Welcome back all to our weekly meeting where we discuss The Last Drive-In. This is Notes from the Last Drive-In and this week we get the delightful pairing on the Canadian werewolf film Ginger Snaps (2000), and the recent Shudder exclusive, Fried Barry (2020), straight from Cape Town, South Africa.
So, let’s dive in, shall we?
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Opening: Joe Bob wants to retire the term “Goth.”
Ginger Snaps is a horror classic for many, and it is no surprise why. It deftly blends the pulp fun of a werewolf story with elements of coming-of-age themes and some laser-focused black comedy. The film is directed by John Fawcett and stars Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle as a pair of grim sisters, Brigitte and Ginger, the latter of whom is bitten by a werewolf. I leave the analysis of the film as a feminist text to those who are smarter than I, but the film is a complex and nuanced exploration of sisterhood, relationships between women, and cultural expectations of young women. Much of that comes from the deft writing of Karen Walton, who doesn’t really seem to be a horror fan but writes a masterful horror story.
The film itself is pretty bleak. The girls live in a dull suburban community among a grey landscape, living an existence where the only splash of color comes from the gory photoshoots they arrange. it is only after the werewolf enters the scene where things feel more colorful, though that color is often blood red. The cinematography is effective, but not overly stylized, and the film’s reliance on practical effects does limit some of the potential carnage. Yet, the film also brings to the screen one of the most striking werewolf designs ever. Devoid of fur, the twisted, wolf-like body is quite upsetting and one of those great wins of practical design.
The reason the film works so well, however, comes from the strong performances of Perkins and Isabelle who play the sisters with a surprising level of authenticity. The push and pull between the two of them prove to be the most compelling element of the film. The story itself is not overly complex, but the focus on the relationship between these young women, both late bloomers, absolutely keeps you engaged with what is going on. It also helps that they are surrounded by equally strong performances from other characters who buoy the sometimes heavy interpersonal drama with fun quirks or moments, such as Mimi Rogers’ Pamela, or Kris Lemche as a surprisingly well-read drug dealer.
As far as the Joe Bob wraparounds go, the film had six breaks, as opposed to the average five. These breaks were a lot of the standard background and production trivia Joe Bob likes to share, but his enthusiasm for the movie was quite obvious. Some of the best moments of the first half of the evening revolved around the challenges in making the film such as budgetary issues, content controversy, and lack of distribution. None of this was uncommon for many Drive-In films, of course, but it is a hallmark of some of the best films shown week to week on the show. There isn’t much to say about JBB’s contributions beyond the consummate professionalism he normal exudes – there was no real skit or extended gag – just some wise observations.
Ginger Snaps is one of those great films for The Last Drive-In and it is no wonder that Joe Bob Briggs gave it four stars. It is most definitely a modern classic and I give it five Cthulhus. It is not just a good horror film, but it is one I would turn on to watch if I saw it flipping through channels. It’s one of those “stop you in your tracks” films. (5 / 5)
Best Line: “A girl can only be a slut, a bitch, a tease, or the virgin next door.” – Ginger
Fried Barry (2020)
Opening: Will movies ever get the depiction of heroin right?
Fried Barry is, in a bit of understatement, a strange film. I found myself entertained the whole way through and added it to my queue to re-watch, but I can see how polarizing it might be. Directed by Ryan Kruger, known for shorts and music videos, the film eschews traditional film logic. Fried Barry is a series of vignettes revolving around the colorful populace of Kruger’s Cape Town South Africa, from the lens of Barry (Gary Green), a drug addict whose body is hijacked by an alien entity. The film follows Barry from moment to moment as the alien experiences sex, love, violence, and cruelty.
The plot is inconsequential to the experience of the film, however. The largely mute Barry, a figure who didn’t have a lot going on for him prior to being brainjacked, stumbles into different and outlandish scenarios ranging from drug-fueled raves to being kidnaped, to being taken to a mental health facility, along the way becoming a father, savior, and the most desirable man in Capetown. None of these moments really build so much as drift in and out during the alien’s wild ride. The closest parallel I can find to this would be like taking acid in Disneyland’s “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” What is amazing is how well these moments are pulled together through the incredible performance of Gary Green. Gary’s unique body becomes almost plastic in how it, and particularly his face, can reshape between scenes landing just the right tweak on the visitor from moment to moment. All the more impressive is that this performance is largely mute, punctuated by grunts, whines, and an occasional “whoo.”
