I think we can all agree that the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of the Mutant Family is “sophisticated,” followed soon by “urbane” and then “posh.” This explains why this year’s Last Drive-In holiday special, “Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas,” began with a camera panning over books in a library, the music from Masterpiece Theater playing, and Joe Bob in a smoking jacket in an overstuffed chair.
Joe Bob explained, “It’s like a PBS thing.” He then offered Darcy the Mail Girl a brandy.
Darcy didn’t seem impressed, though JB held in his hands a leather-bound copy of a volume entitled The Brain. Darcy asked if The Brain was the film of the night.
Admitting it was, Joe Bob began a prolonged rant on the history of brain films. He talked about the genre’s origin in the novel Donovan’s Brain, written by Curt Siodmak (the director of The Wolfman). There have been three adaptations of that novel, and did you know that if you’re a Patron Saint of the Last Drive-In Patreon, you can catch the 1997 MonsterVision episode when he hosted the 1953 adaptation.
Joe Bob asked how many brain films have been made (The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, The Saved Hitler’s Brain, The Thing That Couldn’t Die – you know, the classics), and Darcy responded over a hundred. Joe Bob seemed shocked that Darcy knew until she reminded him she had attended quite a number of screenings of The Brain all across the country, including a screening at the Music Box Theater where there were actual neurosurgeons from the University of Chicago who called JB out on his BS.
Somehow Joe Bob tagented off into Florida legislation and Disney lawyers. All of this irritated Darcy sufficiently that he could ask, “If I dump the PBS crap, would you mind if I give the Christmas message?”
Darcy agreed. and JB said he would try to avoid excluding Jews, Muslims and atheists. Instead of going to the Nativity story from the Gospel of Matthew or Luke, he went to the Shakespearean comedy, As You Like It.
He talked about the character of Jacques, an exile of the community in the play, a cynic who mocked and scoffed at all the other characters. And yet, JB summed up, despite Jacques’ excommunication of himself from the community, he would have ultimately been welcomed back, even if not until after death, by this guy, Jesus. So Joe Bob ended up going back to that birth in the stable.
He really had to, in order to introduce the charities for this year’s fundraising: the Wildlife Conservation Network (which supports animal conservationists in the field), Every Mother Counts (prenatal care for mothers and their babies), Paralyzed Veterans of America (care for those who sacrificed so much), and Solving Kids’ Cancer (research to end disease).
And who would bring out the items to auction to raise money for these products? No less a figure than Santa Claus himself. For some reason, JB kept confusing Santa with music man John Brennan every time Santa brought out movie memorabilia from Joe Bob’s private stash. (With Joe Bob’s permission? Without Joe Bob’s permission? Who cares? It’s for good causes.)
Eventually, Joe Bob did give the drive-in totals for the first Christmas film of the night, The Brain. (If you think the debates about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas film get heated, well, that’s child’s play compared to the debate of whether The Brain is a Christmas film. Evidence for its Christmas provenance? “Jingle Bells” plays on a radio, a diner has garlands, and a TV set has a Christmas tree. What more do you want?)
Anyway, those Drive-In totals for The Brain?
The second film of the night fit a little more obviously into the Christmas theme. The Gingerdead Man. Sure, nay-sayers might say this film lacks a few things, like production values, a decent script, and enough material to fill an expected runtime without relying on prolonged opening and closing credits (though it still clocks in at a scrimpy 70 minutes)… Such petty details don’t keep the Mutant Family from appreciating a film.
Especially when there’s a fun special guest. In this case, the star of the film, Robin Sydney (also the wife of the film’s writer and director, Charles Band) showed up. If you are unfamiliar with Sydney’s film oeuvre, she’s been featured in other Charles Band film series, such as the Barbie and Kendra films and the Evil Bong films. (And those who know the work of Diana Prince know that the two have indeed been featured in films together.)
Sydney had dirt to share about co-star Gary Busey. (Joe Bob had his own story about Busey owing him money, and if you are ever at any signing event, I’m sure JB will share that story with you.) She also admitted she was rather afraid of the Gingerdead Man during the filming and that she didn’t realize the film was meant to be comedic. The actress brought much seasonal good cheer to the episode.
And as for those drive-in totals for The Gingerdead Man?
Dean Anderson, shown here with his lovely wife Mindy at Joe Bob’s 2023 Jamboree at the West Wind Drive-In in Las Vegas, joined as a contributor to Joe Bob’s website after admirably serving as a camper liaison and a minister of hospitality to the guests and the Mutant Family during the event. Check out the long adventure he and Mindy took across the country that was chronicled on their blog www.deanandmindy.com. Email Dean at email@example.com