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First con of 2021!
What’s up, Ho-rror Ho-mies? On this ep Joe Bob & I do a lil’ recap of The Last Drive-In Valentine’s Day special, talk a lil’ about our upcoming Film festival/Mutant Meetup (“Joe Bob’s Drive-In Jamboree”) & explain why Howling 7 is one of the most important films ever made. ;) Enjoy!
Nearly every great ho-rror villain has at least one genuinely fantastic film to their name: a film that nullifies decades of mediocrity because of its transcendent eXXXcellence. You can send Pinhead to space, cyberspace, Revolutionary France, and beyond, but-t he will always maintain his spot among the immortals for the sheer brilliance of that first "Hellraiser." Have Michael Myers kung-fu fight Busta Rhymes for the rest of eternity; John Carpenter's "Halloween" absolves the Shape of all sins. If one eXXXceptional work is enough to make a creature an icon, ho-w do we eXXXplain Lubdan the Leprechaun? With a franchise that wears enough green on Rotten Tomatoes to ward off pinches for three lifetimes, the Leprechaun should have festered in the 1990s with "Rumpelstiltskin," "Dolly Dearest," and all the other forgotten oddities of that era. Some of the films made decent money on miniscule budgets, but none of them really set the world on fire. And yet, in the year of our Lord 2021, we are still talking about that damned Leprechaun! There are officially licensed tiki mugs, Halloween costumes, t-shirts, and even a recent reboot from the SyFy Channel. And on top o' that, he happens to be our Monster of the Month! Why? Well, keep reading for the answer! For the moment, we offer this rhyme: Try as they will, try as they might, no one can slay the Leprechaun tonight!
Originally envisioned as a straight ho-rror film, 1993's "Leprechaun" morphed into something cheekier when Warwick Davis was cast as the diminutive demon. In a bold move for a ho-rror franchise, "Leprechaun" begins with the comedy installment. After Freddy's apparent death in 1991, the universe was in desperate need of a wisecracking supernatural malefactor. And since no other options presented themselves, "Leprechaun" took up the task. Written and directed by Mark Jones (writer of "Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics," "Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels," "Fangface," and other animated favorites), "Leprechaun" is a cartoon of a movie. The protagonist is a little boy who hangs out with an oafish adult, which brings to mind the many "small wiseguy/tall doofus" pairings on "Looney Tunes"... but -t with less laughs. As for the rest of the flick, it's certainly not offensive, but it hardly stands out in an era dominated by Full Moon's campy shockers. The only notable thing about the picture is the presence of a pre-"Friends" Jennifer Aniston.
Well, that would be the case if not for one considerable eXXXception: The Leprechaun himself. No matter how forgettable the rest of the film is, Warwick Davis is genuinely brilliant as the Leprechaun. Praiseworthy performances like Boris Karloff as Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as Dracula were surrounded by films that would still be magnificent without them (though less so), but-t Warwick Davis carries the entire film on his shoulders. Davis chortles, rhymes, and mugs his way through the entire film, yet he is so committed to this ridiculous part that you can't help but believe that he is that malefic merrymaker. He completely captures your attention and plays the part with bombastic sincerity. And that is why the Leprechaun is immortal.
The film and its sequels have become a cherished St. Patrick's Day tradition in our home, and the credit belongs entirely to its central performance. Warwick Davis wasn't given Freddy Krueger or Dracula, but he sure as hell acted like he was! It's a testament to his dedication that these dumb movies about a drunken coin magician remain a popular ho-rror staple, even inspiring imitations. (Looking at you, "Unlucky Charms!") Even at their bottom-of-the-barrel, mythical-creature-on-a-space-station worst, the Leprechaun himself is always a 10/10 creep.
After that inaugural outing, Warwick and his Leprechaun appeared in five more films, traveling to Ho-llywood, Vegas, space, the Hood, and, yes, back to the Hood. Most of them are more entertaining than the first one, some even approach good(ish) at times, but none of them are great ho-rror cinema. But whenever Warwick is on screen, yucking it up and rhyming his heart out, there's a kind of magic there. The "Leprechaun" films may not be great ho-rror cinema, but Lep himself is a great ho-rror monster. If Warwick Davis is still up for it, we would love to see him don the striped socks one last time. And if the resulting film is good, that'll be a bonus!
