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!
Movies n TV
You Reap What You Woe
Episode five of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was very busy. A lot is going on here, and most of it is quite fun. So let’s not waste any time getting into it.
First, we must discuss the fate of poor Eugene. If you’ll recall, the last episode ended with Wednesday finding him in the woods, covered in blood.
Despite Principal Weem’s insistence that he’s resting up and healing, he’s actually in a coma in the local ICU. But maybe she has reason to gloss over that unfortunate fact. It’s parents’ weekend, after all. Probably not the best time to admit that a student was grievously injured.
While there are certainly some Nevermore students who are happy to see their parents, none of our main characters are among them. We know that Wednesday isn’t thrilled to see her family, as she’s still resentful that they left her there.
Still, she’s not exactly pleased when Gomez is arrested for the murder of a man named Garrett. This devastates the family and forces Morticia to reveal a secret she’s been keeping from Wednesday.
Morticia also finally gets a chance to talk about Wednesday’s visions with her. She tells her that Goody Addams, who’s made psychic contact with Wednesday several times, is there to teach her about her visions. But Goody Addams is also super vengeful, and not to be trusted. I wonder why.
While much of the episode is about freeing Gomez from jail, the subplots are no less interesting.
Let’s start with Enid. As we know from the first episode, she has yet to grow into her full werewolf potential. If she can’t do this, she’ll be shunned by her kind and likely abandoned by her family pack. Her mother wants to help her, by sending her to a summer camp meant to help werewolves wolf out. Enid refers to these as conversion therapy camps. Which is clearly a problem.
The story that shook me was Bianca. She’s outright afraid when her mother shows up. And the reason is soon made clear.
Her mother is part of a cult called the Morning Song. Bianca’s mother is married to the leader. She’s been using her siren song to trap people in the cult. But her powers are fading. She wants Bianca to come take her place. If she doesn’t, she’ll reveal a terrible secret of how Bianca got into Nevermore Academy in the first place.
I honestly don’t have a lot of bad things to say about this episode. Except that wolf out is a ridiculous term and I cannot take anyone who uses it seriously at all. The characters were fun, the storyline was interesting, and it was satisfying to start getting answers. It helped that this episode included some real-world bad guys, like conversion therapy and cults. If every other episode of this season had been as good as this one, the show would be top marks from me all around.
This episode was a dramatic example of exactly how parents can fail at their job of raising their kids. And, thankfully, how they can succeed. We see Enid’s mom refusing to let her grow at her own pace. We see Sheriff Galpin ignore a clear cry for help from his son Tyler. We see Bianca’s mother, involved in a cult, using her child for her siren powers. And of course, we don’t see Xavier’s parents at all.
But we also see Morticia being a good mom to a difficult kid who’s rebelling against her. We see Enid’s father supporting her, exactly as she is. We see Eugene’s moms by his side at the hospital. At the bedside of their son, they are still able to give comfort to Wednesday. That is some strength right there.
Overall, this was a fun episode. We got some answers and were introduced to even more questions. I had fun watching it, and I’m looking forward to the next episode.
(4 / 5)
Movies n TV
Solace, a Film Review
Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Morgan and Abbie Cornish.
Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film includes Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Colin Farrell. As of this review, it is currently available to Netflix and Hulu subscribers.
As a string of murders leave FBI agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) perplexed, Joe turns to an old FBI contact and friend, Dr. John Clancy. Dr. Clancy possesses psychic abilities that make him an essential asset, but tragedies in his personal life leave him distant and broken. Fearing a person with similar gifts as himself, Dr. Clancy cannot help but lend his assistance.
What I Like
This cast is great, with notable legends living up to their reputation. While by no means career-highlighting performances, they work well together and provide a weight that pushes past lackluster character roles.
As the main character, Anthony Hopkins’s Dr. Clancy stands out above the rest. Given the most screen time and plot relevance, this opinion comes easily. His role has the most opportunity to make us care for his character.
Solace creates fun and engaging scenes that tie directly to the characters’ psychic abilities, adding tension in unique ways. While other movies with psychics utilize similar strategies to convey this power–the movie Next comes to mind–the scenes add variety to otherwise lackluster cinematography. This decision also adds a somewhat strategic nature to the psychic battles.
Originally intended to be a sequel to Seven, this idea, thankfully, does not follow through to the final product. The story behind that is the typical Hollywood shuffle and brand recognition. I can’t exactly figure out a place to put this interesting fact, but the choice remains a benefit to the film.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Slight spoilers ahead! Read this section with that in mind.
A closeted man contracts AIDS and infects his wife. As this goes into rather old homophobia and fears, I felt it needed mentioning. Considering the film’s release date, 2016 (US), the plot point feels uninspired.
Some gratuitous sex scenes tie into the above reveal. The dramatic reveal and voyeuristic nudity (of the wife) make for an odd viewing experience. When the reveal isn’t shocking, it doesn’t exactly add much weight to the elongated scenes.
