It was an evening of chills, spills, and colonial ills for the sixth episode of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. What a night. We had two divisive features: Dead Heat and Cannibal Holocaust. I think we can all agree that maybe there was a little too much Piscopo. That and filmed animal deaths are pretty terrible.
So, lets dive in, shall we?
Dead Heat (1988)
Opening Rant: Can one loiter in a Starbucks?
We all know how this goes, two cops are investigating a conspiracy, one cop dies in the line for fire, and then is revived as a zombie to continue his work with his smart-aleck partner. Welcome to Dead Heat: It’s like Lethal Weapon meets My Boyfriend’s Back. The first movie tonight was kind of a light, airy aperitif to Cannibal Holocaust‘s main course. Dead Heat was goofy, overproduced, but still pretty fun.
The movie is an interesting product of late 1980s Hollywood trying to ape the spirit of the kind of trash coming from low-budget indie projects. The elements are all there but not handled appropriately. The film feels like a Troma release with too much money and lazy execution. There is stuff in this movie to love, though, and even a more scaled-down one or two films buried in this overly-plotted mess of the movie.
It’s strange that what should be a momentous occasion, the presence of Darren McGavin and Vincent Price in the same movie, does not really wow as it should. That’s kind of the movie as a whole: it should be way better than it is. Less time spent on Joe Piscopo one-liners and an amusing but ultimately pointless reanimated Chinese butcher shop inventory and Dead Heat could have been really good.
That being said, Treat Williams hurling himself off a motorcycle through a glass door, guns-blazing was certainly worth the watch. The film is fun, but that is about it.
Joe Bob’s assessment of Dead Heat is pretty middle of the road for a film on The Last Drive-In, coming in at two and a half stars. Of course, our host had a lot to say about the film and a lot of it was interesting, but it also felt like Joe Bob just wasn’t feeling it. This might be the most ambivalent he has ever been on a movie since his debut on Shudder. Perhaps it is a recognition of squandered potential in concept and execution?
Then again, Dead Heat was definitely not the draw for the evening. Cannibal Holocaust stole the show even before the episode aired.
Dead Heat could have been a better movie. I can only give it two and a half Cthulhus out of five. If the film hadn’t been as crazy as it ended up by the end I would have rated it lower. (2.5 / 5)
Best Line: “God wants us to live forever. And even if he doesn’t, you could always buy him off.” – Loudermilk
Opening Rant: Vegan Meat
The buzz around this week was already huge in the MutantFam as this was the rare time that Joe Bob revealed a movie early on. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is a lightning rod of controversy and emotions in the horror community. I won’t say it is a “love it or hate it” film as my own feelings are fairly ambivalent, but it is most assuredly polarizing.
So, the thing about Cannibal Holocaust is, in my estimation, that any weight we attach to the film in the form of messages is in spite of director Ruggero Deodato’s efforts. The film is an exploitation piece, through and through, and it’s pretty good at that. It is a cannibal mondo and delivers some pretty gruesome stuff. Yet, the anti-colonial reading of the film is definitely more attributable to critics and viewers. Deodato has said a lot about the film since and has said the “right” things about intent, but the production of the film feels otherwise. I won’t relay the long, convoluted history of Cannibal Holocaust, but others have.
The film is largely ham-handed in messaging. Violence is swift, exploitative, and animal cruelty is a real issue. Joe Bob did verify that the animals slaughtered on camera were used to feed local indigenous actors, which doesn’t quite make it acceptable by any means but eases the sting of it a bit. Yet there are moments of brilliance.
The score is one of the haunting and iconic audio accompaniments to grotesque violence and exploitation shown on the screen. The score is downright beautiful and the juxtaposition of a romantic melody set against the slaughter of human beings works incredibly well in promoting unease in the whole on-screen enterprise.
This paragraph will have spoilers, so please skip it if you intend to watch the movie. I do not want to ruin two particular scenes. With that out of the way, it feels strange to say, but the best moment of the film could go to two scenes: In the first, the manipulative filmmakers burn down a hut full of trapped indigenous people and in the aftermath, the lead producer and his co-producer have sex near the smoking ruins in a scene of excess cruelty. So much interpretive work can be done based around this scene. It’s masterfully executed in establishing the Green Inferno-crew as the” real cannibals,” a sentiment delivered at the end of the film. The second scene is equally cruel: the three men of the camera crew rape and indigenous woman and the sole woman member of the crew protests, not about the rape, but the waste of film; after all, they can’t show this to the public.
These scenes of cruelty are intended as set up for why the events of the film play out, but they come off as so much more because of the cultural cachet of the film. Cannibal Holocaust is just one of those movies that carries a certain weight. Few people would straight up say itis their all-time favorite among certain company, though it certainly is an all-time favorite for some.
