Ho-wdy Ho-mies! In this ep, JB and I talk to legendary Scream Queen Felissa Rose about our upcoming project, “Joe Bob’s Haunted Drive-In”. We also share some BTS stories from her appearances as our Mangled Dick Expert on The Last Drive-In,
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! 🖤
GOOD LORD! *choke* Halloween is charging at us like an irate werewolf! Speaking of werewolves, we feel it's time to introduce our Monster of the Month! The Universal Monsters dominate our psyches approXXXimately 365 days a year, yet their hold is strongest during the month of October. In all honesty, any one of them is worthy of the coveted tit-le of October's Monster of the Month. We could croon with the Phantom of the Opera or grab a bite with Dracula, but 2020's Halloween is special. Granted, all Halloweens are special and as rare as the first autumn breeze. Ho-wever, this particular Halloween will coincide with an even rarer event: a full, blue moon. With that in mind, only one Universal Monster can rightfully claim this month's ho-nor. Ladies and gentleman, clap for the Wolf Man!
Ah, the Wolf Man: Universal's most celebrated lycanthrope... but certainty not their first. In 1913, Universal released a short en-tit-led "The Werewolf," which may be considered the first werewolf movie. It concerned a Navajo woman and her daughter who seek revenge by turning into wolves. Unfortunately, all known prints were destroyed in a 1924 fire, so we may never know ho-w it compared to modern werewolf chillers. Universal revisited lycanthropy in 1935 with "Werewolf of London," a film that introduced the concept of the werewolf as a bipedal hybrid of man and wolf. Though mostly dismissed in favor of "The Wolf Man," "Werewolf of London" was the first step in the evolution of the cinematic werewolf; its creature design was the ancestor to the modern look.
"Werewolf of London" is undeniably an important film in ho-rror history, so why doesn't enjoy a robust reputation akin to "The Wolf Man's?" If we had to venture a guess, it's because the tit-ular "Werewolf of London" is not a terribly likable figure. Werewolves aren't generally associated with affability, yet it's important that we care about the person bedeviled by the lupine curse. If there is no connection to the afflicted, then the werewolf has no tragedy. Actor Henry Hull is certainly good, but his portrayal of Dr. Glendon (the "Werewolf of London") is rather cold: he's more sophisticated than our Monster of the Month, but he is also considerably less pleasant. On top of that, the makeup is minimalist, which suggests a form of atavism but isn't as aesthetically pleasing as that which would define this month's venerable villain.
Why are we talking about the Werewolf of London in a piece about the Wolf Man? Well, despite being released in the same era as Dracula, Frankenstein, and all the other heavy-hitters, the Werewolf of London hasn't really endured in pop culture. He was certainly the first modern werewolf... but the best? With respect to Henry Hull and everyone else who brought that creature to life, we must respond with a mighty nay. And that's where the Wolf Man enters. Larry "The Wolf Man" Talbot was not the first werewolf; he was not the first to stand on two legs; he wasn't even the first one created by makeup master Jack Pierce (Werewolf of London again). He was, ho-wever, the first one to truly win the hearts of movie-goers everywhere. "Werewolf of London" created the modern werewolf; "The Wolf Man" took the basic elements and elevated them to myth status.
"The Wolf Man" arrived at a time when the Universal ho-rror pictures were making the transition from A-movies to B. The original studio of scares hadn't really produced a new icon since 1935's "The Bride of Frankenstein," and the franchise seemed to be on its way to the grave. But like a flea-ridden guardian angel, The Wolf Man came to save the series. Lon Chaney Jr., son of Lon "The Phantom of the Opera" Chaney, played the unfortunate Wolf Man/Larry Talbot and quickly became Universal's new face of fear. Chaney appeared as Talbot in four sequels, the most a single actor had played a particular Universal Monster. In a period of decline for the Monsters, the Wolf Man still emerged as a top tier monster. Considering that a "wolf man" was the star of the least-loved film in the original cycle, what eXXXactly went right?
