Welcome to Notes from the Last Drive-In where this week we go sequel-mode to Maniac Cop and Maniac Cop 2. We’ve not had a double feature of two films in the same franchise since the Halloween Hootenanny, so tonight is a rare treat. So, how do Maniac Cop and its sequel fair? Did Shudder dig too deep?
Maniac Cop (1988)
Opening: Psychics in our midst.
Ah, Maniac Cop. This 1988 crime horror film probably could not be made today given the level of tension surrounding law enforcement, and that is probably for the best because the existing film is already perfectly suited for its time. Maniac Cop is the result of the incredible team-up of the late Larry Cohen and director William Lustig. The film also features a remarkably stacked cast including Tom Atkins, Bruce Campbell, Laurene Landon, and Richard Roundtree. The movie belongs, however, to Robert Z’Dar as the titular crazy cop. The movie itself isn’t overly complicated with a ton of plot to get in the way – a vaguely undead cop, wronged by the system, returns to life and exacts violent vengeance on the city. Not a lot here, but the film does well with this stripped-down concept.
The film uses its setting very well, building off the scary New York City of the 1970s and 1980s that worked its way into so many crime films of the time. It is a perfect backdrop for a story about the corruption of justice framed around a hulking cop bashing heads in. And boy, do people get messed up in this movie. Z’Dar’s Officer Cordell is a monster. He offers up an incredible silhouette against the backdrop of night, perhaps looking even bulkier than Jason Voorhees. Z’Dar’s role is mostly mute, but there is an undeniable presence to the character, so it isn’t hard to see why three films were made, with him returning for all three. Tom Atkins and Bruce Campbell, two leading men, play a form of a relay in the film with the role of lead protagonist switching from one to the other about two-thirds of the way through the film. It’s novel, at least, but between the two of them, Atkins should have carried the movie through to the end. Campbell is fairly flat, here, playing it straight. Atkins gets most of the actual development, Campbell gets a couple of action scenes.
The story is simple but perhaps overly so. The film also has a number of contrivances that allow it to move from set piece to set piece, including a particularly fun chase scene, but again, the plot is a secondary concern here, though perhaps maybe that shouldn’t have been the case. Still, elements of the film have a certain, and unfortunate, timeless quality. Issues of police violence against citizens and corruption of the legal system still persist to this day and were not necessarily new things when Maniac Cop was released. This is a grindhouse film, through and through, and one of the last of them.
The big bit of the first half of the night was the interview with “the chin” himself, Bruce Campbell. The remote-format interviews this season, given their necessity, have been fine. Would it be better to have Bruce Campbell at the cabin, sitting on the porch have been better? Undoubtedly. But these scripted interactions are still very much fun and generally showcase the guest in such a way as to remind us why we like them. Bruce was every bit as charming as he has been known to be across the convention scene and on movie sets. It’s almost like popping in on an old friend. His stories and recollections were welcome – and will surely be welcome again once Joe Bob and company return to the trailer. The night was also a reminder of the wonders of Larry Cohen, one of the finest writers in film, who left us in 2019. It seems to me that there are two kings of the drive-in movie, and Cohen is one of them, the other being Roger Corman.
Joe Bob Briggs gave Maniac Cop four stars, which seems fair to me. I have been poking fun at his generosity a bit this season, but a movie like Maniac Cop just hits all those marks for the type of movie we love at The Last Drive-In. It’s a grindhouse movie that plays fast and loose with storytelling in order to get to the next fun part? But you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Plus, it has Robert Z’Dar casting one of the most imposing silhouettes in film history, so that is a bonus. As for me, I do have my concerns with it, but Maniac Cop is a solid four out of five Cthulhus. (4 / 5)
Best Line: “Look at the size of those hematomas!” – Frank (Joe Bob was totally right about this one)
Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
Opening: Renaissance Faires, emphasis on the “e” in faires.
