Well, that is the second season of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. There were no signs of a sophomore slump this season as the show iterated on the first season in a few ways. We also were treated to some really historic moments in Drive-In history, playing off of things from clear back in the days of MonsterVision.
As of this moment, The Last Drive-In season 3 has not been confirmed but I think we can afford to be optimistic. Considering the show rising up the trending algorithm all nine weeks on Twitter and the larger profile the show has built thanks to a global pandemic, Shudder would probably like to keep up the conversation and subscriptions that the show brings in.
As for the season finale? We get two visions of hell by seeing the sights of Hellbound: Hellraiser II and taking a trip and checking out Hell Comes to Frogtown.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Opening Rant: The need for physical media in a largely corporate-curated world.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a worthy sequel to the original Hellraiser, previously on The Last Drive-In during the original marathon. Some would argue that the sequel may be better than the first film, and it’s not hard to imagine why. Hellraiser II was a major film that set the trajectory of the series and also presents a real lost opportunity. The film takes place moments after the previous films and finds Kirsty (sans-boyfriend) in an asylum, having been treated like a madwoman given her sharing her experiences with the Cenobites. Sure enough, her warnings go unheeded and a manipulative Dr. Channard claims the mattress where Kirsty’s evil stepmother Julia met her end. Then Julia comes back and the movie gets nuts.
It’s a good movie. A bit familiar in a number of ways. The Cenobites aren’t quite as shocking, and the Leviathan is a conceptual misfire. The asylum elements remind too easily of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors down to having a gifted patient in the mix. The Cenobites are kind of wedged in and don’t do much in order to prop up the concept of the Leviathan.
What works, though, are the performances by Clare Higgins and Julia and Ashley Laurence as Kirsty. The film is largely on the backs of these two women: a manipulative and monstrous Julia, more terrifying and assertive than Frank ever was in the first film, and shrewd and clever Kirsty who is in the upper-echelon of horror heroines who deserve way better.
Joe Bob addressed the odd and uneven nature of the movie surrounding Julia. Clive Barker intended Julia to become the major antagonistic force of the series but the Cenobites essentially stole her thunder, which is a real shame because Julia is probably one of the most compelling and interesting horror villains basically ever. One envisions another Hellraiser series in another universe where Julia remained beyond Hellbound and there becomes a dual-threat of Cenobites and Julia, fighting for control of Hell.
The highlight of Joe Bob’s host segments came down to Ashley Laurence and Doug Bradley, Kirsty, and Pinhead himself, taking time to chat with our favorite movie host. They each had a moment to speak to Joe Bob one-on-one, but they also managed to have a more delightful triad of discussion. Ashley, who can be found on Twitter, does some great painting and she got to hold Ernie (!) playing on her appearance in a GEICO commercial. Doug Bradley is wonderfully classy and doesn’t wear the Cenobite makeup lately, but he can be found reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on YouTube.
Of course, we can’t forget Hell Priest Ernie, chained Joe Bob, or Cenobite Darcy, either. It was a fun night.
I love Hellbound: Hellraiser II about as much as I love the original Hellraiser. I also think about the lost opportunity of Julia driving the franchise and while I cannot hold that against the series it does present an interesting “what if?” It’s still a good sequel, maybe not the sequel the series deserved, but a good sequel regardless. Joe Bob gave the film four stars, a well-earned four stars given the potential failure a sequel presents. I give Hellbound: Hellraiser II four and a half Cthulhus.(4.5 / 5)
Best Line: “It is not hands that summon us. It is desire.” – Pinhead
Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)
Opening Rant: Five reasons not to be a polygamist.
Ah, yes, Hell Comes to Frogtown. A slice of 1980s cheese I had always heard of but never saw. It’s a goofy film and while I don’t know if it was the best film to leave the season off with, it was totally worth watching and I am sure to check it out again, and again, and again. It’s not a movie that can be made today and elements of it are still particularly cringe-inducing, but as a relic of another era it’s completely worth preservation and The Last Drive-In seems like the perfect way to do that.
