Halfway to Halloween Month continues on Consequence of Sound with an exclusive interview featuring the one and only Joe Bob Briggs. The second season of The Last Drive-In premieres this Friday on Shudder with special guest Chris Jericho.
Joe Bob Briggs is not happy in isolation and self-quarantine. He misses the culture, he misses the traveling, he misses the theaters. Fortunately for him, and for all of us really, he’ll shatter any social distancing this Friday when The Last Drive-In returns to Shudder.
Starting April 24th, and continuing each Friday thereafter, Joe Bob and D’arcy the Mail Girl will host another round of genre favorites and lost gems, all of which will come fully stocked with trivia, tangents, and titillating discussions.
Today, Joe Bob joins Consequence of Sound Radio’s Relevant Content to speak with host and Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman about what we can expect when the lights dim, the screen ignites, and the classics roll. He also shares his thoughts on a variety of topics, from pandemic movies, to the Friday the 13th franchise, to outrage culture at large.
Join ’em today Wednesday, April 22nd, at 3:00 p.m. ET/ 12:00 p.m. PT. If you can’t make it, there will be future rebroadcasts at the same times on Friday, April 24th and Sunday, April 26th. Consult this week’s full schedule of programming.
Below, you can read an abbreviated version of their discussion.
On staying entertained in quarantine
Not happily. [Laughs.] It’s just writing, writing, writing, writing, and more writing. I’m out on the street all the time. I’m not a stay-at-home at all. Plus, I was traveling. I was doing live shows all over the country when this hit. The last two years I’ve been performing, I don’t know, four or five times a month in various theaters around the country. And because all those theaters are closed for the foreseeable future, all that stuff was cancelled. So, I just went back to being pretty much a full-time writer.
The second season of The Last Drive-In starts this Friday, and I actually started planning the third season. I started thinking, Oh, now there’s something we’ve never done. You know, when you have a lot of time on your hands, you start thinking of things to do, and so that’s where my mind went. But I gotta get through the second season first.
On our response to the pandemic
I don’t want to downplay the Coronavirus. It’s a vicious, horrible disease, but it probably doesn’t infect you in one second. [Laughs.] And because we’ve watched so many of those movies, we think it does, and we’re so conditioned to think that anything viral like this is … it’s one touch of a doorframe that hasn’t been wiped down with Lysol and a week later you’re dead. That’s what happens in zombie films and in viral films. So, I think a little bit of the way we’re reacting is we’re conditioned by the movies. And, of course, that goes back to the beginning of movies really. It used to be that if somebody coughed in a movie, they have to die by the third act. Or if you got bit by a mosquito in New Orleans, you would die by the third act of the yellow fever — and that goes back to the silent era of film.
On seeing any parallels to Stephen King’s The Stand
Not really. I can’t imagine people reading about a pandemic in a pandemic. Yeah, that just makes no sense to me. I mean, in the Depression, we watched Busby Berkeley musicals. You know? We watch mindless stuff when serious things are happening. You watch or read The Stand in times of abundance and happiness. So, that’s actually bizarre to me that people would be would be bingeing The Stand. That’s a depressive personality.
Probably the same people who got Contagion trending again.
Well, a lot of people checked out Contagion and then they realize it’s still a bad movie. You really have to care more about Gwyneth Paltrow than we’re likely to care about her.
On the amount of work that goes into each episode
It takes a whole lot of research and prep in this world of too-much-information-about-everything. I generally do a lot of research. I don’t use most of it, but I want to know it. And the things that I end up talking about are the things that I think are important. There’s a lot of minutiae and trivia about all films, but especially horror films, that I just don’t think is worth talking about. So, I end up not using a lot of the things that I learn from Internet fanatics who are crazy about a film, but I do get a sense of what the fanbase thinks. And a lot of times what they think is wrong or twisted or bizarre. You know, weird legends arise surrounding some of these films, and so a part of what I do is try to debunk these things and bring things back to reality.
That’s the problem with research on the web. It’s a false information feedback loop. It’s just endless. Once a plausible sounding factoid gets into the mix, it’ll be repeated 1,000 times. All it has to be is sort of interesting and remotely plausible. It gets repeated and repeated and repeated until it becomes a part of the legend of the movie, and in some cases that can be damaging.
One of the most damaging things to Tobe Hooper’s career was the idea that Steven Spielberg had ghost-directed Poltergeist. It wasn’t true, but you can still read it. Somebody probably wrote an article about it last week. It’s one of those things that will continue to have a life on the web forever apparently, and it actually cost Tobe Hooper work. It had real-world effects on his life. So, you know, some of these things that are propagated on the Internet are not without harm. People are just reckless.
On outrage culture
Do I worry about people getting offended? People have been offended by things I’ve written since the early ’80s. So, I can’t ever predict exactly when that will happen or what form it will take, but it doesn’t really bother me that much. There was a huge thing on Twitter around Thanksgiving involving a one-liner that I put on Twitter about Black Christmas that just developed into this storm of vitriol assuming that if I said that, then I must believe this, that, and the other. There were a lot of people saying … at the time, I was writing a regular column for this publication called Taki Mag, and they were saying, “Look who else writes for Taki Mag. He must believe this,” and it was the old, “If you write for them, you must believe the same as the guy in the adjacent column.”
