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.
The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!
They say good things come to those who wait, and boy have we been patient. It has been quite a few months since we have been treated to a full season of ‘The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs’, in fact, the season 4 finale premiered on Shudder July 1st, 2022. Since then, we have been able to satisfy our appetites with festive holiday specials sprinkled throughout the past year. Specials such as ‘Joe Bob’s Halloween Hangout’ guest starring horror’s favorite Mistress of the dark, Elvira (played by the legendary Cassandra Peterson) and ‘Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together’. Last month was a treat in itself, as we were able to witness Joe Bob Briggs and fan favorite co-host, Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) marry one lucky couple for the first time on the show, with ‘Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine‘ special.
While the current changes in staff at Shudder has left fans questioning if we will receive a new season of the popular series, I can happily say mutant family, we need not worry. In fact, to our wonderous surprise, Joe Bob Briggs has officially announced via Twitter, season 5 of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ will be premiering April 21st, exclusively on Shudder! One thing that is noteworthy, is unlike previous seasons, it has been reported by 1428Elm that season 5 will be broken up into two parts of five double-feature blood-curdling episodes. Though we have not been provided the official release schedule for the second block of season 5, here is a sneak peek of what we can expect for the first half of the season:
April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama’s Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
Unfortunately, we do not have an official list of the brand-new double feature films for the first half of season 5 but, with amusing episode titles such as these, one can only imagine what grindhouse-classics will be joining ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ already eclectic list of sloshy goodness. For those impatient mutants eagerly waiting for more hilarious Joe Bob rant-filled commentaries, or those newcomers who’ve yet to experience the magic that is ‘The Last Drive-In‘, all previous four seasons, including past holiday specials are currently available to stream now on Shudder.
If you are just as big of fans of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ as we here at HauntedMTL are, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @HauntedMTL and join us April 21st as we tweet along with Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl for the season premier. As is tradition, we will be hosting live watch parties every Friday with each new episode, including fresh holiday specials. The road to season 5 is upon us…let the countdown begin!
April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama's Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
. . . and that's only the beginning.#TheLastDriveIn pic.twitter.com/WfeTx0shNa— Joe Bob Briggs (@therealjoebob) March 16, 2023
Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule
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.
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
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
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
The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31
‘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
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
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.
John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31
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!
Gretel and Hansel
Spoonful of Sugar
The Company of Wolves
Jack be Nimble
The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Movies n TV
She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel
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.
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.
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.