarre anarchistic impulses on and off camera that it becomes this sort of outsider art. I say this with love: Deadbeat at Dawn is an absolutely insane 81 minutes that probably should never have been released.

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Deadbeat at Dawn is independent film-making at its most impulsive and punk. Cobbled together over four years by a director (Jim Van Bebber) who also plays the lead, the film was often shot without permits and resulted in a series of Jackass-style moments witnessed by unsuspecting people in the local community. It’s all dumb film students recording dumb, dangerous stuff and eventually managing to pull a movie out of it. Basically what every aspiring film-school student secretly desires to do.

It’s not a good movie but it is also a good movie. Deadbeat at Dawn is not well-written, the performances are amateur, and the story is just kind of non-existent. It features a sequence of the director/lead practicing his nunchucks and screaming in a Dayton, Ohio graveyard dealing with feelings about his budget-Satanist girlfriend. It’s an example of one of those films that know not to take itself too seriously and have fun with itself.

Yet, the film also is a gritty Kung Fu vengeance film, punctuated with moments of true despair with a simultaneously repulsive and sympathetic protagonist with one of the most insane last 20 minutes put to film. So much of this movie shouldn’t work but does. The film is just so grimy and textured. In another universe this would have been paired with Street Trash.

Joe Bob’s assessment of Deadbeat at Dawn is a full four stars punctuated by him saying “I loved it.” The film is pretty much perfect Drive-In fare and an example of something so beloved the conversation around it, while always insightful on the show, is also kind of dialed back. Perhaps this is in awe of the audacity of what Jim Van Bebber achieved. Regardless, several Sam Raimi references, including his own thoughts on the “punk action film” pop up in addition to referencing Joseph Campbell.

Perhaps the best part of all of this, however, is how Joe Bob Briggs highlights Van Bebber’s own philosophy: “Pain is temporary. Film is forever.” Our horror host points out just how crazy and punishing the assembly of this feature was. I know Joe Bob Briggs has written a lot of books, but I don’t know if he’s written one about Deadbeat at Dawn. If not, he should.

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What impressed me most about Deadbeat at Dawn is how well it holds up. I’ve seen it maybe twice since junior-high, but goddamn does it still hold up. As a punk music fan, I think one of my livetweet riffs summarize my feelings on this film pretty well.

Deadbeat at Dawn is totally worth four and a half Cthulhus. It’s too audacious not to be. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Best Line: “I hate people, man. I don’t care. I don’t give a shit. I don’t give a shit about nothin’. Man, all my life people have fucked with me. Don’t you fuck with me, man. I just fuckin’ hate people. I hate people and I don’t care. I just don’t fuckin’ care. I don’t care. I’m the baddest motherfucker you ever saw, man.” – Bone Crusher

Never let anyone tell you that your way of processing your feelings is invalid.

HMTL Drive-In Totals

So, here are the official totals, courtesy of Shudder. It was a good night.

As for our totals?

  • 4 Helicopters
  • $9-million in Reshoots
  • 20 Dense Minutes
  • 57 Weeks on the NYT’s Best Seller List
  • $10,000 Scholarship
  • Carp Monologing
  • Inexplicable Fabio
  • Spontaneous Dourif
  • Down n’ Dirty Catholicism
  • Awkward Crash Zoom
  • Joe Bob Confusing
  • Bible Versing
  • Actor Slapping
  • Hillbilly Joking
  • Graveyard Fighting
  • Graveyard Nunchucking
  • Raimi Referencing
  • Campbell Referencing
  • Snake Slapping
  • Dual Jocking
  • But Punching
  • South Carolina Joking
  • Ouija Fu
  • Creepy Confession Fu
  • New York The-ate-er Fu
  • Biblical Research Fu
  • Powerwalk Fu
  • Map Fu
  • Burp Fu
  • Sloppy Bar Pass Fu
  • Sommelier Fu
  • Car Fu
  • Poorly Dubbed Cat Fu
  • Darcy Cosplay: The Angel of Death
  • Silver Bolo Award: The Horror Movie Podcast
Pew pew.

