Posts Tagged ‘cowboy

15
Jul
18

Tearing the Heart Out of Saturday Night: Happy Trails, Joe Bob Briggs

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by The Primal Root

I was in middle school and staying over at my Grandparents house for the Christmas holiday. My parents were recently divorced, puberty was kicking in full throttle, we were moving into new places, my parents were always upset and I was, to put it bluntly, a wreck. I had no siblings to talk to, no one to confide in, it was the beginning of the realization that I, for the most part in life, would always be pretty much alone. I was staying up late in my Grandparent’s den and flipping through the channels, no doubt devouring their bag of Cap Cod Potato chips and slurping down cans of Coke. It was the typical mid 90’s hodgepodge of reruns, sports highlight reels, and laundry lists of current political strife scandal and tragedy. TV was a terrible way to cheer up a teenage boy going through deeply troubling changes in his life and coping with the knowledge that everything you thought you knew was about to change forever and you were now becoming a pawn for two people who mean the world to you to hurt one another.

But then I stopped flipping channels when I came across this smiling joker in Western wear sitting in a lawn chair outside a trailer. He was listing Drive-In Totals, speaking of Blood, Breasts and Beasts, laughing, telling incredibly interesting stories about movies he was about to show, and get this, the movies were always cheesy, weird B-Movies and stuff that was normally completely outside the mainstream, stuff mocked and shoved aside and left in the dust pan of history the majority of cinema goers. I immediately knew I had found a kindred spirit and a cool, funny, surrogate brother who I could rely on to be there every Saturday and remind me that I wasn’t totally alone in my passions, my interests or, maybe, in life.

I certainly know I’m not alone in this sentiment. I am now 36 years old and owner of my own video rental store and one screen micro cinema where for a recent 24 hour period I watched Joe Bob Brigg’s Last Drive-In surrounded by a group of the same folks, also now in their 30’s, who made a habit out of watching TNT’s MonsterVision with Joe Bob Brig’s every Saturday night. And as he hosted 13 remarkable sleazy exploitation horror movies, cult and arthouse films, telling jokes, stories and ranting on about the current state of affairs in the world, he would also read letters from the Mail Girl, just like in the glory days. The majority of these letter consisted of middle aged adults, just like myself, pouring over how much Joe Bob meant to them growing up by reenforcing that it was okay to be different and find the joy in what you are into. He taught us to not take it all so dog gone seriously and that our thoughts on how absurd life was, how unfair and ruthless life could be, we all had the ability to find the humor, joy and beauty in our lives, just like we do in those cheesy, outcast movies I grew up to fondly refer to as Trash Cinema.

The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Brigg’s was a remarkable experience. The lineup was a smorgasbord of wonderful horror and cult cinema, interspersed with Joe Bob’s one of a kind witty banter, rants and loving remembrances of the movies he was showing and all the folks who took a part in making them, it was once again a glorious celebration of the underdog and the shared community all of us underdogs live in.

THE LINEUP from 9pm Friday July the 13th to Whenever it actually ended Saturday July the 14th :

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Tourist Trap: This is one that Joe Bob and I have always seen eye to eye on as one of those gems of a horror movie that is so eerie, batshit crazy and unusual that it keeps you on your toes throughout wondering just what the Hell is gonna happens next. Chuck Conners is a whole lot of fun to watch and the movie contains one of the most brutal and bloodless kills I’ve ever seen. Borrowing heavily from Psycho, Carrie and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and creating it’s own unique blend of horror with these elements, it blazed it’s own trail that I think deserves more appreciation.

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Sleepaway Camp: Psycho Sexual Summer Camp oOverload! Sleepaway Camp is by far and away my favorite summer time slasher due in no small part to the very natural, very believable performances of the central kids in the story, all in service to one remarkably strange plot for a horror movie based at a summer camp. When most of this ilk are happy to settle for typical Cropsy stuff, Sleepaway Camp gives us something so much freakier and disturbing than we ever expected. There were folks in the audience at Cap City Video Lounge who had never seen this one before and they were shaken long into the next feature after Sleepaway Camp’s conclusion. Plus, that song Angela’s Theme (You’re Just What I’ve Been Looking For) is one groovy track, but during the end credits, is made really creepy. One of the finest from the 80’s and a fine choice.

