Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At
Return Of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The house is the same, but Leatherface is bigger, whinier and much more FEMININE, in the best horror flick of the year
"Joe Bob's Drive-In" for 5/15/95
By Joe Bob Briggs
Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas
How come all the people who DEFEND porno act like they HATE porno?
You ever notice this?
There's always some guy in a corduroy coat, the Professor of Institutional Mediocrity at Wyoming State Technical Institute, and he's being interviewed by Dick Cavett or William F. Buckley or somebody, and he says, "The First Amendment protects all forms of speech, including these dirty movies. Of course, I don't PERSONALLY like this material, and I certainly wouldn't want my kids to see it, but it has a constitutional right to exist."
In other words, why does every single person IMMEDIATELY turn into a back-tracking weenie on this subject?
Why wouldn't there be ONE professor, in the whole history of First Amendment debate, who would say, "I love that Nina Hartley when she does hardcore. I saw her in a three-way one time with Jerry Butler and Ron Jeremy that was, like, WOW! We need to fight against the prudes who would deny our right to watch this stuff. In fact, I'm going down to Times Square right now. Got any quarters?"
Because porno is bigger than ever, right? They're selling BILLIONS of porno home videos every year. So there's gotta be SOMEBODY out there who likes it.
I LIKE IT.
I don't see anything wrong with it. I don't see a dang thing wrong with a tape that has NOTHING BUT SEX on it. Kinky sex, weird sex, perverted sex, ANY KIND OF SEX. When I say, "The First Amendment protects this stuff," I REALLY MEAN IT.
I really think these marble-mouth Arizona Iced Tea drinkers are doing more DAMAGE to the First Amendment than they're helping. Because the people on the OTHER side of the issue know EXACTLY what they think about porno. They think it's disgusting, immoral, indecent, illegal, and should be stuck in an iron Dempster Dumpster and dropped into the middle of the Atlantic. So you have these slobbering WOLVES on one side, and when it comes time to fight with him, we've got bald-headed guys with prostate trouble going, "I beg to respectfully disagree."
Let's get MILITANT about this stuff.
Let's get some people in there who LIKE to watch Teri Weigel nekkid.
Let's get somebody on CNN who thinks Ginger Lynn is God's gift to film--or at LEAST knows Ginger Lynn's name, and knows the difference between Ginger Lynn or Amber Lynn.
Let's get somebody talkin about this stuff who has actually WATCHED "Long Dong Silver," you know what I mean?
After all, sooner or later, Clarence Thomas IS gonna be hearing this stuff.
And speaking of great American institutions, it took more than 20 years, but we FINALLY have a decent sequel to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," which is, of course, the greatest drive-in movie ever made. All along we thought that Tobe Hooper, the director of "Saw," was a genius. And he is. He really is. But we completely overlooked the WRITER of "Saw," Kim Henkel, who not only wrote that movie, but wrote the SECOND greatest movie to come out of Texas in the last 20 years, "Last Night at the Alamo."
And now Kim has finally done what he probly shoulda done years ago, and he's become a director himself, and his first effort is "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre," a flick so terrifying and brilliant that it makes the other two "Chainsaw" sequels seem like After-School Specials.
Kim basically kept three things from the original. He kept the house in the woods. He kept the idea of a mutant cannibal family that lies in wait for anybody lost on the highway. And he kept, of course, Leatherface, the chainsaw-wielding transvestite human-skin-masked legend who inspired every great horror villain of the last three decades, from Jason to Michael Myers to Freddy Krueger to Jame Crumb.
Oh yeah. One other thing.
He uses that giant meat hook again.
This time two prom-night couples get lost out on the highway where a creepy redneck named W.E. roams around in a satanic wrecker, collecting bodies and quoting literature and trapping teenage girls in gunny sacks. When you first meet W.E. you think they're probly couldn't be a scarier situation than finding this guy staring down over your hood with a flashlight in the middle of the night.
Wait till you meet the rest of his family.
This one has so many completely unpredictable twists that I don't wanna give it away, but it definitely satisfies the first rule of great drive-in filmmaking: Anyone can die at any moment.
There are a couple of scenes in this baby that were almost too intense for ME to watch--and I've seen 47,000 of these things.
This is the best horror film of the nineties.
