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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.

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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.

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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 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Best Line: “It is not hands that summon us. It is desire.” – Pinhead

Never wear white after Labor Day. Or after your reanimation from a blood-soaked mattress.

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.

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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.

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3.5 out of 5 stars (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

Better prosthetics than the Super Mario Bros. movie.

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

These are the last Drive-In totals of the season. Quite a lovely collection. Thank you, Shudder.

Our Totals?

  • 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
BRB booking a trip to Hell.

Episode Score

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 out of 5 stars (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.

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Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule

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Mutant family, please gather ’round as February kicks rocks and we shove our way into March. With the new month comes the shifting from winter to spring as death beautifully resurrects back to life, drunken patrons swarm our local bars like rabid locusts for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and of course new exclusives and returning favorites on Shudder to satisfy the horror fiend in us all. To quote the prestigious Samuel L. Jackson, “hold onto your butts” and let’s dive right into Shudder’s March 2023 release schedule.

Shudder Exclusives

While it is true that the release schedule for the start of 2023 on Shudder has been minor and slightly mixed, with films such as the much talked about experimental low-budget indie ‘Skinamarink‘, the surprisingly entertaining horror comedy ‘Sorry About the Demon‘, and writer/director Neil Marshall’s return to the genre with ‘The Lair‘. We also graciously received the wildly fun ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine” special, with season 5 currently in production and premiering later this year; though it can’t come soon enough. As we like to do here at HauntedMTL, let’s kick off March with Shudder’s newest exclusives currently streaming now and in the coming weeks.

Spoonful of Sugar – Now Streaming

official film poster for Spoonful of Sugar. We see a vial filled with a red liquid, possibly blood being dripped into a young woman's open mouth. Her tongue slightly extended out ready to receive the scarlet drop. We see an individual in a space helmet standing in the background behind her, slightly blurred. The title Spoonful of Sugar reads in red capital letters.
Spoonful of Sugar‘ official poster.

Starting off this list we begin with director Mercedes Bryce Morgan and writer Leah Saint Marie’s latest film Spoonful of Sugar, now currently streaming.

Millicent (Morgan Saylor), a disturbed college student working on her thesis about children with severe allergies, is hired to babysit little Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a sickly, mute child who suffers from every allergy under the sun. His mother Rebecca (Kate Foster) is an accomplished author currently focused on her newest book release, while his father Jacob (Myko Olivier) spends his days in the backyard working on frivolous carpentry projects. After experiencing a bizarre sexual awakening while using LSD as an alternative treatment for Johnny, she soon uncovers the family’s dark secrets as things begin to become unhinged.

Leave – Premiering Friday 3/17

official film poster for Leave. We see a hooded individual holding a silver inverted cross necklace engulfed in bright orange and yellow flames. The individual holding the flaming cross has yellows hands and long rotted finger nails. one eye peers from thick-long black hair. The title Leave is smeared along the bottom in bright blood.
Leave‘ official poster.

After having been abandoned as an infant at a cemetery wrapped in a cloth with satanic symbols, Hunter White (Alicia von Rittberg) grows obsessed with figuring out who her biological parents are and why they seemingly abandoned her. However, as she gets closer to the answers she so desperately seeks, a malevolent spirit is warning her to leave.

Leave‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/17 and is directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad, starring Alicia von Rittberg, Herman Tømmeraas, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, and Stig R. Amda

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The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31

Official poster for The Unheard. We see the main Character Chloe staring out of a window, the image has a static blur. as we only see Chloes pale face and bright blue eyes. The title The Unheard is seen below written in White bold font.
The Unheard‘ official poster.

The Unheard‘ follows the story of deaf 20-year-old Chloe Grayden (Lachlan Watson) after she undergoes an experimental treatment to restore her hearing. While recovering at her family’s beach home after the successful procedure, Chloe begins to fear she is not alone as she begins to experience auditory hallucinations related to the mysterious disappearance of her mother.

The Unheard’ is directed by Shudder alumni Jeffrey A. Brown (The Beach House) and written by brothers/screenwriting partners Shawn Rasmussen and Michael Rasmussen (Crawl), co-starring Michele Hicks and Nick Sandow. ‘The Unheard‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/31.

