THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS
Another week, another double feature with Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl, and all is right with the world.
This week’s double feature may be the most disparate one yet. Last week’s Deathgasm/The Changeling combo was at least complementary. This time, we get a low-rent Friday the 13th ripoff and a wild Japanese exploitation werewolf movie based on a manga. I don’t see the connection, but I don’t really care.
So let’s get right to it and discuss the films themselves.
Some films seem like they were made to be watched along with Joe Bob. Last year’s Blood Rage during the Dinners of Death marathon is a great example. So is Madman. It’s interesting enough to not drag too much and dumb enough to allow for plenty of good riffs.
The story is very simple: it’s a bunch of camp counselors who get offed in various ways by a deformed killer who lives in the woods. Yes, of course, it’s a Friday the 13th ripoff. Joe Bob gives us lots of interesting details about the creation of the film. He talks about how it was a take on the Cropsey legend — then hastily re-written when the filmmakers found out The Burning was filming upstate using the same legend — and how the cast and crew bunked on the set for the entire shoot. He even talked about how gross the hot tub got throughout filming, which he probably could have skipped.
Madman can be a real slog at times, especially watching it in the present day, with decades of slashers made since. Some scenes feel like ridiculous padding — like the dumb hot tub twirling — or so silly they border on parody — like the several scenes of characters leaving the relative safety of the cabin to wander into the woods. The geography of the camp and the woods is vague and almost incomprehensible, no doubt due to the extremely limited budget, and the acting is … not the best.
On the plus side, there are some fun kills. T.P. getting hanged from a tree and Stacy getting decapitated by the hood of the truck are particular standouts. Unfortunately, even those are just minor bright spots in an otherwise dire affair.
Even with Joe Bob’s commentary and his constant shitting on Staten Island, it’s a tough film to get through. It’s definitely worth watching at least once, and watching it on The Last Drive-In makes it go down a lot easier.
Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope (1975)
Finding out about a movie like this is one of the real joys of The Last Drive-In. I’d never even heard of it before, but apparently a Sonny Chiba “wolfman” movie with lots of action and lots of sex that makes the barest amount of sense was exactly what I was missing in my life.
Sonny Chiba is the titular Wolf Guy, a reporter (maybe?) who is on the trail of a phantom tiger that kills a man in front of him. His investigation deals with a vengeful woman, a literal band of rapists, organized crime, political intrigue, weaponized STDs, a biker girl, and so much more. There are also flashbacks to Wolf Guy’s village being destroyed when he was a child, leaving him as the only Wolfperson. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see Chiba actually transform into a wolf, but he has some wolf senses and powers. He’s also just cool-as-hell because he’s Sonny Chiba.
Eventually, Wolf Guy gets captured by the Japanese CIA (is that a thing?), and we get a cool, psychedelic torture scene where they … pull Wolf Guy’s guts out, I guess? But Sonny Chiba is so dope, he just stuffs those bad boys back in, breaks out, defeats a wolf person experiment the Japanese CIA made with his blood, and fucks off out of town.
There’s still an entire final act after all that.
Wolf Guy is bonkers in all the best ways. It only makes sense in fits and starts, but it’s engaging throughout. I didn’t know what was going on half the time, but I loved seeing Sonny Chiba just be cool and investigate an invisible psychic tiger.
If you can put up with this kind of ‘70s filmmaking, then I’d say it’s a must-watch, and Joe Bob’s interludes are, as always, informative and fun. He goes deep on the Japanese studio system of the time and on Sonny Chiba’s career.
Like I said, I’d never heard of Wolf Guy before this week’s episode, but now I’m damn sure gonna recommend it to every weirdo I know.
Week 1 – C.H.U.D. and Castle Freak
Week 2 – Q The Winged Serpent and Society
Week 3 – Deathgasm and The Changeling