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The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs marches toward the season finale with its indiscriminate 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.

CW // Perfect Blue includes graphic animated depictions of SV and SA

Animation Night

Mad God (2021) and Perfect Blue (1997) have three things in common: 1) they are animated 2) they are horror 3) you’re going to need a shower after watching them. Well four things, if you count being shown together on The Last Drive-In during the first-ever Animation Night.

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

It’s a Mad, Mad World

Instead of opening the episode with a questionably on topic rant, Joe Bob breaks with convention and gets right to business. He introduces the Phil Tippett created stop motion, mostly speechless film Mad God almost immediately and warns the audience it is nearly indescribable.

A poster for Phil Tippett's Mad God. It shows a nightmarish scene of monsters.
A poster for Mad God.

To prove its elusive nature, Joe Bob reads out multitudes of reviews full of nouns and not verbs. When one review mentions dieselpunk, he appears confused by the concept of ___-punk. Despite Darcy’s best efforts at explanation, he sums it up as “Fuck you dieselpunk.” I personally enjoy several dieselpunk movies, most notably Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984).

Concessions Break

When asked what sort of “popcorn” would be best to enjoy with Mad God, Darcy recommends psilocybin. Joe Bob has his own whiskey recommendation. He even recommends a specific high CBD, low THC strain of marijuana to enhance the experience. We really need these pieces of advice in advance, Joe Bob.

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The most unhinged Drive-In Totals I have ever seen for Mad God include but certainly are not limited to: 1 giant cervix, legless mummy-head crawling creature, skinny hypnotized undead machine-people, monster-baby totalitarianism, plump nekkid stag-reel porn, and Nosferatu fu.

Joe Bob reads the drive-in totals. The image reads "baby-guts gold-dust explosion causing mountains to move, meteors to explode, and flying saucers to take off over a deep inferno where amoebas and floating bubbles and pools of liquid and sing-cell organisms and galaxies of stars and fetuses in golden bubbles cause giant skyscrapers to be quickly built with radio antennas on top of the tallest building"
“Weirdest drive-in totals ever,” says Darcy.

When Joe Bob finishes rattling off the totals, Darcy asks everyone on set to clap for the feat. The movie earns Joe Bob’s highest rating of four stars and Darcy’s stamp of “Weirdest Drive-In totals ever.”

Tippett or Not Tippett.

As the movie slogs its way through hell, Joe Bob interviews the Oscar-winning creator of Mad God. Tippett is best known for his work on blockbuster films like Jurassic Park (1992). As well as the cult classic Starship Troopers (1997). Joe Bob makes it clear the main point of the interview is to get Tippett to accurately describe the plot of Mad God, but I don’t think he can count it a success by that metric.

In terms of being a sort-of basement masterclass in life philosophy and film, the interview is a wild success. Tippett does not hesitate to push on any and all assumptions Joe Bob has about the creative process of creating Mad God or his interpreted meanings. Joe Bob is met with “No,” as an answer to more questions than I can count.

God is a Woman?

In one instance, Joe Bob repeatedly assigns the male gender to both God and The Assassin in his descriptions. Tippett quickly points out the assumed maleness is just that – assumed. “It’s a force, it’s a thing.” They are never given a gender. I find this level of discourse on The Drive-In to be absolutely delicious, and I watch in real-time as Joe Bob corrects his language away from he/him pronouns.

When talking about making the film, Tippett emphasizes repeatedly he did not know what story was being told until years after he started making it. When Joe Bob describes the movie as grim, Tippett endearingly responds, “I thought it was funny.” Having a dark sense of humor is, in my opinion, needed to get through the shit-shoveling world of today.

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Phil Tippett sits on The Last Drive-In's interview couch. Tippett is saying, "I-I thought it was funny."
Me too Phil, me too.

Estimated Time to Process: 30 years

Tippett says the film is about process as much as it is anything and resists most interpretations Joe Bob foists his way. “If I do know, I’m not saying,” remains the most cryptic answer given, hinting at an inner interpretation Tippett is unwilling to give.

One thing Tippett is clear about is the value of hard work and dedication. When Joe Bob asks him what advice he’d give a newcomer to the effects / animation field, his response is simple – practice. Sometimes the only prescription is more work.

Tippett mentions his failures as much as his successes and his struggles with mental illness & substance use. He talks about himself as if he does not know he is one of the greatest living visual effects artists. He is probably the definition of the word humble.

Even Joe Bob acknowledges this by revealing the college students who worked weekends on the film were the best students from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Tippett mentions them in the interview as if they were just random students who decided to help.

