Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

The Crawlers (1994)

Demonic mutant tree roots pay a house call in The Crawlers

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 2/4/94
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

There's this movie out called The Crawlers that looks like somebody rounded up all the finest actors from the Bozeman, Montana Kiwanis Club Christmas Pageant and put em all in the same movie. It wouldn't be so strange, since I watch this kind of stuff all the time, except that the video was put out by Columbia TriStar Home Video, which is owned by one of the biggest motion picture companies in the world.

Corruption is just everwhere, ain't it?
This is the thrilling story of demonic radioactive tree roots that pop up out of the ground, wrap around your body, and drag you through the forest till your face looks like a pizza margherita. It turns out the local nuke plant is disposing of its radioactive waste by putting it in rodeo barrels and throwing it into a pit by the river. The stuff seeps into the ground, the roots lap it up, and pretty soon we're into the world of special effects so lame it's like watching somebody standing just off camera with a garden hose and shaking it REAL HARD.

Unfortunately, the roots are so SMART that they chew up the phone lines. And all this happens in a town so small that it's only served by twice-weekly service by a bus from Gray Line Tours. (This is that famous CROSS-COUNTRY Gray Line bus.) Pretty soon half the people in town are staring into the grass, freezing in terror, and then throwing their arms up over their heads and passing out while WHATEVER IT IS eats their shoes.

Fortunately, there are at least five very stupid cast members all trying to fight the demonic tree roots, including the chubby town floozie, and they eventually convince everyone to round up about four pick-ups, two vans, and a bunch of hoes and shovels for the big tree root vs. townspeople climax.

To give you some idea, this is one of those movies that keeps changing from night to day and back to night again in the SAME SCENE. Lemme give you another example. A guy busts out of jail by . . . PICKING THE LOCK on his cell.

Seventeen dead bodies.
One dead dog.
One motor vehicle chase--except, in the middle of it, one guy pulls off the road for no reason and finishes the chase on foot.
Tree root through the eyeball.
Exploding copter, with fireball.
Horticulture Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nomination for Patrick Collins, as the investigative reporter from out of town who organizes an armada of road graders to bulldoze the roots, while screaming "I finally realized--I am one of you!"
One-half star. Joe Bob says . . .
Naw, I really can't do it to you.


Victory Over Communism! The Bengies Drive-In Theatre on Eastern Boulevard in Baltimore continues to operate seven nights a week, with classic cars admitted free on Sundays, five-bucks-a-carload nights on Tuesdays, old-fashioned speaker poles, and plenty of dusk-to-dawn marathons. Owner D. Edward Vogel has renovated and preserved the six-acre, 700-car site, which had fallen on bad times when he took it over in 1988. His father and two uncles opened the drive-in in 1956. Roland S. Sweet of Alexandria, Va., Melissa Darwin of Baltimore, Biff Dorsey of Portland, Ore., and Tony Wilds of Baltimore remind us that, with eternal vigilance, the drive-in will never die. To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get free junk in the mail and Joe Bob's world-famous newsletter, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221. Joe Bob's Fax line is always open: 214-368-2310.

Joe Bob,
You requested to be informed why portrayal of men in an offensive manner is not protested by feminists. We tend to have more pressing issues than equal rights for "Bubba." "Bubba" has a plethora of protectors--of whom you are apparently one. George Bush's plan to turn this country into a Third-World Right-Wing paramilitary dictatorship was a greater threat to us all than those very few television shows depicting negative stereotypes of men. You should also note such portrayals demean BOTH women and men.

People--well, okay, bacteria such as Hollywood producers think we must remove Dad's brain for Mom to get one. The result: images insulting men whenever women are portrayed as anything other than sex objects. The underlying message is also an attack on feminism: ONLY BRAINLESS DOLTS LIKE THESE MARRY SMART WOMEN! THESE WOMEN ARE ATTEMPTING TO STEAL YOUR BRAINS BY DEMANDING EQUAL RIGHTS! Ever notice how many men feel threatened by the women's equal rights movement? Hollywood producers didn't invent this mind-set, they merely exploit and reinforce.

Equality for women does NOT require inequality for men! BOTH Mom and Dad can have brains and use them, even in TV-land. Marriage CAN be a partnership as opposed to a dictatorship. BOTH parents can take an active role in supporting the family AND raising the children. Unfortunately, educating brainless Hollywood producers and Dan "Mr. Potato(e)-Head" Quayl-e sometimes take a back seat to other concerns. The imminent demise of Roe vs. Wade concerns me far more than the injured feelings of a "Growing Pains" fan.

P.S. Once upon a time there was a country known throughout the civilized world as a superpower. Their universities were beyond compare. Arms buyers eagerly sought to purchase advanced weapons unavailable elsewhere.

One day, a bunch of religious fanatics became politically powerful. These people believed their "Holy Book" was all that anyone need know. They forced schools to stop teaching anything else and forced everyone to live according to "God's Law."

Once-famous universities languished for lack of students. All scientific progress ceased and the country sank into obscurity. Even after hundreds of years, Damascus, Syria remains famous for those wonderful swords forged from Damascus steel.
John Huffer
San Francisco

Dear John:
I treat all sexes and sexual preferences equally--like dirt.
In fact, sometimes I think I'm the ONLY person who doesn't HAVE an agenda as to what people should say, do, put on TV, or change about this country.
This is why I'm so unpopular. I'm the only person left who believes he DOES live in a free country.

Dear Joe Bob:
I read your column headlined "When Did God Lose His Sense of Humor?" It is regrettable that your experience with Christians has left a bitter aftertaste. It was not clear from your article, though, whether your friends really behaved in a snobbish fashion after their conversions, or whether they simply stated their convictions in explanation of their changed behavior.