And I was just like, “I’ve probably written for 200 different publications, and I doubt if I’ve agreed with 95% of the people that worked for all of them. Just count up the number of Rupert Murdoch publications. I would tremble to know who I appeared next to in those. But anyway, this was an intriguing argument that I’d never seen before, and they took it up and there was a subreddit thread about it and and everything. “You know, Joe, Bob must be an asshole because he appears alongside these other assholes at this publication.” And I was just like, “Well, I met this guy several years back, and he wanted me to write a column.” [Laughs.] So, where these controversies come from? I don’t know. I don’t know how they start, where they start, why they start. With that particular one, I just responded because it was so interesting. But my practice normally is just to ignore them.
I think everybody constantly walks on thin ice. It’s like there’s a “Gotcha!” sort of thing about anything you put out there. Like “if you believe you said that, then you must believe this.” I think I’ve been fairly fortunate because I’m on video and people feel the vibe of the satire — and it’s usually satire that gets attacked. They feel the vibe of it, and they feel that the vibe is not vicious or mean-spirited. So, I get away with things that maybe other people wouldn’t get away with simply because it’s the way I say it, you know? I say them in a way that’s not threatening.
On what’s changed in horror
A lot more women. When I was at TNT and The Movie Channel, I had like a 90% male audience. There weren’t many women watching exploitation films. Today, I don’t know that it’s 50/50, but it might be 65/35 or something like that. I mean, I can tell when I go to the conventions, it’s still primarily a male audience. I talk to a lot more males than females, so maybe it’s 70/30 or something like that. But still, that would be the main demographic change, I think, in our audience over the last 20 years.
On booking Chris Jericho as a guest
Chris Jericho is a horror fan. I was on his podcast, and he told me that, from the time he was in high school, he was fascinated with the film Blood Sucking Freaks. He had what was called a Cheap Ass Movie Club among him and his high school friends where they would try to find the worst B-movie they could find and they would bring it in each week and watch it. The all-time champion was Blood Sucking Freaks, and he’s been fascinated with the movie his whole life, so I was like, “Come on and co-host Blood Sucking Freaks, and so he agreed to do that. The time worked out well, too. He’s probably one of the most famous wrestlers in the world right now. He’s the guy who energized the AEW wrestling circuit that challenged the big boys. So, normally we don’t reveal the title of the movie or the guests, but he’s special. But that’s the second feature. The first movie is an all-time, feel-good classic, and we have the star of that movie.
On what to expect in Season 2
The main difference between this season and last season is that we have more ’70s movies. Normally, we’re heavy on ’80s, but the ’70s were weird. You could make any kind of movie in the 70s — and that’s what makes it so much fun. The studio system had just collapsed, so Hollywood didn’t know what they were making, you know? And then the hippie thing was over. It had entered a hangover phase. In the ’60s, drugs are great, but in the ’70s, drugs are “Boy, drugs.”So, you have a mix of all those things. You have the druggie people and the Hollywood stars who couldn’t get work anymore, and so they’re making indie films. “Well, that hippie thing really didn’t work, so we’re moving on to something darker.” So, you have all these things of a society in transition, and it results in, “Well, let’s make this kind of movie. Nobody’s ever done it before,” and that’s how you get The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and some of these other classics that we watch.
On his favorite decade of movies
That’s a good question. I don’t know. I have favorites in all the genres. I love the movies from the ’40s, and then I liked the 70s a lot for obvious reasons. You know, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. But I guess it would be the ’70s. Yeah.
On his favorite Friday the 13th
My favorite is almost always the original. The most imaginative sequel, I think, is Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Some people call it Friday the 13th Part 4. But, unfortunately, the promise of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was never realized. The little boy was supposed to replace Jason as the killer, and they didn’t follow up with that in Friday the 13th: The New Beginning. That was a place where the franchise could have gone in a really interesting direction because of the good writing and in part four. You know, it’s really hard to write one of those because you have so many characters, and you have to make people care about the characters in basically one or one-and-a-half scenes. That way when they die, you’ll care that they’re dead – and they accomplish that in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.
On the best movie nobody’s seen
There are no longer any movies that nobody has ever seen. The idea of the movie that’s been sitting on the shelf for 40 years and gets plucked off the shelf … the closest thing we’ve had to that recently is Dial Code Santa Claus. it’s a French Christmas horror movie from the early ’90s that was not seen anywhere for 20 years, and then suddenly appeared at [Fantastic Fest]. You occasionally have movies that failed the first time out and then they come back for the most part on Arrow Video and Vinegar Syndrome and companies like that. They’ve been through all the catalogues, they’ve found everything. If they haven’t released it yet, they’re about to release it — and God bless them for that. They’re saving our heritage. And the ones that are just too obscure for anybody’s taste the American Genre Film Archive in Austin is saving those. You know, those that just have one 35 millimeter print remaining. They’re gonna go get that print and preserve it. This is awesome.