Episode Score

Man, what a good night. These films could not be more different than one another. One is more literary and the other is more punk. It’s a strange combination that results in yet another great episode of The Last Drive-In. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

And remember, folks…

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The Drive-In will never die.

Movies n TV

House of the Dragon S2 E1: Episode 1 Review and Recap – Son of a Son of a Sailor

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Alright, buckle up, mofos! The dragons is back, and oh boy, do they mean business. With the premiere of House of the Dragons, our thirst for the high-flying, fire-breathing drama that we’ve been missing since Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings new new new series, the boys, and uhh…possibly your toilet after a ghostpepper whopper is finally being quenched (unlike your bottom after said whopper).

Lets dragon-dive headfirst back into the twisted, power-hungry realms of Westeros, where the names Targaryen, Stark, and the rest of the totally not hard to spell/remember names reign supreme.

Usually, I write these reviews on the fly (no pun!), but since KYRIE CANNOT MAKE ONE DAMN MORE ASSIST (not his fault, he tried the rest couldn’t shoot for crap after the passes)…errrmm…I mean, I think I was watching the game that I definitely did not lose a few grand on. ONE LOUSEY ASSIST! errmm….HoD…right.

Let’s drink to remember all that happened last season cuz..well…yeah….I mean, doesn’t HBO have two elf looking series set in middle earth at the same time? I honestly don’t know if this is the one with Dumbledore or Legolaissisis or the Bowtie Doctor or…. well, you get the picture.

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We’ll remember what we totally forgot from last year, break down the key plot points (because who can keep up?), dive into the nitty-gritty details of this episode’s events, and speculate wildly about where Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen are taking us this time around in House of the Dragon season 2. So, if you’re ready to relive the glory, the gore, and the downright gut-wrenching politics of it all, stick with me. We’re in for a wild ride.

Immediate Recap: Remember last year? Me neither

So in this one:

Oh man, if your memory of last season is as foggy as mine, don’t sweat it! Let’s dust off those cobwebs and dive into a quick recap before we get lost in the new shenanigans of “House of the Dragon” season 2.

Basically, a bunch of white kids had sex with their King Daddy and that King Daddy went to one of the womens he was NOT *I think* sleeping with and said I will make YOU the heir to the throne–as long as nothing happens to me between now and the moment I will make this public and then yeah, you guessed it.

Ned Stark 2.0

I guess reusing old story lines is a good way to start a new series?

Now that you’re caught up…Let’s move to this new Season of “Who dey sleep with now?”

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The Wall and Starks are even more boring in the olden days?

So, here we are again with the Starks and that big old icy Wall. Remember how we left off with Jacaerys Velaryon flying up to Winterfell to buddy up with Cregan Stark? Yeah, me neither. I guess the only person to really remember is the North. Cregan gave Jacaerys the whole ‘Winter is coming” spiel—classic Stark move, right? Maybe one will live beyond this season?

Who dis? Who dat? (Robot Rollcall of faces n names)

Alright, let’s roll call because Westeros’ lineup can be harder to keep track of than a Hanson/Lindsay Lohan convention.

Not gonna lie. I can’t tell these people apart. One dude wears a bowtie and the other is a pirate or something.

Key Plot Points and Themes in Episode 1

Narrative and Character Development

Oh, the drama unfolds! In the heart of Dragonstone, Rhaenyra Targaryen’s world is rocked not just by political upheaval but also personal tragedy. As she comforts her son Lucerys about his heritage (Okay, so Jim had to google this because he forgot the kid was a bastard…like, seriously, that’s how much of an impact the whole ‘who the daddy’ thing made on Jim). Then people try to get some sort of alliance going but –again– since we can’t tell one character from each other, no shits were given.

Remember the original GOT? How we had our FAVORITES and we would really go “fuck these people’ if one of our favs died? Some of us even had a ditching kill point (mine was Tyrion or Arya). We don’t have that here. Would I be upset if Matt Smith’s character dies? Probably, but only because there would be one less person I could remember (that and eye-patch guy).

