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We’re back at the Shudder drive-in and ooh, doesn’t that feel good to say, time to unwind with House by the Cemetery (1981) and Mother’s Day (1980). The specials between the seasons are great and really feel like events, but the weekly show is where it is at. We have a very special episode this week with a Drive-In first, a guest who hangs around for both films! Eli Roth joins Joe Bob from a remote location to school viewers regarding Troma and Italian horror.

It’s gonna be very scary, much like the tweet below from.

Mother’s Day (1980)

Opening: Ah, the Psycho Hag.

Mother’s Day, directed by Charles Kaufman, Lloyd’s brother, is what we’d consider an early slasher. However, it is also one that absolutely nails the tropes and developments of the genre early on. The film, stars Nancy Hendrickson, Deborah Luce, and Tiana Pierce as women on a trip who are kidnapped by an insane backwoods family consisting of two brutish brothers (Gary pollard and Michael McCleery) and their dear ol’ mom (Beatrice Pons). Oddly enough, the actors of the backwoods hillbilly rape family are credited with different names. One wonders why.

Surprisingly, the holiday is not mentioned in the film.

Mother’s Day is a pretty insane film and is a Troma production through and through. However, it can also be incredibly unsettling at times and even the bleakest Troma comedy still makes the film extremely uncomfortable for prolonged periods. The fact so much comedy can be mined out of a rape-revenge narrative is impressive and probably entirely inappropriate. So yeah, totally Troma. That being said, it’s still a good film that plays with slasher tropes which had already become a thing by the time Mother’s Day released. It’s definitely the better of the films of the night, and the fact it was shot simultaneously with the first Friday the 13th (on the opposite side of the lake) makes it an incredibly interesting part of slasher film history. The film’s direction is effective and the performances are pretty good, particularly Beatrice Pons as “Mother.” The highlight of the film, however, is the actual revenge with the brothers being killed repeatedly.

Joe Bob Briggs took a bit of a back seat to guest Eli Roth for the premiere. At first thought this may seem disappointing, but Eli Roth’s enthusiasm for the films and encyclopedic knowledge was very satisfying. Obviously due to the current pandemic, the conversations did feel a little stilted, but they still proved entertaining and incredibly informative. Roth talked quite a bit about his personal connections to Mother’s Day, and how influential it was on his own career. One of the highlights in the discussion, one that opened up the film quite a bit, was the point made about how much time the film spends with the backwoods family developing them into full characters; a rarity for many slasher films at the time.

As a whole, Mother’s Day is good; it has little to do with the actual Mother’s Day and more to do with hillbilly rape in the woods, but it’s a good, drive-in quality movie. It has the Troma attitude, production values, and it was presented by informative, talented hosts providing insights. Not a bad way to start a season at all. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Best Line: “There are three rules in the film business – Distribution, distribution, distribution.” – Guy at the Pool Party

Mother likes it, very much.

House by the Cemetery (1981)

Opening: Y’all ain’t using y’all correctly, ya hear?

House by the Cemetery is an Italian horror film. That statement alone has either pulled you in or driven you away a bit. Italian horror can be fairly divisive among horror fanatics and people tend to have strong feelings and are rarely passive in their response to seeing a Fulci, Argento, or Bava film. This exercise in dream logic is the 1981 directorial effort of Lucio Fulci. It stars Catriona MacColl, Ania pieroni, and Giovanni Frezza. The film is probably most infamous for the dubbing of the child character, Bob.

The House by the Cemetery Poster (Italian) (1981)
Not pictured: Bob, the Demon Child.

The movie is, like a great deal of Italian horror, more driven by sensation than narrative logic. The entire film is like a scattershot of horror. Giallo? Sure, why not, have a few stabbing scenes. Haunted house tropes? Of course, throw them in! Undead monsters? Fuck yes, toss one in during the last ten minutes. Oh, and we’ll throw in some ghosts at the end because people are gonna see this anyway… it doesn’t need to make sense! It may sound wildly dismissive, but that’s part of the fun of the movie, a mishmash of ideas to create mood. is the payoff worth it? Not really, but the journey can be a lot of fun. There’s fun moments of ridiculous gore, the goriest from of the night by far, and some legitimately creepy images. The film isn’t a masterpiece of story craft, but it doesn’t need to be, either.

