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The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs returned for its annual Halloween (Helloween) special on October 20th. Joe Bob reins himself in and hands the ropes to the ever-capable Darcy the Mail Girl for the special. Special guest Danhausen provides additional demonic entertainment. The Drive-In is available on AMC+ and Shudder.

This week on The Last Drive-In, Joe Bob and Darcy return to present their annual Halloween special. Joe Bob’s Helloween delivers a gooey and blood-soaked experience with Lamberto Bava’s Demons 2 (1986) and Damien Leone’s All Hallows’ Eve (2013). For those crying foul about showing a sequel without showing the first film, Joe Bob previously hosted Demons (1985) during the original comeback marathon. 

Promotional poster for Joe Bob's Hell-O-Ween special. It shows a half-zombie Joe Bob holding a lone star and TV remote looming behind Darcy dressed in a Devil costumes.
Joe Bob’s (actually Darcy’s) Hell-O-Ween special.

Hello-ween

Helloween opens with a phone call reminiscent of Scream (1996). Instead of Darcy being stalked by a masked killer, Joe Bob (from his safe space: Cracker Barrel) pleads with her to take control of the Halloween special. He admits to the myriad of ways he’s messed up the special before to convince her. These include getting drunk & angry, getting drunk & sad, and trying “to sell Angel (1983) as a Halloween movie.” He doesn’t even try to blame the booze for that one.

Darcy agrees to take the helm and presides over the fully decked-out set in a stunning devil costume. The decorations do not conform to any era or style and turn the trailer park into a proper homestyle haunt. However, Joe Bob’s chair is not in its place and he begrudgingly stands to deliver the introduction to Demons 2.

A poster for Lamberto Bava's Demons 2, the first film shown on the Helloween special.
A poster for Demons 2.

Demons 2 tells the story of a birthday party gone horribly wrong. When a demonic TV broadcast transforms birthday girl Sally (Coralina Cataldi Tassoni) into a grotesque monster, newlyweds Hannah (Nancy Brilli) and George (David Knight) attempt to escape their apartment building full of corrupted souls to save themselves and their unborn child. 

The Drive-In Totals include but are not limited to: 64 undead bodies, 1 squealing gremlin, penis grabbing demon, TV monitor ax destruction and potted plant fu. The movie earns a full four stars from Joe Bob. Considering the film is Darcy’s pick, Joe Bob must be thrilled to present a movie he likes.

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Darcy the Mail Girl stands in a red dress with elbow length red gloves and devil horns. Her arm is outstretched over the set which is covered in Halloween decorations for the Helloween special. The caption reads "Now, this is Halloween."
All hail the Samhain Queen.

Ahem, It’s Hell-O-Ween

Joe Bob does his best to launch into a lecture about the history of Demons 2 when a cloud of smoke interrupts his train of thought. Darcy’s additions of musical stings and smoke machines brings repeated levity into the episode. It makes me a little sad knowing they probably won’t continue into the regular season.

After being interrupted, he remarks, “Darcy, I have never felt less in control of this show.” It’s a prophetic statement as none other than professional wrestler (and demon) Danhausen soon invades Helloween . Using a clever movie tie-in, he shoves his way through a TV set and into our hearts.

Despite the unconventional entrance, Joe Bob does his best to interview Danhausen throughout the segments. Danhausen unfortunately does not have much to offer in terms of Demons 2. “It’s very good. Very Evil. Very interesting.” He does bring, however, a rare Thuringian liquor called “aromatic.” Thuringia is apparently Danhausen’s home… plane of existence?

Joe Bob and Darcy down multiple shots of this strange drink and Danhausen tells Joe Bob his thoughts on the depiction of demons in the film. He yells in frustration, “They are movie demons!”  He believes they are much more like zombies than actual demons. When Joe Bob asks what a real demon looks like, Danhausen rightfully appears hurt.

Drinking shots of Danhausen’s drink changes Joe Bob into a more lethargic and less controlling version of himself. It’s a fun depiction of Joe Bob handing control of Helloween over to Darcy and being along for the ride. When the Joe Bobhausen transformation is complete, it’s time for the real one to go. After Joe Bob most heinously accuses him of fakery, Danhausen chooses to shimmy through the airwaves to a hot tub party in Aspen.

A still image from the Helloween Special on Shudder. It shows Danhausen saying "You're watching The Last Drive-Inhausen."
The Hausening.