Oh, and Smith’s character pays two people to kill someone and they, of course, don’t kill the right guy just some baby rando.

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In short, nobody cared about any of the characters dying in this episode.

Conclusion and Looking Forward

As we wrap up our recap and analysis of “House of the Dragon” S2 E1, we have a lot to look forward to. We can look forward to (hopefully) character development so shits are given who is on throne or not or dead or not or fucking someone or not. So far, that hasn’t happened. The reason falls squarely on the shoulders of how they did Season 1: So. Much. Time. Shifts. Hard to care about someone you keep quantum leaping through their life at random.

I do hope this season has more plot and character development. I want to like this series. I think I can like this series, but honestly–if you did a side-by-side of the hobbit series and this…I couldn’t tell you which char was from what universe, and that’s not a good thing for either franchise.

This episode gets a pure rating of ‘maybe next time’ 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Seriously, if you think Jim is kidding about the two franchises looking alike, well….did you notice that he used LotR screenshots instead of GoT for some of these images?

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Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, Phone Stalker

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We’ve reached the last episode of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams. And now that I’ve seen the entire season, I’d like to say something directly to John Carpenter if I may. Mr. Carpenter, I’m a big fan. Have been since I was a child. So I ask this with all due respect. Did you lose a bet? Do you owe people money? Is that why you did this? Because otherwise, I’m entirely confused.

The story

Our last episode tells the story of a woman named Beth Spierer. Her life is shattered when someone starts to call her and deliver horrific, violent messages.

These calls and texts get worse and worse. They often include pictures of her with scratches over her eyes or pictures of a dildo. The calls start coming to her work as well.

Beth tries to change her number, blocks calls and even goes to the police. But no matter what she does, she can’t escape the horrifying calls from the violent stalker.

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What worked

The acting in this episode was fairly good. At least when compared to most of this season. It isn’t good when compared to most other shows, but for this episode it was fantastic. All of the actors involved knew what they were doing. And they are not part of the criticism I’m going to levy in the next few paragraphs.

Julie Stevens as Beth in Suburban Screams.

What didn’t work

I can honestly say that this episode of Suburban Screams should not have been made. Full stop, this episode should have died before it breathed its first breath.

My reasons for saying this are twofold. The first is that the story just isn’t that interesting. Please understand, that I’m not being dismissive of Beth’s plight. What happened to her, and what continues to happen to her, is horrible. I have nothing but sympathy for her. But her story, while touching, isn’t unique. Lots of people are stalked, harassed, threatened. A content creator I follow had someone try to break into her house with a screwdriver. My husband had a stalker before we were dating. A friend of mine had to stay in a shelter for a while because she was being harassed. And I don’t know a single person, man woman, or nonbinary, who hasn’t gotten an unwanted genital pic on social media.

It’s like finding out someone you don’t know and have never heard of before has cancer. It’s sad, but it’s not news.

Again, this isn’t at all to say that I don’t care about care about what’s happening to Beth. I care about her, and her wellbeing. This is the second reason why this episode should never have been made.

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There is no doubt in my mind that if Beth’s stalker is still alive, they know about this episode. They probably have a Google notification set up for Beth’s name. And we just do not know how this stalker is going to respond. Maybe they’ll get off on it. Maybe it will enrage them and they’ll do something even worse to Beth. Maybe they’ll feel so much shame for this they’ll decide to take out themselves and Beth in one go.

There was no effort to hide Beth’s name. Or the names of her friends. There was no effort at all to protect her from whatever fallout there was from this.

This is not Beth’s fault. She has had to do enough to protect herself. This was irresponsible of the showrunners. And if God forbid, something happens to any of these people, the showrunners will have to bear some of the responsibility for that.

I liked it so much better when we were talking about wet ghosts and pizza box ouija boards.

Is it real?

This question for this episode is, unfortunately, a no-brainer. Yes, I believe that Beth Spierer was stalked and harassed by an unknown assailant. Yes, I further believe that when she went to the police the detective probably sexually harassed her.

