This might be the best night in the history of The Last Drive-In, especially in a season that has largely been nothing but highs. We not only get an excellent anthology in Scare Package but we get the infamous, the legendary, Hogzilla. A night so full of Joe Bob he was also in the damn movies!
Scare Package (2019)
Opening Rant: Graceland!
How the hell do I review an anthology given the current format of Notes from The Last Drive-In? One segment at a time, apparently. Scare Package is a hilarious horror-comedy anthology comprised of seven films that tackle different horror genres and have their own unique style. As a whole, the anthology is largely excellent and worth a rewatch. At an individual level, however, some of the segments are stronger than others.
I say seven films, as that is how Scare Package was marketed, but that is slightly misleading as the cold open and framing decide end up also coming together into a third, distinct narrative. As such, we technically have eight narratives, not counting the overall package itself, the anthology. Between the first half of the night and the last half, then, I need to review 10 things.
You’re killing me, Joe Bob. So, I guess we dive in then?
“Cold Open” / “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium”
“Cold Open” is a fun little way to start the anthology, presenting a suitably meta riff on horror tropes and displaying a goofy and endearing earnestness. Jon Michael Simpson’s Mike Myers and his simple desire to have a bigger part than a bit player make for a nice, quick narrative that also features some decent horror references. Mike’s story segues nicely into the framing narrative, “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium.”
“Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium” is not really much in the way of a story as it is more written into small sketches that move viewers between segments. With that being said, the framing device really works. It’s a fun video store with a goofy owner, a new guy, and a frequent customer. Each framing segment features plenty of gags for horror fans. Jeremy King’s Chad Buckley is the clear focus of these moments and his broad, obsessive characterization works quite well, particularly with the later payoff of the final segment.
Joe Bob’s assessment of these two segments was glowing, at four stars. While I think “Cold Open” was more entertaining, “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium” is no comedy slouch either. Staying in line with Joe Bob’s scoring, I’d put the two of them together at four and a half Cthulhus.(4.5 / 5)
“One Time in the Woods”
A few of these segments are more like sketches than real narratives. But that is a given with anthologies, especially with an anthology so absolutely stacked full of stories. Granted that this is no The ABCs of Death, but there are still a lot of segments, here. “One Time in the Woods” is a wacky and I dare say Pythonesque bit. I reminded me of the classic “Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Salad Days'”sketch from Flying Circus.
Joe Bob gave “One Time in the Woods” four stars and as a sketch I completely agree. It’s hilarious, gory, and I was laughing so much I had to stop taking notes. I give it five Cthulhus.(5 / 5)
“M.I.S.T.E.R.” is an interesting idea that feels a little too scattershot and undercooked. It features some very familiar faces (Noah Segan and Jon Gabrus) and a hilarious segment of werewolf slaughter, but the logic of the story is a little weak and it feels strung together as a whole. The connection between predatory werewolves and Men’s Rights Advocacy makes a lot of metaphorical sense and is worth exploring. It just does not necessarily work here.
Joe Bob gave “M.I.S.T.E.R.” two and a half stars. That seems about right. I give “M.I.S.T.E.R.” three Cthulhus.(3 / 5)
“Girls Night Out of Body”
“Girls Night Out of Body” was not the strongest of the narratives but it was more developed than a few of the other segments. Where “Girls Night Out of Body” succeeds is in style. This was the most gorgeously shot and arranged of the segments with bold color choices reminiscent of Giallo. The lack of a strong narrative here works against it but as an anthology segment it still ends up being fun. It presents some cool visuals and has a fun, if not particularly deep, story. It works well enough for its runtime.
Joe Bob gave it about two stars. I feel like he was a bit stingy here. I was more enthused by it, giving it three and a half Cthulhus. I’ll be first in line when they expand it into a full movie.(3.5 / 5)
“The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill”
Another segment that feels more like a sketch than a story, but it is absolutely hilarious. For my money, it might tie with “One Time in the Woods” for the funniest segment of the anthology. This segment is presented as being part of the ending to a longer film. We catch the finale of the slasher where the protagonists have captured the clown-killer and try to dispose of him in hilarious and graphic ways. This segment might be the tropiest of the bunch.
Joe Bob gave this one four stars. He likes the messy ones, apparently. I give this one four Cthulhus.(4 / 5)
“So Much To Do”
MST3K-alumn Baron Vaughn’s “So Much to Do” is a cute little segment. It’s pretty cheesy down to stock 1980s title cards on the TV, and it’s definitely more on the skit-side of the anthology spectrum. The fight is fun and the crosscutting between the living room and the tv-show makes for some frantic editing here and there. The story makes little sense, but beyond that it’s still pretty neat.
