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!

David Davis

Drive-In Fan

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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