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.
Most true crime content includes a dramatic courtroom scene. Two dashing lawyers face off, defending their clients no matter how gruesome their crimes were.
While there was a courtroom scene, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. It’s something that, again, I don’t think I’ve seen before.
As the title would suggest, most of this episode was from Lionel Dahmer’s point of view. And Lionel, it should go without saying, is not in a great place right now. His son, who he loves, is in a hell of a lot of trouble. And Lionel is doing his best to make this whole mess not his fault.
The fault, as far as he’s concerned, lies with Joyce. It should be no surprise to anyone that Joyce doesn’t agree. She’s been doing her best to distance herself as much as possible from her oldest son and former husband as possible.
This doesn’t work, as reporters find and hound her just the same.
With Jeff in jail, an angry population doesn’t have anyone to turn their anger on, except Jeff’s family. And they are all getting harassed. Jeff’s grandma, suffering from dementia, is having her home raided by the police. People are coming forward, claiming to be Jeff’s friends from childhood. We know that’s a like, Jeff didn’t have any friends. Accusations are flying against Lionel, that he sexually abused Jeff when he was a little boy.
All in all, it’s hard to not feel bad for the Dahmers. Yeah, they were bad parents. They made some pretty serious mistakes. But honestly, no more than lots of parents. And most people don’t go on cannibalistic murder sprees.
Now, to the court scene. Honestly, this was so hard to watch.
Dahmer’s attorney tried to convince him that he can plead insanity like Ed Gein. On the off chance you don’t know who Ed Gein is, he’s the notorious serial killer who inspired both Norman Bates and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He killed women who resembled his mother, cut them up, and did stuff to them. And yes, just like it says in this episode when he was caught he sold himself out for an apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese on top.
Gein spent the rest of his life in a mental ward, and Lionel would like to see the same for Jeff. It’s hard to argue with him.
But that argument fails. And before sentencing, the families of the victims are allowed to speak.
They have a lot to say.
This is what I meant when I said the courtroom scenes were unusual. We saw non of the actual trial, it was hopped right over. This is normally a dramatic moment in true crime shows. Instead, we see the impact that these murders had. Dahmer’s actions destroyed his family. He destroyed the families of the people he killed.
There is so much collateral damage when a life is lost. And that, I think, is what this episode is truly about. The extensive, heartbreaking collateral damage of Jeff Dahmer.
With Dahmer sentenced to fifteen life sentences, I’m honestly not sure how we still have two episodes to go. One I could understand, but two seems a bit much. I’m hoping that the creators have some additional chapters of the story that we haven’t yet explored.
I guess we’ll have to see.(3.5 / 5)
“The Menu” Gives Us A Bloody Good Time
Writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy have outdone themselves with the plot of “The Menu.” Spoilers ahead!
Tyler and Margot are attending a high-class restaurant located on a remote island for the meal of a lifetime. This meal comes at a steep cost: thousands of dollars ($1,250 a plate to be exact) as well as possibly your life. Those who attend the dinner at Hawthorne are the type who frequently ask: “Do you know who I am?”
Chef Julian does not care who you are, and after years of serving the privileged elite, he has had enough. Julian commands his chefs and the room with a loud clap, his chefs answering him in tandem with a bone-chilling “yes, chef.” Ralph Fiennes as Julian gives a shiveringly scary performance. Julian commands the space as well as everyone in it and Ralph Fiennes is dastardly, dark, and daunting.
Chef Julian’s sidekick is creepy herself, doing his bidding just as the other chefs do. Female subservience is addressed through this side character as well as sous chef Catherine, who created one of the courses that is served to the guests.
This course is introduced by Catherine telling the story of how Chef Julian tried to have sexual relations with her. When she denied him, he refused to look at her in the eye anymore. Before Catherine serves her dish, she stabs Julian with scissors in the thigh, getting revenge for his behavior. Julian acts none the wiser, pulling the scissors from his thigh before serving the diners the hunk of meat with the same kind of scissors plunged into it.