In ho-nor of the Clover-Creeper, we have the greatest rap scene in the history of cinema! Enjoy!
On this sacred ground of evil, we worship at the altar of William Castle, Sin-ema's Baron of Ballyhoo. In our sermons on the teachings of Mr. Castle, the emphasis is usually on his (in)famous marketing gimmicks: skeletons floating above audiences, ghost-viewing glasses, theater seats converted into joy buzzers, etc. Groovy though they may be (and groovy, they are), we shamefully deemphasize the most important aspect of Castle's career in movies: his movies! Since it is the anniversary week of one particular Castle cl-ass-sick, we decided to showcase that picture to highlight the Baron's filmic flair. Prepare your stomachs for the gut-wrenching ghoulery of... "House on Haunted Hill!"
Often overshadowed by its remake, the original "House on Haunted Hill" is a masterpiece of spook show entertainment. The film revels in a style of scare that was antiquated even its day, delivering old-fashioned thrills with style and a knowing wit. Without devolving into spoofery, "House" amalgamates atmosphere with humor. It knows eXXXactly what kind of horror schlock it is... and takes great pride in being so!
Eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren (the priceless Vincent Price) invites five strangers to the House on Haunted Hill for food and drink and ghosts (and perhaps maybe a few murders). He promises them each $10,000... if they can stay entire night. As eXXXpected at a place called the House on Haunted Hill, weird and ghostly things begin to happen. Is it the work of phantoms... or something even more sinister?
Blessed be Vincent Price; if any man should be Halloween's Santa Claus, it should be that consummate creep. Always delightfully devilish and utterly urbane, Uncle Vinny demonstrates why he's the patron saint of creepy camp. Price's sly demeanor suggests that he's in on the joke, he never undercuts the material; he's playful but still engagingly sinister. Carol Ohmart holds her own against the Merchant of Menace as his scheming wife. Their relationship plays out like a poison-dipped screwball romance: imagine "Bringing Up Baby" with a touch of Arsenic and Old Lace. Elisha Cook Jr. is great fun as the traumatized owner of the house.
William Castle doesn't get enough credit as a director. Hitchcock may have been flashier, but Castle's pictures had an effectively clean look to them. And when needed, Castle used shadows and sounds to brilliant effect. Castle also had a tendency to open up his films with silent film-like techniques, creating an atmosphere of ghost train surrealism. His ability to mix shocks and chuckles is on full display here, especially during the film's finale.
An absolute gem of a movie, "House on Haunted Hill" is a MUST. Few films balance wit and weird better than this one. And it's a film so good, it inspired Hitchcock to make "Psycho!" Spooky, kooky, and all-together ooky, "House on Haunted Hill" is a fright to remember.
Dig it below, Kinky Kreeps:
Here’s a lil’ vid of my The Last Drive-In boss, legendary Horror Icon Mr. Joe Bob Briggs, and I on the hunt for the equally legendary Fouke Monster. When we filmed our “The Legend of Boggy Creek” episode, JB mentioned that it was on his bucket list to get out to Fouke, AK to visit the Monster Mart and see if we could find any signs of the monster himself. My reaction was, “HECK YES! LET’S DO THAT!!” and our adventure was afoot! (A BIG foot, if you will... 😉) Thanks for checking it out! 🖤
This is the vid I put together of a bunch of the Mutant Fam singing The Last Drive-In theme together from quarantine...Thank you so much to everyone who participated!! (And apologies, again, for not being able to fit everyone in...Look out for the exxxtended remixxx coming soon(ish ;)!! xoxo
Our live stream of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter from March 13,2020...Joe Bob does the Dead Fuck Dance!! :)
Big thanks to the fine folks at MasiMedia who got this shindig together, and also to Mr. Roger Jackson (pictured intro-ing a screening of the film in Stu's backyard!! :) who not only came out to party with us, but-t also left me this terrifying vm that I will treasure for the neXXXt billion centuries!! :) xoxo
My Interview with Clint Freakin' Howard!!!
(nude Clint Howard and snow globes...need I say more?)
High History: Why I love Scream so much!
Starring Diana Prince/Darcy the Mail Girl