Pool Full of Liquor

When Joe Bob is able to power through the Thuringian liquor’s effects, he gives audiences the usual deep dive into the production and cast of Demons 2. Bava is a third-generation Italian filmmaker. He learned many of his skills from his father, the “Master of the Macabre,” Mario Bava. Previously working as an assistant director under Dario Argento for Inferno (1980) and Tenebrae (1982), the two reunited under Bava’s direction for Demons and Demons 2.

The film was a rushed production following the major, and slightly unexpected, success of Demons. It was filmed in seven months with a budget of $1.5 million and released unrated in the United States.

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Many of the actors featured in the film, according to Joe Bob, are known for their roles within it. He says the characters George and Hannah, played by David Knight and Nancy Brilli respectively, are “just too boring for this world.” Bobby Rhodes as Hank is, however, “the real scene stealer,” of the film.

While Joe Bob and Darcy agree the screenwriters should have stuck with their original ending, they both enjoy the movie. It is a nonstop romp through a world that doesn’t make much sense, and it rips off at least five other movies, but it does it with pure 80’s style.

My rating for Demons 2: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

The first piece of mail for the night comes all the way from Russell in Newburgh, Scotland. Joe Bob doesn’t seem too surprised by the distance. He says, “We have more fans in Scotland than all the rest of the UK.” Russell writes in hopes of the UK gaining more access to The Drive-In. Joe Bob seems more focused instead on bringing the Scottish holiday of Hogmanay to The Drive-In.

International licensing issues are probably a nightmare, but Russell brings up a valid point in Shudder’s lack of The Last Drive-In: Just Joe Bob episodes. Just Joe Bob allows tenacious viewers to match up commentary breaks with a legal version of the presented film. Unfortunately, these are no longer being released with any regularity.

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Cowboy Ken and Demon Barbie

Darcy has been making comments about getting Joe Bob into a Ken costume all night, and she makes good when it comes time for the second movie of the night. More specifically, and aptly, a Cowboy Ken costume. She joins him as Demon Barbie, unfortunately without the full face of paint we saw on Joe Bobhausen. 

Seemingly freed from the effects of demon liquor, Joe Bob launches fully into an educational rant on the history of Samhain and poppers. No, not those poppers. I know, Darcy was disappointed too. Dumping a pumpkins worth of toys onto the table, he challenges Darcy to a game. They argue about the rules as Joe Bob continues his lecture about Gaelic spirits and jump-scares.

A photo of Halloween popper toys. The are small figures on a spring with a suction cup. There are bats, mummies, pumpkins, ghosts, and frankenstein heads.
These poppers.

When he picks up an eyeball shaped popper, Darcy remarks, “That’s some Art the Clown type shit.” This is the cue he needs to finally introduce the movie. All Hallows’ Eve is an anthology horror set fittingly on Halloween night. Babysitter Sarah (Katie Maguire) and her charges Tia (Sydney Freihofer) and Timmy (Cole Mathewson) watch a VHS tape found in Timmy’s candy bag and unknowingly invite terror into their lives.

A poster for All Hallows' Eve. It shows Art the Clown holding a bloody meat cleaver. The text reads "All Hallows' Eve" and "Come out and play."
Oh Warriors….

If you’ve seen Terrifier or Terrifier 2, you’re familiar with Leone’s blood splattered style of filmmaking. This film is no exception. The Drive-In Totals include but are not limited to: 1 bloody mud monster, stomach slicing with bloody fetus, monster-face skeleton army, gratuitous rotten egg vandalism and upchuck fu. “Four stars. Joe Bob says check it out.” 

Barbie World

Joe Bob questions why he is wearing a Cowboy Ken costume because he feels Ken is the bad guy in the movie. Darcy corrects him and says Ken isn’t necessarily bad. He simply “represents the patriarchy,” she pauses before adding, “…perfect for you.” When Joe Bob feigns ignorance on what the patriarchy is, Darcy smartly tells him to “go read one of [his] books.”

This review isn’t the time nor the place for me to flex my degree in gender studies. Nor am I going to delve into the issue of misogyny within horror spaces. I do think it is important, however, to remind people that when you say things online – it isn’t only your intended target who reads your words. 

Darcy has repeatedly stated she is confident in her position and knows her worth, but gender-coded insults towards her serve as a stark reminder that even spaces as inclusive as the horror community still have a ways to go.

