Welcome back to “Notes from the Last Drive-In,” Haunted MTL’s review and recap series for The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, a Shudder exclusive. This week, the second episode of season three, Joe Bob sits us down for an Audition, and inducts us into the Class of 1984. How do these movies connect? Who knows? We’ll probably figure out something by the end of our journey together. What a long, strange trip it promises to be.
Opening: Dudes, don’t be creepy when trying to meet ladies, Meet Cutes are only in the movies.
Takashi Miike’s Audition, adapted from Ryu Murakami’s 1997 novel, is one of the leading films in what was the 2000s’ wave of J-horror, and stands out, 22-years later, as a horror masterpiece. However, with the film being subtitled, it feels like the movie never quite gets its due for more casual horror viewers. Thankfully, a year after Parasite took home an Oscar for best picture, perhaps a more casual audience’s hearts and minds are more open to world cinema horror. Audition stars Ryo Ishibashi, Jun Kunimura, and Eihi Shiina in a stunning international debut. The film follows a lonely widower, Aoyama, who is convinced to stage a series of phony auditions to find a potential new partner. However, as he sets his sights on a sad, strange woman named Asami, he spirals into obsession and madness… and not necessarily his own.
The film is a stunning exploration of obsessions and gender and cultural norms in Japan that I am not nearly remotely qualified enough to unpack. The film is complex and with every watch I have ever had, my opinions on the two leads change and morph. The film is so subject to interpretation that theories upon theories can be found online making various cases and arguments for just what it all means. Ultimately, the film becomes a personal experience, colored by one’s own history and perceptions. is Aoyama a victim? Yes and no. Did he really experience what he experienced after sleeping with Asami? Who knows? Definitive answers are impossible, and anyone trying to sell you one is just as lost as anyone else.
The film is stunning in a number of areas, particularly in the areas of sight and sound. The film subverts romantic comedy cinematography and uses the camera in several interesting ways to develop an unsettled and uncanny world. What we see through the camera is unreliable, just as the experiences of Aoyama depicted. As his obsession grows more skewed, so too does the reality of the screen heighten. As for the sound, the score is effective, especially as it shifts between romantic themes and the unsettling, but the best work comes in the third act, where every gross, violent image is accompanied with some of the best Foley work I have ever heard. The effect is terrifying.
The performances of the two leads are magnificent, particularly Eihi Shinna as the mysterious Asami, who radiates an unsteady aura. This is helped by the cinematography but even on set, something about her still rattled Takashi Miike. During one of the segments Joe Bob point out that Miike avoided her between takes. Ryo Ishibashi is also fantastic, playing a handsome, vulnerable man who is initially sympathetic until the mask slips with each gradual and sinister allowance. As Joe Bob points out during one of the host segments, the camera focuses on Aoyama most times; Asami’s agency is supplanted by Aoyama’s gaze, a hint at the darker side of the courtship.
The segments surrounding the episode were informative, as expected from The Last Drive-In. Particularly of note were two moments. Before the movie Joe Bob discusses how we classify horror movies. Echoing Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart from Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964, an important case on what qualifies as obscene or not, Joe Bob says of horror that “we know it when we see it.” Horror, much like pornography and all good things, is something that can be hard to pin down with words, but is in a state in and of itself. The second segment of note in the first half of the night was an extended gag poking fun at Joe Bob’s inability to pronounce Japanese words, with Joe Bob holding up a series of flashcards and Yuki read the names.
Joe Bob Briggs’ critical of assessment is spot on, giving the film the full four-stars. I am much inclined to agree with the perceived perfection of the film. While few films are perfect to me as I would argue that perfection is something that can be achieved, some get pretty close – Audition is one of those ‘perfect’ horror films and gets a full five-Cthulhu rating. (5 / 5)
Best Line: “Deeper, deeper, deeper, deeper.” – Asami as she shows how much she really cares for Aoyama.
