Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs: Dusk-to-Dawn-to-Dusk Marathon

Cody celebrates six years of The Last Drive-in with a look back at the marathon that started it all.

As far as I know, my family had a cable subscription with access to the premium movie channels HBO and Cinemax by the time I was born in late ‘83. In fact, many of the memories that stick with me from childhood involve watching movies like The Wraith and Enter the Dragon on those channels... but we didn’t get access to The Movie Channel until sometime in the early 1990s. And that’s when the existence of drive-in movie critic and movie host Joe Bob Briggs came to my attention, as he had a show called Joe Bob's Drive-in Theater on The Movie Channel. This show drew me in with its opening sequence, which showed a person assembling a home drive-in kit in preparation for the Joe Bob presentation – and when this redneck character came on the screen talking about blood, breasts, and beasts, I was hooked. I had found a kindred spirit; someone who spoke directly to my young, horror-loving heart. I don’t remember what the first movie I saw on Joe Bob's Drive-in Theater was, but I do recall that The Movie Channel and/or Joe Bob introduced me to the wonder of classics like Sorority House Massacre 2, Hard to Die, Evil Toons, and There’s Nothing Out There.

After a ten year run, Joe Bob’s time at The Movie Channel ended in 1996. Then he shifted over to TNT, where he hosted a show called Monstervision for four years – and while he could only do intros and outros on The Movie Channel, the commercial breaks on TNT allowed him to do more hosting segments throughout each movie he showed. Then Monstervision came to an end in 2000... and we didn’t hear much from Joe Bob for a long time after that. He would show up here and there on TV and would make personal appearances (I got to see him do a live presentation of Carrie at a 24-hour theatrical marathon in 2001), but he didn’t have a show of his own. Until 2018. That’s when the Shudder streaming service made the wise decision to bring him in for an event that was meant to be his farewell to movie hosting: a 24 hour (give or take) streaming marathon, called the Dusk-to-Dawn-to-Dusk Marathon, during which he would host 13 movies. He was going out with a bang!

This marathon aired on July 13, 2018... and I’ll be honest, even though I used to attend theatrical marathons every year, I have never had the time nor opportunity to make a day of it and sit down to experience this full marathon as it was originally shown. I hope to someday, but in the meantime I have only been able to watch it in pieces, a few movies at a time. I haven’t marathoned the full marathon, but decided to write it up anyway.


The marathon gets started with a throwback to the old days of Joe Bob, with the first few minutes looking like we’re watching a recording from an old VHS tape where the marathon was preceded by the original Night of the Living Dead. Then there’s a reprisal of the intro that was used at the head of an actual Joe Bob VHS series, The Sleaziest Movies in the History of the World, where Strand VCI had him presenting H.G. Lewis and Doris Wishman movies in the early ‘90s. This intro has Joe Bob talking about the dwindling numbers of drive-ins in the United States and summoning the Spirit of Blood, Breasts, and Beasts that still resides in the crumbling, abandoned drive-ins across the nation.

Then we see Joe Bob make his triumphant return to movie hosting as he wanders into his trailer park home set and talks about the were-cicada film The Beast Within, confirming that he himself has cicada DNA, which is why he’s only now emerging 17 years (actually 18) after his previous show went off the air. There are references to David Lynch and William Shakespeare, his hosting history, the most recent Presidential election (at the time), ‘80s nostalgia, gender identity, and the fact that hosting this final marathon was his patriotic duty. He sets up the approach Shudder will be taking to showing the movies, actually letting him break in throughout just like he did during the Monstervision commerical breaks back in day – although he had a feeling this would be annoying to viewers. (It’s the furthest thing from annoying to those of us who tune in to see him.) By the time Joe Bob is officially ready to start introducing the first movie, Tourist Trap, after eleven minutes of chit-chat, the old VHS aesthetic dissipates and we are fully in the new era of drive-in action.

Joe Bob’s favorite movie is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre from 1974 (in fact, he’s currently writing a book about the film), so it’s a fitting choice that his return marathon begins with Tourist Trap, a film that was made with the participation of a few TCM crew members: Chain Saw sound recordist Ted Nicolaou edited the film, Chain Saw editor J. Larry Carroll wrote the screenplay with director David Schmoeller, and the two films shared production designer Robert A. Burns. Tourist Trap was also produced by future Full Moon founder Charles Band, who would collaborate with Nicolaou and Schmoeller on several more projects over the years.

Joe Bob feels Tourist Trap is one of the most underrated films of all time, and I would agree. It’s a longtime favorite of mine that you don’t hear referenced nearly often enough. I’m guilty of not referencing it enough myself, as evident from the fact that my only previous Tourist Trap write-up here on Life Between Frames was in my recap of the Spring 2012 edition of the Cinema Wasteland convention. I’ll have to go more in depth on this one someday.

Just like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Tourist Trap starts off with five young people who are out for a drive. Travelling in two separate vehicles, this group doesn’t run low on gas like the characters in TCM did, but they do have trouble with their cars. One gets a flat tire, and the other one just mysteriously dies. It seems to be a lucky break that these problems occurred just down the road from Slausen’s Lost Oasis, the tourist trap of the title, a wax figure museum that doesn’t see much business since the nearby construction of a new highway. Chuck Connors plays the proprietor, the seemingly nice widower Mr. Slausen... but someone who’s not so nice is the masked figure who lurks in the house behind the museum and starts tormenting the Lost Oasis visitors with telekinetic powers in scenes that are effectively creepy – and made even more so by the odd score composed by Pino Donaggio. The scene where the killer murders a girl by covering her face in plaster while narrating the whole experience (“Your world is dark. You’ll never see again.”) ranks up there as one of the most unnerving scenes in cinema history, as far as I’m concerned.