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RABID: Cronenberg’s sophomore effort, Rabid starring Ivory Sop Girl turned porn star, Marilyn Chambers, is a weird sicky of a film featuring a typhoid mary central character who somehow gets an armpit anus vagina that spurts forth a parasitic gonzo blood sucking penis that thrives on that blood to stay alive. Some folks have claimed it’s all a metaphor for addiction while others compare to the AIDS epidemic. For me, it’s simply a great contagion movie with green goo spewing mutants barfing and biting everywhere. One of Cronenberg’s sleazier ones before he eventually started making Oscar stuff.

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The Prowler: Oddly enough, probably the dullest film to make the marathon. With countless suspenseless scenes of folks walking around white walled dark hallways looking mildly scared and other scenes that take us down narrative dead ins with no pay off,  The Prowler aka: Rosemary’s Killer, isn’t exactly a recipe for excitement. However, with a little help from Tom Savini in the effects department, the film is littered with great moments of outstanding gore effects that wake you up as you try to stay awake during the 24 hour marathon. Plus an absolutely stunning pare of breasts on one of first victims and Joe Bob Brigg’s constant interruptions, it was still a damn fine time.

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Sorority Babes in the Slime Ball Bowl-A-Rama: Holy shit, I love this movie. One of those bargain basement Scream Queen cheapies with plenty of bare breasts and a story so ludicrous, with performances so unfathomably bad, it’s an absolute delight. Played during about the 4am shift of the 24 hour marathon, this was the hot cup of trash cinema coffee I needed to keep me going after the prowler. Featuring some great full frontal and behind nudity from Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley as a badass cat burglar that can’t afford a bra or a full tank top, a malicious little Imp who stuffed in a bowling trophy who awakens with the promise of granting wishes only to try and fucking kill you AND a great recurring cameo by the late, great, George “Buck” Flowers , this was EXACTLY what the marathon needed and payed homage to a handful of Trash Cinema Legends while delivering the sleaze.

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Daughters of Darkness: Now, for probably the most artsy of the films Joe Bob Briggs selected for the 24 hour marathon. Daughter’s of Darkness is an absolutely gorgeous film with some truly inspired performances bringing to life what I would consider to be the best of the female (or lesbian) vampire films. Featuring a strong feminist message, some great nudity, a fantastic score and some downright jarring moments of violence leading up to a :Wha the Fuck did I just witness” climax,  Daughters of Darkness is a ilm that lives up to it’s reputation. A fan actually got a letter read by Joe Bob Briggs read on air where the viewer complained that Daughters of Darkness was”Slow” to which Joe Bob responded, “Yeah, so what? It was MEANT to be slow!” Joe Bob, sir, you are a treasure.

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Blood Feast: I knew he had to show Blood Feast. The movie which created the splatter film genre and a Drive-In Classic directed by the late, great, Herschell Gordon Lewis with the help of the late David F. Friedman in my home state of Florida. Anoyher film that was bittersweet hearing Joe Bob talk about as the man has forever championed this film and became a friend of H.G. Lewis when releasing some of his weird and rare stuff on VHS for the “Sleaziest Movies In the History of the World” collection. Blood Feast is a terrible film by just about everyone’s standards. The script is garbage, the concept is goofy and the performance range from way out there over the top, to I am reading my lines off of the lamp shade. But as a highly entertaining piece of Trash Cinema and a true Drive-In classic, it is hysterical, bloody fun that’s hard to top. Well deserving of it’s place of notoriety in the annals of cinematic history and one of the finest exploitation films ever made. During the marathon Joe Bob Tweeted “Blood Feast is trending nationally? Hershell, are you listening?”  Proving yet again that The Drive-In will NEver Die so long as we keep these legends alive. IT was an honor watching this one with Joe Bob during The Last Drive-In.

