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.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism, a Film Review
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) is a R-rated horror comedy directed by Damon Thomas, available on Amazon Prime.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) is a horror comedy directed by Damon Thomas. Based on Grady Hendrix’s novel of the same name, this R-rated film stars Elsie Fisher, Amiah Miller, Cathay Ang, and Rachel Ogechi Kanu. As of this review, the film is available to Amazon Prime subscribers.
Abby Rivers (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen Lang (Amiah Miller) seek to escape the monotony of high school drama with their friends. However, in their efforts to have fun, Gretchen Lang encounters a troubling otherworldly demon bent on controlling her body. It’s up to Abby to help her overcome this demonic threat.
What I Like in My Best Friend’s Exorcism
The effects are surprisingly good. While not overwhelming, these effects never take me out of the film. Even the less realistic scenes fit the overall tone while looking better than expected or required. The 80’s aesthetic strengthens that believability.
Continuing that thought, My Best Friend’s Exorcism oozes the 80’s. Perhaps this comment should set an expectation for the viewer. I can’t exactly comment on the accuracy of the era, but it certainly fits the era of film. If 80’s films don’t interest you, consider looking somewhere else.
While I don’t meet the target audience, the jokes land and provide an enjoyable horror comedy feel. My Best Friend’s Exorcism focuses more on comedy than horror, but this remains a common trend in horror comedies.
The performances remain strong throughout, with leads Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller pulling off that best-friend chemistry. The cast purposely captures that 80’s nostalgia. Added to the campy nature of the film, one might grow irritated with the acting choices. For me, it certainly fits with the tone and setting.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Drug use might deserve a mention on this list. While I don’t find this egregious, I imagine this point, or some other technicality, earns the film its undeserved R-rating.
The possession lends itself as a rape allegory, with some characters even believing this to be the trauma Gretchen Lang suffers from. While this isn’t the case, the conversation remains for those who want to avoid such material.
Body horror describes a few scenes of the film, though sparingly. However, one scene convinces me to bring this up for those who get squeamish at the cracking of bones or slimies in the body.
A character is tricked into outing themselves and faces some homophobia because of it. This homophobia is rightfully taken as cruel, not condoned in the slightest, but it remains potentially triggering and deserves mention here.
What I Dislike, or Food for Thought on My Best Friend’s Exorcism
This film seems to earn its R-rating off some technicality. It is neither raunchy nor gruesome for those expecting that from their R-rated horror films. For me, it’s more an issue of setting expectations. I expect my R-rated horrors to hit hard. My Best Friend’s Exorcism doesn’t.
It would be unfair to expect something like Jennifer’s Body, as this is a lighter and zanier film. There are elements of sisterhood and bodily autonomy that echo the cult classic, but My Best Friend’s Exorcism remains an entirely campier affair.
In terms of performances that lack the intended impact, three over-the-top anti-drug spokesmen outstay their welcome. It’s clearly a jab at D.A.R.E., which certainly works in increments, but then one character becomes an important part of the plot and still keeps his caricature.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism fits the taste of an 80’s horror comedy fan. Don’t expect to be frightened at any point, but the comedy lands well enough. The film knows its niche and hits most of its targets. It’s hard to say if the film will stand the test of time, but it certainly earns its runtime.
(3.5 / 5)
American Horror Story Delicate, Rockabye
There’s a lot to unpack from this episode of American Horror Story Delicate, Killer Queens, so I don’t want to waste any time. I just want to take a moment and issue a trigger warning. This episode, and therefore this review, talks about several topics that might be upsetting. These include abuse, pregnancy trauma and miscarriage. It’s heavy. If you’re not up for that, here’s a link to my review of Tucker and Dale, which is considerably lighter and funnier.
Our episode starts with Anna trying to get the police to take her seriously about the break-in. There’s just one problem. No one was seen coming in or out of the apartment except Dex. No one shows up on any of the security footage. The police are convinced it’s just Anna’s IFV medication making her see things.
But Anna doesn’t have time to think about the break-in. She’s just been nominated for a Gotham award, and she needs to get into full Awards Show mode. Siobhan gives her something she calls B12 and tells her that her life now revolves around awards prep.
But Anna’s whole life can’t revolve around that, because she’s pregnant now. Even though she seems to be losing time. Like, weeks at a time without even realizing it.
Things just get stranger when she’s at the Gotham Awards and accosted by an overzealous fan in the bathroom. After the woman puts her hands on Anna’s stomach, she knocks her over and the woman hits her head on the sink.
Rather than aiding the woman, Anna goes out to accept her award.
Or does she? After throwing up blood on stage, she finds herself back in the bathroom, being helped up by paramedics.
Everyone agrees that Anna needs some rest and space to heal. So she and Dex go to Talia’s house in the country. There, of course, everything gets much worse. Anna starts to bleed after a yoga session and is taken to the hospital. There, she gets an ultrasound by Nurse Ivy. A nurse that no one else knows at the hospital.
Sadly, the bleeding doesn’t stop. And as we end the episode, it appears that Anna has lost her baby.
Emma Roberts is doing a fantastic job playing Anna. Proving as always that American Horror Story actors are nothing if not flexible. I find myself wanting to compare Anna to Madison Montgomery from AHS Coven. They’re both actresses who experience abuse from men that one might, sadly, expect for women in their station and age range. Madison is gang-abused by frat boys, and Anna has her autonomy taken away from her as soon as a baby is in question.