During the host breaks, Joe Bob shows himself to be a major Chuck Connors fan while discussing the guy’s life and acting career. He also digs into the life and career of director David Schmoeller and some of the other cast members (including Tanya Roberts), but he is clearly most passionate about Connors. When Connors signed on to be in Tourist Trap, he was aiming to enter a horror phase in his career and become the new Boris Karloff... but it didn’t work out that way. A lot of the movies he worked on from here on did have “Kill” in the title, but they were mostly action flicks. Joe Bob also complains about the lack of bare breasts in the film (automatic half-point deduction!), which is quite unusual for a horror movie that does feature a skinny-dipping scene. That half-point deduction leaves it at three and a half stars rather than the perfect four star score.

It’s tradition for Joe Bob to be accompanied on his shows by a “mail girl,” and after Tourist Trap we get the first appearance of his The Last Drive-in mail girl, Darcy, played by cosplaying horror enthusiast Kasey Poteet / former porn star Diana Prince. She drops in and out during this marathon, but regular viewers know that Darcy will go on to have a more and more prominent role in the Last Drive-in era as she settles into the part and Joe Bob becomes increasingly enamored with their banter.


From one of my favorite horror movies, we move right on to another one of my favorite horror movies, Sleepaway Camp – and this one I actually have given a full write-up before! A couple times, actually. Written and directed by Robert Hiltzik, Sleepaway Camp is the heartwarming story of cousins Ricky and Angela (Jonathan Tiersten and Felissa Rose) spending the summer at Camp Arawak. Ricky has gone to this camp before, but it’s Angela’s first time there – and her quiet demeanor doesn’t go over well with the other campers. She’s bullied by several people... and soon enough, those bullies start turning up dead.

There is a trans element to Sleepaway Camp, which gives Joe Bob the opportunity to talk about sexual confusion, gender identity, and the arguments over transgender bathroom use that was going on in North Carolina at the time. It's an issue that Joe Bob is able to break down through the use of references to The Andy Griffith Show. That’s his lead-in to the proper introduction for the movie, which is another that receives a three and half star rating after a half point deduction for the lack of... well, I was going to say nudity, but there is nudity in Sleepaway Camp. The half point deduction is for the lack of bare female breasts.

What makes this showing of Sleepaway Camp truly great is the fact that Joe Bob has a special guest on set – already, for just the second movie in the marathon! The guest is Felissa Rose, who is very enthusiastic to talk about her experience working on the movie when she was a kid. The Angela casting call was looking for a  wide-eyed, flat-chested girl, and Rose fit the bill at the time. It sounds like she had a blast during production, and there was a surprising amount of romance going on between the young cast members. Rose had crushes on more than one boy on set, but ended up being in an on-and-off relationship with Tiersten for years. (The first time their relationship was called off was because he became more interested in an extra that was brought in for a volleyball scene.) It’s very cool to hear that she has stayed in touch with several of her co-stars over the decades – and that she has watched the movie upwards of 150 times, just like many of its fans. She also addresses the fact that Jane Krakowski was originally cast to play one of Angela’s antagonists, but then dropped out due to concerns about the film’s content. She reveals that the people involved with the movie didn’t really realize how popular it was until 2001, and confirms that her husband was a Sleepaway Camp super fan before they met. And once they met, they almost immediately decided to get married. Now, if there’s ever a remake, Rose suggests that she should be cast as Angela’s loopy Aunt Martha.

Joe Bob mentions that some people apparently have the impression, somehow, that Sleepaway Camp was a “lost movie” until the year 2000... which is nuts to hear. Not just because Joe Bob hosted the movie during his Movie Channel days, proving it was never lost, but also because it has had a place in my viewing rotation ever since the 1980s.

The Felissa Rose guest appearance is a classic moment in The Last Drive-in history, and we’re only just getting started.

MOVIE #3: RABID (1977)

Now the fun dips a bit for me. I have a lot of marathon experience, so I know not to expect every movie in a marathon to appeal directly to my personal taste. A lot of horror fans wouldn’t consider the fact that Tourist Trap and Sleepaway Camp were followed by a David Cronenberg movie to be a down swing... but, while his version of The Fly was one of the first horror movies I ever watched, I have never been a big Cronenberg fan, and have always found that his 1977 film Rabid makes for a dull viewing experience. The upside here is that it was hosted by Joe Bob this time around, and I’ll gladly watch anything as long as Joe Bob is there to guide me through it. Sure enough, I enjoyed watching Rabid with Joe Bob breaking in with his hosting segments more than I have ever enjoyed watching the movie on its own. 