You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas

The interview again highlights Joe Bob’s best strength: his adaptability. With Darcy absent during the interview, Joe Bob was placed in her usual position of attempting to keep the conversation on track. Thankfully, he mostly lets Tippett wander with his thoughts. I certainly do not understand Mad God any better, but I definitely have a shifted perspective on life.

The fan mail segment delivers an emotional e-mail from Josh Hitchens. Hitchens describes how Monstervision gave him something to look forward to, and thereby a reason to live, as a young queer person in a hostile environment. We’re all glad you’re still here circling the sun with us Josh.

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Joe Bob Briggs sit in his longhorn chair reading a fan mail letter. He is saying "...and I'm glad you're part of the mutant fam."
We’re all glad you’re a part of the mutant fam.

Joe Bob seems reluctant to accept this position as a source of comfort. Darcy succinctly describes the feeling as: “It’s like we felt like outsiders and we became insiders when we watched your show.” I re-discovered Joe Bob during the early chaos of the pandemic, and The Drive-In became my happy place. Now that I’m a part of the #MutantFam, I’m never leaving.

My rating for Mad God: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Lost in the Sauce

Joe Bob describes Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue as a “Japanese giallo.” The film tells the story of ex-idol Mima as she attempts an acting career and loses her grip on reality as her life becomes indistinguishable from her work & the lies of an online stalker. While more easily described than Mad God, Perfect Blue is itself a puzzle box with many layers of possible interpretation.

A poster for Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue. A young woman lays on a bed of blue/green colored objects.
A poster for Perfect Blue.

The Drive-In Totals include but are not limited to: 19 breasts, 1 downtown Tokyo apparition traffic-jam chase, gratuitous superhero movie, and aquarium fu. This movie also lands a four-star rating from Joe Bob.

I suddenly feel an urge to go back and see how every movie shown on The Drive-In is rated to see if my suspicion that Joe Bob is showing more movies he loves this season than in previous seasons is correct.

Sounds Like Mima

Darcy certainly loves Perfect Blue, and reveals her overall love for the anime genre. She gives a shout-out to Fullmetal Alchemist for being one of her favorites, and somehow manages to make the story sound almost delightful. If you’ve ever seen Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, you know how horrific the story gets.

An image from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. A dog wearing a flower crown with its tongue out stands next to a sitting young girl in a red dress.
I’m sorry if you understand this.

While Mima learns if she can trust herself to differentiate fantasy from reality, Joe Bob tells the audience Satoshi himself cannot be trusted. He describes Satoshi as a “sometimes misleading teacher.” This immediately reminds me of Tippett’s earlier interview and his seeming nonanswers to some questions.

What’s in a Name?

Perfect Blue is loosely based on the novel Perfect Blue: Kanzen Hentai. The name of the novel has a double translation of either Complete Metamorphosis or Total Pervert. Satoshi famously said there is no meaning behind Perfect Blue as a title, although Joe Bob does not believe that to be the truth. He calls Satoshi an unreliable narrator, which is not something you hear often in regards to a creator discussing their own work.

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(Listen, there’s no better way to say this. I just need to say it and get it out of my system: I don’t think Joe Bob knows about hentai. He seems to not know a lot about anime in general, but the way he says Perfect Blue: Kanzen Hentai without even a glimmer of a smirk reveals his utter ignorance of anime’s kinky cousin. Some would say ignorance is bliss. I say we all deserve an education.)

While Satoshi cannot be trusted as a narrator, he can be trusted as a filmmaker. Joe Bob highlights in particular the use of match cutting and intercutting as a way to obfuscate the truth of what is happening to Mima. Though in true giallo fashion, he lays out enough clues that a viewer might be able to figure it out before the end.

Huge in Japan

Joe Bob brings out The Drive-In’s art director and the Tokyo Cowboy, Yuki Nakamura to act as the resident Japan expert during the film. We learn: Japanese people love idols. There are not too many idols. Some idols make good money. Joe Bob is pronouncing none of the Japanese names correctly.

Yuki Nakamura sits next to Darcy the Mail Girl on the interview couch. He is saying "I grew up with Donna Summer."
Yuki missed the idol craze.

My rating for Perfect Blue: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Idol Worship

As the movie ends, we return for the final fan mail segment and Darcy finally reveals her perfect Mima cosplay. The fan mail comes in the form of a letter and an incredible maquette of the (mostly implied) monster from Hogzilla (2014) from Tim Martin. Martin’s letter follows a similar theme to Hitchen’s e-mail and describes The Drive-In as “virtually hanging out together on the front porch… welcome and invited.”