The back half of the evening revolved around 1990’s Maniac Cop 2. A solid sequel with an even greater make-up job on Robert Z’Dar as the titular maniac cop. The film again reunites writer Larry Cohen and director William Lustig, the second out of four times working together, and builds on the insanity of the first film, wiping out the remaining cast of the first movie. The film also does some interesting things with officer Cordell as well – he is still ill-defined as living or dead, but he does have some surprisingly new depth as well. Maniac Cop 2 stars Robert Davi, Claudia Christian, Robert Earl Jones, and Leo Rossi, with Z’Dar returning as Cordell. The film also has two blink-and-you-miss-it cameos with Danny Trejo and Sam Raimi.
Maniac Cop 2 is the better of the films, a rare example of the sequel being better than the original. Yes, I am comparing Maniac Cop 2 to The Godfather: Part II or Toy Story 2. It offers a stronger story than its predecessor, a more interesting, arguably richer take on the antagonist, and a better overall protagonist. It also blows past the first film regarding spectacle, with the last 30 minutes being a non-stop unfurling of chaos. Everything seems bigger and better. Z’Dar is at his best here as Cordell, and the make-up work on him this time around is even stronger. The addition of Leo Rossi as serial killer Steven Turkell is genius. He chews the scenery, and his unlikely team up with Cordell creates some fantastic complications for Robert Davi’s Lieutenant McKinney. It builds on everything established in the first Maniac Cop and makes for a fuller experience overall.
It is still a grindhouse type of film, though, so logical leaps, inconsistent characterizations, and going for what would be most “cool” come fast and frequent in the movie. Does Cordell being able to throw a man through a cinderblock wall make sense? Not really. It is just something you accept in a movie like Maniac Cop 2. The film also makes it very, very clear you don’t need to see the original to enjoy this one, given the amount of reused footage from the first film. It makes it charmingly accessible, if not a bit redundant.
The second guest of the evening was William Lustig. His enthusiasm was fantastic and his stories about old grindhouse theaters, bouncing back and forth with Joe Bob about New York and LA in the 1970s and 1980s were immensely entertaining. The remote format worked well enough here, but with any luck Lustig will be back on the show, in-person. His personality is too enthusiasm not to have on set and the collective film knowledge between him and Joe Bob Briggs in these segments was dizzying. Overall, an excellent guest who took his segment and ran with it.
Joe Bob Briggs gave Maniac Cop 2, unsurprisingly, four stars. I won’t poke fun of him here; the film is every bit a refinement of what made the original Maniac Cop so special. It has just about everything you’d want in an NYC-set horror film involving an undead cop – even more so than the original. Maniac Cop 2 is a four-and-a-half Cthulhu film. (4.5 / 5)
Best Line: “I can’t let someone out on the street with a gun that has emotional problems.” – Susan (if only this was true)
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
As always, Shudder has those drive-in totals straight from the show.
As for our own totals we have:
- 2 remote guests
- 5 drive-in legends
- 2 thugs 1 cop
- 80s worship
- 90s rap theme
- Attempted Muggery
- Patrol Beats
- Let’s learn about Cherubism!
- Chainsaw ranting
- Irish joking
- Frog joking
- Yuki Count: 3
- Silver Bolo Award: Cadavercast
- Darcy Cosplay: 2, Tom Atkins and the Maniac Cop.
A fine night at the drive-in, frankly. The crew is doing the best they can with the remotes and has adapted rather well to the challenges of the Coronavirus. Hopefully, by season four, we’ll be out of the woods and back in the desert. There were some other fun bits in the episode worth mentioning as well. A nice tribute to Joe Spinell closed out the Maniac Cop 2 credits, which was a touching tribute to the original Maniac. Joe Bob got a gift in the form of a 1990-91 Mark Jackson basketball card, infamous for the Menendez Bros. sitting in the background. And there was another brief chapter in Joe Bob’s ranting about chainsaws being a terrible weapon – the second in as many weeks.
But hey, no dead dogs this week. (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?
The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!
They say good things come to those who wait, and boy have we been patient. It has been quite a few months since we have been treated to a full season of ‘The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs’, in fact, the season 4 finale premiered on Shudder July 1st, 2022. Since then, we have been able to satisfy our appetites with festive holiday specials sprinkled throughout the past year. Specials such as ‘Joe Bob’s Halloween Hangout’ guest starring horror’s favorite Mistress of the dark, Elvira (played by the legendary Cassandra Peterson) and ‘Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together’. Last month was a treat in itself, as we were able to witness Joe Bob Briggs and fan favorite co-host, Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) marry one lucky couple for the first time on the show, with ‘Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine‘ special.
