The new issue of Philosophy Now is here! Did you guys get yours in the
mail yet? Look, Yanni's on the cover.
You know, it's kinda sick, isn't it?, when the philosophers of the world start trying to SELL MAGAZINES by using Yanni as a cover model. Look at his expression. They handed him a brain and said "Okay, Yanni, what is it?" And, as you can see, he's NOT SO SURE.
Hey, Happy Easter! Can I say that yet? What time did the J-man rise
from the dead? Well, whenever it was, I'm Joe Bob Briggs, and we're
celebratin with two movies FEATURING death from the great Tobe Hooper,
The Funhouse and Poltergeist
Anyhow, I've noticed lately that Philosophy Now is gettin a LITTLE
risque. Look at this lead article: "Immanuel Kant and Prostitution."
Naughty naughty. It reminds me of that time they had the article,
"Schopenhauer: Did He Have an Ankle Tattoo?" Remember that one? And look
here on page 12: "The Philosopher as Lover." They oughta be playing this
It's bad enough when you have all those philosophy- professor groupies
hanging around after class, trying to cop a feel on some guy's tweed-
jacket elbow patch. But here you have an Emeritus Professor of
Philosophy at The City University of London, trying to REFUTE
POSITIVISM, just to pick up girls. It's kinda sick. Especially when you
think that the word "Emeritus" means he's probably, what?, ninety years
old? But then he's from London.
All those university guys in England do creepy things under their London
Fog raincoats, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
You know, we all have our favorite parts of Philosophy Now, but I
have to admit, I always go straight to the ads in the back. "The
Officers' Association Residential Home" in South Devon, facing over the
Teign estuary: "Applicants should normally be between 65 and 80 years of
age, have held a commission and should not be in need of special nursing
care." How about this ad for "Pensions for the Gurkhas." You don't find
THIS in every magazine. They want you to send in money for the elderly
soldiers who live on Mt. Everest. Give money for research on epilepsy,
brain tumors, senile dementia and Parkinson's Disease, all ailments
which do tend to hamper the career of a philosopher. And, of course,
"The New Erotic Catalogue"--a bit naughty it is, because one thing the
English philosopher needs, is porno.
I don't know about you, though, but I've read some fascinating stuff
in Philosophy Now. "Does God exist?" Remember that one?
You know what, though, I read the article but I can't remember whether
He does or does not exist. "Are there such things as natural rights?"
That was a funny one. "Is there a basic good in the innate nature of
That was one three-day drunken party. We had a bunch of Foucault freaks
come over, and then the David Hume people got ticked off and tried to
leave, but one of the Foucault guys threw a Lowenbrau on him, and it was
And speaking of wild nights, we're gonna get started with "The
Funhouse," directed by the great Tobe Hooper.
It's your basic tale of horny teenagers decide to spend the night inside
...a funhouse. But a horny mutant carnival freak has something
unsavory going with the fortune teller under the floorboards, and he's
not too happy when he finishes a tad early, if you know what I mean, and
the bodies start droppin.
Let's wait and do those drive-in totals at the next break.
[fading] Do you guys read "Philosophy Now"? No. I'm working on an
article for em now. "Cogito Eggo Sum."
"I think, therefore I'm a frozen waffle."
"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #1
The great thing about these low-budget Tobe Hooper films is that they're
all grainy and kinda jumpy,
so if you were watching this at a drive-in in the early eighties, you
might start thinking, There's a possibility this could have actually
been MADE by a maniac.
All horror films are better if they're grainy and choppy. Anyhow, did
you notice how it said "Introducing Elizabeth Berridge?"
She plays Amy, our heroine, who's sneaking out with her low-life gas-
station attendant boyfriend Buzz. But I wonder how Elizabeth Berridge
feels about that.
For the rest of her life, people will say to her "Hey, I didn't know you
were in 'The Funhouse.' Cool!" Elizabeth Berridge was great as Mozart's
wife in "Amadeus"-- remember her, running around goin "Wolfie! Wolfie!"-
-and then she played the butch female cop on "The John Larroquette
Show," which was a weird career choice for a cutie like her, but I guess
she needed the money--and now THAT'S over. So, Elizabeth, wherever you
are, drop us a line and let us know what you're doing. Maybe you could
do a TNT Original or something. And remember the motto of all struggling
actresses over the age of 35: there's always the Lifetime Network,
right? Okay, let's find out what the old hag was trying to tell us.
But first, as promised, the drive-in totals.
Five dead bodies.
Two breasts, which we won't be showing.
Mutant farm animals.
Ax to the head.
Crowbar to the head.
Exhaust fan Fu.
Two and a half stars. Check it out, and I'll be hangin here with you throughout. Roll it.
[fading] "God is watching you! He hears everything!"