Eli Roth is the first guess to spend the whole evening on the show. He again reveals his own connections to The House by the Cemetery and it’s all very entertaining. Joe Bob Briggs also contributes a little more in this one, having a greater tête-à-tête with Roth about the Italian film industry. The highlight of the host segments for the back half of the night was what was essentially a 3 minute crash course on Giallo by a breathless Eli Roth. We also learn a bit about the fascistic origins of the overabundance of dubbing in the Italian film industry (this article is a fascinating elaboration of this). Regarding the lack of logic in the film, Eli Roth puts it best. “it’s a fun film, don’t take it seriously.”

House by the Cemetery is far from the best film aired on The Last Drive-In, but it still provides some fun moments, genuine creeps, and enough eye closeups where you expect a shootout to begin at any moment. The downside, however, is the presence of Bob, who is maybe the most irritating child in horror film history 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Best Line: “Ann? Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true?” – Bob, having witnessed Ann’s murder.

That’s not a key- that’s not a key at all!

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

As always, Shudder comes in with the clutch Tweets for the night’s totals, with a return of the Vomit meter!

As for our totals, I am not doing as many this time around, because sometimes I’d rather just watch the movie than track instances of things. Don’t worry though, he have some fun bits.

  • Two Film Guest: Eli Roth
  • Three Seasons (congrats!)
  • Yuki Sighting x 2
  • Darcy Jailed
  • Audio Log of Doom
  • Golfball and G-Spot Joking
  • Girlfriend Killing Joking
  • Gratuitous Rape-Training Montage
  • Gratuitous Slideshow
  • Free Associated Party Sequence
  • One Dongle
  • Spaghetti Gothic
  • Special Ending Fu
  • Troma Tally: 1
  • Silver Bolo Award: Screaming Soup
  • Darcy Cosplay: 3, “Mother,” Lucy, and Camp Counselor Chic

Episode Score

We’re still at the cabin, at least for the foreseeable future. I find myself missing the hominess of the trailer but the cabin has grown on me a bit – I just like my movie hosts in trailers, that’s all.. The presence of Eli Roth during both films was novel and a welcome change of pace. Ideally he’ll make a return, significantly less socially distanced, in the future. The presence of laughter on set was also a nice touch, with Joe Bob vamping with Austin and the rest of the crew periodically. Also commendable as ever is Darcy, who has settled in quite nicely to the role of Joe Bob’s counterpoint. Their back and forth feels more like a chat between mutual hosts and I am quite enjoying this evolution of the mail girl that this latest run of The Last Drive-In has presented.

Thinking about the evening, both films represent something extremely relatable for horror fans everywhere. Both films are personal favorites of Eli Roth, and while they may not be incredible movies, they are significant to him. Horror fans have those movies they love, some of their first exposures to horror that maybe aren’t classics in the critical-sense, but becomes classics due to the feelings and memories associated with them. My own include Child’s Play and The Changeling. It was nice to get a extended conversation between Joe Bob Briggs and Eli Roth. It felt like an appropriate change of pace for a movie hosting show that has entered it’s third season.


All in all, a welcome start to season three. Two fun movies, so different in tone, but alike in importance to Eli Roth. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Anyway, that is it for next week here at The Notes from The last Drive-In. We’ll be live tweeting and posting a review next week of episode two. What is in store? Who knows!

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Book Reviews

The Dead Take the A Train Review: Queer Magic and Monster Mayhem



“Julie crawled onto the table, straddling her intern, both hands around the knife. She torqued it downward, cursing. Brad shrieked harder.” -pg 57, The Dead Take the A Train by Cassandra Khaw & Richard Kadrey

The Dead Take the A Train is the first book in a duology by authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey. It was published in 2023 by Tor Nightfire (like the Scourge Between Stars, which I reviewed here). I was not previously familiar with Kadrey’s work, which most notably includes the Sandman Slim series. However, I was introduced to Khaw through The Salt Grows Heavy (review here), which I absolutely adored in all its twisted, gory glory. Therefore, I was thrilled to pick-up The Dead Take the A Train, which promised similar heart in a modern cosmic horror package.

In The Dead Take the A Train, a magical fixer named Julie must hunt down eldritch monstrosities threatening the lives of those around her. To do this, she has to go up against her shitty ex, a questionable angel, finance executives, and her own sobriety. When an old friend shows up, Julie is terrified to find herself making a retirement plan that doesn’t involve getting murdered by a demon.

