Welcome back to Notes from the Last Drive-In, where we take in the message of the dark lord Satan in a double feature on our penultimate week. The first of the films is the 1981 Clint Howard classic Evilspeak, while the night rounds out with the Spanish film The Day of the Beast (1995). So how was this early Summer devil’s night on Shudder? Let’s find out together.
Opening: There are really only five college movies. Every other one is a variation on a theme.
What happens when you send Clint Howard to a military academy, bully the hell out of him, and connect with Satan using an Apple II? You get 1981’s Evilspeak. This charming, incredibly goofy film is an average film for the drive-in but definitely delivers on all three Bs: blood, breasts, and beasts. The film, directed by Eric Weston and co-written by Weston and Joseph Garofalo, stars Clint Howard as Stanley Coopersmith, a downtrodden cadent who uncovers an ancient book used in a black mass ritual. Naturally, He ends up using a computer to tap into the spells within and summon Satan himself to get his revenge on those who wronged him. The film also features R. G. Armstrong, Joseph Cortese, Lenny Montana, and Don Stark.
The film is every bit as goofy as you’d expect a 1981 Satanic horror film involving computers to be. It has plenty of blood, s surprising but welcome shower scene (the other one features Clint Howard, so your mileage may vary), and a group of feral hogs, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Hogzilla. The plot is ridiculous, but that’s not necessarily a strike against the movie. Creating a ritual site of rogue former Catholics on the California coast before the Spanish missions is ridiculous but at least plausible enough to work. The strange quasi-Christian-military academy is just as odd and yet consistent a choice with the film. The film is like that the whole way through, making what might seem like strange choices in narrative, yet they just kind of work because that is the sort of film it is.
There isn’t an actor in the film that doesn’t pull their weight – there’s no bad performance in the bunch. Clint Howard sells the abused and tormented outcast well with enough hints at the menace beneath that is unveiled fully in the film’s apocalyptic climax. His transformation from prey to predator is satisfying in the scope of the narrative and performance. Meanwhile, veteran western actor R. G. Armstrong chews the scenes as Sarge, a menacing groundkeeper. Perhaps most surprising for most audiences would be Lenny Montana, best known as Luca Brasi in The Godfather, playing the cook. It is a surprising and fun turn for an actor who filled in a role of such menace in the mafia classic.
Visually speaking, for a movie with a pretty low budget, it’s quite good-looking at times, thanks to the cinematographic eye of Irv Goodnoff. There is also some fun editing by Charles Tetoni with an incredible cut between a severed head and a soccer ball. The whole movie comes together with the only loose gear coming in the form of the sometimes strange sitcom-style score by Roger Kellaway. The oddity of the music does add its own charm, of course.
Joe Bob’s segments mostly revolved around the night’s guest, Clint Howard. Clint’s stint as a guest was fantastic, and he is certainly among the top three special appearances of the show’s history. He was affable, charming, and had some fascinating stories about his experiences in Hollywood, from Star Trek to The Andy Griffith Show, and of course, Evilspeak. One particularly fascinating factoid was the few brushes with a disaster that Clint Howard narrowly avoided, such as the usage of fuller’s earth on the set and the usage of rubber cement smoke – both hazardous substances in hindsight. That’s not even getting into the giant live pigs on set.
The host segments for the first half of the night reached their absolute peak, with a new musical number, “Clint Howard (Thank You)” by John Brennan. It was adorable and charming and even featured a surprise visit from Ron Howard.
Evilspeak is a solid drive-in film. While I disagree with Joe Bob Briggs’ four-start assessment of the movie, I think it is worth the ride. The story is pretty entertaining with enough of that 1980s style goofiness to add some unintentional laughs. It also has one Hell of a finale, pun intended. During the show, Clint Howard mentioned an interest in a follow-up or remake: I could see that happening with some significant changes, such as losing the computer used in summoning. Overall, Evilspeak is one I would watch again, so I am giving it four out of five Cthulhus. (4 / 5)
Best Line: “There’s my fucking crowbar!” – Sarge, upon having located his crowbar.
The Day of the Beast (1995)
Opening: Subs vs. Dubs: No longer a fight just for anime nerds.