Class of 1984 (1982)
Opening: Corporal Punishment in Teaching (the holes make the paddle faster)
The second half of the night revolved around the 1982 high school crime thriller Class of 1984, directed by Mark Lester. The film is a satirical projection of anxieties regarding violence and crime in schools in the 1980s and would spawn two sci-fi sequels, Class of 1999 and Class of 1999 II: The Substitute. Class of 1984 stars Perry King, Merrie Lynn Ross, Roddy McDowall, and Timothy Van Patten. It also has one of the earliest film appearances of Michael J. Fox with an most unfortunate haircut. The film follows a music teacher, Andrew Norris, who is new to a troubled inner city school that is under the control of a group of “punks” who commit an extremely wide array of crimes. Eventually, Norris finds himself pushed to the extreme and must take action into his own hands to deal with these terror-teens… as violently as possible.
Most films on The Last Drive-In are just good fun for me. I love horror, but despite that, few horror films actually scare me – I walk through haunts laughing. I’ve grown up with the genre, watching violence and terror since I was a toddler. It probably did something to my brain. That being said, no film on The Last Drive-In has affected me quite like Class of 1984. For many, it is not really a horror movie, though, again, I defer to Joe Bob with “we know them when we see them.” The raw, visceral quality of the film, and the inhumanity on display by Tim Van Patten’s Peter Stegman and his merry band of ghouls is profoundly disturbing. I also work as a teacher, so the metaphor of systemic problems in education and the punishment of teachers who try their best to just fucking teach hits hard. Horror is all metaphor; the knife is a phallus, the zombie is a consumer, the chainsaw represents industrialized society – and the inhuman gang of teens of Class of 1984 are among these metaphors. I wouldn’t say that 1984 scared me, though but rather it woke something dark.
The film itself is competent, fun shlock with a lot of missed opportunities. But the key, here, is fun. The set piece in the final act is worth the watch alone. Performances are not subtle, but that’s fine because Roddy McDowall gnashes his way through his scenes, the best of the film, like the legend he was. Tim Van Patten is a cartoonish sociopath, but for a movie like this, it works. Perry King is serviceable, given the thankless role of being the vehicle of vengeance with little realistic development and forced to make dumb choices to move the plot along. His grimace has he murders teens, however? Fantastic.
The movie’s cinematography is pretty unimpressive. It’s competent and gets the job done, but it doesn’t “wow.” The music is better, featuring some solid punk music and a fun theme “I Am the Future” by Alice Cooper. But as a whole, the movie feels like a straight to video project, but lacks a low-budget surge of creativity. It is polished to the point of blandness – its saving grace is the story, some shocking excess, an iconic performance by McDowall, and its connection to Canadian horror.
Joe Bob’s treatment of the movie, I felt, was a little overly effusive. But again, our experience are our own – I do not always agree with his assessments. Three segments during the night were particularly fascinating. One extended segment featured the return of visual aids to a Joe Bob rant, where our venerable host covered the Van Patten family tree to an absurd degree. Absolutely hilarious. Another moment, earlier was a digression on the usage of “punk” in the film. As a fan of punk rock, and someone who is both in love and critical of the scene and its history, it is always a joy to listen to Joe Bob drop some knowledge of the scene. This time around, his focus was on the way punk is portrayed in the movie, and I particularly appreciate his pointing out a distinction between punk and new wave aesthetics. I’d be curious to learn more about his punk music knowledge, personally. The third segment I highlighted, was post-film, where Joe Bob expresses his concerns over how the ending was handled. he was appropriately critical, not disparaging the film, but I think being more honest about it. I would love to have picked his brain there, given his extended criticism, and asked him what his assessment of the film would have been then.