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‘Tis The Season

Despite Joe Bob’s hesitancy in his costume (don’t worry, you are Kenough), he is determined to give Darcy the Helloween she deserves. Producer Austin Jennings shoots down his idea of a trailer park bonfire with a quick, “Not on my set!” In response Joe Bob makes mention of the show’s new filming location by offering to burn down a The Walking Dead set for her. Unfortunately, none of this is in the budget.

Within the budget remains other great Samhain traditions, such as bobbing for apples and repeatedly mispronouncing Samhain. “It’s Halloween. We have to do annoying things.” He explains too many people have forgotten about the trick portion of the holiday. In perhaps his cruelest trick of the night, he offers Darcy candy corn that she can no longer eat. She puts out a plea for vegan candy corn, so if you know of any, let her know.

A still image from Joe Bob's Helloween Special on Shudder. It shows Darcy in her Demon Barbie outfit correcting Joe Bob's pronunciation of Samhain. The caption reads "You know, it's pronounced 'sow-win,' right?"
Say it with me now, “Sow-win.”

No Treats Here

Keeping the tradition of tricking people alive, although not the people, is Art the Clown. Joe Bob heaps praise on the first segment of All Hallows’ Eve, which was originally released as a short film. “If this was Damien Leone’s first movie, you can already see how talented he is.” Throughout the special, Joe Bob attempts to pathologize Art the Clown to explain his behavior.

This goes back to his feelings on Michael Myers from the AMC FearFest presentation of Halloween (1978). Sometimes evil is just evil, despite how little he likes that explanation. Art the Clown displays powers that are clearly otherworldly in nature, so it’s natural to assume his motivations cannot be explained by human motivations. 

The second segment of the film was created specifically for All Hallows’ Eve, and Joe Bob describes it as “the part that drags in the middle.” Despite this, he loves the “goofy direction” it goes in. In my opinion, this segment does a better job of demonstrating Leone’s ability to build atmosphere and suspense than his special effect skills.

All Hallows’ Eve ends with the segment that set the Terrifier franchise in motion. Discussing whether or not Art the Clown can be considered a horror icon, Darcy says, “He’s a baby icon.” Joe Bob wonders why the film “doesn’t get more love from the hardcore fans.” He also praises the ingenuity Leone displays with twisting urban myths into full-on nightmares within this work. 

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If you’re currently on the fence about whether the Terrifier films are for you, All Hallows’ Eve makes for the perfect introduction to Art the Clown’s twisted world. My rating for this film: 3.7 out of 5 stars (3.7 / 5)

Stay Sick and Disgusting

Adam from Tennessee writes in for the second mail call of the night. Interestingly (or horrifyingly) enough, Adam credits watching Herbert West’s Re-Animator (1985) during the original marathon for his goal of becoming a doctor. He also says The Last Drive-In embodies the acceptance and comfort he finds in horror. Speaking from experience, I can say the Mutant Family is the most inviting and inclusive community I’ve ever encountered.

The letter itself is quite lengthy, but it does include one crucial line, “Halloween III is sick.” Perpetually unable to stream the 1982 classic, Darcy instead has the dance party she’s been asking for all Helloween. Fart the Clown (yes, Fart) flatulates a beat on the mic and the set is overrun with costumed crew and they break it down to a “royalty-free, parody version” of the Silver Shamrock song. 

Including strobing lights without a warning was certainly a choice, and not one I recommend they do again, but the party is a perfect 2AM fever-dream send-off for Helloween. My rating for this special: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

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Kait (she/her) haunts the cornfields of the Midwest after being raised in a small Indiana town built on sickness and death. She consumes all sorts of horror-related content and spits their remains back onto your screen. You can follow her on Twitter at @ KaitHorrorBreak, where she live tweets The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and posts other spooky things.

Movies n TV

Suburban Screams, A Killer Comes Home

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Episode two of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was more true crime than supernatural. It was the horrific, dark tale of a serial killer who escapes from jail and comes back to his hometown for revenge. And boy, does he find it.

The story

This story begins with a man coming out to his front porch to find a mysterious package wrapped in newspaper. He opens it to find a rotting, maggot-ridden head that he certainly didn’t order.

The head was placed there by a killer named Allan Legere. In 1986, Legere brutally murdered a couple in their homes during a robbery. For this, he was sentenced to life in prison.