The Day of the Beast (in Spanish, El día de la Bestia) was my favorite of the night’s films and one of the best of the season. The movie is also one of the funniest ever aired on The Last Drive-In. Directed by Álex de la Iglesia and co-written by Iglesia and Jorge Guerricaechevarría the film stars Álex Angulo, Armando De Razza, and Santiago Segura. The Day of the Beast follows a priest, Ángel, and he commits as much evil as he can to find his way into a Satanic cult, believing that the AntiChrist will be born on Christmas Eve. He is aided by heavy metal fan José and TV occultist Cavan who quickly find themselves in the center of a Satanic storm.
I cannot stress enough how funny this movie is. Humor can be extremely subjective, and this can be especially true with the language and cultural barriers. What is hilarious in one context can be puzzling in another, such as wordplay in the form of idioms. A line may be hilarious in its original language, but translating it may kill it. The Day of the Beast doesn’t seem to have these issues because the gags are seemingly universal. At one point, Joe Bob mentioned Álex Angulo has an almost Buster Keaton type physicality, and that is a perfect description. A lot of the humor is physical, broad comedy. People being hit, shot, stabbed, chasing one another through rooms, being tied up. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. The central performances are also fantastic, with the three leads forming a trio that reminded me of The Three Amigos and evoked The Three Stooges at times. The film also serves as winning satire, an incredible feat given the potential language barrier and the stick issue of religion, but it absolutely sticks the landing.
All of the story-driven humor is accomplished through great storytelling. Another insight Joe Bob Briggs brought to his read of the film, one that blew my mind when he mentioned it, is that the film is essentially a retelling of Don Quixote, that Spanish literary classic. Ángel is Quixote with José as Sancho, and the journey reflects the themes and structure of the book. It is an awe-inspiring feat. The film has so much depth I am certain I have missed many details in my initial viewing, between note-taking and live-tweeting. It is one I am going to need to watch again.
The film is also gorgeous at times, with cinematographer Flavio Martínez Labiano really making Madrid look like a dirty, sinful place, but with special effects that most definitely show their age. One particularly comical rear-projected fall evokes feelings of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The bestial, demonic Satan depiction is entertaining, but again, a bit dated now, at least given the effects. For the time, though? Impressive. The gore is a bit limited as well, but it works, such as an incident involving a shotgun and an ear.
Joe Bob’s insights were great and layered in some solid social commentary and a little history – such as how the movie would fit into the history of the Spanish missionary wave in California. One of the more fun moments was him talking about his own time in Spain in his youth. College Joe Bob seemed super fun. What the heck happened? Hearing about the works of a director that I had not seen before was very fun and part of why I enjoy having Joe Bob pop up during the movies. I came out of The Day of the Beast with another five movies to watch.
The back half of the night had what I would argue to be the superior film. I’ve been poking fun at Joe Bob throughout the season for being a bit generous with his ratings, but I found it unfortunate that the superior of the two films, The Day of the Beast, only took three stars. I’m not in agreement, I think The Day of the Beast is a tremendously funny horror film, and I give it four and a half out of five Cthulhus. It’s just so damn good. (4.5 / 5)
Best Line: “You must help me contact the devil.” – Father Ángel, spoken like a true man of God.
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
As always, here are the official totals provided by the show.
As for our own totals…
- 10 dead dogs this season
- 2 Yuki Sightings
- 250 Clint Howard movies
- 24-hour shoot for floating Coopersmith
- A Dozen Hogs
- John Brennan Musical Number
- Gratuitous Public Access Occultism
- Surprise Opie
- Buddhist Joking
- Farmer Joking
- Foot Crosses
- Burning Crosses
- Falling Crosses
- Digital Devilry
- Swine Fu
- Tron Fu
- E S T E B A N
- Darcy Cosplays: Ms. Heavy Artillery and Devil’s Night Darcy
- Silver Bolo Award: Bloodbath and Beyond
It was another fine night at the drive-in. I appreciate the show because I end up having a great time from week to week, even if the movies were awful. Such is the case with last week’s offerings, yet the whole night ended up being a blast. Sometimes I worry the reviews sound the same week to week because of this. It’s all Joe Bob’s fault for having such a remarkably consistent show.
