The Predictably Unpredictable Stylings of The Last Drive-In (S4E2)

Joe Bob Briggs has always had one foot steeped in the past. I mentioned this about the Season Four premiere. He has that rare ability to rehash what worked in the past while reinventing himself for future audiences. Dating back to his time on The Movie Channel to his stint on TNT’s MonsterVision, the formula of Joe Bob’s shows hasn’t altered that much over the years. Even as we are now four seasons into The Last Drive-In, Joe Bob still delivers his wisecracking quips and film factoids from the comforts of his trailer. And I saw that with love and affection. Building on that reputation he has amassed over the years, when a new episode of The Last Drive-In drops, you more or less know the type of night you’re going to have.The Last Drive-In custom artwork with Joe Bob holding a TV remote

Now, you have the basic understanding and format, but each episode, from the opening titles to the end credits, is fresh and unique, tailored for that evening only. There are times when Joe Bob may select two films with only a vague these linking them together. Other episodes have a much stronger tie that binds them, as when he showed Maniac Cop 1 and 2. It comes down to the fact there is a method to the madness when Joe Bob Briggs is involved.

And that madness was on full display with the latest episode of The Last Drive-In. The second episode of Season Four felt like an old-school time with everyone’s favorite horror host. There were no extraneous guests or asides with plot detailing The Last Drive-In crew, just Joe Bob with a single topic to rattle on for five hours. Don’t get me wrong, having guests pop up here and there spices things up on occasion, but the main draw for The Last Drive-In is Joe Bob Briggs.

If Joe Bob has one topic that he has decided to dedicate over a fifth of the day on, it’s worth talking about, right? I guess that depends on whether you find Walpurgisnacht a worthy conversation starter.

When Joe Bob kicked off the show, there was no “How do you do” or “Let’s talk about this for the first break” type of talk. Episode Two was all Walpurgisnacht all the time. Having Joe Bob drop Walpurgisnacht into the ethos as a conversation starter set the tone. The first time I heard Joe Bob utter Walpurgisnacht, I sat back and could only assume what he had in store. Understanding that most people in the Western world had never heard of Walpurgisnacht before, Joe Bob took plenty of time throughout the night in a (somewhat) successful way to explain what it is and why his reasons for celebrating Walpurgisnacht.

As someone who only learned about Walpurgisnacht this past week and having five hours of Germanic history thrown my way, I’m not going to explain Walpurgisnacht. The gist of Walpurgisnacht is that it should be a second Halloween, and there are bonfires a-plenty! These fires ward off evil spirits and witches—hey, it’s witch night on this week’s episode of The Last Drive-In!A shirtless, hooded figure holds a large hammer.

That’s right! Five hours of Walpurgisnacht history is the backdrop for a witchy double-feature of Mario Bava‘s directorial debut Black Sunday and the early ’90s film, Def by Temptation. And this is why I love Joe Bob Briggs and his many incarnations. You get a double-feature that, on paper, doesn’t appear to make for a good, one-two punch, but Joe Bob knows better.

Initially, one may not tie Black Sunday and Def by Temptation together outside of both being horror films. The smart thing that Joe Bob did, and still does, is find a commonality to work both films seamlessly into one show. What’s the common ground for this episode? You guessed it, Walpurgisnacht! Joe Bob skillfully weaves tales from the production before seamlessly transitioning back to Walpurgisnacht. It’s a subtle art that Joe Bob has honed over his many years covering the drive-in.

Each film deals with an evil force tailored specifically for each movie: witches for Black Sunday and a succubus for Def by Temptation. Not to say that Joe Bob skimps out on behind-the-scenes factoids from each film—far from it!

For Black Roses, Joe Bob does a masterful job at detailing how the film came to be to the influences and the life and career of Mario Bava. As someone who had yet to check Bava’s first foray into directing (blasphemy, I know), I found Joe Bob’s in-depth analysis and opinions welcoming. I can’t speak for others, but Joe Bob bringing together a double-feature like this was welcome Black Sunday wasn’t on my film radar. Especially hearing Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl dote about their love for the film, I would not have been complete as a cinephile without checking Black Sunday off my “must-watch” list.

Thankfully, the second half of our double-feature, Def by Temptation, was a film I was more familiar with. The other thing I appreciate that Joe Bob does is highlight films that otherwise may not be seen by the masses. Def by Temptation is one of those movies that more people need to see. Who else would want to showcase a long-forgotten, low-budget succubus film? The answer should be more people, but thankfully, Joe Bob keeps those bonfires burning for films that others have left behind.Temptress sitting up in bed

As I mentioned earlier, the latest episode of The Last Drive-In felt old school to me. What you have is a fan of all things drive-in, obscure and well-known. All horror fans know Mario Bava. All horror fans should see Def by Temptation. After this week’s episode, all fans of Joe Bob Briggs are now familiar with Walpurgisnacht. As with anything involving Joe Bob Briggs, from Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater to MonsterVision and The Last Drive-In, he’s the most predictably unpredictable host on television. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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  1. You know you’re old when you remember Joe Bob Briggs from his stint on TNT and his out of the Blue Cameo in the Nick Cage masterpiece Face Off.

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Written by Robert Chipman

Robert Chipman has had a love of all things horror for as long as he can remember. His favorite horror franchise is the Nightmare on Elm Street series and his favorite horror director is John Carpenter. He thinks the Maniac Cop series is supremely underrated, Demon Knight and In the Mouth of Madness are slept on and loves what Don Mancini has accomplished with the Child's Play franchise.

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