However, he escaped from prison in May of 1989. Enraged at his old hometown, he returns there and starts a brutal killing rampage. He wants revenge on the people who wronged him. At least, the people he believes wronged him. Rather than focusing on the police who arrested him, or the judge and jury who convicted him, he decides to go after the journalists who reported on the case.

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Of course, he also murders a whole bunch of old ladies for some reason. And a priest.

Annette Holland in Suburban Screams.

Legere is still alive, and still in prison. But as he’s escaped once, many people believe he might do so again. And if he does, he’ll almost surely try to pick up right where he left off.

This tale is told from the point of view of the journalists, Rick MacLean and David Cadogan. Both men have been deeply impacted by this incident. They are still shaken. And still very, very angry.

What worked

This episode was far better than the first, right from the maggot-headed start. The gore was intense. The story was horrifying. And it’s made even more horrifying, knowing that it is, for the most part, true.

The thing that made this episode stand out is that it feels so much like several beloved horror stories. I would suggest that this story inspired John Carpenter’s Halloween, except that that movie came out in 1978. The events in this episode took place from 1986 to 1989.

To realize that a person could cause so much pain, and take so many lives, is possibly the scariest thing most of us can imagine. And while this story is, sadly, not unique, it is certainly worse than most.

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What didn’t work

After watching this episode, I can only really think of one complaint. There is a scene with the first victims, two elderly ladies. The first woman is home alone when someone begins hammering on her front door. We are meant to believe that it is the killer, but it ends up being her sister with a lovely salad. But if the two sisters lived together, why was she knocking to be let in? I can only believe that this is meant as misdirection to the point of being a jump scare. And this feels cheap. Especially when the rest of the episode was more on the level.

Is it True?

While I do think parts of this episode were, let’s say dramatized, I do think this happened. There are just too many facts that would be far too easy to look up. To my dismay, the part that is easiest to look up is the horrific deaths of many innocent people.

This was a much better episode than the one that preceded it. The story is compelling and frightening. It is well told, both from the survivors being interviewed and the actors recreating the moments of horrific history. I’m hoping that the rest of the season is more like this episode, and less like the first.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Suburban Screams, Kelly

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Launched in October of 2023, Suburban Screams is the latest project by acclaimed horror master John Carpenter. It’s a true crime/unsolved mystery series covering events that have terrified people living in, you guessed it, the suburbs.

The story

Our first episode, titled Kelly, is the story of two roommates named Dan and Joey. The actual Dan and Joey tell the story from their own perspective, interspersed with dramatic reenactments. This did feel very much like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

One night when Dan and Joey have their girlfriends over, they decide to play with an Ouija board. Since they don’t have one, Dan makes one on a pizza box, complete with a planchette. This is, of course, when things go terribly wrong.

Still from Suburban Screams, Kelly.

Honestly, I have never heard anyone say, “I had a great time with that Ouija board, I’m really glad we did that.”

The couples make contact with a spirit named Kelly. This is very upsetting to Dan’s girlfriend May, as she had a cousin named Kelly who went missing and is presumed dead.

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Dan then finds himself haunted by Kelly. He throws up water, finds his kitchen chairs stacked on the table, and is followed around by a haunting song. Dan feels like he won’t find peace until he helps Kelly find peace.

What worked

There was a lot to enjoy in this first episode. Specifically, I loved the horror visuals. Dan’s vision was very creepy, as an example. And I loved the shots of the body floating down the river. These images were eerie and upsetting.

The storytelling from Dan and Joey was also well done. While I have my doubts about the validity of this story, these two men believe wholeheartedly in what they’re saying. I certainly believe that they experienced something disturbing. Either that or they are some fantastic actors.

What didn’t work

That being said, some things rubbed me the wrong way in this episode.

I’d like to start with the herbs Joey burned during the Ouija session. It looked like sage, or maybe sweetgrass.

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As some of you might know, I am a practicing witch. So I do feel the need to point out that if you want to open a door and invite spirits in, you probably don’t want to be burning sage or sweetgrass as those are going to negate any spiritual activity. This was for sure the action of someone who does not know what the hell they are doing. It just irritated me.

Also, maybe don’t throw open a door indiscriminately to the spirit world. Just saying.

I also didn’t love the acting by Ben Walton-Jones, who played Dan. While it wasn’t a terrible job, the character felt overacted. I don’t know how he had room for that pizza, since he was chewing the scenery most of the episode.

