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.