What I Dislike
There are no tactful ways to go about the low effort of the film. It’s surreal to see the names attached, the concepts addressed, and how it all fumbles. I imagine this discrepancy has something to do with the original sequel idea, but that remains speculation. Ultimately, the film feels awkwardly low budget for the cast it possesses.
Adding to this weakness are the underdeveloped characters and rushed plotlines. The film feels unfocused in direction, revealing things as they become relevant with fluctuating degrees of foreshadowing. Some of these revelations work, with some speculation, but adding them all together makes Solace weaker as a film.
This film isn’t scary, despite the premise being extremely promising. The idea of a potentially psychic killer does evoke a lot of possibilities, added with the exceptional cast, and it seems destined for success. Yet, the horror is middling at best.
Solace wants to be more and achieves some success in certain areas, but its inability to build and support these ideas hinders the overall quality. Perhaps Solace desires to upstage the twists of the typical mystery thriller that makes the film grasp too many new and interesting ideas. Regardless of the reason, the film suffers, and the viewing experience becomes underwhelming.
For a thriller killer, Solace doesn’t hold much water to competition. While the cast performs their roles perfectly and works well with each other, the notable weaknesses in writing and lackluster visuals don’t do the acting justice. A surprisingly exciting cast becomes a disappointing letdown. (2 / 5)
Movies n TV
Woe What a Night
Episode four of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was one that plenty of people have been talking about. And now that I’ve seen it for myself, I can see why. It was memorable. Just not always in good ways.
We start the episode with Wednesday and Thing breaking into the morgue for clues. They discover that each of the monster’s victims has missing body parts. If you’ll recall, a homeless man was murdered at the end of the last episode.
While investigating, Wednesday finds Xavier’s secret art studio. He’s been drawing and painting the monster over and over. So, at least someone else has seen it.
Of course, Xavier catches her skulking around his studio/abandoned building on school property.
I honestly don’t understand why this school has so many buildings around campus accessible to students without teacher supervision. I wonder what the teen pregnancy rate is at this school.
Cornered, Wednesday invites him to the RaveN dance. This, of course, pisses off Tyler, who has a thing for her. An unrequited thing, might I add.
Not surprisingly, Wednesday doesn’t care about the dance. She cares more about getting information about the monster. She goes to Sheriff Galpin, who does seem to be an ally. At the very least, it seems like the two of them are the only ones taking the literal monster in the woods who is eating people seriously.
They agree to work together, to a point. She brings him concrete evidence of the monster, and he agrees to do a DNA test for her.
Of course, we couldn’t just focus on that. There’s a dance to go to.
If you haven’t seen a single episode yet of Wednesday, you at least know about this goofy dance the title character does in this episode. Everyone was doing it, from morning shows to teenagers on Tik Tok. And it’s fine. It reminds me of some dance scenes in Addams Family Values. It was awkward and a little funny. It wasn’t worth the hype, but it was charming.
Of course, while the kids are dancing, the town kids are planning to prank them. I mean, I guess this is a prank. They pump paint into the sprinkler system and set it off during the dance. Of course, everyone but Wednesday is wearing white.
In the resulting chaos, Wednesday has a vision of Eugene, who went into the woods looking for the monster’s lair. This, of course, is exactly what she told him not to do. She runs out to find him but doesn’t beat the monster there. Strangely, she’s not the only one running around in the woods covered in blood. So is Ms. Thornhill.
Overall, this was a rather cliche and dull episode. But it wasn’t without its moments. One thing I appreciated was Bianca’s response to Xavier at the dance. Even though she was pretty desperate to go to the dance with him, she doesn’t allow herself to be disrespected. I appreciate that. She didn’t take her anger out on Wednesday, either, which was nice. It’s 2023. We don’t need girls being cruel to each other over boys.
I also like Wednesday going to Sheriff Galpin, and him believing her. We did not have to suffer through the cliche of a teen who doesn’t trust the adults around her. Neither did we see the pompous adult who doesn’t listen to the teens when they bring evidence to them. And this was so refreshing. I loved to see it.
Now, let’s talk about what didn’t work here. Specifically, there were too many teenagers with moody, angry brooding moments. Everyone has a crush on everyone else, and nobody is handling it well. Shocker.
I am not entertained by teenage love triangles. Tyler likes Wednesday, who doesn’t care. Bianca likes Xavier who likes Wednesday, who still doesn’t care. It’s an irritating subplot and could have been replaced by any number of good stories. And yes, I understand that this is a kid’s show, intended for kids. Kids deserve smarter subplots. Kids are worthy of smarter subplots. If Disney can realize not every story needs a love component, everyone can.
All in all, this wasn’t a great episode. But it wasn’t terrible. There was way too much focus on dances and teenage relationships. But at least it moved the mystery forward. So there’s hope for the episodes to come. (3 / 5)