The movie is also gorgeous likely due to Kruger’s extensive background in shorts and music videos where a certain level of style is mandatory. The film is at its most stunning, however, when the cinematography dips into the surreal; throwback rear-projection driving scenes, black and white neo-noir grain in a cardboard box, and a camera locked onto a tweaking Barry as he zooms through Captown and eventually through the sky. Combine that with intense splashes of color from raves, blood, the lighting of a UFO, or just whatever the hell is going on in Capetown you have quite the visual feast.
Joe Bob’s breaks were informative as one would expect – specifically conveying some important information of Kruger’s process. Kruger was unknown to me prior to Fried Barry, but I am thankful Joe Bob took the time to share his story, especially as it feels like a direct result of his season two monologue asking filmmakers to just make their movies. Kruger’s hustle and journey prove inspiring. Other highlights during this part of the night also included the return of resident-Dick expert Felissa Rose, consulting on what can only be described as alien sounding on Barry’s penis during an abduction scene. Also fun were the various stabs of interpretations of the film, of which I am sure none were actually correct – Fried Barry seems like it can be interpreted in just about any way imaginable and all would seem valid. I know I have my own interpretation. Also, the story Darcy mentioned about how sad the suicide of Avicii made Joe Bob was quite touching as well – an odd aside, but a touching one regardless.
Fried Barry is not a movie in a traditional sense – one driven by a story – but rather one built around a cluster of sensations. The narrative is a secondary concern to sheer experience and this movie will make you experience something… just what depends on you. Joe Bob gave the film three stars, but I feel he could have easily tacked on an extra half star. Just by the sheer audacity of what was committed to the camera, but also because it almost emerges as an example of Joe Bob’s advice of “make your movie.” For me, I found myself inspired and intrigued by the ride and I think the movie has definitely earned four Cthulhus. (4 / 5)
Best Line: “On this day pussy has eluded you.” – The Bartender saying the grossest thing in the most eloquent way
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
Special thanks to Shudder for keeping it real, week after week, and posting those totals for us. it is necessary information.
As usual, we have our own totals as well.
- 2 Dour Teens
- 2 Fingers in a Tupperware Container
- 6 Break Fu
- 1 instance of “Felliniesque”
- Gratuitous “Hogzilla” Chanting
- Heroin Ranting
- Alien-influenced Dickhole Stuffing
- Instant Baby
- Tardis Box
- Gag Ending
- Photo Montage
- Trucker Joking
- Ecstacy Joking
- Dead Dog Count for the Season: 7
- Yuki Count: 2
- Silver Bolo Award: Dr. Wolfula
- Darcy Cosplay: Wolfy Ginger
All in all, this was a solid outing of the show, as per usual. The Last Drive-In is a pretty consistent experience, I’ve found. I was particularly pleased with the film selection for this week mixing a modern-period classic with a film that released twenty years later. I do feel the first half of the night wasn’t as exciting as the second half, probably a combination of having seen Ginger Snaps so many times and a lack of a skit or some gimmick in the first half of the night. Overall, though, another great episode of the show, and one well worth four Cthulhus. (4 / 5)
I had to miss last week’s live-Tweet of the show, but I came back with a vengeance with this one. I’ll continue to inflict my own observations on Twitter in the next episode as well, so why not follow the Haunted MTL Twitter account? See you next Friday, Mutants.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism, a Film Review
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) is a R-rated horror comedy directed by Damon Thomas, available on Amazon Prime.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022) is a horror comedy directed by Damon Thomas. Based on Grady Hendrix’s novel of the same name, this R-rated film stars Elsie Fisher, Amiah Miller, Cathay Ang, and Rachel Ogechi Kanu. As of this review, the film is available to Amazon Prime subscribers.
Abby Rivers (Elsie Fisher) and Gretchen Lang (Amiah Miller) seek to escape the monotony of high school drama with their friends. However, in their efforts to have fun, Gretchen Lang encounters a troubling otherworldly demon bent on controlling her body. It’s up to Abby to help her overcome this demonic threat.
What I Like in My Best Friend’s Exorcism
The effects are surprisingly good. While not overwhelming, these effects never take me out of the film. Even the less realistic scenes fit the overall tone while looking better than expected or required. The 80’s aesthetic strengthens that believability.
Continuing that thought, My Best Friend’s Exorcism oozes the 80’s. Perhaps this comment should set an expectation for the viewer. I can’t exactly comment on the accuracy of the era, but it certainly fits the era of film. If 80’s films don’t interest you, consider looking somewhere else.
While I don’t meet the target audience, the jokes land and provide an enjoyable horror comedy feel. My Best Friend’s Exorcism focuses more on comedy than horror, but this remains a common trend in horror comedies.