Hell Comes to Frogtown stars the legendary wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as Sam Hell, a particularly virile man who is conscripted by the provisional government to impregnate women all across the wasteland of America. He travels with a pair of these warrior-nurses to the titular Frogtown to recover a group of fertile women who have been kidnapped as sex-slaves by mutant, humanoid frogs. It’s a classic story we’ve all seen before, but have we seen it with the delightful commentary of Joe Bob Briggs? Well, we have now.
The movie’s handling of women as sexual objects and the implications of forced impregnation are pretty horrifying to modern sensibilities and the movie plays it off as a hyper-masculine joke. The film really, largely works due to the earnestly goofy performance of Roddy Piper who makes Sam Hell are largely sympathetic and funny protagonist, dipping into the well of Kurt Russel’s Jack Burton-school of bumbling heroes. Piper does get to play the hero, particularly toward the end, but the film largely plays Sam as comedic and it works all the better for it.
The film is audacious in the world it builds, largely shooting in deserts and and a run down factory, the film makes the most of the post-apocalyptic setting and that money instead goes into the largely amazing frog prosthetic pieces. Some of the frogs are more hybrid and less impressive than others, but the major feature players are absolutely incredible for 1988 and a 7-million dollar budget.
Joe Bob appreciated the pulpy energy of the film. It also helps that it featured MonsterVision fan and friend, the dearly departed Piper. Among some of the knowledge, bombs dropped on viewers are the history and work of Donald G. Jackson and some Roger Corman connections (because who else?) Joe Bob was particularly enthused, saying Donald G. Jackson was a long-overdue director on The Last Drive-In. Perhaps one of his infamous rollerblading films may show up in season three? Of course, Jackson had a long career in the industry as some of these drive-in directors tend to do, having worked with Roger Corman and James Cameron. Most notable among Jackson’s associations, however, was his collaboration with Scott Shaw and the development of what they called “Zen Filmmaking” – a largely script-less form of movie-making.
Joe Bob Briggs gave Hell Comes to Frogtown the four-star treatment which is a pretty fair assessment with how well it fits into The Last Drive-In‘s wheelhouse. It’s not my favorite choice to end the season, skewing a bit too far from the horror genre, but it’s still pretty damn fun. I give Hell Comes to Frogtown three and a half Cthulhus.(3.5 / 5)
Best Line: “Hey, you try making love to a complete stranger in a hostile, mutant environment, see how you like it.” – Sam Hell
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
These are the last Drive-In totals of the season. Quite a lovely collection. Thank you, Shudder.
- 174 Sequels
- 2 Jail sentences for Darcy
- 7 Roller Blade films
- 3 Frogtown Endings
- Double Guest Fu
- Censorship Fu
- Chainsaw Surgery Fu
- GEICO Fu
- Glass Bottle Fu
- Badass Name Fu
- Brain Surgery Fu
- Joe Bob Chaining
- Lament Configurating
- Demon Summoning
- Ernie Holding
- Teen Slapping
- Teeth Chattering
- Dick Beeping
- Wedding Joking
- Goopy Mattress
- Frickassied Frank
- Hellraiser Philosophy
- Gratuitous Candles
- Gratuitous Frog Burlesque
- Gratuitous emotional Joe Bob Briggs solo song
- Laser Floyd Finale
- Tactical Lingerie
- Extended Hallway Running Sequence
- Bonus Yuki Cosplay
- Silver Bolo Award: The Horrors of it All
- Darcy Cosplay: Hell Priestess Darcy
The season finale did the job of providing a great episode should the show continue further while also creating a potential ending should the show not move forward. While this ending wasn’t as flash as season one’s prom for Darcy, there is something touching about what we ended up getting this time around: Joe Bob Briggs, voice cracking, singing the theme accompanied by a frog guitarist.
If this is the end of the ongoing series that’s a pretty fitting coda to what has been a great treat for the horror community in an especially hard time. We know a summer marathon is on the way and more than likely we’ll be seeing a third season of the ongoing show.
But if this is the final full season, I think it went out in a really appropriate way.(4.5 / 5)
That’s it for the Notes from The Last Drive-In for a bit. Thank you all for reading these recaps over the past nine weeks. Let me know what you think. I write these things for us and I would love to know what the MutantFam wants to see out of them.