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Tonight’s mix at The Last Drive-In is high octane mayhem mixed with slow, coastal zombie shenanigans with Mandy (2018) and Dead and Buried (1981). We’ve been lucky with the pairings week after week, but can Joe Bob and Darcy keep up the streak, or was tonight’s pairing just to weird to work? Let’s dive in as we cover Shudder’s The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs.

Mandy (2018)

Opening: Stress relief without guns? Really?

Mandy, directed by Panos Cosmatos and written by Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn is a rock-fueled gore trip filled with 1980s prog-rock imagery and a particularly wicked-looking ax. The film stars Nicholas Cage as Red, who lives in the woods with his wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) who are the targets of violence and mayhem at the behest of cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). The death of Mandy sends Red on a revenge mission with mysterious drugs, demon bikers, and perhaps the world’s longest chainsaw. It’s one hell of a ride and one of the best exclusives on Shudder. it is also quite a great fit for The Last Drive-In.

The movie doesn’t really offer much in the way of plot, but plot is overrated, especially when it comes to movies featured by Joe Bob Briggs. The narrative offers little in surprise outside of brutal, inventive set pieces. The film is slow to start and a bit mumbly, but the sense of security is necessary to establish the contrast of the remainder of the film. it is telling that we don’t get the “title card” until just before the revenge mission occurs: the past is prologue here, the core of the film is blood, guts, and vengeance.

mandy poster
This movie is a trip. Like, a biker meth trip.

The film does have a surprising heart, however, as Cage is particularly great in tapping into a tweak on the Cage-rage formula. When Red is at his absolute bottom of despair, you really feel it. Andrea Riseborough is wonderful as Mandy, possessing a somewhat otherworldly quality that is magnetic in an almost primal way – like some forest spirit. Riseborough’s time as Mandy is unsurprisingly short, as it is a vengeance film but Cosmatos finds clever ways to have Mandy haunt every moment of the film. It is all unreliable narrator in action, of course; how much of what we see is real and how much is the drug and rage-fueled grief of Red’s mind? Linus Roache is also utterly fantastic as Jeremiah Sand, a wellspring of butthurt masculinity and a rejected artist who has managed to cobble together his strange cult.

The movie is visually stunning, taking mundane settings such as a gravel pit and the woods and layering them with a druggy sheen that turns virtually every frame into a potential metal album cover. Benjamin Loeb’s cinematography is strong, especially when playing with faces. Hubert Pouille’s production design also stuns, creating one of the grimiest dens of sleaze you can imagine for a group of demonic bikers. But the real work in the movie is done with color and filters, creating a visually dense collage of mood, light, and image in each frame.

Joe Bob’s segments during the run time were the sort of things we love and respect. Informative and sometimes surprising. For example, Panos Cosmatos isn’t exactly a well-known figure with a relatively slim filmography of Mandy and Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010). But his parents made their own impact in film and art, and Cosmatos benefited greatly from that – his father being director George P. Cosmatos (Rambo: First Blood Part II and Tombstone). It was some interesting biography delivered by Briggs and perhaps the highlight of the first half of the evening when it came to cast and crew factoids.

But the night belonged to the Chili Bandit.

Joe Bob Briggs gave Mandy the four-star treatment, and that’s absolutely fair. Mandy is the sort of movie that hits the marks of blood, breasts, and beasts that makes a great drive-in feature. I think pretty highly of the movie myself, and despite some slight concerns, most of the cult is undercooked, and the bikers made for a fun distraction but could have been more involved. Despite this, Mandy is a movie I can watch over and over again. I give Mandy four and a half Cthulhus. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Best Line: “I’ll blow you, man! I’ll suck your fucking dick! Is that what you want? Please! Please! Please talk to me.” – Jeremiah Sand, begging for his life.

Mandy still
Our 2020 inner thoughts.

Dead and Buried (1981)

Opening: Lying is getting easier.

Gary Sherman’s Dead and Buried (sometimes Dead & Buried) is a 1981 film that plays more like a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits story padded to movie-length. The movie infamously has Dan O’Bannon attached to the writing credits, but thanks to Joe Bob Briggs we know that he wrote some notes which were ignored by writers Jeff Millar, Alex Stern, and Ronald Shusett. So yeah, don’t expect anything as tight as Alien. The movie follows a small-town sheriff of Potter’s Bluff, Dan Gillis (James Farentino), who finds the town inundated with a series of grisly murders and hints at a supernatural conspiracy right under his nose. What secret might he learn about his wife, Janet (Melody Anderson), and the local mortician William G. Dobbs (Jack Albertson in his final role)?