This one gets the full four star rating from Joe Bob because it delivers the nudity he’s looking for. The story begins with a young woman named Rose (Marilyn Chambers) getting into a fiery motorcycle crash with her boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore). While Hart is injured in the crash, Rose is the one who suffers burns and has to be taken to the nearby Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery – the home base of what may become a plastic surgery franchise, despite Dr. Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) being resistant to the idea of becoming the Colonel Sanders of Plastic Surgery. Rose needs skin grafts on her chest and abdomen... the problem is, these grafts taken from her thighs are then treated so they become morphogenetically neutral. It’s an experimental procedure that goes terribly wrong when Rose’s new tissue growth includes an orifice in her armpit, from which emerges a blood-sucking stinger. And this thing is insatiably thirsty.

When Rose feeds on people with her armpit stinger, they are infected with a fast-acting, rabies-like disease that compels them to violently attack other people and infect them. Soon there’s an epidemic of this “super rabies” that’s sort of like a zombie outbreak. A vaccine is created and if someone wants to get around in public, they need to have their vaccination card with them to prove they’ve gotten the shot. If someone gets infected... well, that’s pretty much it for them. Like zombies, the only way to handle the infected is to destroy them. Since the events of this movie take place around Christmas, we even get a rabies-zombie attack in a mall with the mall’s Santa Claus as an innocent bystander.

Rabid sounds like it should be right up my alley, as a fan of George A. Romero’s Dead films and The Crazies, but something about the structure and flow of this one makes it a tough sit for me. Although the escalating action as the disease spreads in the second half is fun to see. The whole epidemic aspect hits harder now than it did when this marathon first aired, too.

During his hosting segments, Joe Bob takes some deep dives into the history of Marilyn Chambers – particularly her porn history (and her past with Ivory Snow). She wasn’t the only connection Rabid had to porn, as the company behind the film dabbled in porn as well. Joe Bob covers that, the careers of other cast members, his interactions with Artie of the Mitchell Brothers, and the fact that Cronenberg’s male leads tend to be clueless. He informs us that Cronenberg was originally aiming to be a biochemist, but decided to turn his fascination with the human body and disease into a film career. He mentions that the movie, which he describes as a “bigger, splashier, grosser” version of Cronenberg’s Shivers, had a budget of $530,000 (Canadian), and addresses the involvement of future Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman as both the music supervisor and the person who suggested the casting of Chambers after Cronenberg’s first choice of Sissy Spacek was shot down due to her accent and freckles. Given that information, it’s interesting to see that there’s a Spacek shout-out in the movie when Rose walks past a poster for Carrie.

Darcy the Mail Girl also manages to stump Joe Bob with a trivia question, asking who was the first to play Frankenstein’s Monster after Boris Karloff. Hint: it was in a musical comedy that was released between Son of Frankenstein and The Ghost of Frankenstein.


Like a roller coaster, the marathon rises from the dip of Rabid to continue with another movie I love, director Joseph Zito’s 1981 slasher The Prowler. A movie I have written about before and will write more about in the future. Sure, this one could be said to move through some of its scenes at an achingly slow pace, as there is a whole lot of not much happening during its running time – but when something does happen, it’s a glorious sight to behold, because it usually involves the mysterious slasher killing someone, with special effects legend Tom Savini providing the gore effects. There is a shot in this movie, involving someone getting a knife stuck through their head, that I consider to be one of the greatest shots in slasher history. The shower pitchfork impalement is one for the history books, too.

The story begins in the 1940s, when an American soldier receives a “Dear John” break-up letter while serving in World War II. As soon as the soldier returns home, he murders his ex and her new beau with a pitchfork – and it all happens on the night of the graduation dance at the college in a quaint community called Avalon Bay. Jump ahead thirty-five years and the tradition of a graduation dance is finally being revived at that college... and what do you know, a mysterious slasher dressed in Army fatigues and wielding a pitchfork starts knocking off the college seniors. It’s up to our heroine Pam (Vicky Dawson) and her boyfriend Mark (Christopher Goutman), a deputy on the local police force, to figure out who’s responsible for these murders. Their investigation involves a lot of wandering through creepy locations and games of cat and mouse with the killer.

It takes a while for Joe Bob to get to his introduction of The Prowler. In fact, it takes him almost seven minutes to get to the introduction, because first he has to get through a long-winded rant about how annoying he finds smart phones and the people who spend a lot of time “fiddling with their phone”. It’s definitely an “angry old man shakes fist at cloud” bit, but we’re here to listen to Joe Bob talk, and he talks about some random things from time to time. When he does introduce the movie, he reveals that he only gives The Prowler two and a half stars (no deductions necessary, because there is nudity), which I feel is at least a half-star short – although I also have to agree with him that it’s necessary to mention Savini’s contributions multiple times when discussing The Prowler, because “unless you appreciate the special effects work in this movie, there is no movie.”

During the hosting segments, Joe Bob talks about character actor cast members Lawrence Tierney and Farley Granger, the movie’s similarity to My Bloody Valentine (which was released the same year, so neither ripped off the other one), the director’s career (one of Zito’s future movies was Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), the filming locations in Cape May, New Jersey, the fact that the script was written to take place in the real location of Avalon, California, but the setting was changed to the fictional Avalon Bay when the production went to New Jersey, and the length of pitchfork prongs. We hear that Joe Bob hates cat and mouse, and he questions why a pitchfork was chosen as the weapon for a killer who wears Army fatigues. He also questions decisions made by characters, and why it took multiple writers (including a couple guys with connections to the Hanna-Barbera cartoon company) to put together what must have been a short script.