While the current changes in staff at Shudder has left fans questioning if we will receive a new season of the popular series, I can happily say mutant family, we need not worry. In fact, to our wonderous surprise, Joe Bob Briggs has officially announced via Twitter, season 5 of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ will be premiering April 21st, exclusively on Shudder! One thing that is noteworthy, is unlike previous seasons, it has been reported by 1428Elm that season 5 will be broken up into two parts of five double-feature blood-curdling episodes. Though we have not been provided the official release schedule for the second block of season 5, here is a sneak peek of what we can expect for the first half of the season:
April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama’s Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
Unfortunately, we do not have an official list of the brand-new double feature films for the first half of season 5 but, with amusing episode titles such as these, one can only imagine what grindhouse-classics will be joining ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ already eclectic list of sloshy goodness. For those impatient mutants eagerly waiting for more hilarious Joe Bob rant-filled commentaries, or those newcomers who’ve yet to experience the magic that is ‘The Last Drive-In‘, all previous four seasons, including past holiday specials are currently available to stream now on Shudder.
If you are just as big of fans of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ as we here at HauntedMTL are, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @HauntedMTL and join us April 21st as we tweet along with Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl for the season premier. As is tradition, we will be hosting live watch parties every Friday with each new episode, including fresh holiday specials. The road to season 5 is upon us…let the countdown begin!
April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama's Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
. . . and that's only the beginning.#TheLastDriveIn pic.twitter.com/WfeTx0shNa— Joe Bob Briggs (@therealjoebob) March 16, 2023
Shudder March 2023 Release Schedule
Mutant family, please gather ’round as February kicks rocks and we shove our way into March. With the new month comes the shifting from winter to spring as death beautifully resurrects back to life, drunken patrons swarm our local bars like rabid locusts for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and of course new exclusives and returning favorites on Shudder to satisfy the horror fiend in us all. To quote the prestigious Samuel L. Jackson, “hold onto your butts” and let’s dive right into Shudder’s March 2023 release schedule.
While it is true that the release schedule for the start of 2023 on Shudder has been minor and slightly mixed, with films such as the much talked about experimental low-budget indie ‘Skinamarink‘, the surprisingly entertaining horror comedy ‘Sorry About the Demon‘, and writer/director Neil Marshall’s return to the genre with ‘The Lair‘. We also graciously received the wildly fun ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine” special, with season 5 currently in production and premiering later this year; though it can’t come soon enough. As we like to do here at HauntedMTL, let’s kick off March with Shudder’s newest exclusives currently streaming now and in the coming weeks.
Spoonful of Sugar – Now Streaming
Starting off this list we begin with director Mercedes Bryce Morgan and writer Leah Saint Marie’s latest film ‘Spoonful of Sugar‘, now currently streaming.
Millicent (Morgan Saylor), a disturbed college student working on her thesis about children with severe allergies, is hired to babysit little Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a sickly, mute child who suffers from every allergy under the sun. His mother Rebecca (Kate Foster) is an accomplished author currently focused on her newest book release, while his father Jacob (Myko Olivier) spends his days in the backyard working on frivolous carpentry projects. After experiencing a bizarre sexual awakening while using LSD as an alternative treatment for Johnny, she soon uncovers the family’s dark secrets as things begin to become unhinged.
Leave – Premiering Friday 3/17
After having been abandoned as an infant at a cemetery wrapped in a cloth with satanic symbols, Hunter White (Alicia von Rittberg) grows obsessed with figuring out who her biological parents are and why they seemingly abandoned her. However, as she gets closer to the answers she so desperately seeks, a malevolent spirit is warning her to leave.
‘Leave‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/17 and is directed by Alex Herron and written by Thomas Moldestad, starring Alicia von Rittberg, Herman Tømmeraas, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, and Stig R. Amda
The Unheard – Premiering Friday 03/31
‘The Unheard‘ follows the story of deaf 20-year-old Chloe Grayden (Lachlan Watson) after she undergoes an experimental treatment to restore her hearing. While recovering at her family’s beach home after the successful procedure, Chloe begins to fear she is not alone as she begins to experience auditory hallucinations related to the mysterious disappearance of her mother.