The film is tolerable. In truth, I had seen it before, but I ended up forgetting all about it and was shocked to realize that this had been the case. It is rare for a movie to leave little impact on me. The performances are acceptable, the story predictable, and the cinematography is fairly bland. James Farentino doesn’t inspire much interest as the lead and Jack Albertson, dying of cancer during the filming, is barely there as the secretive Dobbs. The highlights of the cast are largely small: Lisa Blount as “Lisa,” one of the townies (she’s very attractive, that’s about it) and a young Robert Englund.

dead and buried poster
There is no giant head in the movie, sorry.

The story is ultimately predictable, down to the double-twist of the final act. It’s not a bad story but it is not a story that needs to be as long as it is. Part of the predictable nature of it comes from the padding that gives the audience more time to think and consider the story and how it will play out. Scenes can sometimes give away more than intended, by nature of setting up more of the story. Now, if the film was a brisk 40 minutes, perhaps as an anthology segment, it would be more impactful. As it stands, the current cut of Dead and Buried feels like it deserved another edit – something tighter.

The film is also visually bland. The town seems quaint enough, but not exactly creepy. The instance of fog on the scene, meant to convey mystery and danger, just reminded me of a better movie, The Fog. The film works best in two inventive kills about midway through the film, involving a needle and eyeball, and another featuring the injection of acid. it’s fine special effects work by Stan Winston, but it takes forever to get to them, and nothing in the film quite lives up to those moments for the remaining run time. Cinematographer Steven Poster would go onto a career featuring highlights such as Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” Donnie Darko, and Big Top Peewee. Director Gary Sheran would do Poltergeist III (yikes) but bring us The First 48: Missing Persons, a great true crime show.

Joe Bob’s bits for the second half of the night failed to live up to the sheer power of the Chili Bandit ad, but there was some great information to be had. The sad, final days of Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) were a bit of a shock, particularly the note about him attending the film premiere with an oxygen mask. It wasn’t all sadness, though. Joe Bob geeked out about true crime a bit which is always fun to see. Despite this, you get the feeling, that the odds were always stacked against the film, especially given that it was sold three times before it was released. Somewhere, out there, is a cut of the film that wasn’t tinkered with beyond the original test screening. I’d love to see that one.


Dead and Buried isn’t my favorite film shown on The Last Drive-In, but that is okay. I ultimately found myself coasting off the high of Mandy and it is not like Dead and Buried is a bad movie. it’s just inoffensive – how it ever found itself as a video nasty is a mystery. Joe Bob gave it three stars, and while I feel it is generous, I am not too far off myself, giving it three Cthulhus. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Best Line: “You can try to kill me, Dan. But you can’t. You can only make me dead.” – A gloating Dobbs

dead and buried still
Man, it is when the bandages are on that you really start itching.

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

As always, we share those Drive-In Totals straight from Shudder.

Our Totals can be found below.

  • One Yuki Sighting
  • One Chili Bandit
  • Three unfortunate sales before the film release
  • Slippery Slope Ranting
  • Maximum 80s
  • Woods Wandering
  • Liberal usage of the word “phantasmagoric”
  • Surprise Belgium
  • Entirely appropriate usage of Cheddar Goblin
  • Bathroom Bender
  • Shirt Quipping
  • Piano Slamming
  • Detachable Digits
  • Twilight Zone Ending
  • Two Darcy Cosplays: Nicholas Cage and Lisa Blount’s nurse outfit
  • Silver Bolo Award: Knight Light (a podcast)
the last drive-in still
I’d have gone with Jeremiah’s Spock robe, but I am not the mail girl.

Episode Score

It was another fun night at the drive-in. I do feel like Dead and Buried was buoyed by following Mandy. The highlight of the night absolutely came from the first half of the show. That Chili Bandit, man.

Man. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

See you next week, folks. We continue to live-tweet the fun at the Haunted MTL Twitter account, so why not give us a follow there?


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Movies n TV

The Beach House, a Film Review

The Beach House (2019) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown starring Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, and Jake Weber.



The Beach House (2020) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown. This film stars Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, and Maryann Nagel. As of this review, this film is only available on Shudder.

Desperate to rekindle their strained love, Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) escape to a beach getaway. They soon learn to find that family friends of Randall’s father, Mitch (Jake Weber), and Jane (Maryann Nagel), also had a similar idea. After getting used to each other, a mysterious fog engulfs the town. Unfortunately, they realize too late the danger they find themselves in.

A woman with her mouth agape. Behind her is a dark background. Next to her reads, "The Beach House." Below is a scenic beach with a mountain in the distance.
The Beach House Alternative Cover Art

What I Like

Body horror gets under my skin, and The Beach House certainly lives up to the standard. There’s something magical about creatures terraforming your body to their preferred environment, turning humans into nothing more than conscious prisoners in their own flesh. While I wouldn’t consider this film the most traumatic or unsettling example, it utilizes wonderfully grotesque scenes.