The problem is that, ultimately, Cannibal Holocaust just isn’t that good as a movie. It’s not exactly “fun,” though fun is not necessarily the be-all measure of quality. It’s not exactly deep, either, as it is a blunt metaphor that was sharpened by viewers after the fact. Most of the horror of the film stems from animal slaughter and barring a couple of moments, most of the gore is passable at best. The film’s most iconic shock is often displayed right on the cover of the DVD or on the theatrical poster. The film offers little besides novelty and is an interesting footnote in the debate of films and obscenity.
Yet, I firmly believe that any serious advocate for film should see this film. It is a strange contrast I must deal with; it’s not good, but it is also something to be seen.
Joe Bob’s assessment of the film, to me, seemed a bit mixed. There was a fair and justified amount of criticism regarding elements of the film, but what was interesting was the way he had handled the aspect of animal cruelty. Yes, animals were harmed in the making of the film and committed to celluloid, but those animals were also used as food. It’s an ugly bit of filmmaking but it is also something that has been overblown, to a degree.
The majority of the criticism revolved around the direction, and I definitely found myself in agreement in that regard. In my own estimation, Ruggero Deodato is an inconsistent center to such a touchstone in the horror community, and his on-set choices and antics are equally as problematic as the animal abuse. I cracked this joke during the live-tweet, but I think it summed up my feelings pretty succinctly.
Joe Bob has talked at length about the (hard “I”) Italian film industry of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It was nuts. Imagine how crazy a person is to be considered too crazy for the Italian film industry.
The real highlight of the evening, however, was the sense of care for viewers that the crew of The Last Drive-In places into their show. The disclaimers were frequent, one at the end of the break between films, Shudder’s own disclaimer, the film’s disclaimer, the social media disclaimers in the lead up to the film, and Darcy’s own trigger-warning tweets as the film aired. It reflects well on Joe Bob Briggs and those with whom he has surrounded himself in this stage of his career.
Given the film, it is ironic that I can use the word heartwarming to describe the night as beyond the many warnings meant to protect those who may be unable to handle the content of the film there was something new. Something fans have wanted for a while: Host segments with timestamps, detached from the film. More are on the way for previous movies that have long slipped the grasp of Shudder, but rolling them out starting with Cannibal Holocaust is incredibly fitting. The ongoing BBQ gag throughout the host segments in the latter half of the night was incredibly cute as well.
Ultimately, Joe Bob’s score for Cannibal Holocaust is a reflection of polarization. It’s either four stars or one star. It just depends on how you approach it. As for me, the film scores three Cthulhus. It’s important but it’s not necessarily good. (3 / 5)
Best Line: “Ah, yes, that’s typical Western thought. Civilized, isn’t it? That’s what Alan thought and that’s why he’s dead. The Yacumo Indian is a primitive, and he has to be respected as such. You know, did you ever think of the Yacumo point of view, that we might be the ones who are savages?” – Monroe
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
As always, Shudder shares those wonderful recaps. Cannibal Holocaust‘s are, as expected, pretty wild.
As for the Haunted MTL tally?
- 2 Bolos
- 2 Ineffectual Zombie Gimp Robbers
- 2 Dead Monkeys
- 3 Tribes
- 3 BBQ Styles
- 6 Yuki Sightings
- 700 Cop Cliches
- Trailer Opening
- Twin Peaks Connecting
- Darcy Jailing
- Lincoln/Kennedy Joking
- Nun Joking
- Woman Melting
- Tactical Vincent Price
- Mangled Dick Expert Felissa Rose
- Course-Correcting Gunfights
- Gratuitous One-Liners from Joe Piscopo
- Gratuitous Character Actors
- Disclaimer Fu
- Lipstick Fu
- Deli Fu
- Launching Off Motorcycle Fu
- Silver Bolo Award Winner: The Homicidal Homemaker
- Darcy Cosplay: The Turtle’s Revenge
While the energy felt a little lacking surrounding Dead Heat, the crew more than made up for it with the shenanigans surrounding the airing of Cannibal Holocaust. Had the discussion and host segments not delivered I very likely could have dipped below a four here. (4 / 5)
As always, join us for live-tweets for the remainder of the season.
Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule
Mutant family, please gather ’round as February kicks rocks and we shove our way into March. With the new month comes the shifting from winter to spring as death beautifully resurrects back to life, drunken patrons swarm our local bars like rabid locusts for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and of course new exclusives and returning favorites on Shudder to satisfy the horror fiend in us all. To quote the prestigious Samuel L. Jackson, “hold onto your butts” and let’s dive right into Shudder’s March 2023 release schedule.
