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Welcome to ‘Notes from the Last Drive-In’ where we cover season 4, episode 2 of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder. This week we are talking about the horror classics Black Sunday (1960) and Def By Temptation (1980) and how they related to… Walpurgisnacht? Okay then!

We are back after last week’s season four premiere and the 100th and 101st films shown at the drive-in. You know you’re in for a treat when Joe Bob has a cause and the maps come out. So how successfully do the night’s films mesh with the theme of European witch lore festivals? Let’s find out together, shall we?

Black Sunday (1960)

Black Sunday, or La Maschera del Demonio, is the landmark 1960 Italian horror film directed by icon Mario Bava, which also happened to be his directorial debut. The stars of the film include Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, and Arturo Dominici. Of the cast, Steele would become the most familiar to Americans, though Richardson, Checchi, and Garrani would be very familiar to Italian audiences and Italian film enthusiasts.

Black Sunday (1960) Theatrical Poster

The film, very loosely adapted from the story “Viy” by Nicholai Gogol, is a lush, gothic fairy tale set in 1800s Moldavia about a land and a family cursed by a witch upon her death that would play out two centuries later. The film plays with multiple fairy tale themes and images and is unique in that it represents the foundations of post-war Italian horror, as Drive-In fans would come to learn throughout the night.

The story itself is very loose as a “Viy” adaptation goes, more or less borrowing tone above anything else. The narrative is simple with many scenes of melodrama, castle wanderings, and supernatural encounters that do not follow conventional logic. However, that is not necessarily a slight against the film. The events on the screen are like that of a dream. The film more or less meanders through the story to get to real meaty moments of witchy horror.


Barbara Steele owns the film in a dual role of the witch Asa Vajda and her descendent Katia Vajda. She is magnetic as Asa, a woman of erotic evil, and as her foil, the virginal and sweet Katia. The film would launch the English actress’ career as an Italian horror superstar, something she apparently had mixed feelings on. Regardless, she is the strongest performer in the cast, and that is saying something considering the work of other Italian cinema legends of the film, who are suitably game for what Bava throws at them.

As for Mario Bava, the film would serve as his debut as a director, having spent years as a cinematographer. His directorial work is a marvel here, and surprisingly modern given the influences of fairy tales and the gothic trappings of Hammer Horror that inspired the approach to the material. Between Bava and his camera, there is a sort of magic that unfolds on screen, and even today, over 60 years out, the film looks and feels astoundingly modern. Bava’s cinematographic eye does as much of the lifting of the film as Steele’s performance.

Joe Bob-servations on Black Sunday

Among some of Joe Bob Briggs’ observations on the film was a fascinating discussion on the nature of Black Sunday as a film for export. Specifically, the production company Galatea and their emphasis on genre films led to an explosion of sword-and-sandal flicks that proved moderately successful overseas, such as Hercules (1958) and Hercules Unchained (1959).

The issue, though, was that Italy did not really have a contemporary horror scene from which to draw. The history is of course tied into the years of fascism associated with Mussolini, which Joe Bob lays out. What we discover over the course of the film is how Black Sunday becomes the foundation of Italian horror and ends up leading to the staple of the Italian Giallo film.

This is, of course, between gags of a progressively hammered Joe Bob trying to bring back Walpurgisnacht. It was a fun night.


Final Thoughts on Black Sunday

While loose in structure and perhaps a bit too deep into the dream logic of fairy tales, Black Sunday is an iconic witch film and a foundational text in Italian horror. Between the direction and photographic eye of Mario Bava in his directorial debut, and the on-screen magnetism of actress Barabara Steele, there is something about Black Sunday that sticks with viewers. Joe Bob Briggs gave the film four stars. My hangups with the lack of focus and some pacing issues in the film leave me to give it four out of five Cthulhus. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Best Line: “In life? What is my life? Sadness and grief. Something that destroys itself day by day, and no one can rebuild it. Here is the very image of my life. Look at it. It’s being consumed hour by hour like this garden, abandoned to a purposeless existence.” – Asa (a bit on the nose but she makes it work)

Still from Black Sunday (1960) featuring Barbara Steele
Acne scars are no laughing matter.

