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Last Call Blog | The Last Drive-In | Season Two-o, Week 4 — One Cut of the Dead

One Cut of the Dead provides a shot of inspiration just when it was needed as the second feature of Week Four-o of The Last Drive-In Season Two.

If you needed inspiration about anything, this episode was the place to get it

Last Call Blog | The Last Drive-In | Season Two-o, Week 4 — One Cut of the Dead 3
Cue that one song by Joe Cocker — the fictional cast and crew (and the real ones for that matter) in One Cut of the Dead got by with a little help from their friends. (Art by T.J. Denton @TDenton_1138)

After the subtle and nuanced Troma’s War rolled out as the first feature in Week Four-o (check out Laura’s post for the lowdown on Uncle Lloyd’s guest appearance and Troma Studio’s commentary on how there are no really winners in War, only survivors), the choice for the second feature was One Cut of the Dead.Two and a half hours into the week’s episode of The Last Drive-In probably isn’t the best time to be busting out a subtitled Japanese flick with at least three layers of meta in it. Let’s face it, any herbal or liquid tonics that had been consumed tend to have a cumulative effect on viewership. Reading comprehension could be impaired, and a deep fake-out might have folks tapping out early. (As an aside — holy crap, did you see that trailer for Blood Machines?)

Of course, that’s why the LDI episodes are available the day after, right? Stuff unfortunately ends up getting missed while you’re social media-ing during the flicks and on your 10th Lone Star. Throw subtitles into the mix and there’s a reason why folks run the risk of getting confused as all get out. But, before I get to the greatness inherent in One Cut of the Dead itself, there was nothing confusing about the message Joe Bob had for filmmakers and, by extension, all creative folks in the audience after the movie. Here it is straight from his mouth:

He says it best in the embedded video, but here’s the Cliff’s Notes version if you want to print it out poster-sized and put it on your wall:

  1. Fuck the adjective “aspiring.” Plan your life to meet that goal that you want to achieve, devote time daily and then work toward it.
  2. You do not need film school. There are ways to educate yourself online.
  3. You do not need to be in Hollywood to tell your story.
  4. Do not let money be a hindrance. You can learn to write a script. You can get a cheap camera. You can use free software. You can get local actors.
  5. Be prepared to fail over and over and over. The people who successfully achieve their goals fail until they don’t.

And, one last note to filmmakers: Joe Bob wants to see your work. Darcy wants to see your work, and, oh, hey, yeah, as the resident movie reviewer for JBB’s website, I wanna see your work too. (And yes, a new review is on the way this week – going to fire one up just as soon as I’ve written this).

And, speaking of seeing something for the first time, I had vaguely heard of One Cut of the Dead, but hadn’t caught it yet.

Made by Japanese director Shinichiro Ueda and a crew of theater actors, it cost an estimated $25,000, made something like $30 million and features a great fakeout 37 minutes in that caused the other two people watching the flick with me this week think that it was over when it was just the end of the first act.

Last Call Blog | The Last Drive-In | Season Two-o, Week 4 — One Cut of the Dead 4

• Six dead bodies
• 15 undead bodies
• Blood on the lens
• Excellent One-Armed Zombie Attack
• Neck Chomping
• Multiple Head-Hacking
• Axe to the Head
• Death Plunge
• Kung-Fu Zombie
• Vomit Clause in an Acting Contract
• Haunted Water Filtration Building
• Head Rolls
• Arm Rolls
• Kung Fu
• Eye Drop Fu
• Clean Freak Fu
• Camera Operator Fu
• Human Pyramid Fu
• Clean Freak Fu
• Splatter Fu
• Upchuck Fu
• Pentagram Fu

And if Joe Bob’s inspiring talk geared toward creative folks referred to above wasn’t enough for this episode, what of the overall message that can be gleaned from this four-star flick itself (even if you have to read a bit) — which JBB described as “a love letter” to independent filmmakers, artists and creative misfits of all types?

Keep rolling. When all seems lost or ultimate success seems impossible, when hopes are dashed — which often happens because of life circumstances — and whatever obstacles are encountered look to be insurmountable, a simple boost from another person can be the thing that gets you through that trying time.

Making a movie, playing a song in a band, putting on a play, creating a TV show, engaging with people different than yourself in a community, either in real life or virtually, and simply existing on this old pale blue dot is an act of collaboration. It can involve projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea. It can be gooey, disgusting, disheartening, messy and maddening in the span of a minute and a half. It can knock you out. Not everybody is going to like everything that happens in the act of coexistence. They’re not going to become best friends with everyone else involved, read the emails or hit the cues perfectly every time. The unexpected will happen, and it’ll look like things are on the brink of disaster.

But after riding the bumps and travails out, there will be something on the other side of all of that. Just possibly, that something could possibly be better than what was imagined when starting out.

It’s a message applicable not just to those creative or artistic endeavors we all want to see ourselves accomplish. During a point in time where people are in opposition over any number of things — politically, socially, economically and pandemically — that support and uplift can go a long way to making things in general better.

And, this just in: An all-remote “sequel” — One Cut of the Dead: Mission Remote — made by Ueda and the same group of actors in just over a month from concept to end result was released very recently. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, this filmmaker and his collaborators are still coming up with a way to create. If you take the movie and Joe Bob’s message to heart, you’ll be able to, too.

Just more proof that the drive-in spirit’ll never die.

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