Joe Bob Briggs gave Class of 1984 the third four-star rating of the season. I worry he was a bit too generous. It is a fun movie – and it even got a particularly reaction from me – but it shouldn’t be rated on equal footing with Audition. As for me, the film earns a standard three Cthulhus. it is worth a watch, but temper your expectations.(3 / 5)
Best Line: “I am the future!” -Peter Stegman, teen of terror
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
Our official totals this week, as always, come from the Shudder Twitter account.
As for our totals?
- 3 instance of Four-Star Feature this season
- 2 Instances of “Thee-ate-er”
- 2 instances of Darcy being Twitter Jailed
- 2 Yuki Sightings
- 100+ films by Takashi Miike
- Casting Couch Vibes
- Dead Mom/Wife
- Gratuitous Various Severed Parts
- Acupuncture Fu
- Japanese Pink Film Referencing
- Gratuitous Animal Murder
- Brainfuck Dream Sequence
- Second Polaroid Rape Sequence this season
- Cheese Joking
- Horse Joking
- Silver Bolo Award: Zombie Joe’s Underground
- Darcy Cosplay Count: 2 – Asami and Patsy
The pairing of films was pretty unusual. I can usually find a way to link the choices thematically, but I admit I am struggling a bit here. If I had to hone in on something, I suppose it would be obsession, as both films feature unhealthy fixations, but it is also a little too easy. The other thought, more abstract, admittedly, is the idea of transitions – moving between states. An audition is a way to force a change from one, high school is a period in which an individual is transitioning from childhood to a perceived adulthood. These transitions, however, are only as good as the intent behind them. Two films depicting two social institutions meant to transition individuals from one stage of life to another, both corrupted. There may be something in that. (4 / 5)
See you all next week for more Drive-In fun. I’ll be live Tweeting the show from Haunted MTL’s Twitter account, so be sure to give us a follow there.
Joe Bob Briggs Creepy Christmas spooktacular: The Last Drive-In Special Charity phenomena
Famed horror host, Pulitzer Prize nominated, and Cracker Barrel aficionado Joe Bob Briggs is back in action, ready to bring some macabre merriment to your holiday season with Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas. It also gives us horror fans something to take into the new year, be that something Darcy’s panties (sorry, box, I tried) or just the intangible good feels of hanging with friends and supporting a lot of good causes.
The Return of Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas Special
The Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas event is akin to a Jerry Lewis telethon for Gen X, with a twist of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’. This ‘Briggs’ auction of sorts is a nostalgic nod to the past, especially for those who remember the telethons. The dread, however, has shifted from the … well… whatever Jerry was supposed to do (see Sam Kinison’s bit on this for more info) to that of evil goodies.
Without a doubt, this Joe Bob Briggs special is the event we eagerly anticipate each year. It’s a tradition, and a worthy one at that. We hope to see everyone on the interwebs, joining the ‘creepy links’ and engaging in the conversation (We’ll be on Threads and Twitter….tag us as you wish!) ‘live’ the only way anyone should ever watch a tv show (oh, and I guess on demand, but ya weirdos will never know the sting of the Iron Mutant Award!). ‘Live’ is the only way anyone should ever watch a TV show, especially ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ (as it’s far too hard to watch tv whilst dead).
Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas The ‘Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl’ special will hit the airwaves live on Shudder TV and AMC+ TV on Friday, December 15th at 9 p.m. ET. Fans of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ can also catch the special on-demand starting Sunday, December 17th.
A Creepy Christmas with a Cause
In its fourth year, the holiday tradition of The Last Drive-In goes beyond mere entertainment. It aims to use the platform to raise funds for four vital causes. The charity auction will feature unique props and exclusive merchandise from The Last Drive-In and memorabilia from Briggs’ illustrious 35-year career…including some of his unspoken work as John Bloom. I say Unspoken, because if anyone remembers the first Christmas Special, the autographed copy of Eccentric Orbits was featured (sincerely, a good book–check it out if you haven’t. Jim gives it 4.5/5)
The supported charities for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas will include:
- Wildlife Conservation Network
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
- Every Mother Counts
- Solving Kids’ Cancer
The Mystery of the Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas Special
The anticipation for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas is high, with fans wildly speculating what films will be featured. Personally, nothing can beat the #1 top horror Christmas film of all time, the Easter classic: Passion of the Christ (if a snuff film about a guy who doesn’t fit in getting whipped and nailed up doesn’t scream horror story, I don’t know what does. Also: See Sam Kinison’s concept on crosses and resurrection). However, a Christmas movie I really want to see up on this is Hogzilla and Kiss Save Santa Clause! BOOMMM!! Christmas Won!