Returning Classic and Fan Favorites

Now that we’ve removed the veil for the new exclusive titles dropping this month, I think it’s time we reveal the returning classics jump starting our transition into spring for 2023. Allow me to highlight some of my favorite films returning to Shudder for March including ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ and ‘The Company of Wolves‘; grim re-telling’s of popular children’s fairy tales. We also cannot forget John Carpenter’s haunted coastal horror ‘The Fog‘; no, not the remake…thankfully.

Gretel and Hansel – Now Streaming

image of Alice Krige as The Witch in Gretel and Hansel. She stares in the camera with a sinister smirk. Her head covered and body drapped in black clothing. Her right eye a dark grey/brown color with her left pale white...blind.
Alice Krige as “The Witch” in ‘Gretel and Hansel’.

Directed by Osgood Perkins, ‘Gretel and Hansel’ is a terrifyingly dark and unique vision to one of history’s most famous childhood fairy tales. After being thrown out of their mother’s home, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her younger brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey), through the woods in search of food and work. The children soon discover a quaint cottage where a fragile old woman Holda (Alice Krige) offers fresh food and bed. The children accept all Holda has to offer, with little thought as to what may be asked of them in return.

Though it has been met with mixed reviews, ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ offers astounding performances by veteran actress Alice Krige as the films iconic Witch of the woods and Sophia Lillis as lead Gretel. Director Osgood Perkins does well to draw his viewer in with a beautifully haunting score and unnerving cinematography, making this one grim re-telling worth checking out at least once. ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ is available to stream now.

The Company of Wolves – Now Streaming

Image of a werewolf transformation. A mans head is tilted back as the snout of a wolf begins protruding from his mouth. The fur on the snout white as the large fangles gnarl and growl. The mans eyes are a bright yellow and his hair long flowing brown locks. A terrifying image as his mouth extends in an inhumanely manner.
My, what big teeth you have…

Continuing our list of returning classics, we have yet another bold re-telling of a beloved children’s fairy tale, 1984’s ‘The Company of Wolves‘. While the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood‘ has been retold through various forms of media, including numerous films, ‘The Company of Wolves‘ is a beloved horror interpretation with adult themes and memorable practical effects including one of the genres best werewolf transformations.

A wise grandmother (Angela Lansbury) tells her granddaughter Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) a disturbing tale of innocent maidens falling in love with handsome strangers … and of their sudden mysterious disappearances when the moon is full and accompanied by the strange sound of a beast in the woods.

‘The Company of Wolves’ is co-written and directed by Neil Jordan and stars Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Micha Bergese, and David Warner, streaming now.

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John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31

Haunting ghoslty image of 8 figures standing in a cloud of mist and fog. They are outlined in eeire blue and white lighting. All we see is the outline of these ghostly figures and their glowing red eyes.
When the fog comes, run!

Writer, director, musician, and horror master John Carpenter is a legend in the genre having provided countless classics such as ‘The Thing‘, a terrifyingly gruesome remake of ‘The Thing from Another World‘. Or his sci-fi action/horror ‘They Live’ where he deals with societal control through corporations and government. And of course, my personal favorite, the film that jumpstarted his career and created one of horror’s most iconic slashers…’Halloween‘.

1980’s ‘The Fog‘ is a terrifying shoreside tale of vengeful spirits haunting the fictional coastal town of Antonio Bay, OR. as they begin preparations to celebrate its centenary. Following exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in the town’s waters, a thick unearthly fog harboring the souls of those who perished rolls in and with them, the dark secrets of Antonio Bay’s past.

John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ stars scream queen and recent Academy Award winner Jamie Lee Curtis, genre alums Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, and Nancy Kyes, and was co-written by the late Debra Hill. ‘The Fog‘ will be available to stream on Shudder 03/31.

Full Shudder March 2023 Film Releases

For a full comprehensive list of all the titles being added to Shudder for the month of January, please refer to the graphic below. Please be on the lookout for our review of ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine’ to drop later this week here on HauntedMTL and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more Shudder news and spooky reviews!

Image list of the films releasing on Shudder for the month of March.
Shudder March 2023 film release schedule.