The Prowler is also known as Rosemary’s Killer in some territories, and a rogue distributor in  North and South Carolina even released it as The Pitchfork Massacre.


Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama may not be one of the best movies ever made, but it definitely has one of the best titles of all time. Since this one, which was directed by the incredibly prolific David DeCoteau and produced by Charles Band right before he founded Full Moon, was filmed in Los Angeles, Joe Bob uses the intro to talk about the mass transit system in Los Angeles – and the fact that many L.A. residents are either not very aware of the subway system there, or are strangely resistant to it. It certainly doesn’t get as much coverage as the New York subway system. I think the only reason I knew the L.A. subway system existed before Joe Bob brought it up is because it’s referenced in Lethal Weapon 3.

Given a perfect four star rating by Joe Bob, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama is best known for starring the “big three” of the 1980s scream queens; Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, and Michelle Bauer. Stevens and Bauer play Taffy and Lisa, college girls who are being initiated into a sorority that only seems to consist of three others girls and is headed up by Babs, played by the sadly ill-fated Robin Stille of The Slumber Party Massacre. After Taffy and Lisa are spanked with paddles (which was cut out of the UK release of the film) and are sprayed with whipped cream, Babs tasks them with breaking into the bowling alley that’s located inside the mall her dad owns and stealing a trophy. And since there’s a trio of boys (one being Hal Havins from Night of the Demons and another being Andras Jones from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) creeping around the sorority house, Babs orders the boys to break into the bowling alley with the two pledges. Turns out they’re not the only burglars, because there’s a tough chick called Spider (Quigley) in there, too. Once the characters get their hands on a bowling trophy, they inadvertently release an Imp (played by a puppet and voiced by Dukey Flyswatter) that offers to grant them wishes – which have terrible consequences, much like the wishes granted by the WishmasterWishmaster.

Packed with nudity and goofy scenarios, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama is another movie I need to (and will) write more about in the future. It’s dumb fun.

During his hosting segments, Joe Bob talks about the UK censorship, the scream queens in the cast and their co-stars (including character actor Buck Flower), and the low number of sorority sisters, while also breaking down the strange events that occur in the movie. He mentions that the original title was The Imp, but it somehow changed it something spectacular – although he’s not sure how “Slimeball” fits in. After the movie, Darcy brings in some viewer mail for Joe Bob to read, and that inspires him to talk about the time he tried to get the term “aardvarking” added into the Oxford English Dictionary.


The marathon had made it through the night at this point, it was probably around 6 in the morning once the sixth movie was ready to get started, so Joe Bob starts off his presentation by mentioning that he just ate some breakfast – kicking off a rant about gluten. No one is infallible, so I’ll give him a pass for not knowing that gluten can cause trouble for people beyond those who have Coeliac disease. I don’t have any quarrel with gluten myself, but I have a loved one who does. So, moving on from this gluten stuff, we have Joe Bob’s introduction for what he refers to as “the most artsy fartsy horror movie ever made,” the Belgian vampire movie Daughters of Darkness. It’s a movie that Joe Bob loves and gives a four star rating... but it’s incredibly dull and slow moving. I was going to say that this movie was the only one in the marathon that I had never seen before... but it turns out I had seen it before! It was shown at a 24 hour theatrical horror marathon I attended in 2009. It’s just so dull and slow that it didn’t stick in my memory at all.

Directed by Harry Kümel, Daughters of Darkness follows newlywed couple Stefan and Valerie (John Karlen and Danielle Ouimet) as they check into a hotel in Belgium ahead of a planned visit to Stefan’s mother in England. Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory (Delphine Seyrig) shows up at the hotel with her assistant Ilona (Andrea Rau), and there’s talk about Elizabeth having been at the hotel before, decades ago – and she hasn’t changed since. She says she’s a descendant of the Countess Erzsébet Báthory, remembered for her beauty routine of bathing in the blood of virgins... but, of course, she is the Countess herself, still alive and unchanged because she’s a vampire. And she causes a lot of trouble for Stefan and Valerie, who weren’t really on solid ground to begin with – understandably, since Stefan is a scumbag.

The movie is a slog to get through, but at least we have Joe Bob’s hosting segments to break up the artsy fartsy dullness (and he’ll even admit that it’s “slow as fuck.”) Between minutes of the film that he says “drips with arthouse pretention,” he gives us a Belgian geography lesson, tells us the history of Delphine Seyrig and her co-stars (a couple of whom got their start in porn), talks about lesbian vampires and the writing of Camille Paglia, questions vampire tan lines, discusses the filming locations, and reveals that Daughters of Darkness only got its full funding due to the casting of Danielle Ouimet – with the company that provided Ouimet-based funding being the same company that was behind Rabid. Kümel disliked Ouimet and went so far as to hit her on set, so Karlen hit Kümel. The making of the movie was clearly more exciting than the finished product.


