Connect with us

Published

on

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement
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.

Advertisement
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.

Advertisement

(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.

Advertisement

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain

Published

on

American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.

Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. 

The Story

Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.

Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Delicate

Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.

But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.

Advertisement

Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.

You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby. 

What worked

AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.

Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.

This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us. 

Advertisement

I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.

This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.

What didn’t work

Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!

Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here. 

I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.

Advertisement
Juliana Canfield in American Horror Story Delicate

I feel like they’ve been railroaded. 

All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring.  4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Continue Reading

Movies n TV

Wheel of Time, Strangers and Friends

Published

on

Episode two of Wheel of Time, widened the divide between the show and the books. Things are happening out of order, people are acting out of character. Whether this is to the detriment of the show, however, has yet to be determined. 

The story

One character missing from episode one was Rand. You know, our main character. But we finally catch up with him now. 

He’s living in a city with a woman named Selene. They don’t have what I’d call a super healthy relationship. She spends a bit too much time talking about her ex. 

Yes, for those of you who didn’t read the books, this is going to be important.

Advertisement

Rand is also working at an insane asylum. He’s kind and patent with his charges, but not all of his fellow caregivers are. 

Josha Stradowski in The Wheel of Time

Meanwhile, Lan and Moiraine are recovering form their Fade attack from last episode. Rather than taking the time to actually heal, Moiraine decides to head out to find Rand. Her team comes with her, which seems to really bother her. 

While that little hissy fit is taking place, Nynaeve is causing issues. Not by anything she’s doing, but by what she’s not doing. As none of the regular novice teacher have been able to get her to use the One Power, Liandrin offers to try. No one, including me, is thrilled with this. But, the Aes Sedai are desperate. They know that The Dark One is around, and they need Nynaeve to be ready. So, they let the person who’s driven other students to their deaths and actively committed multiple hate crimes take over. 

What could go wrong?

What worked

The special effects in this episode were really well done. I especially liked the dead fade nailed to the wall.

I was also pleased with the introduction of Elayne. Ceara Coveney is playing her, and doing a fine job. She’s warm, kind and sweet. I am thrilled that she’s around. 

Advertisement

One of the greatest things about Wheel of Time is the friendships between the characters. Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve and Egwene legitimately care about each other. Elayne seems to care for Egwene right away. I really love that. 

What didn’t work

One thing that bothered me in this episode, and frankly the last episode, was Liandrin keeping Mat in prison. I feel like this wasn’t adequately explained. Why does she have him? How did she trap him? What in the hell is she trying to get from him? Perhaps I simply missed something, and please let me know in the comments if this is the case. But it feels like some poor writing to me. 

I also don’t love how Moiraine is portrayed in this episode. Really, in this season so far.

I get that she’s never exactly been a warm person. She’s not personable, open, or kind. Some (most) fans of the book would likely agree that she’s kind of a bitch.

But she’s not a bitch for no reason. She certainly isn’t the sort to lash out at the people who love her because she’s in pain. And that’s what she’s doing through this episode. She’s taking her pain out on Lan. And that’s just out of character for her. 

Advertisement
Dónal Finn in The Wheel of Time.

It feels very much like a lot is being skipped over from the Wheel of Time books. But, so far at least, I don’t feel like anything vital has been missed. It feels more like the story is being streamlined. 

Yes, I understand how this might go horribly wrong. I think we’ve all seen that. But as of right now, the changes make sense for the switch in mediums. 

Now, let’s see if it stays that way. 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movies n TV

Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre: Francois and The Unicorn Review

Published

on

By

Gringo Fantastico is a troubled luchador presenting Troma films from the safety of a derelict recreation center nestled in chaotic Tromaville. He is tortured by the French-Canadian Demon Piñata Francois who trash talks and hurls abuse throughout the episodes. This week’s special guest is Jonah Ray Rodrigues. New episodes release on the first of each month on Troma NOW.

The poster for episode 2 of Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre featuring special guest Jonah Ray Rodrigues.
Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre: Francois and the Unicorn featuring Jonah Ray

Roll the Tape!

Welcome back to Tromaville for Chapter Dos of Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre! Gringo Fantastico (Nate Turnpaugh) returns to the screen with guest Jonah Ray (current host of Mystery Science Theater 3000) to proudly host Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957). Turnpaugh espouses his love for the movie in our most recent interview and credits his friends with helping him to discover it. “They kept trying to get me to watch it, and one day I finally did.”

On a totally unrelated note, the Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines libel as “a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression.” For no reason at all, I choose to immediately correct the record and inform you that Fantastico actually hosts Herb Freed’s Graduation Day (1981).