Everyone obeys Chef Julian except for Margot. Women and men in the room accept that this is their last night alive, not protesting too hard or trying to escape. Margot is the only fighter. Perhaps this is why she escapes.
In a world where we have seen a rise in slasher films, The Menu lives in a place between darkly satirical horror and a slasher film.
The Menu is whip smart, remarking on our class system, displaying those who can afford a $1,250 a plate meal on a remote island against the thought of the character of Margot. Margot is revealed halfway through the film to have been a sex worker, hired by Tyler to attend the dinner. His girlfriend, the original intended guest, had broken up with him and Tyler knew that there was never a table for one at Hawthorne.
Tyler knew everyone would die at the meal, yet still involved Margot, an innocent bystander who turns out to be the only one that makes it out alive. Chef Julian does this as it is clear he believes Tyler tainted his final menu experience by not bringing the guest who RSVP’d.
Tyler gets what is coming to him in the end. He comments on each course in mostly negative ways and snaps photos (which was expressly forbidden). Chef Julian asks Tyler to make him a meal since he knows so much more than anyone about cuisine. When Tyler’s meal doesn’t live up to Chef’s expectations, he is killed.
Margot is juxtaposed with the famous and rich at the dinner who can afford such an experience while she is being paid to attend. The film remarks on the lavish actions of the rich in the movie versus those who may not know where their next meal will come from.
The food that the film shows is gorgeous and conceptual, Chef Julian giving backstory to each dish. The film is the darkest version of Hell’s Kitchen I’ve ever seen. As a foodie and a horror lover, this film touched on all my favorite genres. It was deep, had something to say, and screamed it at the top of its lungs.
I respect the filmmakers and writers of this movie as it was compelling, engrossing, and kept me guessing, all while remarking on important social themes.(5 / 5)
Episode seven of Netflix’s Dahmer brings the spotlight, finally, to the hero of our story. Glenda Cleveland.
Glenda was Jeff’s neighbor. And honestly, I can’t think of a worse neighbor. A horrific stench is always coming from his apartment. He has people over, and they make a lot of noise.
While they’re dying.
If you’ll recall episode one of Dahmer ended with all of his neighbors, including Glenda, being forced to leave their homes. The whole building was declared a crime scene. They’re not given any place to go, of course.
Everyone’s got a few thousand dollars socked away for an unexpected motel stay, right?
Fortunately, Glenda was able to get a motel room. And that’s where she is when Reverend Jesse Jackson finds her.
Glenda pours out her story to Reverend Jackson. The rest of the episode consists of her dark and troubling encounters with Dahmer.
The most compelling scene, I think, is when Dahmer brings Glenda a sandwich. He’s being evicted, and he knows it’s because she’s been complaining about the smells coming out of his apartment.
He tries to pour on his little boy charm. He tells her that he got his apartment cleaned, just for her. He brings her a pulled meat sandwich as a present.
Notice I don’t say pulled pork, because I’m fairly sure it was human meat. Or, it was just drugged.
This episode just hummed with tension and rage. I was so happy to see Reverend Jackson tear into the police in the most polite way possible. I hated seeing what Glenda went through. And even though I know she lives through this horrific encounter, I held my breath the entire time she was alone with Jeff.
Dahmer is certainly not afraid to jump back and forth between the past and present. But they are careful to never do it in such a way that I felt lost. And I honestly think this was the best way to do it.
The reason for this is that it adds a level of suspense that Dahmer might have lacked without it. Suspense is something that true crime stories can lack. Especially well-known ones. We have heard this story before. We know how it ends. But in presenting the tale this way, first from one point of view and then another, it reveals sides of it that we may not have seen before.
I loved seeing the story from Glenda’s point of view. She was brave, determined, and selfless. She had every right to be furious at the way the police dismissed her concerns for years. And yet she continued to handle everything professionally. She never stopped trying to help people, even when no one else seemed to care. And for that, she is a true hero.(4 / 5)
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