It’s gonna be a bummer of a couple of months until we get our next, inevitable mini-marathon. (4 / 5)
Join us this Friday on Twitter as we live-tweet the season finale. Will we finally get Halloween III? Probably not! I bet that one of the movies will be Another WolfCop. Will it be fun? Most certainly!
Movies n TV
Scary Fairy Godmother YouTube Channel
Youtube is a great place for those of us who like a spooky story. There we can find a mixture of true tales and cutting-edge fiction. These range everywhere from amateur footage to professionally crafted videos.
Today, we’re talking about a hidden YouTube gem, Scary Fairy Godmother.
The channel launched in December 2014. Since its birth, there has been just one topic of discussion. The fey is not to be trusted, and in fact, is something to be feared.
Some of the stories on this channel are fiction. But some are claimed as first-hand accounts of dangerous interactions with fairies.
Now, whether or not we believe in fairies isn’t the point of this review. I am only here to talk about the level of entertainment to be found on this YouTube channel.
A recent video titled Melsh Dick (don’t laugh) was a common fairy tale. A girl is lured away from her friends by a boy who claims to be her cousin. He doesn’t give her a name, they never do. Fortunately, the girl escapes. Others haven’t been so lucky.
A favorite video of mine, being a city dweller, was Urban Fairies. This video consisted of eight encounters with fairies in an urban setting. Many of these encounters are nice. There’s a beautiful swirl of lights seen out of an apartment window. A person is lured into a city park by a lovely young woman who might or might not have been human. And another person receives some personal and sage advice from what looks to be a homeless man while she’s out walking her dog. All of these stories were delightful, reminding us that magic can be found in any setting.
For creepier encounters, we turn to the video House Fairy Horrors. Warning, you might not be as thrilled about the Elf on a Shelf after this one.
In this video we hear the tale of a goblin that took over one room of a person’s house, chasing out anyone who tried to go in. A young child sings to scare sprites out of their home, only to have them hold a grudge and return years later. There’s even a shadow man who seems to encourage a vegan lifestyle.
Some of the videos have themes, like frost fairies or encounters with fairy royalty. Some are eerie tales plucked from Reddit, real life or imagined.
Of course, the creepiest tales are those where people are lured into the forest by the fey. You’ll find several of these stories on Scary Fairy Godmother. It always seems to be in good fun, until one finds themselves lost.
These stories might not seem very scary to us. The tellers of these tales come away without a scratch after all. But consider this. The only time we’d hear about a fairy abduction is if it fails. We do not know what happens to the others, only that they’re not around to tell us.
How many people went missing in your town last year?
From what we can gather from these videos, we are never safe from the fey. They can reside in our homes, our cities, and our parks. They can even reach us in our dreams. What they want with us may vary. Perhaps it’s just to give us a scare. Maybe they enjoy playing tricks on us. Or maybe they’re vengeful, angry at the disrespect mankind has shown to the environment, and eager to punish us for our abuses. Whatever the reasons, it’s probably best if we steer clear.
The Scary Fairy Godmother YouTube channel is one with staying power. The fan base is small, but it’s growing. It’s a great one to throw on while your hands are busy, or if you just want a soothing voice to tell you a scary story. So if you’re a fan of the creepier side of life, do yourself a favor and check it out.(3.5 / 5)
The Last of Us: Episodes 8 and 9: The End
Sometimes life gets in the way. Maybe you watched the episodes the nights they came out, but then you got your stomach tattooed so you didn’t have the energy to type on your computer, and then you had to work nonstop for six days straight and housesit 20 miles out of town, and then you got into a hit-and-run car accident with your boyfriend (luckily you’re both okay but really very angry at the asshole that just drove away), etc. etc.. March has been a lot, but I finally rolled up my sleeves, made time for my computer and stopped procrastinating the job of writing my final review on HBO’s The Last of Us.