That’s where the similarities stop. Can you ever imagine Madison saying, “You’re right, I’m sorry,” to literally anyone? She’d have snapped a man’s neck first. Anna’s body language, voice modulation, and the overall way she carries herself in the world is so different.
This is also part of what makes her relatable. I imagine many of the female-presenting people reading this can remember a time when we’ve said, you’re right, I’m sorry when they were wrong and we weren’t sorry at all.
I also really loved the amount of blood in this episode. There is so much blood involved in being a cisgender woman. It’s something we take for granted, but shy away from when in polite company. There was no shying away here. We’re made to see all of it. I don’t think the amount of blood in the miscarriage scene was overkill at all. If anything, it wasn’t enough.
Finally, it’s a small point but one that I appreciated. I bet you already know the one I’m talking about. When Anna is overjoyed to get to wear the same dress once worn by Madonna, Siobhan reminds her in a stern voice not to rip it.
If you didn’t get the joke, look up Kim K and an incident with the iconic Marilyn Monroe dress. I do appreciate anyone who can poke fun at themselves.
The reference to ‘don’t rip it’ with the dress was fun. I hate Kim K and her whole family, but that was funny.
What didn’t work
I’m honestly struggling to find anything in this episode that didn’t work. If I had to pick out something I didn’t like, it was probably that we got the barest cameo from Zachary Quinto. I really hope we get to see more of him as the season progresses.
Another thing I don’t like overall is the character Siobhan. I mentioned this last week, and I’ll try not to mention it again because I don’t see it changing. But the character in the show is a bare reflection of the one in the book.
Siobhan in the book was a loving, selfless friend. Which made the ending, well, let’s say impactful to avoid spoilers for both AHS and Delicate Condition. This version, if she continues as she is, is not going to have the same effect.
I’m also quite done hearing the internet swoon over what a great job Kim K is doing. She’s been acting her entire life, I’d be surprised if she wasn’t good at it. And she’s doing no better or worse than many other guest stars have done in the past seasons of American Horror Story. She’s not bad. But she wouldn’t be getting the credit she is if she wasn’t who she is.
Overall, this was a great episode. It was equal parts funny, gory and infuriating. At this point, my only real complaint is that there are only three episodes left until a season break. But now that the writing strike is over, hopefully the break won’t be too long.(4 / 5)
Cadaver (2020), a Film Review
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal and currently available on Netflix.
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal. This unrated film stars Thorbjørn Harr, Gitte Witt, and Thomas Gullestad. As of this review, the film is available on Netflix.
After an apocalyptic event, the survivors endure in a hopeless world. Among these survivors are Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad), and Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman), a family fighting the hopelessness of a lost world. Leonora desires to keep her daughter (Alice) hopeful, and when a theater opens in their decrepit city, she thinks she has found the solution to their despair. However, they will all soon learn how desperate people have become.
What I Like from Cadaver
Cadaver takes on a unique focus for a post-apocalyptic movie. While most in the genre tackle the question of where you find hope, the theatrical lens is not one I’ve seen before. It blends these two unique environments together for a pleasant concoction. As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I must admit I find my niche in the everyday lives of someone in such a world.
Leonora’s (usually called Leo in the film) dreamer nature in this horrendously hopeless environment creates a sympathetic contrast. This dreamer nature doesn’t excuse some of her choices, but she evokes sympathy. While most post-apocalyptic entries provide this balance of hope and survival, Leo’s creativity and passion for the arts give her hope and a more focused ideal.
The relationship between Leo and her husband also creates a nice contrast, as Jacob plays the rationalist and survivor. In this decision, both characters provide that post-apocalyptic dynamic of survival and hope. These interactions allow both actors opportunities to create friction as they pull the plot from their differing perspectives.
I had the chance to listen to the dubbed version, which sounds good. I’m not much for dubs, especially on Netflix, but they did Cadaver with respect and a focus on quality. At the very least, it’s competent and doesn’t distract from the viewing experience.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As hinted at earlier, there are some dumb decisions in the plot. While many fall within character traits, the actions don’t escape criticism. This flaw becomes incredibly repetitive when characters make the same mistake.
Implied suicide occurs throughout the film with one shown incident, but there are circumstances that change the context slightly. A world this bleak invites this depressive and dangerous state as a normality. However, one should prepare if this is a trigger.
What I Dislike or Considerations for Cadaver
Again, some decisions had me roll my eyes and endure the plot. This reaction isn’t exactly the experience I seek out in my horror. It’s more haunting to make sensible, or even intelligent, decisions and still endure unavoidable or unforeseen consequences.
It’s likely that nothing in Cadaver surprises you, which underutilizes the interesting premise. There are unique elements, certainly, but never a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s in that execution that Cadaver falls flat and fails to engage a viewer.
The film doesn’t exactly haunt the viewer, but the bleak world effectively depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocalypse. Don’t expect much genuine horror, but you can expect an appropriately uncomfortable and unnerving experience. In short, viewers of Cadaver likely want a unique twist in their post-apocalypse, not a traumatic horror.
Cadaver remains a unique viewing experience by adding a slight twist to its post-apocalyptic story. While not a haunting masterpiece, this bleak film will have you feeling the characters’ struggle. While lacking sensible decision-making skills, they are certainly sympathetic survivors struggling in a hopeless world. If this is your niche, it’s certainly worth a view.
(3 / 5)