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.
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.
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 / 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.
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.
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 / 5)
Best Line: “You can try to kill me, Dan. But you can’t. You can only make me dead.” – A gloating Dobbs
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)
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 / 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?
Joe Bob Briggs Creepy Christmas spooktacular: The Last Drive-In Special Charity phenomena
Famed horror host, Pulitzer Prize nominated, and Cracker Barrel aficionado Joe Bob Briggs is back in action, ready to bring some macabre merriment to your holiday season with Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas. It also gives us horror fans something to take into the new year, be that something Darcy’s panties (sorry, box, I tried) or just the intangible good feels of hanging with friends and supporting a lot of good causes.
The Return of Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas Special
The Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas event is akin to a Jerry Lewis telethon for Gen X, with a twist of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’. This ‘Briggs’ auction of sorts is a nostalgic nod to the past, especially for those who remember the telethons. The dread, however, has shifted from the … well… whatever Jerry was supposed to do (see Sam Kinison’s bit on this for more info) to that of evil goodies.
Without a doubt, this Joe Bob Briggs special is the event we eagerly anticipate each year. It’s a tradition, and a worthy one at that. We hope to see everyone on the interwebs, joining the ‘creepy links’ and engaging in the conversation (We’ll be on Threads and Twitter….tag us as you wish!) ‘live’ the only way anyone should ever watch a tv show (oh, and I guess on demand, but ya weirdos will never know the sting of the Iron Mutant Award!). ‘Live’ is the only way anyone should ever watch a TV show, especially ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ (as it’s far too hard to watch tv whilst dead).
Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas The ‘Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl’ special will hit the airwaves live on Shudder TV and AMC+ TV on Friday, December 15th at 9 p.m. ET. Fans of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ can also catch the special on-demand starting Sunday, December 17th.
A Creepy Christmas with a Cause
In its fourth year, the holiday tradition of The Last Drive-In goes beyond mere entertainment. It aims to use the platform to raise funds for four vital causes. The charity auction will feature unique props and exclusive merchandise from The Last Drive-In and memorabilia from Briggs’ illustrious 35-year career…including some of his unspoken work as John Bloom. I say Unspoken, because if anyone remembers the first Christmas Special, the autographed copy of Eccentric Orbits was featured (sincerely, a good book–check it out if you haven’t. Jim gives it 4.5/5)
The supported charities for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas will include:
- Wildlife Conservation Network
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
- Every Mother Counts
- Solving Kids’ Cancer
The Mystery of the Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas Special
The anticipation for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas is high, with fans wildly speculating what films will be featured. Personally, nothing can beat the #1 top horror Christmas film of all time, the Easter classic: Passion of the Christ (if a snuff film about a guy who doesn’t fit in getting whipped and nailed up doesn’t scream horror story, I don’t know what does. Also: See Sam Kinison’s concept on crosses and resurrection). However, a Christmas movie I really want to see up on this is Hogzilla and Kiss Save Santa Clause! BOOMMM!! Christmas Won!
As we eagerly wait for December 15th, we wonder what surprises our favorite horror host, Joe Bob Briggs, has in store this time. Will there be exclusive ‘merch’ that Jim will buy and then accidentally put in a Toys for Tots box in the mall?
Join the Fun, Join the Cause, Join the Joe Bob Briggs Christmas event!
Are you ready to dive into the world of Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas? Do you dare to watch along and help raise money for a good cause? If so, join us at HauntedMTL on Threads (_HauntedMTL_) and maybe Twitter (@HauntedMTL) as we experience the thrill and chills that only Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy can deliver.
Remember, this is not just about indulging in some good old horror fun with ‘Joe Bob’s’ double feature. It’s about giving back and making a difference. So, let’s gear up to have a creepy Christmas with ‘Joe Bob Briggs’, filled with ‘christmas horror films’, ‘christmas demons’, ‘christmas slasher films’, ‘ho-ho-horror’, ‘yuletide horror’ and insightful ‘horror commentary’.Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas and make this holiday season memorable for all the right reasons! I’m sure Fright Rags will have another stellar set this year, too. They are perfect for the horror fan in your life (even if that fan is you!). I can’t wait to see what they have in store (no pun).
SPECIAL — IF YOU WANT Freeeeeeeee (as supplies last) Fright Rags Joe Bob Briggs merch for this year, just tweet/thread at us during the event and Jim will pick the one that makes him chuckle the most (you will need to give us your address and size in DMs)
No subscription to watch Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas yet? No problem! Check the link below:
AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit Joe Bob at www.shudder.com.
X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas
Airing in December of 1998, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas is a classic monster of the week episode of the X-Files. Except, of course, it’s ghosts, not monsters. Because it’s Christmas, and there’s no better time for a little ghost story than that.
Our story begins like any good holiday evening should. Mulder is telling Scully a ghost story. They’re sitting together outside a supposedly haunted house on Christmas Eve, waiting for the ghosts of two lovers to appear. The story is that they killed each other eighty-one years ago, that very night. Mulder is very excited to see some ghosts. Scully would rather be at home celebrating the holiday.
One of these people has a family life and a dog. The other only has his partner.
