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The Last Drive-In | Season Three-o, Week Seven-o: Mutantist Paper 2: Train to Busan and Spookies

Mutantis Paper 1 was lost back in 1982. The emergence of a double-feature so confounding — Train to Busan and Spookies — in quality has inspired Mutantist Paper 2.

(With apologies to John Jay, without whom the Spookies Rap would not exist.)

We had zombies. We had trains. We realized we have a Founding Father Mutant. We had Spookies. We had a rap closer. We had art by T.J. Denton. (@TDenton_1138 on Twitter)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mutantist Paper 1 was lost sometime in October 1982 when someone stole it out of Joe Bob's Toronado's glovebox at the Gemini Drive-In as he was getting things ready for the First Annual World Drive-In Festival and Custom Car Rally. We think it was that turkey Gus Simpson.

To the people who viewed the Seventh Episode of the Third Season of the Last Drive-In:

WHEN people watching Shudder reflect that they are now called upon to decide a question, which in its consequences, must prove one of the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very serious, view of it, will be evident.

Nothing is more certain than the necessity of the star rating and of the Drive-In Totals for drive-in flicks, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however these are instituted, the people must cede to these some of their natural opinions in order to vest them with requisite powers. It is well worthy of consideration whether it would conduce more to the interest of the Drive-In Mutant that they should, to all general purposes, be one Mutant Family, under one star rating.

Followers of the Drive-In Oath since 1982 have firmly recognized the validity of the four-star rating and the Drive-In Totals. The emails, tweets, and social media musings of our best and wisest Mutants have been constantly directed to reinforcing that scale with the occasional addition of half stars. But movies — Fried Barry, Mandy, Train to Busan and Spookies — now appear on the Last Drive-In during Season Three-o that may make the star ratings given by Joe Bob erroneous.

Now, instead of looking for safety and happiness in a unified star rating, the opinion has arisen that Mutants ought to seek a division into distinct confederacies or sovereignties of the star rating where quarter-stars are added or the best flicks are now given FIVE stars. (Train to Busan being worthy of four stars plus one if the official Drive-In rating scale incurs such revision.)

With totals, as thus (thank you Shudder on Twitter):

Whatever the arguments or inducements which have sundered the perspectives of these Mutants, it certainly would not be wise for Joe Bob and Darcy to adopt new tenets in the star ratings without being fully convinced that they are founded in truth, sound policy and implemented upon the conclusion of Season Three-o.

It has often given me pleasure to observe that the Mutant Family is not composed of detached and distant fans of one single genre of flick. A single wifi-connected, fertile, wide-spreading screen and a subscription to stream Shudder live (not through Amazon) allows us to watch whatever movie we wish, be it Italian hatchet murderers being decapitated by elevators, ravening creatures leaping out of wicker baskets and eating off people’s faces or zombies menacing a father, his daughter, a martial artist and his pregnant wife on a train in South Korea on Friday nights starting at 9 p.m. EST once we listen to an hour or so of crickets, wolf howls, wind noises and distant train horns mournfully echoing through the distance in Texas. Shudder has, in a particular manner, blessed we Mutants with a variety of productions, streaming with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of we Mutants, especially after upgrading the Dr. Pepper-soaked Commodore 64 that flaked out during the first Last Drive-In marathon when Joe Bob and Darcy broke the Internet in 2018 during Tourist Trap.

A succession of four-star flicks this season has formed a kind of chain around the season’s borders. Truly what has the audience done to deserve such quality flicks? What chasm shall we be ejected into when, as the saying goes, good things come to an end as they invariably must?

Spookies, the second feature, may be an indicator of those things to come.

Filmed in the then-crumbling Rye, N.Y., house of Peter Augustus Jay, son of statesman, author and first U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, John Jay, whose Second Federalist Paper this column largely appropriates, the WTF nature of Spookies took some viewers aback as a kid-in-peril was buried alive and two flicks were merged into one. Plot to get in the way of the story? No. Story? There are monsters. There are victims. And for the flick to follow the trend of Gremlins, Critters and Ghoulies, by producer mandate, the title had to be plural.

A strong sense of the value and blessings of the Drive-In induced Joe Bob, at a very early period, to institute a four-star rating to preserve and perpetuate the Drive-In spirit. He formed it almost as soon as he started having reviews published in the newspaper; nay, at a time when Mutants had to listen to The Grim Reaper through tinny speakers on the window of their 1978 Ford Grenada, when many drive-ins were closing, and when the progress of hostility and desolation left little room for those calm and mature inquiries and reflections which must ever precede the formation of a wise and well-balanced star rating for a free people.

It is not to be wondered at, that a star rating instituted in times so inauspicious, nigh two-score years ago, should on occasion be found deficient and inadequate to the purpose it was intended to answer. Train to Busan is a near-perfect movie, so does it transcend the four stars obtained by Maniac Cops 1 and 2?

Joe Bob perceived and regretted these defects. Still continuing, no less attached to stars than enamored of blood, breasts and beasts, he observed the danger which immediately threatened the former and more remotely the latter; and was persuaded that ample security for both could only be found in a movie review more wisely framed.

Let us admit that this star rating is only RECOMMENDED, not imposed, yet let it be remembered that it is neither recommended to BLIND approbation, nor to BLIND reprobation; but to that sedate and candid consideration which the magnitude and importance of the flick demand, and which it certainly ought to receive.

Train to Busan, therefore, is four stars.

I am persuaded in my own mind that the Mutants have always thought right on this subject, and that their universal and uniform attachment to the cause of the Drive-In never dying rests on great and weighty reasons.

Let us consider that Spookies featured glopola, a refugee from the Broadway show Cats, mashed in Evil Dead, had farting zombie mummies, had a spider woman kill a ventriloquist like the alien in Alien, had a guy who looked like Zacherley, continued the zombie jamboree from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and then ended on a final shot straight out of a Kool-Aid commercial and received a middling and “generous” two stars, making it an “average” flick with these totals, as relayed by Shudder’s Twitter.

Thus I likely would, in the interim, weigh all sundry factors as a reviewer my ownself, including the omission of George Romero as Santa Claus fighting zombies and bestow an extra half-star to Spookies because it kept John Jay’s house from being torn down and made possible the song and video that we now must celebrate.

Note: If a group of students attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice has not established a weekly ritual of watching Spookies together in their dorm room/apartment/auditorium after last week, they are not doing it right.

MUTANTUS. (not John Jay)

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