As we eagerly wait for December 15th, we wonder what surprises our favorite horror host, Joe Bob Briggs, has in store this time. Will there be exclusive ‘merch’ that Jim will buy and then accidentally put in a Toys for Tots box in the mall?
Join the Fun, Join the Cause, Join the Joe Bob Briggs Christmas event!
Are you ready to dive into the world of Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas? Do you dare to watch along and help raise money for a good cause? If so, join us at HauntedMTL on Threads (_HauntedMTL_) and maybe Twitter (@HauntedMTL) as we experience the thrill and chills that only Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy can deliver.
Remember, this is not just about indulging in some good old horror fun with ‘Joe Bob’s’ double feature. It’s about giving back and making a difference. So, let’s gear up to have a creepy Christmas with ‘Joe Bob Briggs’, filled with ‘christmas horror films’, ‘christmas demons’, ‘christmas slasher films’, ‘ho-ho-horror’, ‘yuletide horror’ and insightful ‘horror commentary’.Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas and make this holiday season memorable for all the right reasons! I’m sure Fright Rags will have another stellar set this year, too. They are perfect for the horror fan in your life (even if that fan is you!). I can’t wait to see what they have in store (no pun).
SPECIAL — IF YOU WANT Freeeeeeeee (as supplies last) Fright Rags Joe Bob Briggs merch for this year, just tweet/thread at us during the event and Jim will pick the one that makes him chuckle the most (you will need to give us your address and size in DMs)
No subscription to watch Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas yet? No problem! Check the link below:
AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit Joe Bob at www.shudder.com.
X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
Airing in December of 1998, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas is a classic monster of the week episode of the X-Files. Except, of course, it’s ghosts, not monsters. Because it’s Christmas, and there’s no better time for a little ghost story than that.
Our story begins like any good holiday evening should. Mulder is telling Scully a ghost story. They’re sitting together outside a supposedly haunted house on Christmas Eve, waiting for the ghosts of two lovers to appear. The story is that they killed each other eighty-one years ago, that very night. Mulder is very excited to see some ghosts. Scully would rather be at home celebrating the holiday.
One of these people has a family life and a dog. The other only has his partner.
Eventually, the two of them do make it inside, where they find an elderly couple named Maurice and Lydia. They seem like a nice enough couple until things start getting weird. Doors lock and unlock as they please. Lydia and Maurice seem to appear and vanish. And, of course, some dead bodies are found.
As Scully and Mulder try to find each other in this sprawling maze of a house, the ghosts are after them. They tell them terrible, insightful things about themselves and each other. The scary thing is that some of this is good advice.
The scary thing is how much of this Mulder and Scully needed to hear.
Eventually, our heroes escape, though they sure don’t exorcise the ghosts in the house or themselves. Lydia and Maurice are left to enjoy their quiet Christmas Eve in the comfort of their love, no longer a raging fire of passion, but a warm bed of glowing embers.
First off, let me say that I’m a sucker for a bottle episode. Especially in a show like X-Files. (And it is a true bottle episode, being the cheapest episode of the season.) For the most part, our story takes place in one location, with just four actors. It is tense, it is tight, and it is intimate.
Honestly, this episode has everything going for it. Of course, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson bring their A Game. And they’re joined by two of the funniest comedic actors of all time, Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. These people could read you the phone book and have you in stitches.