Here we will cover the final events of Joel and Ellie’s saga. Both episodes were directed by Ali Abassi and written by Craig Mazin and, in episode 9, Neil Druckmann. The adaptation continued to cover the story elements of the game, leaving out and/or changing most of the fighting and action scenes. This change is especially noticeable in episode 9, “Look for the Light,” but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s first do a recap of episode 8, “When We Are in Need.”
“When We Are in Need”
Ellie is on the hunt for food and comes across a deer, which she shoots down almost effortlessly. It is in this moment that she meets a preacher named David (Scott Shepherd) and his partner, James (Troy Baker, (Joel’s voice actor in the video games)). After a moment of hostility towards the stranger, Ellie agrees to give the deer to David in exchange for penicillin. Shortly after giving Joel the medication, Ellie has to leave again to deter David’s religious crew from hunting her and Joel. It turns out Joel killed a few of David’s men, and the preacher is out for revenge.
The religious group captures Ellie and puts her in a cell, where she discovers David has been feed them human remains. Meanwhile, Joel finally awakes and is stable enough to escape the house and search for Ellie. He tortures two men into disclosing her location, but he is almost too late. David places Ellie on a butcher block and is just about to chop her up when she narrowly escapes. The two fight until she finally has the advantage and takes him down, bludgeoning him to death with an insurmountable fury of vengeance.
“Look for the Light”
Episode 9 begins with a flashback of Ellie’s pregnant mother, Anna (Ashley Johnson, (Ellie’s voice actor in the video games). An infected bit Anna just moments before she gave birth to Ellie. Moments pass, and Marlene finds the two in a pool of blood. She is forced to take the baby and kill her friend. Fast forward 14 years, and Joel and Ellie are almost done with their journey. They finally made it to Utah. Ellie, still processing everything that happened with David, is sad and somber. Joel tries his best to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work.
Suddenly, the youth sees something and runs off to get a better look. Joel chases her until he stops and stares in awe. The camera pans from him to Ellie inches away from a giraffe. She is her old self again, cracking jokes and asking a myriad of questions. Later on, when Joel reveals that he tried to kill himself after Sarah’s death, Ellie provides him as much comfort as she can. But the fact that Joel can trust her enough to reveal such a secret means is a comfort on its own. He asks Ellie to read some puns to lighten the mood, but his moment is interrupted when a group of Fireflies knock them out.
Joel wakes up in a hospital to see Marleen, who informs him that the doctors are preparing Ellie for surgery to remove the part of her brain that makes her immune. This procedure, however, will result in Ellie’s death. No matter how hard Joel fights, Marlene won’t budge. She instead has two Firefly soldiers escort Joel out of the hospital, but he kills them and everyone else until he finds the surgery room, where he murders the doctor in cold blood. He escapes with an unconscious Ellie and makes it as far as the parking garage until Marlene stops them. The camera cuts to Joel driving a car with Ellie in the backseat.
Ellie wakes up and asks Joel what happens. While he lies to her that there is no cure, the camera flickers back to the parking garage scene with Marlene. He shoots her once. After listening to her begs and pleas, he kills her with a final shot.
The duo have to walk the last few miles to Tommy’s town. At the top of a waterfall, they get a spectacular view of their new home, their new futures. Before making the final trek, Ellie tells Joel about her past and how she saw her best friend die. This lead to watching Tess, Sam and Henry die because of the disease. The fact that they all had to go through such gruesome deaths, only for there not to be a cure, is too much for Ellie to handle. She makes Joel swear that he is telling the truth, and in a beat, he does.
HBO’s The Last of Us is a remarkable video game adaptation that deserves all the high praise it has received the past few months. From the set design and effects to the filming, screenwriting and acting, the show is a peak example of how to do an adaptation well. It is heart-throbbing and terrifying.
A few issues with HBO’s adaptation is how much they excluded the game play scenes. Despite the world being filled with infected, they were rarely on screen. This is disappointing, especially because it increases the stakes and so much of Joel and Ellie’s relationship builds in these fight scenes. The biggest disappointment was in episode 9, in which the show completely cut out the game’s highway scene. Furthermore, there are numerous creative weapons the show could have included to illustrate Joel and Ellie’s means of survival, from molotov cocktails and nail bombs to the beloved shotgun and its shorty companion.