Aside from the body horror, the film drops a few Cosmic Horror–or Lovecraftian–vibes that go together perfectly. Another favored genre of mine, this combination ensures the odds are overwhelmingly against our human leads.

Beyond the grotesque, visuals might not overwhelm but certainly succeed in their goal. Several scenes provide an intentionally tranquil experience that contrasts with the grotesques and improves their effectiveness.


In terms of performance, each actor hits their mark. While some roles require less effort, each contributes to the plot as intended. The standout performance goes to Liana Liberato’s Emily, who acts as co-lead. She simply has the most to work with and lives up to the part.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

As “body horror” should indicate, this film will hit hard for the more squeamish viewer. While horror by nature has some amount of grotesque, body horror brings that grotesque to the next level. While I don’t particularly find The Beach House hitting harder than its competition, it certainly respects its chosen genre.

Woman looks shocked or horrified. Bushes or trees make up the background.
Liana Liberato as Emily

What I Dislike or Considerations

A few scenic montages may hit or miss depending on your interpretation. While I have my own theories, that speculation goes beyond the scope of this review. Many of these scenes overlap more philosophical conversations and musings that may annoy or add layers. This strategy seems a common practice in Cosmic Horror, which forces characters to rationalize the irrational.

It’s hard for me to understand how secretive or known this event is supposed to be in the film’s world. Individuals know something outside of the town, with evidence implying governmental knowledge. This information creates a contrivance–perhaps, even a plot hole–because the characters had to reach this isolated town without any opposition.

One of the visuals didn’t exactly grab me. While I won’t go into too much detail, an effect looked too visually similar to a common animal that barely survives rain. It’s hard to be threatened by that. It also doesn’t exactly match up with some of the other visuals. Even the creatures that look similar to it still look different enough to provide a more alien assumption.

There are moments when the infected chase our main characters by crawling at them. While the context works, with injured characters helping to sell them, I can’t help but find these scenes amusing as opposed to frightening. Yes, it’s certainly visually different from the plethora of zombies out there, but it’s also less frightening than zombies that leisurely walk to their targets.

Final Thoughts

The Beach House combines cosmic and body horror to create an uncomfortable film that tests its characters. For those who enjoy these genres, it will certainly entertain you, but I doubt it will frighten you. I imagine the mood to watch it again might strike me, but I’m not entirely certain it will stand the test of time. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

If this movie suits your fancy and you want more, Honeymoon seems an appropriate recommendation.


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Movies n TV

Every Secret Thing, a Film Review

Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener, based on Laura Lippman’s novel.



Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener. This R-rated film stars Diane Lane, Danielle Macdonald, Dakota Fanning, and Elizabeth Banks. Based on Laura Lippman’s novel of the same name, the film adaptation is accessible through MAX and DirecTV.

When a little girl goes missing, Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) spirals into an all too familiar tale. As pressure mounts, Alice Manning (Danielle Macdonald) and Ronnie Fuller (Dakota Fanning) become the leading suspects. The strained frenemies unravel under the attention and reminders of their shared past.

Laura Lippman stands out at the top of the cover, over a black background. Every Secret Thing appearing over a pool
Every Secret Thing Book Cover

What I Like

The film unravels in a non-chronological structure but makes it easy for the viewer to follow. It helps that the age difference clearly divides the younger actors, who change actors. One casting choice resembles their older counterpart, and the acting reflects a strong direction for their shared role.

Unreliable narration remains expertly communicated with scenes that change perspectives depending on whose perspective we view them from. This choice adds a reason to view the film twice, providing extra ambiguity for some of these events.

The camera gets up close and personal to an uncomfortable degree, which almost certainly presses the actors’ performances. This choice places the viewer in the character’s perspective and limits us from others’ perspectives to add extra credence to these biases.


Every Secret Thing provides a spiraling mystery that unravels with several twists and turns. Assuming the novel provided the outline, this film executes these points and keeps a consistently engaging experience throughout the runtime.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Child abuse and neglect remain the central plot points of Every Secret Thing. Little of this abuse appears in scenes, but there is no escaping the danger children are in throughout the film.

Self-harm and suicide are shown throughout the film (once in the case of suicide) through one specific character. It isn’t glorified or romanticized nor addressed with particular sensitivity. For those sensitive to these subjects, it might be triggering.

Racism, the assumed motive for the bi-racial victims, plays a small role in the film’s narrative. However, character motives remain more complex, but going further spoils some elements. This film decision does create the reality that bi-racial children are the victims of child neglect and abuse in the film with little additional context. It does invite uncomfortable speculation, but speculation it would be.