Joe Bob only gave it two stars. I am a bit more generous, particularly because I am a fan of Vaughn and I am allowed to play by my own rules. I give it three Cthulhus.(3 / 5)
The largest and most developed segment of the anthology ends up being the strongest one, narratively speaking. It also features one of the best Last Drive-In twists… at least until Hogzilla later that night. This segment builds on “Cold Open” and “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium” taking the Chad character and putting him into his own little meta-horror film. All of the gags built around researching horror and the lampshade-hanging present are worth a laugh. I put it pretty succinctly in a tweet during the marathon.
The film predates the Joe Bob Briggs’ resurgence via Shudder a bit so it is fantastic to see a movie that thinks so highly of him that they brought him in. Joe Bob plays himself here and it is every bit as funny as you’d expect. The segment also features Goldust himself, Dustin Rhodes, as the tragic serial killer.
Joe Bob had some fun stuff to say about the movie, but considering each break was the presentation of more and more Drive-In Totals this is probably one of the lesser nights for the level of film insight we are used to. But you know what? That’s okay. It was a stacked night. Scare Package didn’t get an overall rating, but “Horror Hypothesis” did at four stars. so I have no stars to report beyond the individual segments. As for me, I give Scare Package four and a half Cthulhus.(4 / 5)
Best Line: No line needed when we have this absolute gem of a Tweet.
Opening Rant: Joe Bob can’t even right now.
Hogzilla is one of those monkey paw sorts of movies. It obtained an almost mythical status among viewers. The MutantFam hyped the film up to a huge degree because it starred Joe Bob Briggs and was considered a lost film that never really saw release. A film so neglected it took Diana Prince, our very own Mail Girl, to engage in tracking it down and getting a re-edit of the film prepared to be shown on Shudder.
The problem is, Hogzilla isn’t very good at all. It’s more of a curiosity than a movie. I mean, just read this synopsis according to IMDB.
A tabloid news crew ventures into the backwoods of Central Florida to investigate reports of an aggressive feral hog who the locals call Hogzilla. What they find, though, are demons, devils, creeping things and pure evil.Hogzilla synopsis courtesy of IMDB
This is not the movie we saw during The Last Drive-In. The above sounds vaguely structured and at least conceptually weak but still somewhat sound. It’s hard to really view Hogzilla as a movie at all. It’s some sort of tulpa of Drive-In wackiness we have collectively willed into existence.
And yet it made for a memorable and delightful evening.
The movie teases an showdown with a giant, feral hog and never really delivers a satisfying glimpse of the beast. Budget and technical issues prevent than and most of the hog-murder-action comes in the form of offscreen antics and POV shots from the porcine killer. It’s like a backwoods Floridian JAWS, only without any real merits beyond a surprisingly earnest performance by Joe Bob Briggs.
Joe Bob Briggs, also known as John Bloom, is not just our favorite horror host, but an author and actor. He’s been in some good movies and he’s not a bad actor in the least. He’s never really had to carry a movie, but he is certainly no slouch when he’s popped up in different films. Sure a great many of these rolls are the sort of wink-wink-nudge appearances you expect from movie-obsessed directors, but appearances in The Stand, Great Balls of Fire!, Casino, and Face/Off are genuinely pretty good moments on his part.
So it was fitting that the only real thing that worked in Hogzilla was Joe Bob Briggs. It’s impossible for anyone to carry Hogzilla but we spent an hour and thirty minutes watching him do his best and it was pretty damn satisfying. At this point I don’t know if Joe Bob can really get more serious, non-winking film roles, but the guy deserves some.
Joe Bob had Hogzilla sprung on him (as much as a scripted movie marathon show can “spring” anything on the guy who writes it) but it was a genuinely charming and entertaining night, leading in from Scare Package, where he kept needling Darcy about the second film and playing it with all the spoiled, requisite grumpiness we’d expect. The segments surrounding the feature were a treat with what appeared to be a progressively more hammered Joe Bob Briggs poking fun at himself and the movie.
The biggest moment of the night, however, was the delivery of the Drive-In Totals by Darcy. This was a Drive-In first. I have loved all the mail girls across the various Joe Bob shows but Darcy is the best of them all, shaping her role into more of a co-host than a supporting player. Tonight proved that Darcy is absolutely indispensable to The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. The show may be named after Joe Bob Briggs but Darcy has become the beating heart of the community that has grown around the show.