While it is true that the release schedule for the start of 2023 on Shudder has been minor and slightly mixed, with films such as the much talked about experimental low-budget indie ‘Skinamarink‘, the surprisingly entertaining horror comedy ‘Sorry About the Demon‘, and writer/director Neil Marshall’s return to the genre with ‘The Lair‘. We also graciously received the wildly fun ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine” special, with season 5 currently in production and premiering later this year; though it can’t come soon enough. As we like to do here at HauntedMTL, let’s kick off March with Shudder’s newest exclusives currently streaming now and in the coming weeks.
Spoonful of Sugar – Now Streaming
Starting off this list we begin with director Mercedes Bryce Morgan and writer Leah Saint Marie’s latest film ‘Spoonful of Sugar‘, now currently streaming.
Millicent (Morgan Saylor), a disturbed college student working on her thesis about children with severe allergies, is hired to babysit little Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a sickly, mute child who suffers from every allergy under the sun. His mother Rebecca (Kate Foster) is an accomplished author currently focused on her newest book release, while his father Jacob (Myko Olivier) spends his days in the backyard working on frivolous carpentry projects. After experiencing a bizarre sexual awakening while using LSD as an alternative treatment for Johnny, she soon uncovers the family’s dark secrets as things begin to become unhinged.
Leave – Premiering Friday 3/17
After having been abandoned as an infant at a cemetery wrapped in a cloth with satanic symbols, Hunter White (Alicia von Rittberg) grows obsessed with figuring out who her biological parents are and why they seemingly abandoned her. However, as she gets closer to the answers she so desperately seeks, a malevolent spirit is warning her to leave.
‘Leave‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/17 and is directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad, starring Alicia von Rittberg, Herman Tømmeraas, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, and Stig R. Amda
The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31
‘The Unheard‘ follows the story of deaf 20-year-old Chloe Grayden (Lachlan Watson) after she undergoes an experimental treatment to restore her hearing. While recovering at her family’s beach home after the successful procedure, Chloe begins to fear she is not alone as she begins to experience auditory hallucinations related to the mysterious disappearance of her mother.
‘The Unheard’ is directed by Shudder alumni Jeffrey A. Brown (The Beach House) and written by brothers/screenwriting partners Shawn Rasmussen and Michael Rasmussen (Crawl), co-starring Michele Hicks and Nick Sandow. ‘The Unheard‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/31.
Returning Classic and Fan Favorites
Now that we’ve removed the veil for the new exclusive titles dropping this month, I think it’s time we reveal the returning classics jump starting our transition into spring for 2023. Allow me to highlight some of my favorite films returning to Shudder for March including ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ and ‘The Company of Wolves‘; grim re-telling’s of popular children’s fairy tales. We also cannot forget John Carpenter’s haunted coastal horror ‘The Fog‘; no, not the remake…thankfully.
Gretel and Hansel – Now Streaming
Directed by Osgood Perkins, ‘Gretel and Hansel’ is a terrifyingly dark and unique vision to one of history’s most famous childhood fairy tales. After being thrown out of their mother’s home, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her younger brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey), through the woods in search of food and work. The children soon discover a quaint cottage where a fragile old woman Holda (Alice Krige) offers fresh food and bed. The children accept all Holda has to offer, with little thought as to what may be asked of them in return.
Though it has been met with mixed reviews, ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ offers astounding performances by veteran actress Alice Krige as the films iconic Witch of the woods and Sophia Lillis as lead Gretel. Director Osgood Perkins does well to draw his viewer in with a beautifully haunting score and unnerving cinematography, making this one grim re-telling worth checking out at least once. ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ is available to stream now.
The Company of Wolves – Now Streaming
Continuing our list of returning classics, we have yet another bold re-telling of a beloved children’s fairy tale, 1984’s ‘The Company of Wolves‘. While the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood‘ has been retold through various forms of media, including numerous films, ‘The Company of Wolves‘ is a beloved horror interpretation with adult themes and memorable practical effects including one of the genres best werewolf transformations.
A wise grandmother (Angela Lansbury) tells her granddaughter Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) a disturbing tale of innocent maidens falling in love with handsome strangers … and of their sudden mysterious disappearances when the moon is full and accompanied by the strange sound of a beast in the woods.
‘The Company of Wolves’ is co-written and directed by Neil Jordan and stars Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Micha Bergese, and David Warner, streaming now.
John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31
Writer, director, musician, and horror master John Carpenter is a legend in the genre having provided countless classics such as ‘The Thing‘, a terrifyingly gruesome remake of ‘The Thing from Another World‘. Or his sci-fi action/horror ‘They Live’ where he deals with societal control through corporations and government. And of course, my personal favorite, the film that jumpstarted his career and created one of horror’s most iconic slashers…’Halloween‘.