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This is why we chose the bear.

In short, of course, this episode is real. I honestly wish it wasn’t.

All in all, this whole series was a huge disappointment. And threatening the wellbeing of a stalker survivor was just the last straw. I don’t know if another season is planned. But if it is, I doubt if I’ll be tuning in.

1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, Cursed Neighborhood

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Episode five of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was one of the best kind of horror stories. It is a dark, eerie tale of a mean house that is determined to destroy anyone who dares reside within it.

The story

Our story begins in 1682. A group of colonists are attempting to take over land that is very much not theirs. When the colonists are killed, they vow to curse the land.

Fast forward to modern times, and the land in question is a little suburban neighborhood. Carlette Norwood moves in with her husband, mother, and daughters. The house seems like a dream come true. Until, of course, their beautiful dream home becomes a nightmare. The curse of the colonists wrapped itself around the neck of each family member, turning them into people that they didn’t recognize. People who don’t exactly like each other.

What worked

While I wouldn’t say that the acting in this episode is flawless, it was several steps above what we’ve seen so far. Every actor seemed to understand their role and reacted in realistic ways. I was especially impressed by the young woman playing Angelique. She had the good sense to not overplay the role, giving each scene exactly the right amount of energy.

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Of course, there was one actress who way overplayed every scene. But rather than being terrible, it was terrific. And that was Chloe Zeitounian, who played the neighbor Stacy. Stacy the neighbor was creepy as shit. After an unnamed neighbor dies by suicide, Stacy shows up at Carlette’s house with a bottle of champagne, sipping coffee with a big old smile. Well, okay it probably wasn’t coffee.

Stacy was a fantastic character, and I hope there was a crazy neighbor just like her. I bet her house was haunted as hell, but she just decided that her ghost was like a stray dog that everyone else thinks is dangerous. She probably put a bejeweled collar on the colonist ghost and renamed him Kori spelled with an I on purpose.

Finally, I want to talk about the theme of ancestral curse and ancestral protections that this episode discussed.

Charles County was cursed by the colonists who took the land that rightfully belonged to the indigenous tribes. They took what their ancestors had given them, and left a curse in their wake.

At the end of the episode, Carlette talks about being protected by her ancestors. Ancestors that survived horrible things most of us can’t imagine. I am sure that their strength blessed Carlette, and helped her to save Angelique.

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What didn’t work

While this episode was certainly better than most of the season, it wasn’t perfect. The thing that most stood out to me as being frankly unneeded was the inclusion of maggots attacking Brian.

Paul A Maynard in Suburban Screams.

In multiple scenes, during which Carlette is narrating, Brian has maggots coming out of open wounds. Never once does Carlette mention a maggot issue.

It feels like there is a clear reason why the creators did this. This story doesn’t have a lot of blood, gore, or jump scares. And a core goal of horror content is to cause a reaction.

Stephen King has a great quote about this goal. “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

The inclusion of maggots in this story admits that someone involved didn’t think the story was terrorizing or horrifying enough. But it was. The story was freaky all on its own without the inclusion of our wriggling friends.

Is it true?

This might be an unpopular opinion, but aside from the completely unnecessary maggots infesting Brian, I think this episode is the most honest and accurate one so far.

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The thing about hauntings is that they’re seldom what we see in the movies. Haunted houses don’t have glass vases flying off shelves and wallpaper peeling to reveal 666 painted in blood over arcane symbols. Haunted houses dig into the minds of those who live there, causing bad luck and bad vibes. And that’s exactly what happened here. There are no massive explosions. No spirits throwing people downstairs or demonic dogs chasing children from the attic. This house dug into the hearts and minds of a loving family, ripping them apart.

So yes, I do think this episode is likely true.

The further we get into Suburban Screams, the more I enjoy it. This episode was eerie, upsetting, and riveting. I hope that Carlette and her daughters are healing from this horrific journey. And I’m thankful to them for sharing their story. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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