Chaney Jr. didn't have the range of his father, nor was he as urbane as a Karloff or Lugosi. Unlike the more eXXXotic actors that came before him, Junior was an everyman; the kind of amiable chap you'd have a beer with. He was the antithesis of the aloofly elegant Henry Hull... and that is one of the two great strengths of the Wolf Man. Before that damnable curse, we to see Talbot as friendly, fallible fellow with an avuncular disposition. Our Mr. Chaney works so well in that part because he IS that part. His boyish manner and boisterous energy endear us to him instantly... which is why his plight is so devastating! To the audience, it feels like a silver bullet to the chest. Ho-w could something so terrible happen to someone so harmless and likable? Werewolfism shouldn't befall the worst of men; having it affect a jolly goofball like Talbot seems downright cruel. Subsequent films mostly portrayed Talbot as an hapless downer, which is effectively heart-wrenching when you consider ho-w jovial he once was. Junior is not considered an amazing actor by most aficionados, but his work as the Wolf Man is legendary stuff. Monster movies work the best when we fear for the creature as much as we do for the victims.
The other great strength is the makeup by the inimitable Jack Pierce. Originally, Pierce had designed the makeup for... yes, "Werewolf of London." Henry Hull argued that the characters of that film should be able to recognize Dr. Glendon in his lycan-form, so the makeup was changed to the more simplistic design in the final film. Fate's hand seemed to be helping the Wolf Man, for the formerly scrapped design ended up being among the most iconic makeups in cinema. With yak hair, collodion, and other primitive materials, Pierce created an absolute miracle of a monster. It isn't just a good werewolf; it's THE werewolf! Whenever you see a lycanthrope that isn't just a giant wolf, you can bet that it took inspiration from the Wolf Man. Oliver Reed in "Curse of the Werewolf," the Wolf Man (with nards) in "The Monster Squad," Eddie Munster (and more directly, his Woof-Woof doll) and Werewolf by Night are just a few of the famous fangsters that owe their afterlife to Pierce's monstrosity. The fact that the design is often seen in the company of Pierce's Frankenstein and Chaney's Phantom is a testament to its magnificence.
Now and forever, we praise the Wolf Man as the bestial best when it comes to werewolves. He wasn't technically the first, but he is by far the most influential. Chaney's portrayal can still bring a tear to the eye, and Pierce's makeup is museum-quality art. If the moon is full on Halloween, then Halloween rightfully belongs to the Wolf Man. And to conclude this tribute to our Monster of the Month, we have a treat: the first Wolf Man transformation! Enjoy!
No segment of Roy Ward Baker's "The Monster Club" is set during Halloween, yet we can think of few films that embody the spirit of the season better than this overlooked anthology. As you probably suspect of a film called "The Monster Club," this is particularly silly stuff. Most of the monsters you will see are obvious masks, the stories are punctuated with punk rock musical numbers, and the film's humor is of the Forrest J. Ackerman variety. And yet, for all its pronounced corniness, we wouldn't call "The Monster Club" a "so-bad-it's-good" sorta film. Unlike "Plan 9 from Outer Space," "The Monster Club" is acutely aware of ho-w ridiculous it is. This is a film that declares its utter foolery from atop the highest mausoleum; a film that hears a Crypt-Keeper pun and proudly states, "We can do worse than that." Perhaps the reason this works so well is that it forgoes pomposity: it eschews mockery in favor of celebration. "The Monster Club" is self-aware, but it never seems as though the filmmakers felt superior to the material. In fact, one gets the impression that they relished the purposeful goofiness and tried to make something that works incredibly well on that level. (If you ask us, they succeeded!) In a way, "Monster Club" feels less like a traditional film than it does a Halloween party: it's all ghouls, gags, and good times. There are certainly more artful anthologies out there, but we doubt there's one as amiable as "Monster Club." If we could grab a drink with a ho-rror film, this would be it.
"The Monster Club" is based on the stories of ho-rror author R. Chetwynd-Hayes. Unfortunately, we are unfamiliar with his work, but this film does give us plenty of information on the man. In the wraparound portions, Chetwynd-Hayes is played by the great John Carradine and we can only assume that his life is portrayed with absolute accuracy: Chetwynd-Hayes is approached by a strange man who turns out to be a starving vampire named Eramus. After biting the esteemed author, Eramus takes Chetwynd-Hayes to the tit-ular Monster Club to show his appreciation for the writer's "donation." The bizarre nightclub is a happenin' hideaway for haunters and ho-rrors; a venue for villains and vampires. In between rock numbers and dance routines, Eramus regales Chetwynd-Hayes with accounts of his bestial brethren. Story #1 concerns a tragic creature known as the "Shadmock," the second tale involves a family of loving vampires, and the final fable tells of a village of ghouls. When the stories are over, Eramus persuades his fellow monsters to allow Chetwynd-Hayes a membership to the club? Ho-w? Well, you'll have to see it for yourself!