As mentioned, Joe Bob hosted a VHS series called The Sleaziest Movies in the History of the World for Strand VCI at the start of the ‘90s, with many of the films in that series being the works of director Herschell Gordon Lewis, or H.G. Lewis. The seventh film in this marathon, which was meant to be Joe Bob’s farewell to movie hosting, pays tribute to the Sleaziest Movies portion of his career, bringing us a screening of the Lewis-directed classic Blood Feast, the original gore film. After making a bunch of “nudie cutie” movies that brought bare flesh to the big screen, Lewis and his producing partner David F. Friedman were looking to offer the moviegoing public something else the movies from mainstream studios weren’t providing: bloodshed. So, they collected animal parts from butcher shops, came up with a fake blood mixture that had the secret ingredient of Kaopectate, and made Blood Feast, the story of Fuad Ramses, a caterer who worships the ancient Egyptian goddess Ishtar, the mother of the veiled darkness. Thousands of years ago, Ishtar's followers would offer up human sacrifices to their deity, sacrificing female virgins and then feeding on their flesh and blood. Now Ramses is out to recreate that traditional Egyptian feast, so he goes slashing his way through 1960s Florida to collect body parts from various victims. He gets a leg from one, the tongue from another, a brain, blood collected from whip wounds, etc. As he does, Lewis makes sure to splatter bright red blood all over the screen.

I have had an appreciation for Lewis’s work ever since I caught a screening of his film Two Thousand Maniacs at a 24-hour horror marathon in 2002. That inspired me to check out as many of his movies as possible on DVD and Blu-ray, and through the special features on those discs I have also gained a great respect for the man himself. He was a soft-spoken, intellectual businessman who saw the entertainment industry entirely as a business. Movie-making was not an art to him. It was great to hear him talk about the crazy movies he made over the years, and it was awesome to get the chance to be in his presence when he made an appearance at a 2010 Cinema Wasteland convention. As a Lewis fan, I was very happy to see him being honored in this marathon.

While presenting the movie, which gets four stars for its place in history, Joe Bob digs into the making of the movie, even spilling the Kaopectate secret of the blood mixture, and branches out into the release, some of the marketing tricks, and the cult following Lewis’s films have, which is partially thanks to punk bands that paid tribute to them. He gives an overview of the Lewis / Friedman collaborations that led up to Blood Feast, talks about what Lewis was doing before he drifted into the world of movie-making, covers the eventual Lewis / Friedman split, and throughout the movie he has fun discussing the bad dialogue and the bad acting. Sure, it’s all pretty bad, but that’s what makes Blood Feast so charming, and Joe Bob understands that. As Lewis himself said, “It’s no good, but it’s the first of its type.” Joe Bob is such a fan of this movie that he even went searching for one of the filming locations during a trip to Florida – only to find that it was gone, replaced by Trump properties.

The Blood Feast segment of the marathon ends with Darcy bringing Joe Bob a letter that someone wrote in about watching Friday the 13th movies on Monstervision back in the day.


Someone who kept the legend of H.G. Lewis alive over the years was fan / filmmaker Frank Henenlotter, so it’s very fitting that Lewis’s Blood Feast was followed in this marathon by Henelotter’s Basket Case – and it’s especially fitting that Basket Case was part of this marathon, because Joe Bob played an important role in getting this movie out into the world in 1982. It secured a distribution deal after a screening at the Cannes Film Festival, but the distributor wanted to release the horror comedy as a straight comedy, so they removed all of the bloodshed. Then they sent this bloodless cut of Basket Case out to a few theatres across the country as a midnight movie. When they were bringing it to Dallas, Texas, they asked Joe Bob to host the premiere, since he was already popular in the area for his drive-in movie critic newspaper articles. That’s when Joe Bob revealed that he had already seen the movie - he was at the screening in Cannes, so the version he had seen was Henenlotter’s preferred cut, with the gore still intact. He refused to host the Dallas premiere unless he could show the uncut version. The distributor relented... and once the uncut version was received well in Dallas, they replaced the bloodless cut in all of the theatres that it had opened in. The cut version of the movie had been a failure. Once the blood was put back in, people finally started going to see it. And that’s how Joe Bob saved Basket Case, which he gives a perfect four star rating.

Joe Bob recounts his history with Basket Case when he’s introducing the movie, filling in the details that famous critic Rex Reed was also at the Cannes screening (all he had to say about it was, “This film is sick!”) and that the screening he hosted of it in Texas took place at the Highway 183 drive-in, which was located in the Dallas suburb of Irving and – like way too many other drive-ins across the country - no longer exists.

Another piece of exploitation film history that has faded away are the 42nd Street grindhouse theatres in New York. Those were already on their way out in the early ‘80s, which is why Frank Henenlotter was inspired to spend $35,000 making Basket Case as his homage to the 42nd Street glory years. It tells the story of a young man named Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck), who shows up in NYC carrying a wicker basket... and soon enough, we come to find out that Duane’s mutant twin brother Belial lives inside that basket. These twins were born conjoined (which is why Joe Bob keeps referring to them as Siamese twins, even though they’re not from Thailand), and having Belial removed from Duane’s side was a very traumatic experience for both of them. So traumatic that they murdered their father for demanding the surgery and are now out to murder all of the doctors who participated in the procedure.

