LAST CALL | Retro Review: Joe Bob Checks Out ‘Nightbreed’

A Joe Bob Original: How to Make a Slasher Film

We’re going to be throwin it back 30 years with some vintage JBB columns here on the blog as we work our way through the weeks to the new season of the Last Drive-In — the Shudder Twitter High Sheriffs did say ‘soon,’ right?

Please note: This column was originally syndicated on Feb. 23, 1990. Some things have changed since then.

You know something that burns my bacon?

These same Tipper Gore lovers that are trying to get drive-in movies banned from the video stores are going after music now, and they’re actually getting these laws passed in Missouri and some other places that say you have to put giant yellow stickers on CDs and cassettes that say stuff like “This song has bestiality in it.” And then you have to be 18 to buy the cassette, unless, of course, your Mama is TRAINING you in bestiality. They make an exception for people living in the Ozarks.

Anyhow, they’re saying that there shouldn’t be any songs written in the following categories: adultery, alcohol, drugs, suicide, satanism, incest, bestiality, sadomasochism, sexual activity in a violent context, murder, and morbid violence.

So I got a question for you people: what’s left to sing about?

Lots of people are gonna be real ticked off about this.

For example, here’s a few of the songs that’ll be labeled and banned for sale to minors:

“My Darling Clementine” — can’t sell that song, it’s about suicide.

“Ode to Billie Joe,” same thing.

Elvis doing “Kissin’ Cousins”–sorry, incest song, put it on the banned list.

Adultery–how many THOUSANDS of songs will that be? “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Almost ALL the Hank Williams songs, including “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” How bout “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille”? That’s a PATRIOTIC song. Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.” Are you telling me we’re gonna start banning Simon and Garfunkel?

Come to think of it, I guess we COULD ban Simon and Garfunkel, that’s not so terrible.

And then how many MILLIONS of songs are about alcohol? The “Beer Barrel Polka” — you won’t be able to sell that one! What will Polish people do? “Wastin Away in Margaritaville.” “Days of Wine and Roses” — that whole dang movie’s about alcohol. “Tequila.”

And how about the Drugs category? If you’re under 18, just forget about buying “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway, or Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine.” In fact, forget about just about every song in “The Blues Brothers.”

But I’ll tell you what really burns me up, is this Satanism category. I think kids oughta be able to buy Charlie Daniels doing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” if they want to, and I’m sorry, but if they ban Frank Sinatra doing “That Old Black Magic,” we might just have a little revolution on our hands.

Listen to me, on this labeling songs according to content, you people are SICK.

Does Frank know about this?

What about the complete works of Black Sabbath?

Sorry I’m babbling about this, but these people are SERIOUS.

Ray Charles is in big trouble: “Let’s Go Get Stoned.”

“Goodnight Irene” is about suicide.

Any song by Steppenwolf!

Are you guys getting the idea here? Make some noise. Send some postcards. Play “Sympathy for the Devil” at 340 decibels.

Let’s kick some hiney before these loonies win another one.

I don’t wanna have to tell you again.

Speaking of stuff that will annoy your mother, Nightbreed just came out, latest movie from Clive Barker, the King of Gooey Crud on the screen, creator of Hellraiser, all-round kinky-sex-and-violence kinda guy. Clive’s idea of a great time is to have a nightmare about a woman with three heads and no skin who flays your body with a pitchfork. To give you some idea, Nightbreed has over 200 pus monsters, including one guy with a crescent moonhead like the McDonald’s commercial (Editor’s note: Search “Mac Tonight” on YouTube) and a fat guy with snakes that pop out of his stomach and eat your face off, and these are the GOOD GUYS. These are the people we’re supposed to LIKE.

All these slime-glopola monsters live in a place called Midian, which is underneath a cemetery in northern Canada, which is where a weirdbeard psychiatrist spongehead is slashing housewives and wasting innocent suburbanites. To make it even scarier, the maniac mass murderer is David Cronenberg! The guy who directed The Fly, The Brood, Rabid! The kinkiest man in Canada! The guy who makes movies about viruses that are so weird they make disgusting bloody power drills come up out of Marilyn Chambers’ armpits and burrow into your heart until you’re a flesh-eating zombie! So we’ve got the kinkiest man in Canada AND the kinkiest man in England, and they’re spewing slime TOGETHER!

There’s a whole lot of plot getting in the way of the story, though, and so what happens is the weirdbeard psychiatrist tries to pin his 37 mass murders on this innocent kid who’s his patient but has these dreams all the time about a land full of special-effects makeup where Intestine-Head Norwegians live in cages. Pretty soon the psychiatrist sets him up, the local Nazi cops blow the kid away, and the kid ends up in Midian, the place where the monsters live, and where the kid is becoming a monster himself. It’s sort of an “Alice in Wonderland” deal, but instead of the Mad Hatter, these people are like the Mad Shish-ka-bobbers. The kid’s girlfriend decides to go to Midian herself, mainly cause she’s willing to continue the relationship even though he’s dead (it’s a nineties thing). But what she doesn’t know is she tips off David Cronenberg to where the monsters live, and so here comes the Canadian National Guard with about 700 troops, flamethrowers, explosives, and 74,000 rounds of ammo. Will the cute little mucus mummies survive? Nine thousand special effects closeups later, we finally get the answer. Unfortunately, I was so exhausted by then, I don’t remember what the answer is.

Six breasts. Sixty-six dead bodies. One motor vehicle chase, with pickup plunging into the center of the earth. Killer porcupine breasts. Exploding monsters. Throat slashing. Bimbo staking. Head hacking. Closeup of a guy cutting off his own face. Whimpering mutant E.T. dog that turns into a little girl when it’s taken out of the sunlight. Heads roll. Mutant Fu. Flamethrower Fu. Earthquake Fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Charles Haid, as the Nazi police captain, for saying “You are a freak and a cannibal and you’ve come to the wrong town”; Craig Sheffer, as Boone the savior of the monsters, for surviving an attack of meat-eating intestine-heads, and for getting a sword through his chest but CONTINUING TO FIGHT; David Cronenberg, as the evil psychiatrist Decker, for saying “Miss Winston, EVERYBODY has a secret face”; Doug Bradley, as Lylesberg the chief priest of the monsters, for saying “The life you lived will be a dream –the tribes of the moon embrace you”; Oliver Parker, as Peloquin the snakehead meat-eater, for saying “Everything’s true — God’s an astronaut, Oz is over the rainbow, and Midian is where the monsters live.”

Three stars. Joe Bob says check it out. 

 JOE BOB’S ADVICE TO THE HOPELESS

Communist Alert! The Minnehaha Drive-In in Minneapolis was ripped down two years ago by the 3M Corporation, SUPPOSEDLY for some socially beneficial reason, and they’ve never even TOUCHED the land. Michael Reiter suggests a boycott of Scotch tape and reminds us that, without eternal vigilance, it can happen here.

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Joe Bob Briggs

Joe Bob Briggs is the drive-in movie critic of Grapevine, Texas, currently resident in New York City, where his pop culture commentary appears in print, on television and at various dive bars that defy the modern world by allowing the smoking of cigars.

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