Not only does she provide a fun foil to our host but she has her own impact through cosplay, checking Joe Bob on dumb crap he sometimes rattles off, and going above and beyond the role of the supporting character. She accompanies Joe Bob across the country on his tours, she live-tweets with the MutantFam, and she has networked to get great guests and Hogzilla onto the show.
We should all be so lucky to find a collaborator and friend like Diana Prince in our own lives. Joe Bob and Darcy are The Last Drive-In.
Darcy’s take on Hogzilla was that of a cheerleader. I don’t mean that in a dismissive way, either. Hogzilla is a great moment for the show and I get the four-star rating. It made for an amazing episode of television. However, I can’t really give Hogzilla a pass. It’s a one and a half star film, and that one star is reserved for Joe Bob, the only bright spot in that mess.(1.5 / 5)
Best Line: “It’s gonna get nasty.”
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
We have a lot of Drive-In totals tonight, and Drive-In Total history as well. Each segment of Scare Package received its own totals, and Darcy got to share the Drive-In Totals for Hogzilla. What a night!
What, you think we’re done? Nope, we have our own totals. A smaller set, but Totals none the less!
- 8 Directors
- 4 Cold Opens
- 6 Attempts to Kill the Killer
- Shear Fu
- Cracker Barrel Fu
- Epistemology Fu
- The-Ate-Er Fu
- Wilhelm Fu
- Denouement Fu
- Hurricane Fu
- Ghost Fu
- Corpse Digging
- Bowel Shitting
- Macguffin Dropping
- Horror Host Joking
- Religious Joking
- Darcy Jailing
- Tusk Stuffing
- Blonde Joking
- Meta Madness
- Graceland Darcy
- Gratuitous Joe Bob
- Tactical Piggy Hat
- Darcy Cosplay: Joe Bob Briggs
- Silver Bolo Winner: The Signal Podcast
File this episode under “all time great.” I am curious if The Last Drive-In is going to even attempt to top this one.(5 / 5)
Remember, folks, keep your hogs at bay lest ye end up prey to the mighty Hogzilla. Also, join us for the live-tweet session during The Last Drive-In season two finale next Friday!
Horror Noire, a Film Review
Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”
Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.
As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.
The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.
What I Like
Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.
My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.
However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.
What I Dislike
As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.
Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.
Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
(3.5 / 5)
Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.
And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.
Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.
Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship.
Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.
Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar.
At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.
Then, of course, things go bad.
One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.
If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.
This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today.(5 / 5)
Mandrake, a Film Review
Mandrake is a 2022 supernatural horror directed by Lynne Davison and written by Matt Harvey, starring Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty.
Mandrake is a 2022 supernatural horror directed by Lynne Davison and written by Matt Harvey. This film boasts a cast that includes Deirdre Mullins, Derbhle Crotty, and Paul Kennedy. It is currently available for subscribers in DirectTV, Shudder, Amazon Prime, or AMC+.
Cathy Madden (Deirdre Mullins) is a probation officer tasked with the most vilified case in her town, Mary Laidlaw (Derbhle Crotty). When a child goes missing, all eyes turn to the infamous Bloody Mary. Cathy, always believing in the best of people, tries to protect Mary. But evidence begins to mount, and Cathy finds herself in increasing danger.
What I Like
Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty add weight to the film in their performances. Cathy proves resilient against the challenges she faces, while Mary can make any actions intimidating.
To not spoil anything, the ending is bittersweet in the best of ways, showing Cathy grow and mend relationships.
The atmosphere around Mary Laidlaw brings about the intimidation that earns the nickname Bloody Mary. It becomes easier to see why a town would fear this woman as we find her motives sinister.
What I Dislike
While there may be external magical elements, I found people obeyed Mary Laidlaw a little too easily for a vilified woman. There wasn’t enough for me to be convinced she intimidated them to action or magically charmed them. Or perhaps the performances felt underwhelmingly passive?
There was an irritating moment where a stalker helped save the day. The assistance is minor, but it still irritates me.
The daytime scenes of the film are bland. Perhaps it’s intentional, but the night scenes are stunning, making the contrast greater. While this film focuses on its night scenes, I couldn’t understand why it looked so bland, and sometimes poor quality, in the day.
Mandrake can be a frightful enjoyment, especially when set at night where the details work. However, many elements left me wanting more or better. If you’re looking for a witchy tale, I’d say there are better options, but Mandrake can keep you entertained.
(2.5 / 5)