Def by Temptation (1990)

Def by Temptation is a fascinating 1990 black horror film starring and directed by James Bond III. The film also stars Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nunn, and Cynthia Bond with appearances by Samuel L. Jackson, Minnie Gentry, Melba Moore, and Freddie Jackson. Most of the cast would be associated with Spike Lee’s School Daze (1988) or the music management label Hush. The film would ultimately be distributed by Troma and even have Lloyd Kaufman help film the movie’s chaotic conclusion.

Def by Temptation (1990) Blu Ray Cover

The film follows a group of men, a wannabe minister, an actor, and a cop, who find themselves involved with a succubus who is preying on black men on the streets of New York City. The late 1980s urban aesthetics and hip-hop and R&B score create a wonderful play on the vampire film.

Def by Temptation has a lot going for it. The story is well-paced and does a good job blending contemporary themes of masculinity with predation anxiety all wrapped up in a supernatural shell. The film does have inconsistencies with internal logic, but that doesn’t matter much when a succubus vampire is involved and a character gets Cronenberged into a television set. The film is fast and loose in borrowing from different themes and concepts and while that does result in a somewhat messy and scattershot story, the experience as a whole is quite memorable. A lot of that comes from Bond’s direction for what is clearly a passion project.

Part of the film’s appeal comes from the performances in which there is not a phoned-in performance in the cast. Each actor does their thing very, very well and can be praised for their timing, delivery, and presence. Some of these performances are so strong, however, that viewers may be shocked to discover that this film is one of the last films of two of the performers. James Bond III would quit acting and directing. He only recently resurfaced as a producer after 2009. Cynthia Bond, who is fantastic as the Temptress, would fill in a few television roles until about 1994, and would only resurface in the mid-2010s as the author of the best-selling book Ruby.


The film is gorgeous and among some of the best visuals in any film Troma has ever distributed. It helps that Spike Lee collaborator Ernest Dickerson served as cinematographer. His career would be substantial, with Def by Temptation being only one of many horror films in his filmography. As much as a cliche as this can sound, Dickerson’s framing and camera work turn the locations into characters themselves, be it a bar, apartment, street, or dream-like bedroom and jazz performance space.

Joe Bob-servations on Def by Temptation

If the theme of the night was witches, I would argue that Def By Temptation was a bit of a stretch. The Temptress of the film is more of a vampire or succubus than a witch, though she does bewitch men. It is a reflection of the loose rules established in the world. Regardless, it is a fun film and there was a lot to learn about it. Case in point, Joe Bob had a few things to say on the Troma-side of the film’s history, namely the fact that Lloyd Kaufman believes it to be the best film Troma ever distributed.

Another fun and surprisingly Troma-angle? Lloyd Kaufman himself picked up the camera to help film the chaotic ending as Dickerson had already moved on to another project.

Plenty of factoids were on hand as well, such as the strange case of Cynthia Bond who was a mystery to most of the cast. There were also other examples of the independent spirit running throughout the movie, such as the fact the apartment scenes were shot in the apartment of Laurence Fishburn, or that most of the funding of the film came from the cast and crew.

Final Thoughts on Def by Temptation

Def by Temptation is a fascinating movie that rides that line right between the 1980s and 1990s and should be considered a key text in black horror. The film may be inconsistent in its own rules and might be a patchwork of influences and excuses for gore, at times, but the film has some interesting things to say on the treatment of black bodies. The performances are well worth a mention as well, with every actor nailing their part. Joe Bob Briggs gave the film three-and-a-half stars. I found the film to be incredibly fun, so I’d give it four-out-of-five Cthulhus.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Best Line: “Hey, baby, we had a good time – you can get an abortion now.” – Bartender

A still from Def By Temptation (1990) featuring a bloody mess
They weren’t kidding about violence on TV in the 1990s…

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

As always, here are the official Drive-In Totals.

