Haha, what the Hell, folks. What just happened? Please let us know you’re okay and not turning into sentient industrial junkyard.
Oh, and welcome to Notes from The Last Drive-In.
Opening Rant: Evading taxes with creative accounting.
Tonight was not my first experience with Joe Lynch’s Mayhem. One of my first reviews on the site way back last year was for the Shudder exclusive, a review, coincidentally, written on my birthday. I was particularly effusive with my praise of the film, and I had maybe seen it one other time since. Does it still hold up?
Hell yes it does.
Mayhem is a very fun, energetic film with a simple plot but is still incredibly satisfying. The pairing of Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving is one I am eager to see again and it’d be great if they were reunited with Joe Lynch, who has a fun little cameo as an IT guy. It’s not a deep film, and it is not my favorite “tower” film out there, but it is one that I can probably watch at least a couple of times a month. It just clicks. It has a great score, it has some fun fights, just enough gore, and just about every character delivers something cool, shocking, or repulsively capitalistic.
Joe Bob’s assessment was fair. He gave the film three stars and his criticisms, the legitimate ones at least, make sense. As bold and assertive as the film is at times, it also feels equally reticent to really dig into violence. Sure, there is on-camera sex (apparently the Serbian extras just went for it, hard) and plenty of blood, but the lack of kill shots for major characters feels lacking. It is sometimes said that the mind makes horrors greater than any filmed moment, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case here. Significant deaths seem to happen off-screen and any violence displayed stops just short of the actual moment of death.
It’s a strange thing to talk about, particularly given what is going on in the world (talk about a timely movie for this season, too). A film like Mayhem is in many ways a form of catharsis. It is violent, stylish, and scratches an itch for a desire to just wreck stuff, but the reluctance to go further feels like a misstep.
Most of the criticism lobbed at the film was tongue-in-cheek. Joe Lynch is a big fan of The Last Drive-In and often live-tweets his reaction to the episodes. The back and forth between the screen and twitter accounts was truly hilarious and the show could benefit from having him on as a guest in the future.
As for my own assessment, I still very much enjoy Mayhem and it’s worth many, many re-watches. Sure, I wish it were a little bloodthirstier, but I cannot fault the film too greatly for it. After all, though it was filmed in Serbia we certainly don’t need another Serbian Film. Mayhem is a four and a half Cthulhu film.(4.5 / 5)
Best Line: “No, Derek. This – this – this meditation & this incense, it’s all bullshit. You think I like the taste of kale? Come on! I’m fucking dead inside.” – Ewan
Testuo: The Iron Man (1989)
Opening Rant: Cyberpunk and whatever the hell Tetsuo is.
What the actual Hell? If The Last Drive-In wanted to open Pride month with a weird, oddball film, well, they absolutely nailed it. And then shoved those nails deep into the thighs of viewers all over the internet.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man might be the cultiest of the cult films that has ever aired on the show. Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s film, at least the aired cut, is just over an hour in length but may still be a bit much for the average viewer. The best way to describe the film is that it is like cyberpunk exploration of sexuality, technology, and the guilt/pain of coming out, particularly when the coming out is motivated by trauma. I think I have a handle on the film, but I can’t really be sure. I don’t know if I can be sure of anything anymore.
I hesitate to call it a “film” in the sense that we are used to as viewers of The Last Drive-In. That is not an indictment of the quality, Testuo is well shot, edited, and is absolutely striking, but more an observation that the material skews a bit too arthouse in my opinion. It’s like an extended art project. Yes, a narrative is there, a character grows, and you get some sense of closure, but so much of what surrounds that seems to be experiments in visual and audio to the detriment of compelling storytelling.
I am glad to have finally really watched Tetsuo beyond clips at goth clubs but I don’t know if I really feel it is something I feel compelled to explore further unless I am perhaps under some form of chemical stimulation.
Joe Bob’s assessment of the film is particularly hilarious. You can tell he admires the artistry that had gone into it, and his own knowledge of the punk scene of the 1980s endears him to me even further. But perhaps the oddity of Testuo is best summarized at the moment where Joe Bob Briggs waffles between one star and four stars several times, essentially hedging his bets and telling his audience that even he knows that this is a weird one.
It was a weird, hilarious watch with the MutantFam and even resulted in a guest appearance from mangled-dick expert Felissa Rose. The Last Drive-In has had a few oddball films during its run. It just seems very striking they all seem to come from Japan.
While I can’t say that I am in love with Tetsuo: The Iron Man, I can say I am glad I experienced it. I may even experience it again sometime, but I’ll probably be on something when I do. Given that, I don’t think I can go higher than two Cthulhus for the film, a cyberpunk-pillar that it may be.(2 / 5)
Best Line: “Together, we can turn this fucking world to rust!” – Metal Fetishist
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
As per usual, the Drive-In totals for a Japanese film are suitably bonkers. But extra credit to Mayhem for “Dead Body Pissing.”
What about our totals? A little lacking this week, admittedly. I was too taken in by the madness that was Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
- 1 Darcy Jailing
- 2 Level Cards
- 2 Very Enthused Extras
- Elevator Antics
- Basement Bash
- 2×4 Fu
- Yuki Fu
- Tunnel Running Fu
- Black and White Fu
- Director Cameo Fu
- Drilldo Fu
- Exploding Acne
- Office Aardvarking
- Mouth Macing
- Cocaine-Fueled Club Swinging
- Joe Bob Stumping
- Director Insulting
- Divorced Barbie Joking
- Alaskan Whorehouse Joking
- Gratuitous Ernie Parody
- Gratuitous Flashback
- Darcy Cosplay: Melanie
- Silver Bolo Winner: Witch Finger Podcast
A general crowd favorite film paired with such an oddball Japanese choice is probably going to be a bit divisive overall. It also was the shortest episode of The Last Drive-In yet, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Testuo was rough.(4 / 5)
Please join us next time when we live-tweet The Last Drive-In. It’s always a blast and we’ve had more of our writers pop in with each episode so you don’t have to put up with me alone.