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The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs continues toward the season finale with its varied movie selections alongside the informative, and sometimes on-topic, rants Joe Bob delivers during breaks in the films. His co-host, the intelligent and beautiful Darcy the Mailgirl, does her best to keep him under control but he is one hard to wrangle cowboy. It can be watched on AMC+ and Shudder.

Jaws Rip-Off Night

What happens when Joe Bob sends a request up the corporate ladder to play Jaws (1975) on The Last Drive-In? Don’t get too excited because he absolutely does not get permission to play it. Instead, viewers are treated to Alligator (1980) and Grizzly (1976) on Jaws Rip-Off Night. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy selling hotdogs at a theatre. The Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs is written on the poster.
The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

An Unexpected Error

Instead of tearing into the start of the episode, many members of the #MutantFam were unfortunately left in the dark. Shudder has a history of server issues on The Drive-In nights and this week was one of the worst in recent memory. As angry tweets flood my timeline (including one from Chris Jericho), I refresh the page repeatedly and wait.

If I were able to watch, I’d hear Joe Bob complaining about privacy fences and how Americans have turned their neighborhoods into suburban fortresses. “Wasn’t it better when you could sit out on your front porch and look all the way down to the end of the street and see grass and trees and pink flamingos and lawn sprinklers and all that stuff?” he asks.

A screenshot of the Shudder homepage showing a black screen and spinning circle.
The spinning circle of doom.

He continues, and I am sitting unaware on my front porch looking down my street & watching the neighborhood kids catch fireflies. When I re-watch the episode, the irony of this is not lost on me.

Stranger Times

While Joe Bob laments privacy fences and how they make neighbors strangers, Darcy chimes in. “This is one of your stranger rants.” She is dressed as a sexy rendition of an alligator and Joe Bob laughs as she places a realistic gator mask over her head. Despite his assurance that it would all come back around, I fail to see how any of it relates to Lewis Teague’s Alligator.

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Darcy the Mail Girl points at Joe Bob while wearing a realistic alligator mask.
Darcy makes Joe Bob laugh with her costume.

The Drive-In Totals include but are not limited to: Cop chomping, showdown in Booger Alley, gratuitous bomb scare, and dynamite fu. This blend of Jaws and C.H.U.D. (1984) earns three stars from Joe Bob.

A movie poster for Alligator. It shows an alligator in a sewer system. It reads "It lives 50 feet beneath the city. It's 36 feet long. It weighs 2,000 pounds.  .... And it's about to break out!"
A poster for Alligator.

Hollywood Dreams

As the insatiable mutant gator wreaks havoc across Chicago, Joe Bob gives credit to the plethora of character actors featured in the film. Sydney Lassick, Bart Braverman, John Lisbon Wood, and Michael V. Gazzo are all featured as Joe Bob tries to cram decades of Hollywood history into the segment. He continues recognizing other actors in the film throughout.

He continues with the Hollywood history lesson when he highlights the work of Henry Silva. Silva died last year at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, California. For those unaware, the home was created after several former Hollywood stars died in destitution. Its intended purpose is to help those within the industry who are out of work and struggling.

With the current WGA / SAG-AFTRA strike, one source has stated, “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.” Joe Bob does not go into the history of the home in the episode, but for those aware – the mention alone feels important.

It also feels important when he tells the audience Lassick held a job as a truck dispatcher the entire time he was acting. Too many actors today continue to rely on secondary sources of income to supplement the laughably low residual pay they receive for their work. Fatty Arbuckle may have died without a penny to his name, but the studio heads of his time sure didn’t.

No Apologies Needed

Joe Bob seems to be more sensitive to the time constraints of the show this episode, and calls himself out for rambling multiple times. Darcy reminds him this behavior is nothing new before disappearing to wardrobe for the next few segments.

A photo of Joe Bob apologizing to Darcy for talking so much. He is saying "So, sorry, Darcy. Really long break. Sorry!"
We all forgive you.

Hail Seitan!

While Darcy is absent, Joe Bob talks about the topics that are more upsetting to her vegan and animal-loving sensibilities. He talks about the advent of the Miami entertainment industry and its roots in alligator wrestling.

When Darcy returns, the topics shift back to the movie. We learn about the various issues with the giant alligator models used in the show, which caused a pivot to using miniatures for many of the shots. It is revealed the animatronic alligator named Ramon was donated to the University of Florida and occasionally appears in halftime shows, and a production member can’t help but let out a confused “What?!”

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A small alligator sits on a map of Chicago.
It’s massive!

My rating for Alligator: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

Slide Into Joe Bob’s DMs

Since Joe Bob requested meaner letters in a previous episode, Dacry delivers an angry twitter DM from Jeff in Iowa. Jeff is very upset because he does not consider Heathers to be a horror film. He calls it “a chick flick teenage drama movie.” He finishes his message by assuring Joe Bob he still loves him and the show, he just wants more pure horror on The Drive-In. Joe Bob says he counts serial killer movies as horror and, “Heathers has enough horror elements to count.”

Paws -or- Claws

Joe Bob does not hold back in his comparison of Grizzly to Jaws. He says the movie is “goofy as all get-out” and draws the parallel to people who prefer the beach or the mountains. He gets a little heated when discussing whether or not Jaws is a horror film, and therefore whether eco-horror is a viable subgenre of horror. “Giant creature eating people! Okay?! Duh! Such basic horror.”

The Drive-In Totals include but are not limited to: 2 dead bears, arm ripping, pervert bear POV-attack, bloody-goo slippage, and bazooka fu. Despite repeated claims by the screenwriters and director William Girdler that Grizzly was independently created from Jaws, Joe Bob seems incredulous and gives the movie three stars.