The Dead Take the A Train is reminiscent of N.K. Jeminsin’s The City We Became, with both featuring queer characters tackling eldritch horror plots in New York City. In the same way, the novel was reminiscent of a gorier version of Dimension 20’s Unsleeping City actual play series. However, it clearly carves out a space for itself among the droves of cosmic-horror inspired love letters to New York City. For one, it is mostly unconcerned with borough beef, which (not to sound like a curmudgeonly Midwesterner), is so refreshing. The book also has a relatively novel way the world works, which helps it stay memorable.


Overall, I really liked The Dead Take the A Train. First off, the characters are fun and easy to root for. Julie is a mess in pretty much every aspect, but her bad decisions are understandable and she is charismatic. Her romance with her friend, Sarah, also serves to make Julie more likable. It helps that the villains are so easy to hate too. What’s not to hate about rich Wall Street assholes engaging in human sacrifice? Speaking of which, I liked the juxtaposition of corporate Wall Street and cosmic cultists. The actions taken were evil, but more importantly, they were just business.

The prose was flowery, but not quite as much as in The Salt Grows Heavy. So, if you struggled with Khaw’s other works for that reason this may be a much easier read. Personally, I enjoyed the prose in both. There is quite a bit of gore in The Dead Take the A Train, but I didn’t find it to be overwhelming. I think you could still enjoy the book if you don’t love gore, though maybe not if you have a weak stomach.

One of the largest issues I have with The Dead Take the A Train, is the lack of clarity in power levels of the various characters. Especially since all their forms of magic work in different ways, it is sometimes unclear the level of danger present. This can also sometimes create room for plot holes. For example, Julie has a friend who is tapped into anything and everything happening online. This is an absurdly powerful ability (and is used as such). But there were moments where the main conflict probably could have been avoided or solved using that power. It also felt odd that no one else in this thriving magic community felt strongly about stopping a world-ending catastrophe. Because of this, the magic underground of NYC could feel smaller than I think was intended.

Having been familiar with Khaw’s work previously, The Dead Take the A Train clearly feels like a mix of Khaw’s style with someone else’s. This could be a boon or a hindrance, depending on your view of Khaw’s distinct prose and storytelling. Either way, if you are interested in learning more about the process or the authors, check out the interview they did for SFF Addicts Podcast!

Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey on the SFF Addicts Podcast

I recommend The Dead Take the A Train, especially for those who are fans of modern urban eldritch horror. The book is an even bigger steal if you are looking for danger, gore, and queer characters. Check it out! And keep your eyes peeled for the next book in this duology. 


[USR 4.2]

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Movies n TV

Dolores Roach, A Fillet of Left Cheek



The second season of Dolores Roach started with a bang. The first episode was dark, gristly and in a strange way whimsical. It certainly brought to light new elements of the character.

The story

We begin our story with Dolores somewhere, talking to someone. I’d like to be more specific, but that’s all we know right now.

She tells this unknown person about her flight from Empanadas Loco. How Jeremiah killed Luis. How she, whether she meant to or not, killed Jeremiah. How she then set the building on fire by blowing up the fryer in the kitchen.


Scared and alone, Dolores then ran for the underground. Dragging her purple massage table she runs into a hole in a subway track and finds herself in a whole different world.

Almost at once, she finds a place where someone is living. There’s a hot plate, a kettle and several packets of ramen. Even better, everything has Jeremiah’s name on it, literally written on it. Exhausted and alone, Dolores makes herself a cup of ramen and goes to sleep on her massage table.

She’s woken sometime later by a small man named Donald. He knows her because he knew Jeremiah. Dolores proceeds to tell him an abridged version of events that led up to Jeremiah’s death. And by abridged, I mean she blamed Luis for everything, throwing him under the bus so hard I’m surprised she didn’t pull something.

Donald seems inclined to help Dolores. He tells her that if anyone messes with her she should go further down, down a stairwell that he points out for her.

Dolores thanks him, then tries to go back to sleep. She’s soon woken again by a young woman collecting Jeremiah’s things.


While Dolores has an issue with this, she’s willing to let it go. Until that is, this woman tries to take her table. Then, Dolores does what she does best. Because one thing is for sure. Dolores is going to take care of herself.

What worked

One thing I love about this series so far is that our main character, Dolores, is crazy. And hearing her rationalize her crazy is both terrifying and fascinating. I hate/love how sweet and soothing she can be. Even with the rat that she killed in this episode. She cooed at it, encouraging it to come to her, even calling it a subway raccoon.