Sexual assault is another concern for viewers, specifically statutory rape. This issue seems particularly mismanaged, considering the survivor remains an antagonist. One can be both survivor of assault and an antagonist of a film without needing to discredit the assault. While little appears of this issue, and the manipulation angle can indicate a perspective shift, it’s hard to refute how the film wants to represent this attack.

Daughter resting on her mother's shoulder. Both are in the back of a car.
Diane Lane as Helen and Danielle Macdonald as Alice

What I Dislike

Loosely tied to the above point, one character seems mentally off and purposely so. This point doesn’t inherently create an issue, but there seems to be a choice to make this character a mastermind. Perhaps this is better addressed in the book, but the execution is far from perfect here.

A newspaper montage reveals essential information which feels oddly misplaced. Practically the entire setup for the film appears through this montage, which creates the necessity to read these headlines in the minimal time given.


As a horror, nothing but the events are haunting. Children being abused or kidnapped always haunts, but the terror of this remains secondary to the mystery. While the mystery is nice, this film won’t particularly scare the seasoned horror fan.

Final Thoughts

Every Secret Thing unravels a mystery of opportunism, selfishness, and deception. While the movie won’t haunt the viewer, it certainly unravels a mystery that shocks them. The nuanced and deceptive characters add a layer of engagement that creates a unique experience, but I doubt this movie will linger in my mind.
2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Quid Pro Woe



We’ve now reached episode six of Tim Burton’s Wednesday. And after the last episode, this one did not disappoint.

We start with Wednesday attempting to contact Goody Addams. Last episode, if you’ll recall, Morticia explained the difference between a psychic dove and a raven. Since Goody Addams was the last raven psychic in the family line, it’s got to be her that trains Wednesday. 

But her seance is a failure, and Wednesday is interrupted by a magazine note shoved under the door. It says to meet someone at a crypt for answers. 

When she gets there, it turns out that her friends have put together a surprise birthday party for her. Before she can cut the cake, however, she has a vision.

Jenna Ortega in Wednesday

Goody Addams tells her that she must find a specific gate. After some investigation, Wednesday discovers it’s the gate to the old Gates house. 

Wednesday goes to investigate, but she isn’t the only one. She is nearly discovered by Mayor Walker. He is also investigating the Gates family, even though they’re all reported to be dead. He leaves a message for Sheriff Galpin and is almost immediately run over by a car.

This incident is enough to get Wednesday’s town villages revoked. Though this seems like an empty punishment since the whole school is on lockdown. Someone burned Fire Will Rain on their front lawn. 

Wednesday isn’t one for believing the rules apply to her. She has it in her head that she’s meant to save Nevermore Academy, probably from whatever descendent of Crackstone who’s still around. So she has no problem lying to Enid and Tyler and convincing them to help her sneak off campus and explore the Gates house further.

This, of course, is an incredibly informative trip. The kids find a hidden altar to Crackstone, as well as the missing body parts from the monster’s victims. They also find evidence that someone’s been staying in the house. Someone who’s staying in what looks like a little girl’s room.

Before they can find anything more, the monster finds them. They barely escape, and go to the sheriff with what they find. 


Of course, the house has been cleared out by the time Sheriff Galpin arrives. Furious that his son was almost killed, he tells Wednesday to stay away from him.

Because that always works, right?

Galpin isn’t the only one angry. Enid is fed up with the way Wednesday has been treating her. And so she leaves their room to bunk with someone else, leaving Wednesday alone. 

This episode was well done. The discoveries at the house were exciting, and I’m almost sure I know who’s behind the murders at this point. Overall, this was a good ramp-up to the season finale. 

Jenna Ortega in Wednesday.

Finally, this episode did something I was worried just wasn’t going to happen. And for that alone, it deserves praise.

Wednesday has been incredibly selfish and inconsiderate since the first episode. She’s been rude and demanding towards Thing. She’s ignored her friends’ needs and emotions while insisting they put themselves in danger for her investigation. She has respected no one’s boundaries, even while other people have at least tried to respect hers.


And now, it’s finally come back to bite her. All of the people who have been doing their best to show her kindness and support are finally done with her bullshit.

Yes, this is a good thing! Characters are best when they’re allowed to learn and grow. When they don’t come to us flawless. When they mess up and learn from it. Especially for a show aimed at kids, this is essential.

If you’d asked me at the beginning of the season if this character was going to experience honest character growth, I’d have assured you it would never happen. Much to my surprise, it’s happening. I hope that Wednesday is going to come out of this a better person. With two episodes left in the season, there’s plenty of time for that.  4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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