If God is WATCHING you, how does he HEAR everything? That was
technically the Old Crone.
All good horror movies have at least one Old Crone. This one has a
couple of em. The Old Crone is there to remind you what your girlfriend
is eventually going to look like. Thats why she's so scary.
"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #2
You know, at first I thought Madame Zena was the same person as Marco the Magnificent. That Zena was the same guy in drag. But it turns out, it's... just Sylvia Miles. And that's William Finley as the booze-swilling Marco. He used
to be a big Brian DePalma favorite, starred in Brian's musical, "Phantom
of the Paradise," remember that one? But what are we talking about
Brian DePalma for? Let's talk about Tobe Hooper, director of this
flick, and, of course, the brilliant "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Tobe's
FROM Texas, and the man seems to be most at home making movies about
In fact, I think the most effective scenes in the flick we're watching
now are when it slips into that world a little bit. I won't give
Anyhow, after "Chainsaw," he made the gator flick "Eaten Alive," also
known as "Legend of the Bayou" and about four other names, because they
could never quite get the marketing campaign right. Starring Neville
Brand as a motel owner who likes to feed his guests to the gators out
Good movie, which only got released in, like, three theaters, so he took
on TV--he directed the Stephen King mini-series "Salem's Lot." And that
did pretty well, so Universal hired him to do his first major studio
movie, which was "The Funhouse," and that did okay, too. Then Steven
Spielberg, who was a big fan of "Chainsaw," hired him to do
"Poltergeist," but everybody thought Spielberg actually directed it.
We'll talk more about that later. And even though "The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre 2," which Tobe directed in 86, is also pretty brilliant, even
though I'm in it, lately he's been doin TV again, and the occasional
flick that comes and goes, like "The Mangler," which is about a laundry-
folding machine that's possessed by the Devil. Which doesn't sound half
bad, but he's not really tapping into the Southern psyche like he was so
good at. He's got a movie coming out this year called "The Sacrifice"--
maybe that'll bring back the crazy Texan we know and love. I hope so.
One thing I gotta give him, he's stuck to the horror flick. He's never
tried to get all serious on us and do movies about the plight of his
ancestors, or the atrocities committed against the natives of some dang
place. The man does killer laundry machines.
My kinda guy.
Okay, let's get back to "The Funhouse."
[fading] You know, why is it when you read a bio of a movie-guy, they
act like it's some tragedy whenever he does something on TV? It's like,
Oh, you heard about Joe Blo, didn't you? He's doing [whispering]
television. Maybe he LIKES doing television. Maybe he's tired of
working for three years on one movie that the studio may decide to not
I totally buy into this stuff, and I do TV myself. I feel so
enlightened all of a sudden. Somebody slap me.
"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #3
I don't know if that guy is really a carnival barker, but he's pretty
"You will scream with terror. You will beg for release."
I used to go to the Arkansas State Fair just to watch those carnies. And
I really DID sneak into the strip show.
I think it accounts for my attitude toward women today--women that old
and fat should NEVER be nekkid.
Anyway, the same guy plays ALL the barkers in this movie--Kevin
Conway, doing a pretty good job. And while the carnival closes down, why
don't we open up a little mail in our weekly installment of "Joe Bob's
Advice to the Hopeless," [enters] and to deliver that mail is someone
I'D pay to see in a tent, if you know what I mean, Rusty, the TNT Mail
Girl. So what do you got goin on for Easter tomorrow, Rusty? Little
MAIL GIRL: Yeah, that's right, I'm going on an egg hunt.
JB: Can I be the Easter Bunny and play Hide-the-Egg with you?
MAIL GIRL: You're gonna get fired one of these days.
JB: Yeah, but I'll go down swingin.
MAIL GIRL: What are YOU doing for Easter?
JB: Well, you know, I cook a ham every year, have the church group over
for brunch. . . .
MAIL GIRL: Nice try. Here's an e-mail from Aaron Holley somewhere out
JB: "Joe Bob,
"Your on-air personality really grates me sometimes, especially when
you show up with the Confederate flag. As a Black American, the flag and
what it represents is repulsive to me. If you promise not to wear it
again, I'll continue to watch the show and support the sponsors who pay
the bills to keep you on air. "I watch your show because 1) I enjoy
the movies (even the turkeys) and 2) I once had a job as a drive-in
projectionist and can identify with your drive-in report. My family and
I love to ski, but also go to the drive-in regularly during the summer
months since we can't ski then. Keep up the good work, just keep off the
shirt and all will be well.
You know, every time I wear that shirt, I get angry letters. And this
is one of the NICER ones. Why is it that, when I wear my shirt with an
American flag on it, I get ripped for DESECRATING the flag? But when I
wear the shirt with the Confederate flag, I get ripped for CELEBRATING
the flag? It's just a couple of goldurn FLAGS. I'm not making any
I do appreciate the insight into your family hobbies.