Darcy the Mailgirl in cosplay as Mima from Perfect Blue. Joe Bob (off screen) is saying "I am impressed."
We are all impressed.

Fuck Cancer

Satoshi and Tippett seem to share the commonality of allowing the audience to keep whatever meaning they find in Perfect Blue and Mad God. Tippet thinks hell is the clock in the doctor’s office while you’re waiting for the cancer diagnosis. Satoshi wrote a beautiful letter to his friends asking them to guide his wife onwards after his own terminal diagnosis.

We do not seek. We find. I’m so glad, like countless others, that I found the #MutantFam.

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My rating for the episode: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 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

Suburban Screams, Cursed Neighborhood

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Episode five of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was one of the best kind of horror stories. It is a dark, eerie tale of a mean house that is determined to destroy anyone who dares reside within it.

The story

Our story begins in 1682. A group of colonists are attempting to take over land that is very much not theirs. When the colonists are killed, they vow to curse the land.

Fast forward to modern times, and the land in question is a little suburban neighborhood. Carlette Norwood moves in with her husband, mother, and daughters. The house seems like a dream come true. Until, of course, their beautiful dream home becomes a nightmare. The curse of the colonists wrapped itself around the neck of each family member, turning them into people that they didn’t recognize. People who don’t exactly like each other.

What worked

While I wouldn’t say that the acting in this episode is flawless, it was several steps above what we’ve seen so far. Every actor seemed to understand their role and reacted in realistic ways. I was especially impressed by the young woman playing Angelique. She had the good sense to not overplay the role, giving each scene exactly the right amount of energy.

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Of course, there was one actress who way overplayed every scene. But rather than being terrible, it was terrific. And that was Chloe Zeitounian, who played the neighbor Stacy. Stacy the neighbor was creepy as shit. After an unnamed neighbor dies by suicide, Stacy shows up at Carlette’s house with a bottle of champagne, sipping coffee with a big old smile. Well, okay it probably wasn’t coffee.

Stacy was a fantastic character, and I hope there was a crazy neighbor just like her. I bet her house was haunted as hell, but she just decided that her ghost was like a stray dog that everyone else thinks is dangerous. She probably put a bejeweled collar on the colonist ghost and renamed him Kori spelled with an I on purpose.

Finally, I want to talk about the theme of ancestral curse and ancestral protections that this episode discussed.

Charles County was cursed by the colonists who took the land that rightfully belonged to the indigenous tribes. They took what their ancestors had given them, and left a curse in their wake.

At the end of the episode, Carlette talks about being protected by her ancestors. Ancestors that survived horrible things most of us can’t imagine. I am sure that their strength blessed Carlette, and helped her to save Angelique.

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What didn’t work

While this episode was certainly better than most of the season, it wasn’t perfect. The thing that most stood out to me as being frankly unneeded was the inclusion of maggots attacking Brian.

Paul A Maynard in Suburban Screams.

In multiple scenes, during which Carlette is narrating, Brian has maggots coming out of open wounds. Never once does Carlette mention a maggot issue.

It feels like there is a clear reason why the creators did this. This story doesn’t have a lot of blood, gore, or jump scares. And a core goal of horror content is to cause a reaction.

Stephen King has a great quote about this goal. “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

The inclusion of maggots in this story admits that someone involved didn’t think the story was terrorizing or horrifying enough. But it was. The story was freaky all on its own without the inclusion of our wriggling friends.

Is it true?

This might be an unpopular opinion, but aside from the completely unnecessary maggots infesting Brian, I think this episode is the most honest and accurate one so far.

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The thing about hauntings is that they’re seldom what we see in the movies. Haunted houses don’t have glass vases flying off shelves and wallpaper peeling to reveal 666 painted in blood over arcane symbols. Haunted houses dig into the minds of those who live there, causing bad luck and bad vibes. And that’s exactly what happened here. There are no massive explosions. No spirits throwing people downstairs or demonic dogs chasing children from the attic. This house dug into the hearts and minds of a loving family, ripping them apart.

So yes, I do think this episode is likely true.

The further we get into Suburban Screams, the more I enjoy it. This episode was eerie, upsetting, and riveting. I hope that Carlette and her daughters are healing from this horrific journey. And I’m thankful to them for sharing their story. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Happy Father’s Day Herman Munster!