A poster for the film Grizzly. It features a massive bear looming over an unaware camper. It reads "18 feet of towering fury!" and "The most dangerous jaws in the land."
A poster for Grizzly/

Nit-Picking

Most of Joe Bob’s criticism of the movie comes in the form of calling out the sheer lack of logic displayed throughout. Complaints include but are not limited to: bears hibernation schedules, tourist taxes, and the unattended fires.

Darcy says what I’m sure many people at home are thinking when she interjects with “You’re way too picky.” She is now dressed as a sexy rendition of a bear, which for some reason pisses off incels on the internet. Seriously, leave Darcy the fuck alone you weirdos. She is smart and sexy and Joe Bob wants her there doing her thing.

Darcy sits in a bear costume enthusiastically encouraging people to save the sharks.
Darcy does not think you should eat sharks.

Character Night

This episode of The Drive-In could also be called Character Actor Night with the attention Joe Bob continues to pay to them. He gives credit to the many actors throughout, and reveals Richaed Jaeckel as Scotty the Bear Man also lived and died in the Motion Picture and Television Home.

Special attention is given to Girdler’s fascinating biography. Joe Bob refers to him as “the exploitation king of Louisville, Kentucky.” Girdler came from a very wealthy family, and had a private screening room in his home at a time when it was almost unfathomable.

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Money Money Money

Despite his family’s independent wealth, Girdler was not a stranger to money issues. Even with Grizzly being wildly successful and making millions of dollars, Girdler found himself living in Leslie Nielsen’s guest house for a period of time.

These money issues were exasperated by Grizzly’s executive producer Edward L. Montoro selling the worldwide distribution rights and trying to keep the $1.5 million from the sale to himself. After suing, Girdler eventually received his share of the profits as did writers David Sheldon and Harvey Flaxman.

Girdler’s career was tragically cut short at 30-years-old when he died in a helicopter crash. Joe Bob believes he was on track to have a Roger Corman level of career, and he mourns with Louisville for their loss.

My rating for Grizzly: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Mail Call

The final fan mail of the night comes from Chuck Daniels. His letter calls back to the start of season when the Drive-In featured two films from Lucio Fulci. Daniels believes he has figured out a way Fulci’s movies fit together and Joe Bob gives his theory credence. Darcy believes Fulci was just making a bunch of movies in a short frame of time. They can agree to disagree, especially on something so low-stakes.

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Darcy and Joe Bob agree on staying spry.
Stay spry out there y’all.

My rating for the episode: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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.

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Movies n TV

Ghostbusters, Frozen Empire

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Released in March of this year, Ghostbuster’s Frozen Empire is the latest in what is now a four-part series that began in 1984. And, unlike most series that get a modern reboot, this series just seems to be getting better.

The story

Our tale begins in 1904. Firefighters from the same firehouse we are all familiar with are dispatched to save a building that is, well, kind of the opposite of on fire. In the middle of Summer, a whole room has frozen solid. The people inside are frozen in place. As this scene fades away, we see a woman dressed in strange brass clothes, holding a ball that seems to be whispering something.

Flash-forward to modern times, we see our Ghostbusters flying through the streets of New York, chasing a massive sea monster ghost. They manage to catch the ghost but are called into the mayor’s office for property damage. And, surprise, the mayor is Walter Peck, the minor villain in the original films.

Among Peck’s complaints is that Phoebe Spangler is underage. He insists that she be benched until she’s eighteen.

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This, of course, means that Phoebe is the only one there when Ray receives a strange ball in his shop. A ball that has so much kinetic energy that it breaks his tools. A ball that is, of course, whispering.

Dan Aykroyd, James Acaster, Finn Wolfhard, Celeste O'Connor and Logan Kim in Ghostbusters Frozen Empire.

What worked

What the Ghostbusters series has gotten right is that it’s never lost sight of the original film. It is one consistent story with new elements added. The music is similar in each. The characters are consistent from film to film. And, maybe the most important part, the original characters have aged and changed in ways that make sense.

This movie was also full of nods to original fans. Seeing Janine suited up was a fantastic moment for me. But it’s also great to see Ray, Peter and Winston as leaders and advisors.

Another thing I loved about this film was the actual creep factor. This is the first Ghostbusters movie that had some actual creepy moments. Right in the first scene, the frozen dead hand rolling around on the record player was eerie. The ghosts were creepy, except Slimer. Some of them looked like they might do some damage.

Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts in Ghostbusters Frozen Empire.

Finally, it was so cool seeing all of the Ghostbusters coming together. All three original characters fight with the seven new ones, and aided by Janine, Melody and Nadeem. It meant something that it took all of them to fight Garraka. And even then, they just barely stopped him. It raised the stakes and felt epic.

What didn’t work

I will say, this movie could have had more detail. There were a lot of storylines in this movie. Trevor trying to come into his young adulthood by battling Slimer himself. Phoebe deals with the fact that she feels like an adult and isn’t treated like one yet. Her love affair with Melody. Nadeem discovering and coming into his birthright. And, of course, everyone coming together to defeat Garraka.

With so many stories in play, it was going to be impossible to treat all of them with the time and respect they deserved. And one story I felt needed more attention was the story of Melody. I want to know why she was hanging out playing chess in Central Park. I want to know why there was a diner with her name on it. I want to know why Garraka chose her to get close to Phoebe. I want to know so many things about this character and there was just not enough time. This was an almost two-hour movie already, there was not enough time because they did too much.

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All in all, though, this is a small complaint. Ghostbusters Frozen Empire was funny, creepy, heartwarming and a lot of fun. It’s something you can watch with little ones and adults alike, and everyone in the room will have a good time.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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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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