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Basket Case: Okay, now we’re cooking with fire! Joe Bob picks out Frank Henenlotter’s debut feature, one of the last of the to Drive-In, Grindhouse greats, the sleazy, filthy, profoundly disgusting BASKET CASE! Another of my all time favorite slices of Trash Cinema, Joe Bob was crucial in making Basket Case a hit. As I recall, he either saw this at a screening as either Cannes or Sundance, and was the only other critic in there besides Rex Reed, who write up the film ended up being it’s selling point and was used in all it’s marketing, “This is the sickest movie ever made.” Joe Bob told that little story during the screening but, otherwise, this was one of the flicks I missed the most of as I was grilling burgers and dogs for the Gang at Cap City Video Lounge during our screening. But, Basket Case was one of those films that needed to be seen. And, again, everyone in our theater during this screening has never seen Basket Case before. So, I was happy to get them fed during the screening of this remarkable, legendary, groundbreaking piece of absolute cinematic filth. What really makes it stand out is the amount of heart and true emotional resonance that exists between the body mutilation, panty sniffing, and stop motion deformed creature tantrums. Henenlotter went on to make Brain Damage and Frankenhooker, but neither really surpasses the mix that Basket Case delivers. One of a kind and true gem of Trash Cinema.

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Re-Animator: Oh, Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon’s gonzo filmic interpretation of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic about life and the lengths some in the field of medicine and advanced science will go to in order to preserve it.  This came out in 1985 alone with Dan ‘OBannon’s Return of the Living Dead and George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead, three of the finest and most game changing zombie flicks ever made. Re-Animator is a a great ride littered with some really fun, cheap gore gags and gross outs, some FANTASTIC gratuitous nudity from the limitlessly attractive and talented Barbara Crampton, but the true saving grace of Re-Animator is the zany, sharp, and gleefully malicious performance of Jeffrey Combs as the unhinged Dr. Herbert West, the man who has created the Re-Animation agent and causes an undead holocaust at Miskatonic University. Featuring some of the most perverse murders, makeup effects and molestations in the history of cinema, Re-Animator was a golden selection for The Last Drive-In. A sure fire crowd pleaser for the Drive-In Mutants.

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Honestly, it wa sa lineup to die for and one Joe Bob obviously took good care in covering all the bases whiel selecting from SHUDDER’s catalog of titles. It was ab absolute joy hanging out with great friends, knocking back brews, and eventually, strong black coffee, as we soldiered through with glee to this 24 hour marathon of the macabre hosted with laughs and vulgarity by the man who brought us here, Joe Bob Briggs.

But there was always a little sting in my heart every time a 28 years older Job Bob would mention a talent whom we had lost in the years since the cancellation of MonsterVision. We hold on to our pasts and those things that made us who were are and we cherish these things. They become a part of us, they define us. But time pushes forward and takes what it wants and as we get older and wiser to these facts the pain doesn’t exactly subside, but we do grow to accept it. There was that shared hope that Joe Bob was going to announce he had made a deal to start up a new show on the streaming service, SHUDDER, where he hosted his 24 hour horror movie marathon, but that announcement never came. Instead, he said his goodbyes, the lights turned off on the set of The Last Drive-In and the credits rolled as Joe Bob sat in his recliner, hunched forward, fiddling with his hat with a look of reflection on his face. As if he will always be there.

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I am not going to lie to you, I had to hold back my tears. It was as if I had just hung out with a long lost relative for the past 24 hours and it was as if nothing had changed, and now that relative has gone away, again, and he’s told us he’s never coming back. But, that is exactly how it all works. We have no say in this, or what those around us decide is best for them. Joe Bob is a saint for coming back at all. For 24 hours it was like being that kid I once was all over again, but instead of being alone in a living room, I was surrounded by my friends this time, in a business I created, that may never have existed without the inspiration folks like Joe Bob Brigg’s provided by teaching me it was okay to be myself, believe in myself and to not turn my back on the things that make me happy. What a great lesson to learn. And those of us who took this lesson to heart, and those of us who carry the torch, we will insure that The Drive-In Will Never Die. That spirit, the spirit of the misfit, the outcast, the weird, the mutated, is something that will be in our hearts always.

Thank you, Joe Bob Briggs, for making me Trashy. We will not let you down.

-Root

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