3/1:

Gretel and Hansel

3/2:

Spoonful of Sugar

3/9:

The Company of Wolves

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3/13:

Holidays

3/17:

Leave

3/20:

Jack be Nimble

3/27:

Ultra Pulpe

After Blue

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3/31:

The Unheard

The Fog

The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

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Movies n TV

She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…

I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.

Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.

It’s a guilty pleasure.

The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.

Shakira She Wolf
Madonna Express Yourself
Metropolis dance scene

Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.

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She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel
She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel

Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Movies n TV

Beware The Slenderman Documentary

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The Slenderman is a well-known character for both gamers and Creepypasta fans alike. Most of us have seen pictures of him. Eerie photos of an incredibly slim, tall man with a white face and three-piece suit. He stalks children at parks, taking them away forever. 

It’s a great scary story, a modern urban legend. And I’d like to think that most of us know that it is only that. 

Unfortunately in 2014, the story became too real for three twelve-year-old girls. Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser attempted to murder their friend, Payton Leutner. The three girls went into the woods, and Payton was stabbed nineteen times. 

Miraculously, she survived. 

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Today, I want to talk about the most comprehensive documentary I have seen to date regarding this tragedy. We’re taking a look at Beware The Slenderman. 

Released in March of 2016 by HBO, this documentary was actually released before the end of the trial. Despite that, it was incredibly informative. 

The two-hour-long documentary can be broken into two basic topics. The first, of course, is the attack on Peyton Leutner and the subsequent trial. The next topic is the one I was more interested in if we’re being honest. Slenderman is a modern-day urban legend. Why did his story have the power to drive two children to kill?

Original Slenderman photo, created by Eric Knudsen

Let’s talk first about the coverage of the criminal trial against Anissa and Morgan. Now, I’m going to tell you something that surprised me. This documentary was released in 2016. The criminal trial was not over until 2017. Seems to me that it would have been better to delay the documentary until the trial was, you know, over. But hey, what do I know? Instead, our climactic ending revolves around one serious question. Would Alissa and Morgan be tried as adults or children?

We saw a lot of interviews with the parents of the two girls. They talked a lot about how seemingly normal they were. About how they were often the target of bullying, and how they only had a few close friends.

This was a very sad, yet touching view of families that are struggling with an impossible situation. How do you love and support your child after they’ve done something so terrible? 

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I will warn you that this portion did involve police interviews with the girls. It’s not as upsetting as hearing babies crying while they died like in Transmissions from Jonestown. But it’s still not a warm and fuzzy experience. 

I appreciated the view of the families. It’s a point of view we don’t see as much. Part of me would have liked to see the family of Payton Leutner involved more. I’d have loved to know what they think of all of this. But it appears that they either didn’t want to participate in the documentary or weren’t asked in the first place. And honestly, I think that might be for the best. Even though Payton survived, she was brutally attacked by her two best friends. She and her family deserve to live their lives in peace.

What I was fascinated by was the story of Slenderman as a modern urban legend. What was it about this character that these children latched onto?

In this documentary, he’s compared to the Pied Piper in the way he lured children away from their families. This included a warped and frankly terrifying retelling of the Pied Piper with some of the creepiest animation I have ever seen. I loved it. 

The Pied Piper in a still from Beware The Slenderman.

Slenderman is a perfect character for this sort of infatuation, unfortunately, because there are just not a lot of specifics in his story. He pops up in video games and online tales with any number of motivations. Is he abducting children to torture and kill them? Or is he rescuing them from their cruel peers who ostracize them? His vague back story and vague appearance mean we can look at him and see whatever we want to see. If you want to see a killer, that’s what you’ll see. If you want to see a friend who happens to kill other people sometimes, you can see that too.

Overall, this was a fascinating documentary. It managed to handle a sensitive situation tastefully. No one is made out to be a bad guy here because in the end no one really is a bad guy. I mean, except Slenderman.

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This story is a stark reminder that stories have power. They have the power to heal us, inspire us, to change our lives. And if we aren’t very careful, they have the power to destroy our lives as well.

Stay safe, and don’t take things too seriously out there. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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