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Herman Munster would be so proud, collage by Jennifer Weigel
Herman Munster would be so proud, collage by Jennifer Weigel

Today for Father’s Day I want to celebrate one the best dads in horror ever: Herman Munster! Herman Munster of television celebrity is a perfect example of a good father in a genre awash in epically horrible parents. He is fun to be around, cares deeply about family, and has a huge heart. He is essentially the naive and loving Frankenstein’s monster despite his horrific appearance, and is aptly employed at a funeral home.

Herman is lovable, hardworking, and always ready with the physical humor dad jokes, even if he is too naive to catch on to his role in the punchlines all the time. He is devoted to his wife Lily Dracula and son Eddie and will do whatever he can to protect them. His generosity extends beyond just his own, with the family taking in his niece Marilyn (who is painfully normal by comparison to the Munsters), and father-in-law Grandpa.

Portrayed by Fred Gwynne, Herman Munster is kind of the epitome of the good father in horror. Sure, he’s a brute, and can be a little dim sometimes, but he’s really just a big teddy bear at heart, and always ready for a good laugh. And apparently Herman Munster was even nominated by his son Eddie for Father of the Year in Season 2, Episode 25, so it all comes around full circle. If the show highlight doesn’t load, you can find it here.

And to celebrate more great Hollywood celebrities, here’s a poem for Ed Wood and an homage to Theda Bara

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Suburban Screams, The Bunny Man

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Someone is stalking the children of Fairfax, Virginia. He comes bearing an axe. He comes from the forest. He comes in the night.

He comes dressed as a bunny.

The story

In the 1970s, the sleepy town of Fairfax Virginia was menaced by a man dressed as a rabbit. He stalked kids and teens with an axe while they were playing in the woods, or ‘parking’. Children were cautioned to not play outside after dark. Parents were terrified. The whole community was rocked by the horrific killer who, well, didn’t kill anybody. And who might have been a whole bunch of people inspired by a truly sad tale?

Still from Suburban Screams The Bunny Man.

The story begins a hundred years earlier. A man whose name is lost to time is accused of stealing a cow. For this crime, he’s sentenced to death because things were a lot tougher back then. The man escaped but swore vengeance on the town. A few days later several children were found hanging from a bridge underpass, butchered and hung as though they were slaughtered rabbits.

What worked

The biggest thing to love about this episode, the one thing that sets it apart from the rest of the season, was the presence of Historian Cindy Burke. Finally, we have an actual professional talking about one of these stories. Yes, there are still first-hand accounts. But that is how these sorts of stories work best. We have the emotional retelling of evocative survivors. But we also have a professional who is emotionally separated from the situation backing up these stories with historical knowledge.

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This wouldn’t have mattered as much in any other setting. But Suburban Screams has been clear from the start that it wants to be seen as a documentary. This is supposed to be real. And if you’re going to claim that your ghost story is real, bring receipts. As many as you can.

If we’d seen more historians, detectives, and police reports through this series, it probably wouldn’t have the bad rating it does on IMDB.

What didn’t work

Well, it might still have had a bad rating. Because the acting in this episode was, for lack of a stronger word, terrible.

I don’t know if it was the directing, the casting, or just a weak talent budget. But not a single person except for the man playing the Bunny Man could act in any of these dramatic reenactment scenes.

The worst offender was probably the child playing Ed’s childhood friend. This character was way overacted. It’s as though the child had seen a parody of how little boys behave, and was told to act like that. As this was a little boy, he was likely a bit embarrassed.

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And I know, I’m trash-talking a child actor. I’m trash-talking all of the children actors in this episode. But children can act. There are lots of examples of kids doing great acting jobs. Stranger Things is an obvious example. Violent Night is another. The kid can act. These kids couldn’t act.

Is it true?

Unlike most of the other episodes in this series, The Bunny Man is a story I’ve heard before. It is a legitimate urban legend that blossomed from a few firsthand accounts of madmen doing scary things dressed as rabbits in Fairfax County, West Virginia. These events probably inspired others to do stupid things like dress up like a rabbit and run around with an ax. Much like the people who decided to dress up like clowns and scare the hell out of people across the country in 2016.

So, yes, the Bunny Man is very much real. He’s real in the hearts and minds of pranksters and West Virginia frat boys. And he is based on some very real, very upsetting, actual events.

I honestly wish the whole season of Suburban Screams had been exactly like this. Filled with facts, first-hand accounts, and proof of scary events. This was everything I wanted in a supernatural/true crime story. So if you’re giving the rest of the season a pass, I would suggest watching this episode.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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