A poster for Graduation Day. It reads "There are 200 seniors at Midvale High. And Seven days 'til graduation. The class of '81 is running out of time."

It shows a woman's face in a mirror, with a halberd shattering it.
A poster for Graduation Day (1981)

Turning Heel

We once again begin with grainy VHS footage of an interview from the luchador’s past. Much like the previous episode, Fantastico becomes upset at the prodding questions being asked of him. As this ongoing narrative continues to build, it is becoming obvious Fantastico is coming close to a breaking point.

These segments, while short, work to highlight Turnpaugh’s screenwriting ability. They feel authentic and demonstrate a solid understanding of wrestling culture. Crafting a compelling story can be difficult when it is broken into parts and spread across significant time. However, he creates bite-sized pieces of lore that manage to both satisfy and leave the audience craving more.

A Piñata by Any Other Name

Before the movie can start, Fantastico has to deal with the usual shenanigans from Francois. When it is time to bring out Jonah Ray for his interview from the Satellite of Love, Francois outright refuses. The interview must come at the cost of Fantastico’s soul. Fearing for the worst but desperate to continue the episode, Fantastico agrees to a one-day-only loan of his soul.

Advertisement

Enter Francine. She’s a sassy yet loving unicorn who only wants the best for Fantastico. She is complimentary and eager to help, offering her kind words in a sugary sweet voice. For all intents and purposes, she is the opposite of Francois. And yet, she is Francois. At least, she is Francois after consuming Fantastico’s soul.

The unicorn pinata Francine and Fantastico sit in the rec center together.
Francine and Fantastico

Inner Demons

Turnpaugh continues the ongoing theme of addressing his PTSD within the episode. He explains it as, “the whole concept of self-worth with the PTSD and things like that because that is a problem that I’ve experienced. When people are constantly negative towards you and you constantly have to defend yourself and you constantly be on edge and finally something happens and you don’t have to do that anymore. But you’re so guarded when that happens that you don’t know how to act.”

Throughout the episode, Fantastico chafes against Francine’s presence. He is unsure of what to do when someone speaks affectionately to him after suffering Francois for so long. The only punishments she doles out are rainbows that make you laugh. It’s unsettling and a little uncomfortable and is exactly what working to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk feels like.

The Satellite of Love

The interview segments with Jonah Ray feel like listening to old friends banter. Turnpaugh tells me he first met Ray at the Malco Drive-In Theater last year where they both attended Joe Bob’s Jamboree. He admits to being caught off guard when Ray knew who he was and was familiar with his work.

Jonah Ray is shown on the screen of an old television for the interview segments.
Jonah Ray beaming in on the Satellite of Love

Fame and the mental games it causes one to play ends up becoming a large part of the interview. When asked by Fantastico when he felt like he had made it, Jonah Ray responds “I don’t think there is a there, there.” He likens the fame game to climbing a ladder. “You’re […] looking up […] but you rarely look back down.”

One of the best portions of the interview is when Jonah Ray goes full meta and begins roasting the ego necessary to take on the role of a media host. It’s hard not to laugh when you remember this is coming from the mouth of one host straight into the ear of another. It is important to note that both men are playing characters as hosts, which according to Ray changes the dynamic.

New Place, Same Thing

Jonah Ray also spends time talking about the difference in production having moved away from Netflix and onto Gizmoplex. He says it has been a lifelong dream to host MST3K and the move has allowed him space to better bring his vision of hosting to the screen. Netflix, while important in bringing MST3K back, seems to have sucked some of the soul out of the show. He believes moving to Gizmoplex helps with delivering the level of quality fans expect.

Advertisement

Turnpaugh is familiar with format shifts, having moved his show from YouTube onto Troma Now. I ask how this has changed things in terms of production and he says while he has never felt more supported, he has started placing more pressure on himself. “The pressure is never from Troma.” Lloyd Kaufman clearly believes in the show, as he’s recently started giving it top-billing on the site. 

Back to Basics

The end of the episode brings back an extremely confused Francois. It seems consuming Fantastico’s soul didn’t go exactly as planned. Turnpaugh promises that audiences have not seen the last of Francine and that some answers may be coming sooner rather than later. You’ll just have to tune in next month to see what insanity happens next in Tromaville.

Francois sits in his ripped up picnic basket.
Francois the Demon Piñata

My rating for the episode: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Follow @realfantastico on the platform formerly known as Twitter to join in with the rest of the Fantasticats as they live-tweet each episode the Friday after release. Episode three features special guests Toby Poser, John Adams and Lulu Adams. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending