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Welcome back for another night at the Drive-In with venerable host Joe Bob Briggs with an arrested development double feature of Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981) and The Baby (1973). This episode is S4E7, and we get a night with a theme that works better than previous nights this season, anchored by two strange films about sexual confusion, infantilized male victims, and bold and assertive character actresses.

So, does Shudder‘s best show dazzle this week, or is it caught in a state of arrested development? How does it compare to last week’s double feature? Let’s find out together.

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (sometimes referred to as the confusing Night Warning) is a 1981 exploitation horror film directed by William Ascher with some uncredit segments by Michael Miller. The film was written by Stephen Breimer, Boon Collins, and Allan Jay Glueckman, from a story by Glueckman. The cinematography is credited to Robbie Greenberg, but Jan de Bont has uncredited work on the film’s exhilarating and chaotic opening sequence. The film stars Jimmy McNichol, Susan Tyrrell, Bo Svenson, Julia Duffy, and Bill Paxton.

The Last Drive-In S4E7 poster for Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)

The movie is an Oedipal nightmare about a teenager, Billy (McNichol), who has been raised by his aunt, Cheryl (Tyrell), since infancy after the death of his parents in a tragic car accident. As Billy’s sights are set on leaving home for college, Cheryl begins to spiral into incestuous and murderous sexuality. In time, a bigoted detective, Joe (Svenson), begins to theorize wildly about a gay element in the events, abusing his authority and his community.

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is a mess of a film anchored by a handful of great performances and some thematic ideas that, while interesting, never coalesce into something more significant. The film’s twist is introduced somewhat haphazardly about mid-way through the runtime and doesn’t land. The movie also has an odd ending comprising two endings and a text crawl depicting later events. In many ways, the story is handled pretty poorly – the twist doesn’t feel earned, the more exciting elements of the story are brushed aside, and the overall pacing feels uneven.


The film also has an uneven feel due to direction and cinematography as the credited director and cinematographer, Asher and Greenberg, fill in for the original crew who were removed for the film. The opening sequence depicting the car accident is wonderfully shot and paced and has a real film quality. The rest of the film has the texture of a made-for-TV movie of the 1980s. One wonders how the film would have ended had the studio had more faith in Michael Miller and Jan de Bont.

The real appeal of the film comes from some of the performances. One performance that falls short is 1980s teen heartthrob Jimmy McNichol. McNichol’s Billy is generally wooden and ineffectual, with little going for him beyond looking good in peril. In most other slasher films, such a performance would be reserved for a female victim, which is an exciting component of the film’s queer coding. I get a sense of an “arrested development” theme to Billy’s story, but Billy’s aunt may better express the theme. Cheryl drives the movie.

No, the real performances in the film are those of Susan Tyrrell and Bo Svenson. The film’s energy is highest when the two are together on screen. Susan Tyrell’s menace as Cheryl is both disturbingly sexy and brutally unhinged. Her overall character actor performance style pulls the movie together through the sheer force of will that are her character choices. Bo Svenson is just a game, playing the detestable ideal of the bad cop, the one people envision when they think about the abusive excess of the law. Bo Svenson is the toxic masculinity to the unhinged femininity of Susan Tyrell.

Oh, and Bill Paxton is there being Bill Paxton. Always a welcome presence in any film.

Joe Bob-servations on Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker

I think that Joe Bob did a great job selling the arrested development theme of the night overall. While the film ostensibly centers around the dangerous developmental restraints placed on Billy by his unhinged Aunt, we also see that by the end, the film is very much focused on her lack of development.


I’ve been hesitant to embrace the show’s tendency this season to make a definitive claim on the themes of the pairings, especially when they do not work. I am likely the only person in the Mutant Fam who is fixated on this, but I’d prefer pairings to be less explicitly unified by the show and instead uncover them for myself. But that is just me.

Naturally, Joe Bob’s insights were welcome as ever. We return to the fascinating topic of Susan Tyrrell again after last Halloween’s Angel (1983). We also get some background on Bo Svenson and learn that he wasn’t necessarily the most popular guy on set.

My favorite discussion was about Jimmy McNichol’s role in the film’s creation and just how big of a deal he was. The McNichol craze was before my time, but I managed to get a real sense of why McNichol being in this movie was such a strange thing. While I feel Joe Bob can be a bit hit or miss regarding queer subtext in films, I think his discussion on McNichol’s relationship to the queering of the 1980s was fascinating. A great deal of it was based on a book by Jefferey P. Dennis titled Queering Teen Culture: All-American Boys and Same-Sex Desire in Film and Television, but I found the overall discussion quite interesting.

Final Thoughts on Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is such a strange film, but one that is anchored by some incredible acting by Susan Tyrrell and Bo Svenson that you cannot help but be sucked into it. Ultimately, it seems that Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is a film that seeds loftier themes and ideas than it is capable of sewing, resulting in a curious, yet ultimately minor, chapter of queer cinema. It is a film that could benefit from a remake, though any such remake would struggle to capture the scene-chewing fun of Tyrrell and Svenson.

Joe Bob gave the film 4 out of 4 Stars. I would beg to differ. I’d give Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker 3 out of 5 Cthulhus.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Best Line: “Perverts and sluts! They are doing everything they can to take him away from us.” – Cheryl

The Last Drive-In S4E7 still from Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981) for arrested development night
Susan Tyrell chews the scenery, blood and all.

The Baby (1973)

The Baby is a 1973 psychological thriller directed by Ted Post and written by Abe Polsky, a playwright. The cinematographer is Michael D. Marguiles. Curiously, the credited director and cinematographer came into production after it had already begun. The film stars Anjanette Comer, Ruth Roman, Marianna Hill, David Mooney (credited as Manzy), and Suzanne Zenor.

The Last Drive-In S4E7 poster for The Baby (1973)
The poster is deceptively quirky.

The Baby follows social worker Ann Gentry (Comer), who is still traumatized by a car accident that has had severe repercussions on her husband. Her latest case puts in in touch with the Wadsworth family consisting of Mrs. Wadsworth (Roman), sisters Germaine and Alaba (Hill and Zenor), and the intellectually disabled son, known only as Baby (Mooney) who has been raised into his 20s as an infant. The Wadsworths raise Baby as an infant and use him to pay for the home with state funds. Ann Gentry takes a particular interest in the case, but her obsession also begins to take a problematic turn.

The Baby is a pretty wild film and a great example of the “arrested development” theme of the show. Much like the preceding film, viewers are presented with a twist in The Baby, but this one feels more earned. With that being said, the set-up could have been a bit stronger. For a time, viewers may forget that Ann was even married. The story is quite good, making a strange custody struggle into an epic interpersonal conflict between two strong women, and the hapless male has been rendered into little more than an infant.

Like the previous feature, this is another film driven by performances. Ruth Roman’s Mrs. Wadsworth owns the movie, but Anjanette Comer is suitably game to keep up with her, and they play their roles with earnest and unhinged conviction. The film is propelled by the power struggle of the two women, and the push and pull between them are exhilarating. It is not even a battle of good vs. evil, as Comer’s Ann Gentry reveals a specific unhinged menace that makes viewers wonder if they can trust anyone.

Of course, maybe the film’s strangest and most affecting performance is that of David Mooney as Baby. Any actor can play what reads like an infant. Mooney inhabits the role in such a shocking and unsettling way that it can be profoundly disturbing. The vocalizations Mooney manages are haunting. An adult acting like a baby is easy to tell because generally, adults do not ambulate the right way, nor do they portray the sensory overload of an infant well enough. Mooney does, though. It’s intense.


The pacing of the film is excellent. Not a moment feels wasted. However, the cinematography is adequate but not overly impressive. The Baby is very much an actor’s film. Director Ted Post, a veteran of television, very much comes from the background of directing an actor’s medium instead of spectacle, and the film’s cinematography by Michael D. Marguiles is in line with Post’s perspective. However, the film does look good, and the transfer played on Shudder was fantastic.

Joe Bob-servations on The Baby

Joe Bob’s host segments here primarily focused on elements of the production and the apparent themes of the film. With such a strange movie, themes are a little harder to parse, so I found that Joe Bob leaned more heavily on production details. Specifically, Joe Bob paid much attention to director Ted Post and his collaboration with writer Abe Polsky. I got the impression that Post saw himself as a vessel by which to deliver Polsky’s writing, not so much wanting to interject himself or his thoughts into the feature.

The other production angle that was particularly interesting was the antagonistic relationship on set between veteran Ruth Roman and the younger Anjanette Comer. There was a lot of discussion of Ruth Roman as an actress, and Darcy even cosplayed Mrs. Wadsworth. That conveys how much of a role Roman had in the perception of the film. Of course, much was made about the performance of David Mooney and how he pretty much quit acting after playing Baby. If you’ve peaked, why climb higher, right?

Speaking of peaking, is Baby the peak of the concept of arrested development? It sure seems so.

Final Thoughts on The Baby

The Baby is a weird one. While it isn’t as extreme as Blood Sucking Freaks, it’s a very unsettling film. The internal logic is maddening, reflecting a far less enlightened perspective on abuse and development than we might see today. The film is also equally cruel and kinky, creating a wildly uneven tone that swings between camp and horror. However, it all seems to work. The core drama of two women fighting over an infantilized male creates rich opportunities for dramatic performance. If you can get through the initial revulsion that more fetishistic elements of the movie might bring on, you will witness a compelling duel.


Joe Bob gave The Baby 4 out of 4 Stars. I am pretty close to that myself. I give The Baby 4 out of 5 Cthulhus. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Best Line: “Maybe you think too much. When it comes to Baby, I do all the thinking.” – Mrs. Wadsworth

The Last Drive-In S4E7 still from The Baby (1973) for arrested development night
Thanks, I hate it.

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

We have the official Drive-In Totals from Shudder for this evening of arrested development.

As for our totals at Haunted MTL, we have…

  • 3 Bad Mommies
  • 6 “Thee-ate-ers”
  • Surprise Bill Paxton
  • Bloody Bossom
  • Boss Bitches
  • Multiple Red Flags
  • Gratuitous Nephew Touching
  • Gratuitous Key Party Vibes
  • Gratuitous Homoerotic Lockerroom Shenanigans
  • Scene Chewing
  • Problematic Word Dropping
  • Dead Baby Jokes
  • Ugly Baby Joke
  • Bunny and Snake Joke
  • Steven King Name Drop Fu
  • Clipboard Fu
  • Double Ending Fu
  • Twist Fu
  • Custody Battle Fu
  • Chart Fu
  • Billy Rolls
  • Darcy Cosplay – Mrs. Wadsworth
The Last Drive-In S4E7 Darcy in cosplay for arrested development night
Darcy looked radiant as ever, this time cosplaying Mrs. Wadsworth.

Episode Score for the Last Drive-In: S4E7 – Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker and The Baby

Season 4, Episode 7 was a solid night for the show, where most nights are pretty much solid anyway. This week’s double-feature selection may not win over every mutant, but the bonkers nature of the films and their pairing work pretty well and are worth the experience. While I think that The Baby, arguably the more unsettling film was also the better film, that is not to say that Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is terrible either. The central idea of them representing arrested development worked out pretty well, though I feel these films might have been better suited for a Mother’s Day marathon.

Regardless, a fun time at the Drive-In with the mutant fam, as we have come to expect. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

What did you think about the movies? Which do you feel was better? Did “arrested development” night work for you? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts!


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

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain



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.


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. 


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.

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)

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Movies n TV

Wheel of Time, Strangers and Friends



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.


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. 


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. 

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)

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Movies n TV

Fantastico Disasterpiece Theatre: Francois and The Unicorn Review




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.


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.


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. 

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