Basket Case is essential viewing, as far as I’m concerned. Every horror fan needs to see Belial in action at least once in their lives. I find the movie to be a lot of fun to watch, as it has a nice sense of humor, a fun cast of characters, and the puppet Belial is just awesome. As Joe Bob hosts it, he tells some stories about tourism in New York City, filming locations like the Hellfire Club, and a drug dealer he knew that switched to selling Eco Tours. He talks about the cast and the fact that both Kevin Van Hentenryck and co-star Beverly Bonner (who passed away in 2020) have written their own Basket Case follow-ups: Van Hentenryck wrote a script for Basket Case 4, which still hasn’t gone into production, and Bonner wrote a play that caught up with her character thirty years later. Joe Bob also reveals that he feels Basket Case strikes the perfect balance between horror and comedy, and that horror comedies should follow this formula: 80% horror to 20% comedy. I’m open to a higher percentage of comedy than he is, but I agree that Basket Case is great.


I also agree that director Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator is the best H.P. Lovecraft adaptation ever made. Joe Bob even goes so far as to say that David Gale’s performance as Dr. Carl Hill in this film is the greatest horror movie performance of all time and... well, I’m not going to argue against that. While introducing the movie, Joe Bob brings out a chart of the human brain so he can tell us exactly what a brain is and what the various parts of it are called, which is helpful information to have as you embark on watching Re-Animator. Actually, Joe Bob gives a bit too much information as he introduces the movie, as he gives a description of nearly everything that happens in it. But most of the people who watch this marathon have probably seen Re-Animator before anyway. 

Another perfect four star winner, Re-Animator is a movie I wrote a Film Appreciation article on years ago. It’s about Miskatonic University med student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), who gets roped into the experiments conducted by his new roommate Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) in an effort to prove that the glowing green serum he’s working on can bring the dead back to life. Yes, it can do that... but when you see how the dead act when they do come back to life, it’s clear that the dead should be left dead. Herbert disagrees, which is how we got two sequels.

Joe Bob gives us the background on Stuart Gordon, who headed up the Organic Theatre Company in Chicago and worked with the likes of David Mamet before deciding to move into filmmaking with Re-Animator. Since he had a background in stage plays, Gordon had his cast members participate in a week of intense rehearsal, which is one reason why their performances are so good. We hear about the careers of the cast members, with Jeffrey Combs and co-star Barbara Crampton both going on to become genre icons. Crampton was a replacement for the first actress to be cast in her role, who dropped out over content concerns... which is understandable when you see what Crampton had to endure. One of the zombies was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body double, and it’s not difficult to spot that one. 

The fact that Re-Animator only reached its 86 minute running time after being substantially edited down from Gordon’s first cut is also addressed – although, oddly, Joe Bob gives the credit for a major editing decision to composer Richard Band without mentioning that Full Moon founder Charles Band (Richard’s brother) and the Bands’ father Albert, who was also a filmmaker, participated in the making of the film, with Albert Band being a very important presence in the editing room. Charles gets a mention as distributor at the end of Re-Animator segment, but Albert gets passed over.

MOVIE #10: DEMONS (1985)

From Re-Animator, we move on to another 1985 movie that is essentially a zombie flick, except the zombies in this case are caused through demonic possession, so it’s considered a possession movie rather than a zombie movie. And when it comes to possession movies, Demons is a hell of a lot more entertaining than most of those movies about priests trying to expel evil spirits. Joe Bob calls Demons the biggest hit among Italian horror movies, and while I don’t know if that’s the case when we’re speaking finances, I do know that this is my favorite Italian horror movie to watch.

A four star feature that ranks a 97 on the vomit meter, thanks to its gore and turquoise slime, Demons tells the simple story of a highly contagious case of demonic possession breaking out within a movie theatre – and when the audience members try to escape, they find that the exits have been bricked in. Some wild and crazy stuff happens within that theatre, including some biker swordsman action and the unexpected appearance of a helicopter.

Joe Bob starts his Demons introduction by informing us that the film used to be on the “Too Grisly for Cable” list, which is why it never showed up on channels like HBO, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, etc... although apparently the violence wasn’t as big of an issue as a scene involving cocaine, a razor blade, and a woman’s breast. This was an Italian production, but the exteriors were filmed in Cold War-era Berlin because the filmmakers were looking for a place that had a “cold and fake” look. Sadly, the movie theatre used as a filming location – a place that was built in 1906 – was torn down soon after the movie wrapped production. Mention of the cold and fake look of Berlin at the time sets Joe Bob off on a rant about the overuse of the word “dystopian.” As the movie goes on, he talks about several of the people who were involved with the production, from cast members to the creative team. We hear about director Lamberto Bava, son of the legendary Mario, and producer/co-writer Dario Argento. Joe Bob questions why Bava and Argento needed three co-writers to craft the screenplay for such a simple movie that doesn’t have much in the way of logic, and mentions that Argento takes credit for making the movie “about censorship,” as he saw this as a play on the idea that films (and music, which is why the movie has such a rocking soundtrack) could cause real-life violence.

Cast members Bobby Rhodes and Geretta Geretta are discussed, as they should be. There’s a nod to composer Claudio Simonetti and his band Goblin. The lead actresses are said to be interchangeable – which is pretty much true. Argento’s daughter Fiore Argento was a cast member, and said she hated working on this movie. We hear about the career of actress Nicoletta Elmi, and mention of actor Urbano Barberini – who would go on to appear in a movie that was marketed as Demons 6... and this is the opening to the best part of the Demons segment of the marathon, the bit where Joe Bob talks about “the Demons franchise.” There are really only two Demons movies, Demons and Demons 2. A movie called The Church (directed by Demons cast member Michele Soavi) was originally developed as Demons 3, but turned into something else along the way. But that didn’t stop distributors from slapping the Demons title onto a whole lot of other movies that weren’t really Demons sequels. Joe Bob goes over all of them, and it’s amusing to hear him talk about this nonsense.

