Joe Bob Briggs is a syndicated columnist most well known by horror fans by his show from the late 80's and 90's on TNT called "Monstervision," where he hosted late night B horror. In a lot of ways he was the last great B movie host. This interview was done around 2003.
It's 'Death Wish' for women. They remade it years later as 'The Accused' starring Jodie Foster, only instead of the woman taking revenge herself, she uses the legal system. Otherwise, same movie.
Now you're probably most recognizable to horror fans from your show on TNT called "Monstervision". Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you what happened to it (I did my research) but I do want to take a little trip down memory lane and ask you about a few movies I saw on that show for the first time. The first would be "Phantasm II." It was my first experience with the series and I must say I was blown away. Care to share your thoughts about that flick with us?
Well, "Phantasm II" is one of those rare sequels where you really Do need to see the first one in order to understand it. Even then, it's hard to understand, because it's a very specific and idiosyncratic nightmare vision, perfectly realized by Don Coscarelli. He's one of those artists who had one topic that he did exceptionally well. It's the visuals that get to you in "Phantasm II;" and of course that's the mark of a great movie. Especially those hovering ball-bearing things with the knives. And, of course, the Tall Man in my mind is a much scarier antagonist than more in-your-face killers like Jason or Freddy Krueger.
The other one would have to be the extremely underrated Stephen King flick "Maximum Overdrive." Also the only film to sport an entire soundtrack by AC/DC (which I learned from your show). How do you feel about this flick?
Well, this was Big Steve's first and only venturing into directing, and he's a great . . . writer.
Ouch, that's rough. Just out of curiosity, when did you start using the word "Fu" in your reviews? Like, "Flame-thrower Fu", or "Whiskey-bottle Fu". Where did that come from?
I honestly can't remember. Sometime in the eighties. It was added to the Handbook of Literature as "-fu, a suffix used in the Briggsian school of film criticism to denote excessive violence."
You recently contributed a commentary Track to Elite's Millenium Edition of "I Spit On Your Grave." I have read about how much you like that film, but how exactly did you get involved with the DVD?
Vini Bancalari, owner of Elite Entertainment, got in touch and asked me to do the commentary, because he knew that I was one of the few defenders of the film in the world. He already had Meir Zarchi, the director, doing a commentary track, but I think Meir was hesitant about slamming Ebert and Siskel the way he knew I would. They had done a fairly vicious review of the film back at the time of its initial release, and actually attacked it as beyond the bounds of what should be shown in theaters. So I said, yes, of course, I would love to do the commentary track.
For those of us who can't bear to sit through the film again (even to hear your commentary) could you enlighten us a bit as to why you liked the film?
It's raw and honest and doesn't apologize for being a revenge flick. It's one of the few female revenge flicks. No one complained when Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood starred in the same kind of flicks. It's "Death Wish" for women. They remade it years later as "The Accused" starring Jodie Foster, only instead of the woman taking revenge herself, she uses the legal system. Otherwise, same movie.
Now you've also talked about doing more commentaries for future Elite releases, can you tell us what some of those might be?
The only other one we've completed is "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter," which was the final film of William "One Shot" Beaudine, the most prolific filmmaker in history. We're going to do several more, though.
You have a book coming out soon that's called "Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History". Can you give us an idea of the criteria you used when forming that list?
Some of the movies changed the culture--like "Deep Throat" and "Shaft" and "And God Created Woman" -- and some of them changed film-making itself -- like "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and "Reservoir Dogs" -- and some of them had such an influence on the underground that most people aren't even aware of how influential they've been. (Examples would be "Blood Feast" and "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S.") They are 15 movies that I have a particular interest in.
Besides writing books, what other projects do you have in the works now?
I write five columns a week for United Press International: "The Vegas Guy" (gambling), "Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In," "Joe Bob's America" (satire), "Assignment America" (more serious reporting), and "Joe Bob's Week in Review."
I had read that you had a pilot in the works, any luck selling it?
It's still in development at a cable network.
Any thoughts on the state of the horror genre today?
We're still waiting for the Next Big Thing. No breakout director has emerged for about ten years now.
You're thoughts on the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" are very clear, do you feel the same way about the "Dawn of the Dead" remake in the works?
No, it's not the same thing. That team has already proved it can do wonders. I thought the "Night of the Living Dead" remake was outstanding.
I was reading an interview a few weeks back, where "Psycho" remake director Gus Van Sant was musing about how he would like to remake "Psycho" AGAIN, this time giving it a whole new "Punk" theme. Should men like this guy and Michael Bay (TCM remake) just be locked in a basement somewhere for their own protection and the good of the universe?
You know what I say to those guys? Get out a blank sheet of paper. Stare at it. NOW make a movie. That's how the big boys do it.
What was the last movie you saw? What did you think?
"Gangs of New York," Loved it, but I can see why it didn't win the Oscar. Not Scorsese's best.
I was looking at some of your reviews and I don't think I found a single movie that you didn't like, or at least couldn't find something good to say about (even about some REALLY terrible flicks) Is there any horror movie that Joe Bob simply does not like?
"A Chorus Line." One of the most horrifying movies ever made.
What would you say are the chances of a "Monstervision-like" show starring you popping up on cable again?
That's entirely up to some network TV executive somewhere. These things tend to run in cycles. No one is particularly hot for cult movies right now.
I was checking out your site and I see that you're a big boxing fan. Did you happen to check out Roy Jones Jr making a fool of John Ruiz (whose 30 lbs heavier) a few weeks ago? Quite a fight huh?
That was a great fight. I love boxers, as opposed to sluggers, but I still don't think Jones could go much higher in the heavyweight class.