The performances remain strong throughout, with leads Elsie Fisher and Amiah Miller pulling off that best-friend chemistry. The cast purposely captures that 80’s nostalgia. Added to the campy nature of the film, one might grow irritated with the acting choices. For me, it certainly fits with the tone and setting.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Drug use might deserve a mention on this list. While I don’t find this egregious, I imagine this point, or some other technicality, earns the film its undeserved R-rating.
The possession lends itself as a rape allegory, with some characters even believing this to be the trauma Gretchen Lang suffers from. While this isn’t the case, the conversation remains for those who want to avoid such material.
Body horror describes a few scenes of the film, though sparingly. However, one scene convinces me to bring this up for those who get squeamish at the cracking of bones or slimies in the body.
A character is tricked into outing themselves and faces some homophobia because of it. This homophobia is rightfully taken as cruel, not condoned in the slightest, but it remains potentially triggering and deserves mention here.
What I Dislike, or Food for Thought on My Best Friend’s Exorcism
This film seems to earn its R-rating off some technicality. It is neither raunchy nor gruesome for those expecting that from their R-rated horror films. For me, it’s more an issue of setting expectations. I expect my R-rated horrors to hit hard. My Best Friend’s Exorcism doesn’t.
It would be unfair to expect something like Jennifer’s Body, as this is a lighter and zanier film. There are elements of sisterhood and bodily autonomy that echo the cult classic, but My Best Friend’s Exorcism remains an entirely campier affair.
In terms of performances that lack the intended impact, three over-the-top anti-drug spokesmen outstay their welcome. It’s clearly a jab at D.A.R.E., which certainly works in increments, but then one character becomes an important part of the plot and still keeps his caricature.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism fits the taste of an 80’s horror comedy fan. Don’t expect to be frightened at any point, but the comedy lands well enough. The film knows its niche and hits most of its targets. It’s hard to say if the film will stand the test of time, but it certainly earns its runtime.
(3.5 / 5)
American Horror Story Delicate, Rockabye
There’s a lot to unpack from this episode of American Horror Story Delicate, Killer Queens, so I don’t want to waste any time. I just want to take a moment and issue a trigger warning. This episode, and therefore this review, talks about several topics that might be upsetting. These include abuse, pregnancy trauma and miscarriage. It’s heavy. If you’re not up for that, here’s a link to my review of Tucker and Dale, which is considerably lighter and funnier.
Our episode starts with Anna trying to get the police to take her seriously about the break-in. There’s just one problem. No one was seen coming in or out of the apartment except Dex. No one shows up on any of the security footage. The police are convinced it’s just Anna’s IFV medication making her see things.
But Anna doesn’t have time to think about the break-in. She’s just been nominated for a Gotham award, and she needs to get into full Awards Show mode. Siobhan gives her something she calls B12 and tells her that her life now revolves around awards prep.
But Anna’s whole life can’t revolve around that, because she’s pregnant now. Even though she seems to be losing time. Like, weeks at a time without even realizing it.
Things just get stranger when she’s at the Gotham Awards and accosted by an overzealous fan in the bathroom. After the woman puts her hands on Anna’s stomach, she knocks her over and the woman hits her head on the sink.
Rather than aiding the woman, Anna goes out to accept her award.
Or does she? After throwing up blood on stage, she finds herself back in the bathroom, being helped up by paramedics.
Everyone agrees that Anna needs some rest and space to heal. So she and Dex go to Talia’s house in the country. There, of course, everything gets much worse. Anna starts to bleed after a yoga session and is taken to the hospital. There, she gets an ultrasound by Nurse Ivy. A nurse that no one else knows at the hospital.
Sadly, the bleeding doesn’t stop. And as we end the episode, it appears that Anna has lost her baby.
Emma Roberts is doing a fantastic job playing Anna. Proving as always that American Horror Story actors are nothing if not flexible. I find myself wanting to compare Anna to Madison Montgomery from AHS Coven. They’re both actresses who experience abuse from men that one might, sadly, expect for women in their station and age range. Madison is gang-abused by frat boys, and Anna has her autonomy taken away from her as soon as a baby is in question.
That’s where the similarities stop. Can you ever imagine Madison saying, “You’re right, I’m sorry,” to literally anyone? She’d have snapped a man’s neck first. Anna’s body language, voice modulation, and the overall way she carries herself in the world is so different.
This is also part of what makes her relatable. I imagine many of the female-presenting people reading this can remember a time when we’ve said, you’re right, I’m sorry when they were wrong and we weren’t sorry at all.
I also really loved the amount of blood in this episode. There is so much blood involved in being a cisgender woman. It’s something we take for granted, but shy away from when in polite company. There was no shying away here. We’re made to see all of it. I don’t think the amount of blood in the miscarriage scene was overkill at all. If anything, it wasn’t enough.