Skiing and drive-ins--can't go wrong with that combo. Even though I'm
kinda confused, cause skiing's a daytime thing and drive-in movies are a
night-time thing. But I'll let you work that out.
MAIL GIRL: They have night skiing now.
JB: Can't you see I'm trying to belittle the guy?
MAIL GIRL: Oh, sorry. But it is possible that they ski at night.
JB: You think the reason he doesn't go to the drive-in in the winter is
because he's out NIGHT SKIING?
JB: Okay, Aaron, you win. But I'm not making any promises on the shirt. [to Rusty] You know, when was the last time YOU got any hate mail?
MAIL GIRL: Um, I don't think I've gotten any.
JB: Then try not to take away what little joy I can eke out of it.
"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #4
And so commence the many scenes of the four teens wandering around in the dark.
I can never see a dang thing inside that funhouse -- maybe I need to turn
up the brightness on my TV. And speaking of things you can't see, the
TNT high sheriffs did a little scissoring a while back--I forgot to
point it out earlier. There was a scene in there where the kids smoke a
little Arkansas polio weed, which is where the bright idea of spending
the night in the funhouse comes in. Sometimes I feel the high sheriffs
miss out on little opportunities to educate, since these type movies so
often contain messages, namely: drugs, fornication and not minding your
daddy will cause the evil forces of nature to come down on you big time.
All right, let's see exactly how that's gonna happen. Go.
[fading] What did we learn from the death of the fortune teller? Thou
shalt not drink, prostitute thyself, or wear a garter belt over the age
of 50, or thou shalt be killed by a pizza-face guy in a Frankenstein
"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #5
He's harmless -- once he's been fed. Great monster face, huh?
Of COURSE, it was designed by Rick Baker, who only does EVERY movie
these days with serious monster make-up in it. He didn't build the
mask, though. The hands-on stuff was done by Craig Reardon, but Rick
was the guy who came up with the cleft head motif. You remember in the
freak show, how the baby in the formaldehyde had a cleft head? And
there was a cow with a cleft palate, and another cow with two faces?
It's all kinda thematically linked. If you really want to put it all
together, remember the carnies in the parking lot telling the story
about the guy having sex with the cow? I'm not gonna hit you over the
head with this, just think about it, okay? All right, back to the
[fading] What kinda teacher would I be if I just spelled everything
out? If I just came right out and suggested that maybe the cow is the
kid's mother? You know? Yuk, right? Yuk. All Tobe Hooper's movies are about genetics.
"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #6
How bout that drool and snot hanging off the monster's face? One thing
Tobe Hooper does well is drool and snot. But most of his movies are
remembered for one great image. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's
when Pam gets hung on the meat hook.
And in "The Funhouse," of course, it's that great shot of the ax to the head of Richie, played by Miles Chapin. And why does he get the accidental ax to the head? Because he's a GEEK. We have covered this before at great length, Carl Jung's rules of victimization: alcohol, drugs, sex, thievery, disregard
for authority, and being a geek. And I believe Liz is dead.
We didn't really get to see what was happening there, but I'm sure that
giant 90-mile-an-hour rotor wasn't just incidental. Although you never
know --this flick was filled with production problems, and they were
rewriting the script as they went along. Which may explain why the
little brother just kinda wanders around and never really DOES anything,
and the fortune teller told Elizabeth Berridge that a tall, dark
stranger will change her life, which could've been the monster--but the
monster's a BLOND. All-in-all, the script here is pretty much a mess,
but it's time for all-out Elephant Man Fu, which is all we care about,
so roll it.
Exciting conclusion to "Funhouse."
[fading] Having the psycho father say that the baby in the formaldehyde
was the monster's twin brother Tad -- that was supposedly a last-minute
script addition by Tobe Hooper. I love that. Not the whole twin brother
thing. The name "Tad." It's just an excellent name for a pickled
fetus, isn't it? Tad. Tad's in the jar now, son, but we're still
"The Funhouse" Outro
And the poor monster boy is stabbed, beat with a crowbar, electrocuted,
hung on a meathook, and squashed between giant gears.
That's gotta hurt. He didn't really get to have his Elephant Man moment, did he? Where you feel sorry for him. I mean, you kinda feel
sorry for him when his dad tells him never to call him "father" and all
that, but then he just becomes Jason Vorhees for the rest of the flick.
But that's the difference between Tobe Hooper and David Lynch. Tobe
Hooper doesn't do the touching moment, because . . . well . . . because
he's a snaggle-tooth white-haired screechy ugly Drool Monster who
DESERVES to be cut in half at the waist.