I'm afraid we have done you wrong by omitting the actor behind Eramus. Despite a prolific career in nightmare cinema, this is the only film in which the beloved thespian played a vampire. His name? Why, Vincent Price, of CORPSE! This film holds many delights (tacky and otherwise), but chief among them is the banter between Carradine and Price. The two gentlemen deliver the tongue-in-cheek dialogue with such dignity that it begins to sound like Shakespeare. Price's ability to temper camp with class is renowned, though it was rare when he had the chance to play off of someone with a similar sense of theatrical jocularity. We could listen to Carradine and Price talk about monsters all day, and the fact that they're surrounded by a gaggle of partying ghouls only sweetens it. (The masks are awful in the most amazing way. Rumor has it that they were made at the last second by producer Milton Subotsky's milkman.)
The overall atmosphere is of ghoulish fun, but the first segment is rather heartbreaking in its own, pulpy way. It is the story of the Shadmock, a pitiable hybrid monster that longs for companionship. He is quite harmless... eXXXcept when crossed. If you incur the wrath of the Shadmock, beware its horrible whistle, for those who hear it... well, it's just too awful to describe! When a couple of swindlers try to rob the Shadmock of his wealth, they learn the dreadful secret of his whistle. While all the segments are entertaining, we enjoy this one the most. It brings to mind the monster melodramas of early cinema that we love so dearly, especially "The Phantom of the Opera." James Laurenson's performance as the unfortunate being is powerfully sympathetic. The one criticism we have is that the Shadmock, a thing that's supposed to be physically grotesque, looks like Zacherley at a goth club. (Aw, who are we kidding? We love it!)
The vampire story is easily the most humorous and the one that is most akin to the wraparound segments. Milton Subotsky was one-half of the producers behind Amicus, the British studio known for their anthology pictures. Though "Monster Club" is not Amicus, it is the last film produced by Subotsky that is in that vein. (Pun very much intended.) With that knowledge and the numerous references to Subotsky, this segment comes across as a send-off of sorts: a traditional Amicus-style story but one that sides with "Lintom Busotsky" and his vampiric family. As for the tale of the ghouls, let's just say that it's surprisingly dark. Most of "The Monster Club" is scary with a smile; the ghoul story is just scary. To keep the shocks shocking, we won't say another word.
With monsters, scary stories, and rock 'n' roll, "The Monster Club" is Halloween perfection! There's just so much goofy charm packed into this one. And amongst the corn-on-the-macabre playfulness, there are some genuine chills. For creeps of every type, you can't go wrong with "The Monster Club!"
Join the club below, ho-rror ho-mies:
Ho-w does one even begin to introduce an oddity such as Ed Wood's "Plan 9 from Outer Space?" The film has been called "The Worst Movie Ever Made" by so many people that it now feels less like an opinion than it does a tit-le. You've seen it spoofed and slighted; maligned and mocked; ridiculed and even revered. Nearly everyone is aware of its reputation as a tit-anic turkey. Noted philosopher Jerry Seinfeld once observed, "This isn't plans 1 through 8 from outer space. This is Plan 9! This is the one that worked, the worst movie ever made!" Tim Burton depicted the making of "Plan 9" in "Ed Wood" (ironically considered to be Burton's best); Eternity Comics released a comic book follow-up in 1991. There was a video game, a remake, several stage shows, and... well, what hasn't this film inspired? Even "good" movies usually don't generate that sort of recognition. Do you ever hear "L'Avventura" mentioned outside of film circles?
And yet, despite the influence and cultural endurance of the film, "Plan 9" still holds that dubious "Worst Movie Ever Made" tit-le. Obviously, these sort of things are subjective by their very nature, but we want to make our stance emphatically clear before we continue: "Plan 9 from Outer Space" isn't even remotely deserving of that tit-le; if you've seen "Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow," you know that "Plan 9" isn't even the worst ho-rror movie of 1959. (With apologies to the makers of "Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow.") For various reasons, we watch a LOT of unconventional movies, many of which are of the Leonard Maltin "BOMB" variety. We've seen our fair share of boom mics and eXXXposed strings; we've heard plenty of dialogue that would make a deaf man groan. Many of these movies are just as inept as "Plan 9," if not more so. Ho-wever, the vast majority do not linger in the mind the way that "Plan 9" has. As far as we know, there is no musical based on "Curse of the Cannibal Confederates."