Then she killed it and started crying.

I also love the underground community. It’s both horrific and whimsical. It reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which is full of worlds most people don’t see but are all around us. It’s also horrific because there are so many people that our society has failed, that they’ve gathered underground and made their own little society. That’s not great. There just shouldn’t be that many people who need homes.


What didn’t work

Unfortunately, this episode did have two major flaws. And the first one is a personal pet peeve of mine.

In the last episode of season one, certain things were established. Dolores said she was carefully rationing her weed. She said she didn’t have anything to eat since coming down to the tunnels. She still had her massage table. This episode rewrote a lot of that.

Frankly, I hate when stories do that. It may or not make a difference to the story. It just strikes me as poor planning and lazy writing. This show has proven it’s capable of doing better.

All things considered, I thought this was a great start to the season. I’m invested in the story, curious about the new characters, and worried about the well-being of everyone Dolores comes in contact with. And that’s all as it should be.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing, you might want to check out my latest sci-fi horror story, Nova. It’ll be released episodically on my site, Paper Beats World, starting February 5th.

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Movies n TV

The Golem (2019), a Film Review

The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz, starring Hani Furstenberg and Ishai Golan.



The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz. The cast includes Hani Furstenberg, Ishai Golan, Kirill Cernyakov, and Brynie Furstenberg. As of this review, the film remains available to Amazon Prime and fuboTV subscribers with additional purchase options on other platforms.

Set in 1673, a small Jewish community faces hardships from others as the Black Plague spreads. When these hardships reach a boiling point, Hanna takes matters into her own hands. Having secretly learned to read, she seeks to perform a ritual that would create a protector for her people. Yet, this act brings about a steep cost.

a redheaded woman walks through a village.
Hani Furstenberg as Hanna

What I Like about The Golem

The film received three nominations in 2019. These nominations include Best Actress, Best Sound, and Best Cinematography from the Award of the Israeli Film Academy. While The Golem wouldn’t win these awards, the nominations indicate a strong film.

I won’t claim to know the accuracy and intricacies of the golem in relation to its religious origin, but the film certainly brings to life its concept. The effort to create such a creature and the toll it takes from the summoner create an emotional throughline for viewers to follow.

Hani Furstenberg’s Hanna and Ishai Golan’s Benjamin bring a complicated but realistic relationship to the film. Viewers see the love between them, even as their own society attempts to cast them from each other. They feel like a couple who understand the other’s wants and needs. However, we begin to witness the decaying of this relationship.


Hanna, specifically, provides a complex character that incentivizes the viewers to root for and against her at different points in the movie. Though she navigates blatant sexism and discrimination, she remains far from flawless. These flaws and ambitions establish Hanna as an interesting character.

The Golem can be brutal. This film provides a period-accurate look into antisemitism and systemic oppression, which certainly evokes a different form of horror. However, the golem itself brings brutality through its smiting.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Triggers

As the film deals directly with systemic issues of 1673, understand that antisemitism, sexism, and hate crimes remain important elements within the film.

An assault leads to a miscarriage, which seems a point worth mentioning for potential viewers who are sensitive to such points. Fertility and bodily autonomy, generally, also play roles within the provided film.

If any of these are potential issues for your viewing experience, perhaps skip The Golem.

An obscured woman looks at a boy covered in mud. The setting is a forest.
The Golem takes Shape

What I Dislike about The Golem

Aleksey Tritenko delivers a wonderful performance for an interesting antagonist, but the role of Vladimir serves limited purposes. In many ways, he’s the representation of his societal antisemitism. While this remains perfectly valid, he somewhat disappears from the narrative until he becomes relevant. His marauders should be an oppressive threat within the society, looming over it with malice.

I can’t deny the lack of intimidation the golem’s aesthetic brings. While some films evoke an eeriness through silent children to horrific effect, this didn’t sit well with me. It should be eerie, but something was missing in execution.


The Golem focuses on a more human horror than the supernatural elements might suggest. While not a direct critique, prepare your viewing expectations accordingly. The Golem remains a folk horror film, using the folk story to represent human evil and flaws. It won’t particularly haunt you with the gore.

Final Thoughts

The Golem brings the old legend of the golem folk story to life. If you thirst for a human horror that shines a light on the flaws of the people within, The Golem might satisfy you. However, it’s not a particularly frightening film, choosing instead to tell a story of loss and overcoming suffering. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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