Eventually, the two of them do make it inside, where they find an elderly couple named Maurice and Lydia. They seem like a nice enough couple until things start getting weird. Doors lock and unlock as they please. Lydia and Maurice seem to appear and vanish. And, of course, some dead bodies are found.
As Scully and Mulder try to find each other in this sprawling maze of a house, the ghosts are after them. They tell them terrible, insightful things about themselves and each other. The scary thing is that some of this is good advice.
The scary thing is how much of this Mulder and Scully needed to hear.
Eventually, our heroes escape, though they sure don’t exorcise the ghosts in the house or themselves. Lydia and Maurice are left to enjoy their quiet Christmas Eve in the comfort of their love, no longer a raging fire of passion, but a warm bed of glowing embers.
First off, let me say that I’m a sucker for a bottle episode. Especially in a show like X-Files. (And it is a true bottle episode, being the cheapest episode of the season.) For the most part, our story takes place in one location, with just four actors. It is tense, it is tight, and it is intimate.
Honestly, this episode has everything going for it. Of course, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson bring their A Game. And they’re joined by two of the funniest comedic actors of all time, Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. These people could read you the phone book and have you in stitches.
But the writing is also exemplary. Mulder and Scully are forced to take a good look at how they treat each other, for better or worse. They have to consider their relationship, the way they live their lives, and the darker voices in their heads.
In the end, I think they come together beautifully.
Finally, I want to praise the location. The haunted house looks so much like Hill House, it can’t be an accident. It’s in turn freezing and warm, falling apart and beautifully maintained. The cobwebs and hanging sheets on the unused furniture are just classic. And with the massive fireplaces, bookshelves to the ceiling, and the well-stocked bar, the whole place has an air of old-fashioned comfort, left to rot.
What didn’t work
I honestly cannot think of one thing that didn’t work in this episode. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s dark. It’s the perfect Christmas episode of television.
In the end, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is a dark, spooky little tale. It’s filled with scares and chills but still manages to warm your heart. And if you want to fit a little more blood and gore into your holiday watch list, this is a great way to do it.
(5 / 5)
Released in 1997, it would be understandable if you confused this Jack Frost with the movie of the same title that was released in 1998 and starred Michael Keaton. We are not talking about the Michael Keaton Jack Frost because it’s not horror. It’s also not good.
(Look at that, you’re getting two reviews in one today. Merry Christmas.)
No, today we are talking about Jack Frost, starring Christopher Allport and Scott MacDonald. And it is possibly the most bonkers Christmas movie I have ever seen.
We begin our tale in a very messed up fashion. A little girl asks her uncle for a bedtime story on Christmas Eve. The uncle tells her about a serial killer named Jack Frost who was caught after leaving bits of his victims inside pies. But there’s no need to worry, the uncle explains. Because Jack Frost was caught and is being executed that very night.
And we won’t be hearing from these two characters again for the whole movie.
Instead, we cut to Jack, being transported to his execution. Somehow he manages to escape, only to be doused with some sort of acid and melted into the snow.
Meanwhile, the sheriff who caught Jack Frost, Sam, is trying to come to terms with his death. He’s thankful that he’s gone, but the nightmare just doesn’t feel over yet.
Then, of course, people start turning up dead in his little town. And in spectacular ways.
Slowly, Jack Frost seems to work his way through a family called the Metzners. Even though it appears that this family didn’t have a single thing to do with him. First, he murders their son, then proceeds to stalk the entire family.
Sam is joined by an FBI agent named Agent Manners and a scientist named Stone. Together they fumble around the tiny little town, trying to figure out how to kill Jack. Bullets do nothing. He can melt and slip through cracks. But hairdryers seem to do the trick.
I’m going to be honest here. Nothing in this movie was good. The effects were bad. The writing is bad. The constant snow puns are bad. The acting is bad.
But it is this exact combination of bad aspects that makes Jack Frost funny. It is so intentionally bad that it is hilarious. None of the characters are likable, so we’re not overly upset when they’re murdered in horrific ways. None of the effects look real, but they look fun. The writing is awful, but it’s hilarious.
And here’s the greatest thing about Jack Frost. Everyone working on it is having fun. You can just tell that every single actor is having the time of their lives. Nobody was having a single bad day on stage here. And that alone makes Jack Frost enjoyable to watch.
What didn’t work
One thing I have to say here is that the acting was just bad. It was not, I believe, intentionally bad acting. That is to say, it wasn’t a talented actor acting badly for comedic effect. This was just bad acting from almost everyone in the cast. The two exceptions are Allport and Marsha Clark, who plays Marla. Everybody else is overacting so hard that they’re pulling muscles. They’re chewing the scenery so much that they’re not going to have room for Christmas cookies.
To enjoy Jack Frost, you need to have a deep appreciation for campy effects, bad snow puns, and really inappropriate humor. It’s one of those movies where you turn off your brain, make sure all loose items are secured and your lap bar is completely locked, and enjoy the ride.
If you can do that, then you’re going to have a great time with this movie. If not, don’t worry. There’s lots more holiday horror to come. (4 / 5)