As for our own totals, we have…

  • 2 “Thee-Ate-Ers”
  • 3 Types of Alcohol
  • 3 Gilligan Cuts
  • 8 Halloweens a Year
  • 18 Beers
  • Bat Shredding
  • Orgy Proposing
  • Cow Milking
  • Tactical Sam Jackson Deployment
  • Gratuitous European History Lessons
  • Gratuitous Piano
  • Gratuitous House Clattering
  • Cane Fu
  • Fainting Fu
  • Binge Drinking Fu
  • Banana Fu
  • Darcy Cosplay: Asa
Darcy and Joe Bob on The last Drive-In S4E2
Darcy as Aja, complete with hell hounds.

Episode Score for Notes from the Last Drive-In: S4E2 – Black Sunday and Def by Temptation

The theme of the night was, ostensibly about witchcraft, though there is a larger connection to demons given the origins of witchcraft which sort of explains how Def by Temptation fits in. What is important is that the wrapper for the show this week was one of the funnier and stranger ones the show has done, with Joe Bob sliding into a darker and darker drunken stupor as he tries to “bring back” Walpurgisnacht. The interplay between Joe Bob and Darcy was a great deal of fun, and with any “cause” our host takes one there was plenty of history involved.

With that being said, I do think the pairing was a bit stretched given the theme suggested by our host, here. I think the movies pair well, but in that regard, I think a stronger thematic hook would have been “dangerous women” rather than the return of Walpurgisnacht. There is an association between women and the festival, of course, but I just feel the execution here, as fun as it was, ended up a bit muddled.

Anyway, hopefully, they got Joe Bob’s stomach pumped after the combination of alcohol. You couldn’t pay me to drink mead. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Please join us on Twitter next Friday as we live-tweet with the rest of the Mutant Fam during The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. As always, thanks for reading, and please share your thoughts on the movies, the show, or even these reviews/recaps. We would love to know what you have to say.


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Movies n TV

Consecration, a Film Review

Consecration is a 2023 horror mystery movie directed by Christopher Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook.



Consecration is a 2023 horror mystery movie directed by Christopher Smith, who also co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook. This R-Rated film includes Jena Malone, Danny Huston, and Janet Suzman as its starring cast. The film is currently available on AMC+ and Shudder.

After her brother dies, Grace (Jena Malone) goes to Scotland to investigate the circumstances. At every step of the way, Mount Saviour Convent seems to interfere with her investigation. Father Romero (Danny Huston) seems eager to help her, even if Mother Superior (Janet Suzman) resists her, but a strange fear seems to direct their actions. Worse yet, Grace endures visions of the past, present, and future.

A woman stares outside perspective, next to a brick building on a road.
Jena Malone as Grace

What I Liked

A surprise performance steals the movie for me, that being Eilidh Fisher’s Meg. This nun-in-training remains consistently inconsistent, forever making me unsure of what to expect. With uncertainty and mystery at the heart of the film, Meg expresses that instability by keeping Grace and the viewer on edge.

Mother Superior and Father Romero have perfect friction with each other. Both manage the supernatural situation in their own way, acting as enemies and supporters toward Grace as needed. This friction also adds to the uncertainty that surrounds Grace’s investigation.

The mystery itself surprises me, though there is barely enough to add the context one needs for this mystery. However, it still earns credit for creativity and deception. Most twists and reveals become apparent and often underwhelm me, but Consecration deserves credit for catching me off guard.


Consecration showcases some alluring visuals, CGI not included. The setting and designs really add to the movies. At times, these visuals purposely contrast their environment as the narrative requires. Usually, it complements the central vision. The film gives off a pleasant aesthetic throughout its runtime–barring the CGI.

As a horror, Consecration has haunting moments. The mystery remains the central selling point. However, it leaves the viewer in constant uncertainty that helps the horror thrive.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Self-harm and suicide reoccur throughout the film, across several scenes and characters. Aside from ensuring the audience remains uncertain of events, there are no larger discussions or much focus on the issue.

