THE ESSENTIAL JOE BOB BRIGGS ON SHUDDER
If you’re like me, at some point when you were growing up, you stumbled upon Joe Bob Briggs while flipping through cable channels one night. Like Elvira or Svengoolie, Joe Bob was a horror host. He was a personality who introduced and interrupted the films being shown on a basic cable network with insight and a seemingly-endless well of knowledge.
I used to watch Joe Bob’s MonsterVision (1991) program on TNT for its last couple of years. Traditionally, they’d show two movies every Friday night, with Joe Bob dropping host segments and the kind of insider info you’d only get if you subscribe to those weirdo, niche publications. Since there was no good way to explain to my parents why I wanted a magazine coming to my house every month with a Cenobite on the cover, Joe Bob was one of my biggest gateways into horror and horror history.
That’s why I was overjoyed when I found out that Joe Bob was hosting The Last Drive-In (2018) on Shudder. It was a 24-hour marathon of all-time classics hosted by Briggs himself, and its success crashed the Shudder servers. Thanks to the response, we’ve had a Dinners of Death (2018) Thanksgiving marathon and A Very Joe Bob Christmas (2018), which was a marathon of most of the Phantasm films.
Thanks to the show’s success, there will be a weekly Joe Bob show on Shudder starting in March. It’s enough to make me feel like a kid again.
In honour of the upcoming series, this is a list of the Shudder episodes from Joe Bob’s three specials that are essential.
Grab a drink, watch, enjoy:
This is a gem of a film and extremely hard to find otherwise. Blood Rage has a basic concept (evil twins) with a Thanksgiving twist. While it can feel cheap when it comes to some of the actors, the character work, or the shooting, the effects are next level. It gets downright sticky. Joe Bob gives us the usual historical rundown of the film with some interesting tidbits about the actors–particularly Louise Lasser. The main reason it’s included is because it’s so difficult to find anywhere else.
Phantasm III isn’t my favourite entry in the series — although it’s just as bonkers as the rest of them — but it’s one of the more fun entries in A Very Joe Bob Christmas. The highlight is Joe Bob recapping what’s happened so far in these films, with a particular amount of vitriol for the destruction of a cool-ass muscle car. There’s also an interview with Reggie Bannister, which is like icing on the cake.
The Hills Have Eyes
There are three main reasons to watch The Hills Have Eyes: 1) it’s a good movie, 2) Joe Bob drops some interesting Wes Craven knowledge, and 3) Michael Berryman gets interviewed. Berryman is a lovely guy who seems grateful for his opportunities and full of knowledge that comes from a career of B-movies and character acting. There’s also a nice moment where Darcy the Mail Girl — a regular defender of horror remakes — and Joe Bob both agree that the remake brings a little something to the table that the original is lacking.
Rabid is worth watching to see how far David Cronenberg has grown as a filmmaker, how amazing he was to begin with, and to see a film that partially takes place in a town I currently live in. The movie itself is impressive enough with the way Cronenberg creates a widespread contagion on a limited budget while already showing off his body horror bona fides. The best host segment is a long, meandering, and absolutely riveting history of sleazy Montreal skin movies and how they connect to the director and actors. My favourite thing about Joe Bob is his depth and breadth of knowledge and the way he’s able to convey that history like an uncle chilling with rye after a holiday dinner.
My first time seeing Demons was during the Shudder marathon, and I was glad to catch this gem. It’s the definition of bonkers, with barely anything resembling a plot besides “people see a movie.” The gore is next level, which is to be expected from an Italian horror from the era. It’s from Lamberto Bava, whose father is the infamous Mario Bava, and it’s produced by Dario Argento. In a host segment, Joe Bob goes into the convoluted background of Italian horror, knockoffs, and sequels, which is worth the watch alone.
Sleepaway Camp is a classic of the genre and should be watched regardless of Joe Bob’s commentary. But that’s definitely the icing on the cake. This movie spent way too long being a victim of its own stellar finale, and it’s good to see it get the reappraisal it deserves.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
The Godfather of Grindhouse Cinema is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Insha: Hello all! *waves* I’m popping in for the last moments. Sadly, Shudder wasn’t able to supply Canada with this perfection of a film. So, I get to tell you about it. Texas Chain Saw Massacre is indeed the Godfather of Grindhouse Cinema. Mostly bloodless but still pretty damn brutal, Texas Chain Saw Massacre is Tobe Hooper’s third and most notable film. More importantly, it’s Joe Bob’s favorite film of all time.
The entire plate for Dinners of Death rules. However, with Texas Chain Saw Massacre being served first, it’s almost like you’re getting your plate filled before dessert. Not only do you get this gem of a movie to watch, but Joe Bob dishes out some brilliant expertise throughout. He dives into some film history, facts about the late, great Hooper, the production, and more. Honestly, the passion that Joe Bob has for this film is probably the best thing about watching the movie, but Texas Chain Saw itself is just a movie that you can watch over and over again and find something new to love every fucking time.