Honestly, this episode felt a little underproduced. When I saw John Carpenter’s name, I was expecting something with some real production value. Great acting, great effects, great music. None of those were in effect here. I’m not sure where their budget went, because it didn’t go to any of the things it should have.

Is it true?

So that brings us to the big question. Do I think this story is true?

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Well, it is verifiable that Kelly Lynn Fitzpatrick was a young woman who unfortunately was found dead in 1999 in Quebec. The rest of the story, so far as I can find, is up to speculation.

Do I believe someone could contact the dead on an Ouija board they made out of a pizza box? Yes, I do. Because Dan made it with his own hands it might have worked better than a store-bought board. But do I think he was haunted to this extent by the spirit of Kelly?

Well, I would say that I believe this about as much as I believe the story of the Amityville house. Something certainly happened here, but I am sure that the details shared in this episode of Suburban Screams are highly overblown.

In the end, while I did have fun watching this episode, this fun was tainted. I would have enjoyed it more if it was presented as a fictional story loosely based on real-life events. Because that is almost certainly what it was.

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3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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Fallout, The Beginning

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We’ve now reached the end of Fallout, season one. As I mentioned during the last review, I was heartily concerned that this show, like so many others, was going to drop the ball at the finale and ruin an entire season.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. This episode was everything it needed to be and more.

Let’s discuss.

The story

We begin our story with Maximus returning to the Brotherhood of Steel compound. He has a head, which he is claiming is the real head of Wilzig.

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I don’t know why he thought that was going to work.

Of course, it doesn’t. The elder cleric is about to kill Maximus until Dane says that they hurt their foot.

Because of this, the Brotherhood is sent out to get the head. Or rather, what’s inside of it. They head to the city run by Moldaver. This happens to be the same place Lucy and The Ghoul are headed.

Still from Amazon Prime's Fallout.

There, Lucy does manage to find her father. What she ends up finding is so much more than she wanted to find.

What worked

The first thing I have to discuss is how seamlessly the storylines of the series combined.

Each of our four main characters has been on their own journey. Lucy is trying to save her father. Maximus wants to become a knight. The Ghoul wants to find his family. Norm wants to know what’s going on in Vault 31.

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I sure wasn’t expecting all of these stories to come together in the way that they did. And to preserve the ending, I don’t dare say more. I will only say that yes, all four stories tie in perfectly with one another. By the end, two characters end up having the very same goal.

As I hinted before, I did not see the twist ending coming.

Ella Purnell in Fallout.

Yes, we might have guessed some things from the last episode. We of course guessed that Lucy’s dad was involved in some nefarious and probably sci-fi way. But the way this story twists at the end is nothing short of serpent-like. Which is why I cannot go into too much detail here. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to experience it blind.

Finally, I can give the Fallout season finale the most important praise I can ever give a finale. It did its number one job, getting us excited for season two. We have answers, but now we have new and more exciting questions. And even better, we have a desire to see vengeance done.

What didn’t work

Now that the season is done, though, I can bring up something that bothered me through all eight episodes.

I don’t buy Lucy and Maximus’s relationship.

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Maybe because it’s rushed. Maybe because the two actors don’t have a lot of chemistry. Maybe it’s because I’m not sure even now either character could tell you a single thing about the other. There is just no spark between the two. So their love story feels tacked on. I honestly feel like their love story could have been removed from the show entirely and it would have no negative impact.

I also didn’t buy Dane’s confession. This is a minor spoiler, but it comes up early in the episode. Dane confesses that they hurt their foot so that they wouldn’t have to go into the wastelands.

And at first, I kept expecting Maximus to thank them later. I honestly thought that they were just lying to save Maximus’s life. But no, as it turns out, they were not.

But it just doesn’t make sense. The motivations don’t jive. I honestly think it would have been better for the story if they had lied to save Maximus’s life.

At least then there’d be one other Brother of Steel who had some nobility.

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In the end, this first season of Fallout was everything I could ask for. So far as I can tell, it was everything fans of the Fallout franchise could ask for. There wasn’t a bad episode in the bunch. Honestly, the only real complaint I had was that the season was so short.

I’ll be counting down the days to season two, and I hope you’ll be joining me then. Because war, war never changes.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

If you like my work, you can check out my latest science fiction/horror novel, Nova, launching on May 17th. Pre-orders are available now on Amazon.

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