Child abuse defines the backstory of certain characters. Unlike the point mentioned above, this earns more of a narrative focus. However, it’s still not exactly the point of the mystery. Don’t expect the film to explore this with sensitivity or depth. If these seem like dealbreakers, Consecration might be a skip.

A priest standing in front of a stone structure. In the middle of the structure is an opening revealing a clear sky.
Danny Huston as Father Romero

What I Dislike

I briefly touched on a CGI problem, which hinders the otherwise interesting and alluring practical visuals. There are no ways to understate how distractingly bad one scene’s CGI is and how it upsets that quality. This scene, no spoilers, happens to be the most open use of CGI. There are other CGI moments, but none distract or hinder like that first scene.

The monster reveal underwhelms in a specific way. The twist perfectly aligns and sets up the foundation for this reveal to make the monster work. However, several reshoots add context to prior scenes to show this “demon” in action, and it somewhat upsets the effectiveness of those scenes.

Thoren Ferguson’s DCI Harris shows up sporadically throughout the film. He acts as the force of law, often hostile but completely underutilized. I suspect DCI Harris had a larger role, but somehow this plot was reduced. I assume this because he plays an important scene at the end that doesn’t seem earned. This isn’t to undermine Ferguson’s performance, as he does everything he can with what he’s given.


Final Thoughts

Consecration hooked me in and kept me engaged throughout its runtime. While the horror is middling, it has merit. The mystery remains the strength of the film, though it’s somewhat underdeveloped. If your mystery films tend to keep you in suspense through shifty characters and secret religious orders are your thing, Consecration might evoke your interest.
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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Movies n TV

You Reap What You Woe



Episode five of Tim Burton’s Wednesday was very busy. A lot is going on here, and most of it is quite fun. So let’s not waste any time getting into it.

First, we must discuss the fate of poor Eugene. If you’ll recall, the last episode ended with Wednesday finding him in the woods, covered in blood. 

Despite Principal Weem’s insistence that he’s resting up and healing, he’s actually in a coma in the local ICU. But maybe she has reason to gloss over that unfortunate fact. It’s parents’ weekend, after all. Probably not the best time to admit that a student was grievously injured. 

While there are certainly some Nevermore students who are happy to see their parents, none of our main characters are among them. We know that Wednesday isn’t thrilled to see her family, as she’s still resentful that they left her there. 

Family therapy scene from Wednesday

Still, she’s not exactly pleased when Gomez is arrested for the murder of a man named Garrett. This devastates the family and forces Morticia to reveal a secret she’s been keeping from Wednesday. 

Morticia also finally gets a chance to talk about Wednesday’s visions with her. She tells her that Goody Addams, who’s made psychic contact with Wednesday several times, is there to teach her about her visions. But Goody Addams is also super vengeful, and not to be trusted. I wonder why. 

While much of the episode is about freeing Gomez from jail, the subplots are no less interesting. 

Let’s start with Enid. As we know from the first episode, she has yet to grow into her full werewolf potential. If she can’t do this, she’ll be shunned by her kind and likely abandoned by her family pack. Her mother wants to help her, by sending her to a summer camp meant to help werewolves wolf out. Enid refers to these as conversion therapy camps. Which is clearly a problem. 

The story that shook me was Bianca. She’s outright afraid when her mother shows up. And the reason is soon made clear.

Her mother is part of a cult called the Morning Song. Bianca’s mother is married to the leader. She’s been using her siren song to trap people in the cult. But her powers are fading. She wants Bianca to come take her place. If she doesn’t, she’ll reveal a terrible secret of how Bianca got into Nevermore Academy in the first place. 


I honestly don’t have a lot of bad things to say about this episode. Except that wolf out is a ridiculous term and I cannot take anyone who uses it seriously at all. The characters were fun, the storyline was interesting, and it was satisfying to start getting answers. It helped that this episode included some real-world bad guys, like conversion therapy and cults. If every other episode of this season had been as good as this one, the show would be top marks from me all around. 

This episode was a dramatic example of exactly how parents can fail at their job of raising their kids. And, thankfully, how they can succeed. We see Enid’s mom refusing to let her grow at her own pace. We see Sheriff Galpin ignore a clear cry for help from his son Tyler. We see Bianca’s mother, involved in a cult, using her child for her siren powers. And of course, we don’t see Xavier’s parents at all.