Despite these small quibbles, the show is arguably one of the best American video game adaptations out there. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey were the perfect casting choices for Joel and Ellie, as was the casting for all the other characters.
It will be exciting to see where Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin take The Last of Us 2. I hope they will include more gameplay (aka a little more violence), more screen time for infected, and some creative liberties with the original story while also sticking to the heart of it. We will just have to wait and see what they come up with. Until we meet again, don’t forgot to read about the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.
(4 / 5)
Movies n TV
Let the Wrong One In, a Film Review
Let the Wrong One In is a horror comedy directed and written by Conor McMahon, starring Karl Rice, Eoin Duffy, and Anthony Head.
Let the Wrong One In is a 2021 horror comedy directed and written by Conor McMahon, starring Karl Rice, Eoin Duffy, and Anthony Head. This film is currently available per subscription to Amazon Prime (through Shudder) or Shudder directly.
Matt (Karl Rice) and Deco (Eoin Duffy) are estranged brothers, but when Deco finds himself strangely ill, he seeks his brother out. Through obvious signs and tropable behaviors, the brothers realize Deco is a vampire. What follows spirals into a plot of brotherly guilt, passive aggression, and bloody retribution.
What I Like
With the titular reference to Let the Right One In, the idea interested me. After the trailer, I realized this film doesn’t relate to or parody the novel or film aside from being about vampires. As a fan of the franchise, it would have been interesting to find a subversion. However, the film can charm a viewer at certain points, receiving a few laughs from me.
Either Let the Wrong One In is a micro budget film or imitates such films. The special effects ensure you know this as intended, if perhaps out of necessity. If you can accept these points, the film might be an entertaining viewing experience.
The chemistry between the two leads is where the film shines. Both Karl Rice and Eoin Duffy feel like bickering brothers. With Deco’s performance as an addict, the film even ties into elements that family members of addicts know all too well.
Anthony Head (of Buffy fame) also plays his campy and ridiculous vampire hunter role to perfection, even seeming competent in the profession despite the character being more of a joke. Anthony Head can chew a scene, becoming an easy highlight of the film.
I like how vampires are named vampires without the cliche attempt to figure out what they are. It seems to be a rare thing to see on film. When this standard of logic does appear, it helps me believe the characters a little more. Though Let the Wrong One In doesn’t care if you believe in its characters.
Potential Trigger Warnings or Tired Tropes
The film is a collection of tropes wrapped around a campy and zany direction. I wouldn’t particularly say they are tired or are different enough to have a pass, but one goes into a film like this with these expectations. Don’t expect unique and refreshing subversions.
Addiction plays a role in the film, including the emotional manipulation addicts deploy to control others. The film doesn’t depict these elements effectively or abhorrently, existing as a plot point first and foremost. If this plotline upsets you, perhaps give this film a skip.
There is a point where implied violence occurs on an animal, but it certainly doesn’t take this idea too seriously. In fact, the creature gets a few shining moments. Still, I understand some get squirmy at this.
What I Dislike
Let the Wrong One In falls under the “so bad it’s good” category, though purposely done to be so. It’s a campy and dumb movie for those interested in passing the time. There is nothing wrong with satisfying this niche, but it’s not an enjoyable time for all.
The brotherly relationship should be the center of the film, which might have focused the film more. However, the film has a big bad that feels somewhat out of place and unnecessary. It also adds to the runtime, which isn’t long at 1 hour and 40 minutes. But it feels too long for this plot.
Again, I wonder why Let the Right One In exists as the film’s namesake as it has no notable connection to the franchise, even in parody.
While I must admit that more jokes landed with me than I expected, most of the zany humor falls flops. This film seems to be a Shaun of the Dead clone but falls far from the other’s success, lacking the focus of its predecessor.
As mentioned, if you want a horror comedy to turn your brain off to, Let the Wrong One In can certainly be that film. However, there are better examples to pull from. The lack of direction and comparisons to greater options makes this fall even further on the recommendation list. One additional point in the film’s favor is that you will likely know if the film is for you within the first few minutes of viewing.
(1.5 / 5)