And because Joe Bob likes to drop in groan-inducing jokes every now and then, this segment wraps up with a joke that references The Bachelor.


There probably aren’t many people in the world who would get giddy talking about The Legend of Boggy Creek, but Joe Bob Briggs is one person who can get giddy while discussing this low budget Bigfoot docudrama, which became a massive hit when it was released in 1972. It might not have caught much attention in the cities, but out in the rural areas where people thought they had a chance of stumbling across Bigfoot themselves one day, it drew in a whole lot of movie-goers. And Joe Bob is such a big fan of this movie, he doesn’t even let the lack of nudity knock it down from a perfect four star rating. He does, on the other hand, let it inspire him to reveal some secrets about his wild childhood, which was spent not too far away from the Arkansas locations shown in The Legend of Boggy Creek. Turns out Joe Bob was not only in the Boy Scouts but also in the Order of the Arrow, where they would put on dance performances and jump over fires while wearing loincloths and holding live snakes in their mouths. Members would also be led out into the woods while blindfolded and left to survive there for three days with nothing but a knife, a piece of flint, and three matches. And every kid who got left out in the woods claimed to see the hairy, seven-foot-tall Bigfoot while they were out there.

So, of course, Joe Bob finds Bigfoot to be the most believable of all monsters. The Legend of Boggy Creek claims to be an entirely true story, with accounts of Bigfoot sightings dramatized sometimes with the actual Bigfoot sighters playing themselves. To maintain the illusion of reality, Joe Bob holds off on giving the drive-in totals and the rating until the first break instead of during the introduction. As the movie goes on, he is joined by a special guest: actor / musician / cryptozoologist / fellow Boggy Creek super-fan Lyle Blackburn, who may or may not have set up a date with Darcy the Mail Girl while he was on set. Joe Bob – who once worked at a newspaper that reported on Bigfoot sightings in the Boggy Creek setting of Fouke, Arkansas – and Blackburn discuss the sightings that date as far back as 1834, members of the Crabtree family (which has a prominent role in the film), the score and original songs (there’s even a sing-along to one of them), visiting Fouke... and Joe Bob even breaks out a map to give us an Arkansas geography lesson. 

We hear about a “Bigfoot was a primate that came from a derailed circus train” theory, and Joe Bob presents a theory about the Fouke Bigfoot that doesn’t explain why the sightings date back to 1834 or why there are still sightings to this day, but does seem like it could be reasonable explanation for a good portion of the sightings. We also learn about the career of director Charles B. Pierce, who made his feature directorial debut with this movie after securing the budget from a businessman and rebuilding an old camera himself, then went on to make several more movies, work as a set decorator, and co-write a Dirty Harry movie.

As I’ve said before, The Legend of Boggy Creek doesn’t have much in the way of the thrills, except for a pretty fun sequence toward the end, and will make for a better viewing experience if you just tune in to watch a documentary about some people in the backwoods of Arkansas (with an occasional appearance by Bigfoot). Clearly, Joe Bob has a lot of fun watching that documentary.


The four star movies just keep on coming, and Joe Bob really heaps praise on writer/director Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, revealing that the film – which he considers to be one of the best horror movies of not only the 1980s (and the best gore flick of that decade), but of all-time, as well as one of the most original – is on his personal top 10 list. When it comes to the vomit meter, this one is off the scale, and Joe Bob is happy that it put the horror back in sex, where it belongs. He suggests that we all need to take a knee in honor of Barker – and that kicks off another rant where he talks about “taking a knee” and its various definitions, athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem, the songs “God Save the Queen” and “The Star Spangled Banner,” and much more. Then he jumps back to Hellraiser to deliver an in-depth synopsis in his own terms and mention that Barker drew inspiration from his experiences visiting S&M clubs.

The S&M club vibe is strong in the finished film, so it’s absolutely fitting that Joe Bob goes on to list the names of many clubs that were in the area of New York where Barker attended one very memorable club. Also covered in the hosting segments: the fact that Barker got into directing after a couple of his stories received disappointing film adaptations, the producers switching the setting from England to America, the struggle to pick a title (other options included The Hellbound Heart and Sadomasochists from Beyond the Grave), Roger Ebert’s half-star review of the film, the characters known as the Cenobites, Doug Bradley as the Cenobite Pinhead, and Bradley’s fellow cast members – especially Clare Higgins, who has never watched the full movie because she’s not a horror fan and this one made her too queasy, and Andrew Robinson, who is said to have improved two of the most famous lines.

Hellraiser, which has received many sequels and a reboot over the years, begins with a sleazeball named Frank Cotton buying a puzzle box that opens a doorway into another dimension, and through this doorway emerges otherworldly beings known as the Cenobites, who tear Frank apart while giving him an experience in pleasure and pain, indivisible. Sometime later, Frank’s brother Larry and sister-in-law Julia move into Larry’s childhood home – where Frank had been staying. He solved the puzzle box up in the attic. And when Larry hurts his hand and drips blood on the floor of the attic, a regenerating Frank rises from the floorboards. Turns out Frank and Julia had an affair, and she’s so into the guy that she’s willing to lure people into the attic to be murdered, as their life force helps progress Frank’s regeneration. Problem is, the Cenobites don’t like when people escape from their dimension, and Larry’s daughter Kirsty doesn’t approve when she finds out what Frank and Julia have been up to.