Finally, it’s a small point but one that I appreciated. I bet you already know the one I’m talking about. When Anna is overjoyed to get to wear the same dress once worn by Madonna, Siobhan reminds her in a stern voice not to rip it.
If you didn’t get the joke, look up Kim K and an incident with the iconic Marilyn Monroe dress. I do appreciate anyone who can poke fun at themselves.
The reference to ‘don’t rip it’ with the dress was fun. I hate Kim K and her whole family, but that was funny.
What didn’t work
I’m honestly struggling to find anything in this episode that didn’t work. If I had to pick out something I didn’t like, it was probably that we got the barest cameo from Zachary Quinto. I really hope we get to see more of him as the season progresses.
Another thing I don’t like overall is the character Siobhan. I mentioned this last week, and I’ll try not to mention it again because I don’t see it changing. But the character in the show is a bare reflection of the one in the book.
Siobhan in the book was a loving, selfless friend. Which made the ending, well, let’s say impactful to avoid spoilers for both AHS and Delicate Condition. This version, if she continues as she is, is not going to have the same effect.
I’m also quite done hearing the internet swoon over what a great job Kim K is doing. She’s been acting her entire life, I’d be surprised if she wasn’t good at it. And she’s doing no better or worse than many other guest stars have done in the past seasons of American Horror Story. She’s not bad. But she wouldn’t be getting the credit she is if she wasn’t who she is.
Overall, this was a great episode. It was equal parts funny, gory and infuriating. At this point, my only real complaint is that there are only three episodes left until a season break. But now that the writing strike is over, hopefully the break won’t be too long.(4 / 5)
Cadaver (2020), a Film Review
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal and currently available on Netflix.
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal. This unrated film stars Thorbjørn Harr, Gitte Witt, and Thomas Gullestad. As of this review, the film is available on Netflix.
After an apocalyptic event, the survivors endure in a hopeless world. Among these survivors are Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad), and Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman), a family fighting the hopelessness of a lost world. Leonora desires to keep her daughter (Alice) hopeful, and when a theater opens in their decrepit city, she thinks she has found the solution to their despair. However, they will all soon learn how desperate people have become.
What I Like from Cadaver
Cadaver takes on a unique focus for a post-apocalyptic movie. While most in the genre tackle the question of where you find hope, the theatrical lens is not one I’ve seen before. It blends these two unique environments together for a pleasant concoction. As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I must admit I find my niche in the everyday lives of someone in such a world.
Leonora’s (usually called Leo in the film) dreamer nature in this horrendously hopeless environment creates a sympathetic contrast. This dreamer nature doesn’t excuse some of her choices, but she evokes sympathy. While most post-apocalyptic entries provide this balance of hope and survival, Leo’s creativity and passion for the arts give her hope and a more focused ideal.
The relationship between Leo and her husband also creates a nice contrast, as Jacob plays the rationalist and survivor. In this decision, both characters provide that post-apocalyptic dynamic of survival and hope. These interactions allow both actors opportunities to create friction as they pull the plot from their differing perspectives.
I had the chance to listen to the dubbed version, which sounds good. I’m not much for dubs, especially on Netflix, but they did Cadaver with respect and a focus on quality. At the very least, it’s competent and doesn’t distract from the viewing experience.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As hinted at earlier, there are some dumb decisions in the plot. While many fall within character traits, the actions don’t escape criticism. This flaw becomes incredibly repetitive when characters make the same mistake.
Implied suicide occurs throughout the film with one shown incident, but there are circumstances that change the context slightly. A world this bleak invites this depressive and dangerous state as a normality. However, one should prepare if this is a trigger.
What I Dislike or Considerations for Cadaver
Again, some decisions had me roll my eyes and endure the plot. This reaction isn’t exactly the experience I seek out in my horror. It’s more haunting to make sensible, or even intelligent, decisions and still endure unavoidable or unforeseen consequences.
It’s likely that nothing in Cadaver surprises you, which underutilizes the interesting premise. There are unique elements, certainly, but never a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s in that execution that Cadaver falls flat and fails to engage a viewer.
The film doesn’t exactly haunt the viewer, but the bleak world effectively depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocalypse. Don’t expect much genuine horror, but you can expect an appropriately uncomfortable and unnerving experience. In short, viewers of Cadaver likely want a unique twist in their post-apocalypse, not a traumatic horror.
Cadaver remains a unique viewing experience by adding a slight twist to its post-apocalyptic story. While not a haunting masterpiece, this bleak film will have you feeling the characters’ struggle. While lacking sensible decision-making skills, they are certainly sympathetic survivors struggling in a hopeless world. If this is your niche, it’s certainly worth a view.
(3 / 5)