‘The Unheard’ is directed by Shudder alumni Jeffrey A. Brown (The Beach House) and written by brothers/screenwriting partners Shawn Rasmussen and Michael Rasmussen (Crawl), co-starring Michele Hicks and Nick Sandow. ‘The Unheard‘ premiers exclusively on Shudder Friday 03/31.
Returning Classic and Fan Favorites
Now that we’ve removed the veil for the new exclusive titles dropping this month, I think it’s time we reveal the returning classics jump starting our transition into spring for 2023. Allow me to highlight some of my favorite films returning to Shudder for March including ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ and ‘The Company of Wolves‘; grim re-telling’s of popular children’s fairy tales. We also cannot forget John Carpenter’s haunted coastal horror ‘The Fog‘; no, not the remake…thankfully.
Gretel and Hansel – Now Streaming
Directed by Osgood Perkins, ‘Gretel and Hansel’ is a terrifyingly dark and unique vision to one of history’s most famous childhood fairy tales. After being thrown out of their mother’s home, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her younger brother, Hansel (Samuel Leakey), through the woods in search of food and work. The children soon discover a quaint cottage where a fragile old woman Holda (Alice Krige) offers fresh food and bed. The children accept all Holda has to offer, with little thought as to what may be asked of them in return.
Though it has been met with mixed reviews, ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ offers astounding performances by veteran actress Alice Krige as the films iconic Witch of the woods and Sophia Lillis as lead Gretel. Director Osgood Perkins does well to draw his viewer in with a beautifully haunting score and unnerving cinematography, making this one grim re-telling worth checking out at least once. ‘Gretel and Hansel‘ is available to stream now.
The Company of Wolves – Now Streaming
Continuing our list of returning classics, we have yet another bold re-telling of a beloved children’s fairy tale, 1984’s ‘The Company of Wolves‘. While the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood‘ has been retold through various forms of media, including numerous films, ‘The Company of Wolves‘ is a beloved horror interpretation with adult themes and memorable practical effects including one of the genres best werewolf transformations.
A wise grandmother (Angela Lansbury) tells her granddaughter Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) a disturbing tale of innocent maidens falling in love with handsome strangers … and of their sudden mysterious disappearances when the moon is full and accompanied by the strange sound of a beast in the woods.
‘The Company of Wolves’ is co-written and directed by Neil Jordan and stars Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Micha Bergese, and David Warner, streaming now.
John Carpenter’s The Fog – Streaming 03/31
Writer, director, musician, and horror master John Carpenter is a legend in the genre having provided countless classics such as ‘The Thing‘, a terrifyingly gruesome remake of ‘The Thing from Another World‘. Or his sci-fi action/horror ‘They Live’ where he deals with societal control through corporations and government. And of course, my personal favorite, the film that jumpstarted his career and created one of horror’s most iconic slashers…’Halloween‘.
1980’s ‘The Fog‘ is a terrifying shoreside tale of vengeful spirits haunting the fictional coastal town of Antonio Bay, OR. as they begin preparations to celebrate its centenary. Following exactly 100 years after a ship mysteriously sank in the town’s waters, a thick unearthly fog harboring the souls of those who perished rolls in and with them, the dark secrets of Antonio Bay’s past.
John Carpenter’s ‘The Fog’ stars scream queen and recent Academy Award winner Jamie Lee Curtis, genre alums Adrienne Barbeau, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, and Nancy Kyes, and was co-written by the late Debra Hill. ‘The Fog‘ will be available to stream on Shudder 03/31.
Full Shudder March 2023 Film Releases
For a full comprehensive list of all the titles being added to Shudder for the month of January, please refer to the graphic below. Please be on the lookout for our review of ‘The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine’ to drop later this week here on HauntedMTL and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more Shudder news and spooky reviews!
Gretel and Hansel
Spoonful of Sugar
The Company of Wolves
Jack be Nimble
The Blair Witch Project & Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Movies n TV
She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel
So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…
I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.
Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.
It’s a guilty pleasure.
The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.
Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.
Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.