This is a brilliant, deeply unnerving, often disgusting horror movie that is so effective in its endeavor to be as troubling as possible that I don’t like to watch it very often. 

MOVIE #13: PIECES (1982)

Joe Bob truly felt that this marathon was the last time he was going to be hosting movies and he chose to end his hosting career with the so-bad-it’s-good slasher Pieces, another film he had some history with... but before getting to Pieces, he decided to give viewers an overview of the history of horror hosting, going back to Zacherley and Elvira predecessor Vampira in the 1950s. This overview largely serves as a tribute to Zacherley, a man Joe Bob knew and respected, and along the way there’s a nice mention of Cleveland horror host Ghoulardi (played by Ernie Anderson, father of Paul Thomas Anderson), who still remains popular in the Cleveland area even though his show only lasted from January of 1963 to December of 1966 and there’s hardly any surviving footage of his performance. Joe Bob starts to get choked up toward the end of his Zacherley tribute, wrapping up with, “He knew the journey was not about the stage, it was about the life and the joy that you create while you’re standing on that stage.” He goes on to dedicate the movie to Zacherley – and luckily he’s able to switch gears to talking about Pieces, which is not the sort of movie that has any elements to cause someone to get choked up, unless they’re gagging at the sight of blood.

Pieces is a movie Joe Bob reviewed after catching a drive-in screening in 1982, and that review almost got him fired because the National Organization of Women was outraged that he would give such a trashy, sexist (because the victims are primarily women) movie a four star review. Joe Bob had to issue an apology: “I am violently opposed to the random killing and mutilation of women unless it’s necessary to the plot.” Pieces was quite controversial at the time, which was only beneficial to its release, because controversy can turn low budget movies into financial successes.

As I’ve described it before, Pieces is “the ultimate slasher grindhouse schlockfest.” The opening scene takes place in 1942, with a young boy hacking his mother to death with an axe because she didn’t approve of him putting together a jigsaw puzzle featuring a nude woman. The kid is able to bury his homicidal urges for forty years, but when he witnesses a young woman ride a skateboard into a pane of glass, it gives him flashbacks to his mom smashing a mirror in anger, and soon enough he’s stalking a Boston college campus with a chainsaw, chopping up female students so he can assemble body parts into a fleshy jigsaw puzzle. It’s a nonsensical mess with atrocious acting, dialogue so terrible it’s hilarious, and a random martial arts scene that was dropped into the movie simply because one of the producers, Dick Randall, had collaborated with martial artist Bruce Le (not Bruce Lee) before and wanted to put him in this movie, too. (And it’s set in Boston because producer Stephen Minasian, who was also behind-the-scenes of the Friday the 13th franchise, was from Boston.)

Joe Bob explains that some of the questionable elements in this movie were due to the fact that it was shot in Spain, despite being set in Boston, and directed by Spanish director Juan Piquer Simón, who had never been to the United States before. So this was his idea of what America was like... and since he spent the first forty years of his life in a country ruled by a dictatorship (which ended in the '70s), he had some interesting ideas about the wild freedom displayed by Americans. Joe Bob spends the running time in awe of the bad acting, some of it coming from cast members who are typically good actors (including the married duo of Christopher George and Lynda Day George), and the horrible dialogue. Another actor in the film is Edmund Purdom, who has the distinction of being the only person to have their hand prints and footprints removed from the Grauman's Chinese Theater walkway, as there was industry outcry over him getting that honor just one year and three movies into his career.

Joe Bob discusses the career of Juan Piquer Simón, who rightfully considered Pieces his masterpiece, the fact that the initial draft of the script was just thirty pages long, and Dick Randall’s connection to both the Emmanuelle and Emanuelle franchises, and he uses the appearance of Bruce Le as a chance to talk about the various “clones of Bruce Lee” martial artists who emerged after the death of Bruce Lee. 

Once Joe Bob has finished talking about Pieces, Darcy the Mail Girl comes in to stump him again with a trick question about classic monsters – and then he takes a moment to give a shout-out to the prisoners who used to watch him on his previous shows and all the weirdos and misfits that have followed him over the years, some of whom have even told him that his show saved their lives by allowing them to escape from their problems for a little while. That’s not what he was aiming for, he just aiming to give people laughs while appreciating forgotten films, but that was a wonderful byproduct. He wraps up by thanking the crew and everyone who talked him into doing another show, saying maybe he’ll host another one 17 more years down the line.

The marathon ends with a rather sad shot of Joe Bob silently sitting on the darkened trailer home stage... so it’s a good thing that’s not the last we saw of him hosting The Last Drive-in. This marathon drew in so many viewers, it crashed the Shudder servers – making the streaming service realize that it could be profitable for them to keep Joe Bob around. He’s been hosting The Last Drive-in seasons and specials for almost six years as of this writing, and it’s been great to have him back on our screens and back in our lives again on a regular basis.

Like Joe Bob always says, the drive-in will never die!

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