Lucius Hoyos

But we also see Morticia being a good mom to a difficult kid who’s rebelling against her. We see Enid’s father supporting her, exactly as she is. We see Eugene’s moms by his side at the hospital. At the bedside of their son, they are still able to give comfort to Wednesday. That is some strength right there. 

Overall, this was a fun episode. We got some answers and were introduced to even more questions. I had fun watching it, and I’m looking forward to the next episode. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Solace, a Film Review

Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Morgan and Abbie Cornish.



Solace (2015) is a mystery thriller directed by Afonso Poyart. This R-rated film includes Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, and Colin Farrell. As of this review, it is currently available to Netflix and Hulu subscribers.

As a string of murders leave FBI agents Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish) perplexed, Joe turns to an old FBI contact and friend, Dr. John Clancy. Dr. Clancy possesses psychic abilities that make him an essential asset, but tragedies in his personal life leave him distant and broken. Fearing a person with similar gifts as himself, Dr. Clancy cannot help but lend his assistance.

Anthony Hopkins stares with a blue tent over his right eye. Colin Farrel behind him. The background is blue with several faces.
Solace Alternative Cover Art

What I Like

This cast is great, with notable legends living up to their reputation. While by no means career-highlighting performances, they work well together and provide a weight that pushes past lackluster character roles.

As the main character, Anthony Hopkins’s Dr. Clancy stands out above the rest. Given the most screen time and plot relevance, this opinion comes easily. His role has the most opportunity to make us care for his character.

Solace creates fun and engaging scenes that tie directly to the characters’ psychic abilities, adding tension in unique ways. While other movies with psychics utilize similar strategies to convey this power–the movie Next comes to mind–the scenes add variety to otherwise lackluster cinematography. This decision also adds a somewhat strategic nature to the psychic battles.


Originally intended to be a sequel to Seven, this idea, thankfully, does not follow through to the final product. The story behind that is the typical Hollywood shuffle and brand recognition. I can’t exactly figure out a place to put this interesting fact, but the choice remains a benefit to the film.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Slight spoilers ahead! Read this section with that in mind.

A closeted man contracts AIDS and infects his wife. As this goes into rather old homophobia and fears, I felt it needed mentioning. Considering the film’s release date, 2016 (US), the plot point feels uninspired.

Some gratuitous sex scenes tie into the above reveal. The dramatic reveal and voyeuristic nudity (of the wife) make for an odd viewing experience. When the reveal isn’t shocking, it doesn’t exactly add much weight to the elongated scenes.

Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrel separated by a knife.
Solace International Cover Art

What I Dislike

There are no tactful ways to go about the low effort of the film. It’s surreal to see the names attached, the concepts addressed, and how it all fumbles. I imagine this discrepancy has something to do with the original sequel idea, but that remains speculation. Ultimately, the film feels awkwardly low budget for the cast it possesses.

Adding to this weakness are the underdeveloped characters and rushed plotlines. The film feels unfocused in direction, revealing things as they become relevant with fluctuating degrees of foreshadowing. Some of these revelations work, with some speculation, but adding them all together makes Solace weaker as a film.

This film isn’t scary, despite the premise being extremely promising. The idea of a potentially psychic killer does evoke a lot of possibilities, added with the exceptional cast, and it seems destined for success. Yet, the horror is middling at best.


Solace wants to be more and achieves some success in certain areas, but its inability to build and support these ideas hinders the overall quality. Perhaps Solace desires to upstage the twists of the typical mystery thriller that makes the film grasp too many new and interesting ideas. Regardless of the reason, the film suffers, and the viewing experience becomes underwhelming.

Final Thoughts

For a thriller killer, Solace doesn’t hold much water to competition. While the cast performs their roles perfectly and works well with each other, the notable weaknesses in writing and lackluster visuals don’t do the acting justice. A surprisingly exciting cast becomes a disappointing letdown. 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

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