1980’s ‘The Fog‘ is a terrifying shoreside tale of vengeful spirits haunting the fictional coastal town of Antonio Bay, OR. as they begin preparations to celebrate its centenary. Following exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in the town’s waters, a thick unearthly fog harboring the souls of those who perished rolls in and with them, the dark secrets of Antonio Bay’s past.
John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ stars scream queen and recent Academy Award winner Jamie Lee Curtis, genre alums Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, and Nancy Kyes, and was co-written by the late Debra Hill. ‘The Fog‘ will be available to stream on Shudder 03/31.
Full Shudder March 2023 Film Releases
For a full comprehensive list of all the titles being added to Shudder for the month of January, please refer to the graphic below. Please be on the lookout for our review of ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine’ to drop later this week here on HauntedMTL and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more Shudder news and spooky reviews!
Gretel and Hansel
Spoonful of Sugar
The Company of Wolves
Jack be Nimble
The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Movies n TV
She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel
So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…
I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.
Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.
It’s a guilty pleasure.
The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.
Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.
Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.
Movies n TV
Beware The Slenderman Documentary
The Slenderman is a well-known character for both gamers and Creepypasta fans alike. Most of us have seen pictures of him. Eerie photos of an incredibly slim, tall man with a white face and three-piece suit. He stalks children at parks, taking them away forever.
It’s a great scary story, a modern urban legend. And I’d like to think that most of us know that it is only that.
Unfortunately in 2014, the story became too real for three twelve-year-old girls. Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser attempted to murder their friend, Payton Leutner. The three girls went into the woods, and Payton was stabbed nineteen times.
Miraculously, she survived.
Today, I want to talk about the most comprehensive documentary I have seen to date regarding this tragedy. We’re taking a look at Beware The Slenderman.
Released in March of 2016 by HBO, this documentary was actually released before the end of the trial. Despite that, it was incredibly informative.
The two-hour-long documentary can be broken into two basic topics. The first, of course, is the attack on Peyton Leutner and the subsequent trial. The next topic is the one I was more interested in if we’re being honest. Slenderman is a modern-day urban legend. Why did his story have the power to drive two children to kill?
Let’s talk first about the coverage of the criminal trial against Anissa and Morgan. Now, I’m going to tell you something that surprised me. This documentary was released in 2016. The criminal trial was not over until 2017. Seems to me that it would have been better to delay the documentary until the trial was, you know, over. But hey, what do I know? Instead, our climactic ending revolves around one serious question. Would Alissa and Morgan be tried as adults or children?
We saw a lot of interviews with the parents of the two girls. They talked a lot about how seemingly normal they were. About how they were often the target of bullying, and how they only had a few close friends.
This was a very sad, yet touching view of families that are struggling with an impossible situation. How do you love and support your child after they’ve done something so terrible?
I will warn you that this portion did involve police interviews with the girls. It’s not as upsetting as hearing babies crying while they died like in Transmissions from Jonestown. But it’s still not a warm and fuzzy experience.
I appreciated the view of the families. It’s a point of view we don’t see as much. Part of me would have liked to see the family of Payton Leutner involved more. I’d have loved to know what they think of all of this. But it appears that they either didn’t want to participate in the documentary or weren’t asked in the first place. And honestly, I think that might be for the best. Even though Payton survived, she was brutally attacked by her two best friends. She and her family deserve to live their lives in peace.
What I was fascinated by was the story of Slenderman as a modern urban legend. What was it about this character that these children latched onto?
In this documentary, he’s compared to the Pied Piper in the way he lured children away from their families. This included a warped and frankly terrifying retelling of the Pied Piper with some of the creepiest animation I have ever seen. I loved it.
Slenderman is a perfect character for this sort of infatuation, unfortunately, because there are just not a lot of specifics in his story. He pops up in video games and online tales with any number of motivations. Is he abducting children to torture and kill them? Or is he rescuing them from their cruel peers who ostracize them? His vague back story and vague appearance mean we can look at him and see whatever we want to see. If you want to see a killer, that’s what you’ll see. If you want to see a friend who happens to kill other people sometimes, you can see that too.
Overall, this was a fascinating documentary. It managed to handle a sensitive situation tastefully. No one is made out to be a bad guy here because in the end no one really is a bad guy. I mean, except Slenderman.
This story is a stark reminder that stories have power. They have the power to heal us, inspire us, to change our lives. And if we aren’t very careful, they have the power to destroy our lives as well.
Stay safe, and don’t take things too seriously out there.
(4 / 5)