To say that "Plan 9" is an unusual film would be an understatement. Prior to production, so-called "worst director ever" Ed Wood had shot footage of Lugosi in front of wrestler/Wood stock player Tor Johnson's house. Depending on who's telling the story, the footage was intended for "Plan 9," a never-produced chiller called "The Vampire's Tomb" or "Ghouls on the Moon," or was just some video shot by Wood with no particular purpose. Regardless of what it was, Lugosi died before his final project could be completed. Ever pragmatic, Ed Wood incorporated all the Lugosi footage he had into "Plan 9." For the remainder of the production, the Lugosi character was portrayed by chiropractor Tom Mason. Mason was far from a perfect substitute: he bore no resemblance to Lugosi and was significantly taller than the late Dracula actor. Ho-wever, in an attempt to conceal the former attribute, Mason masked his face with a cape the entire time.
And that's just one story about the production! If this were any other film, that would be enough trivia to satisfy a potential watcher; at this point, it should be understood that "Plan 9" is not like any other film. We are discussing a film that was funded by a baptist church, and its cast/crew members allowed themselves to baptized to get that funding. You may also consider the fact that the UFOs used in the film were store-bought model kits because guys like Ray Harryhausen are eXXXpensive. These and other facts are sometimes used to illustrate why "Plan 9" is so awful; to us, they are a testament to the tenacity of Ed Wood. No matter what obstacle was hurled his way, the indefatigable Wood wouldn't stop until his film got made. A lack of money and conventional logic were just inconveniences meant to be worked around. In "Incredibly Strange Films," author Jim Morton wrote, "Edward D. Wood Jr. was a man born to film. Lesser men, if forced to make movies under the conditions Wood faced, would have thrown up their hands in defeat." Wood was an eccentric who wore women's clothing and drank heavily; he was a colorful figure who was driven by a genuine love of film. In movies like this and especially "Glen or Glenda," Wood displayed so much of his personality, something that has established him as something of a folk hero amongst misfits. If there truly is a "worst director ever," that person isn't motivated by pure passion the way Wood was; the "worst director ever" would not be the artist behind something as beloved as "Plan 9." And no matter ho-w you look at it, Ed Wood accomplished something most people only dream about: he made a movie.
We're not going to pretend that "Plan 9" is flawless or that it's intentionally silly. Wood had trouble distinguishing day from night, and, the tombstones here can't compete with the ones they sell at the 99¢-Only Store. The dialogue is corny, histrionic, nonsensical, or a magical combination of all three; the actors somehow make it worse. The airplane cockpit is clearly decorated with a shower curtain and... well, we could do this all night. I mean, It really doesn't take an Ebert to pick out the flaws here, but the great truth is that they don't really matter. Wood's boundless eXXXuberance not only propels the film, it shields and justifies it. From most accounts, Wood was a lovable, imperfect man who charmed people with his idiosyncrasies. If the auteur is the driving force behind a picture, then Wood is a true auteur: his amiable nature dominates "Plan 9."
Films are meant to entertain an audience. If a film like "Plan 9" continues to enthrall viewers after over fifty years, can we truly call it a "bad" movie? Yes, you could argue that folks watch it to mock it, but we think there's more to it than that. We see its iconography recreated without irony; we have known people who sincerely appreciate it on its own level. Within the risible dialogue and jerry-built sets, there's an almost dreamlike atmosphere that draws the viewer in as a David Lynch film would. Even the tombstones give the impression of a Caligari-like phantasm. The unreal ghouls, the eerie artifice, and melodrama that seems to be straight from a nightmare... only an Ed Wood could achieve all of that. It's an imitable form of surrealism that can't be taught at film school. "Plan 9" isn't "The Worst Movie Ever Made;" it's the best Ed Wood movie imaginable.
For your amusement and education, we present... "Plan 9 from Outer Space":
Wanna send The Last Drive In some Snail Mail? The addy for that is:
215 Thompson St. #113
New York, NY 10012
If you'd like to vote on what movies you'd like us to show on The Last Drive In, I've made 2 Ranker lists so Mr. JB can see what we REALLY want him to show neXXXt season! :)
Upcoming Appearances (Updated on the reg, so check back often! :)
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