But the writing is also exemplary. Mulder and Scully are forced to take a good look at how they treat each other, for better or worse. They have to consider their relationship, the way they live their lives, and the darker voices in their heads.
In the end, I think they come together beautifully.
Finally, I want to praise the location. The haunted house looks so much like Hill House, it can’t be an accident. It’s in turn freezing and warm, falling apart and beautifully maintained. The cobwebs and hanging sheets on the unused furniture are just classic. And with the massive fireplaces, bookshelves to the ceiling, and the well-stocked bar, the whole place has an air of old-fashioned comfort, left to rot.
What didn’t work
I honestly cannot think of one thing that didn’t work in this episode. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s dark. It’s the perfect Christmas episode of television.
In the end, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is a dark, spooky little tale. It’s filled with scares and chills but still manages to warm your heart. And if you want to fit a little more blood and gore into your holiday watch list, this is a great way to do it.
(5 / 5)
Released in 1997, it would be understandable if you confused this Jack Frost with the movie of the same title that was released in 1998 and starred Michael Keaton. We are not talking about the Michael Keaton Jack Frost because it’s not horror. It’s also not good.
(Look at that, you’re getting two reviews in one today. Merry Christmas.)
No, today we are talking about Jack Frost, starring Christopher Allport and Scott MacDonald. And it is possibly the most bonkers Christmas movie I have ever seen.
We begin our tale in a very messed up fashion. A little girl asks her uncle for a bedtime story on Christmas Eve. The uncle tells her about a serial killer named Jack Frost who was caught after leaving bits of his victims inside pies. But there’s no need to worry, the uncle explains. Because Jack Frost was caught and is being executed that very night.
And we won’t be hearing from these two characters again for the whole movie.
Instead, we cut to Jack, being transported to his execution. Somehow he manages to escape, only to be doused with some sort of acid and melted into the snow.
Meanwhile, the sheriff who caught Jack Frost, Sam, is trying to come to terms with his death. He’s thankful that he’s gone, but the nightmare just doesn’t feel over yet.
Then, of course, people start turning up dead in his little town. And in spectacular ways.
Slowly, Jack Frost seems to work his way through a family called the Metzners. Even though it appears that this family didn’t have a single thing to do with him. First, he murders their son, then proceeds to stalk the entire family.
Sam is joined by an FBI agent named Agent Manners and a scientist named Stone. Together they fumble around the tiny little town, trying to figure out how to kill Jack. Bullets do nothing. He can melt and slip through cracks. But hairdryers seem to do the trick.
I’m going to be honest here. Nothing in this movie was good. The effects were bad. The writing is bad. The constant snow puns are bad. The acting is bad.
But it is this exact combination of bad aspects that makes Jack Frost funny. It is so intentionally bad that it is hilarious. None of the characters are likable, so we’re not overly upset when they’re murdered in horrific ways. None of the effects look real, but they look fun. The writing is awful, but it’s hilarious.
And here’s the greatest thing about Jack Frost. Everyone working on it is having fun. You can just tell that every single actor is having the time of their lives. Nobody was having a single bad day on stage here. And that alone makes Jack Frost enjoyable to watch.
What didn’t work
One thing I have to say here is that the acting was just bad. It was not, I believe, intentionally bad acting. That is to say, it wasn’t a talented actor acting badly for comedic effect. This was just bad acting from almost everyone in the cast. The two exceptions are Allport and Marsha Clark, who plays Marla. Everybody else is overacting so hard that they’re pulling muscles. They’re chewing the scenery so much that they’re not going to have room for Christmas cookies.
To enjoy Jack Frost, you need to have a deep appreciation for campy effects, bad snow puns, and really inappropriate humor. It’s one of those movies where you turn off your brain, make sure all loose items are secured and your lap bar is completely locked, and enjoy the ride.
If you can do that, then you’re going to have a great time with this movie. If not, don’t worry. There’s lots more holiday horror to come. (4 / 5)