It seems there is something unusually scary and irritating about Christianity. If someone invites us to join the Rotary Club or the Freemasons, or even to get involved in some Eastern religion or the New Age Movement, we might thank them for their invitation, politely decline, and think no more of it. But if someone wants to speak to us of Christ, the barriers fly up. We feel fear--a touch of panic. We are ready to fight (or flee). It's like hearing "You're under arrest" and "I'm sorry, it's cancer" rolled into one.

Of course, God doesn't dislike you, or anyone. No Christian would consciously want to misrepresent God so. God doesn't love us when we are good and hate us when we are bad. He loves consistently, like parents love their children, except perfectly. My parents didn't stop loving me when I did wrong. In fact, it was because of their love that they sometimes found my actions (not myself) so intolerable.

Also, God does have a sense of humor, believe it. How could he not? It was he who created us with a sense of humor. Saying he doesn't understand humor is like saying the sun knows nothing of light. It's like Mona Lisa saying Leonardo da Vinci couldn't paint. We wouldn't know anything of laughter if we had not caught and reflected the brilliance of his mirth, or if we were not marked by the brush strokes of his hilarity.

Christianity does not deny us laughter, but it does affirm that our sense of humor, along with the rest of our human nature, has been warped and corrupted, so that we are prone to laugh at things which are really not funny at all. This has got to be a major reason why God gets so hot about sin. Sin is not just the expression of our individuality. Sin is the act and process of ruining God's design. And in this case his design means, not just things, but people and relationships. Surely, his anger is righteous.

God hates sin with a perfect hatred, but loves us sinners with perfect love. God hates sin so, and loves us so, that he was willing to be tortured to death to free us from sin's power. If sin was not truly horrible, God would not hate it, nor have paid such a terrible price to save us from it.

The problem with receiving this is that it requires an awful baptism. Sin is, in essence, having my own way. Repentance is realizing that the problem is me, and the only cure is death--death to self. This is not at all like joining a movement or "turning over a new leaf." It is more like laying down your weapons and being led away to prison and execution.

But we are doomed anyway. There is no life apart from God, and we are already as guilty as can be of spitting in the face of a Love and Holiness which even the purest mother's love can only hint at. Mere capital punishment would be far too generous a sentence for the best man alive. (Others may think we hung the moon, but each man knows his own sin.)

There is really no choice. May God help you to see this, and respond to his mercy while there is still time.
John Hurley
El Paso, Tex.

Dear John:
I don't think you understood the article. I wasn't saying that I run away from Christianity. Everybody in my family has been around it their whole lives. There's nothing more natural than for me to talk about it.
What I was saying is that born-again Christians--new ones, fresh ones--run away from ME.
Believe me, you don't have to tell me how corrupt I am. That's the part I DO agree with.

Joe Bob--
Help us, please!
Out here in West Texas we're too far from Real Texas that we're beginning to resemble New Mexico or Old Mexico.
My sister is becoming influenced by socialists from New Mexico and is in trouble. She's fallen in with feminists and is slipping away. Here are some honest examples:

A group of her friends sponsored a symposium (see what I mean?) and they thought that some hearing-disabled (deaf) people would show up and they blew their beer budget and hired a sign-language person but no deaf people showed up so they made a girl who is hard of hearing (but not deaf) go to the symposium after they guilted her into it.

Same group of my sister's friends staged a country-punk concert with some local talent (like Juan and the Mescal Worms), but before the concert started they addressed the crowd and asked them not to wave their butane lighters in the air as a sign of appreciation as there was concern that epileptics in the audience might be sent into seizure.

Please send her your newsletter and some stuff so that she can be cured. I'm kind of selfish because I want her cured so she can help me in the future because I'm going off to Law School in Chicago in January.

P.S. I started reading your column in Dallas in the mid-'80s when I lived with a Chinese woman (she got me into Chinese-Hong Kong Shaolin Kung-fu movies, real good).
Thanks pardner,
J. Hume
El Paso, Tex.

Dear J.:
For a fee, I'd be happy to help your sister out by impersonating a deaf epileptic at all future events where she might need me.

Dear Joe Bob,
With malice toward nobody, what I want to know is this--when are we gonna get some syphilis sheets, gonorrhea pillows and herpes simplex mattress? All to go with the AIDS quilt, of course.

Your point that NOBODY behaves is well taken, and oh so true. However, when I expire from galloping cirrhosis I do not expect and will not warrant anybody's compassion for succumbing to a known risk of a voluntarily chosen activity. I drink, and it's MY goddamned business. So are the side effects.

In the immortal words of Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), "Everybody gets everything he wants."
Yours iconoclastically,
Bob Hunt
Santa Ana, Calif.

Dear Bob:
The trouble with getting everything you want is that there's always that little surprise hidden in the Happy Meal.

Dear Joe Bob,
Are you related to the cook and hitchhiker from Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Is Big Steve's "Children of the Corn" really the crappiest movie ever made or what? Why hasn't Lon Chaney, Jr. gotten a Drive-In Academy Award for such films as "The Female Bunch" and "Dracula vs. Frankenstein"? His obvious alcoholism makes his performances even better.

A friend of mine's father recently bought what was left of the Cosswell Drive-In in Appomattox and I got about 70-ought issues of "Box Office" from the seventies from them. My friend got the drive-in speakers and camera.
Do you have any kids?
Justin Humphreys
Lynchburg, Va.

Dear Justin:
Nope, I don't have any rug rats, but if I did, I'd want them to grow up just like you--an expert on Lon Chaney and a hoarder of "Box Office."
But the crappiest Big Steve movie is not Children of the Corn.
It's Maximum Overdrive, which is also the only Big Steve movie DIRECTED by Big Steve.
© 1994 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

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