Eight dead bodies.
Sledgehammer to the head.
Bimbo on a meat hook.
Stuffed state trooper.
Woman on fire.
Four motor vehicle chases, with four crashes.
Evil stepfather Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Tyler Cone, as the spoiled rich-kid son-of-a-lawyer who gets caught kissing another woman on prom night and says "I can't believe how possessive you are";
Tonie Perenski, as the oversexed violence-loving girlfriend who thinks there's a remote-control bomb in her head, for saying "It's just local boys trying to give you a little scare, that's all";
John Harrison, as the nerdy doper;
Lisa Newmyer, as the whiny gossipy girlfriend who says "Because I told you, I'm a bitch" and lives up to the tradition of great screamers in this series;
Robert Jacks, as a new, improved, more WOMANLY Leatherface;
Joe Stevens, as the Machiavelli-quoting redneck with a cattle prod and bad teeth who says "Family values have gone straight to hell";
Matthew McConnaughey, as the metal-legged chest-slicing man of the house who says "Why are my batteries not charged?";
James Gale, as the mysterious body-piercing enthusiast who says "I want these people to know the meaning of horror--is that clear?";
Renee Zellweger, as the mousy abused teenager who turns out to be the only one with courage;
and writer/director Kim Henkel, for doing it the drive-in way.
Joe Bob says check it out twice.
JOE BOB'S ADVICE TO THE HOPELESS
Victory Over Mormonism! The North Star Drive-In, on Highway 89 in Ogden, Utah, bills itself as "Utah's Finest Drive-In," and continues to thrive in the heartland of Mormon censorship, with two big screens, double features all the time, and a four-buck admission. Sam Graham of Des Moines, Ia., reminds 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, or Fax him at 214-985-7448, or e-mail him through CompuServe: 76702,1435.
Dear Joe Bob,
Thanks for the "Stogie Junkies Unite" article.
Cigars have been one of my trademarks for about the last thirty years. I know men who can't enjoy their cigar-savoring moments in their own homes, so I was sure I had it made when I married a lady who actually likes the smell of a good cigar. Then along came the activists and "political correctness."
Until a few years ago I could enjoy a great Partagas with an after-dinner cognac wherever and whenever I chose. Nowadays in order to enjoy this luxury, which I believe is my right, I've had to resort to a new form of persuasion with regard to the non-smokers. The enclosed photo demonstrates how I handle my own "cigar smokin' justice." [Photo enclosed of the author lighting a cigar while holding a huge handgun.]
I'll look forward to enjoying a good smoke with you the next time you're in L.A.
Keep 'em lit,
Fred "The Hammer" Williamson
Beverly Hills, Calif.
The next time I wanna light up in public, I'm gonna find YOU first.
I still remember what you did to those white guys in "One Down, Two to Go."
Dear Joe Bob,
We hope you can help with a problem.
You do magnificent reviews of sleazy and amateurish movies, and your fine magazine is filled with great social commentary. (Help, Gepetto! My nose has grown and is stuck in that little brown knot-hole!) Also, you run advertisements where avid fans can purchase videos of B-grade and amateur tinsel town titillations.
Our question is: Where can we buy MAGAZINES with lots of photos and the story lines from individual B and amateur movies? --Like the porno rags (Swedish Erotica comes to mind) that do layouts that follow porn movies (yeah, the magazines wander pointlessly, too), with snippets of dialogue and . . . uh . . . plot . . . among other photos. Actually, we can't even find these photo chronicles for amateur-produced porno movies; and you'd think THEY would at least jump on the band wagon driver's lap!
Why would someone be asking about magazines, when full-motion video is so much more exciting, and getting downright cheap? Because some of us are locked up in the Politically Expedient Warehouse For Social Reform Failures and Judicial Mistakes, better known as the Texas prison system; and, contrary to popular belief that we live like the former-campaign-contributors lovingly incarcerated in Club Fed, WE don't get VCRs.
Help us, please! We are a large group of rabidly faithful fans! (Damnation, Pinocchio! Where'd you get all that dark-walnut-lookin' stain on your nose?)
Your captive audience,
Death Row #785
Ellis I Unit
Texas Department of Corrections
No such magazine exists. However, I'm probly the very man who should start one up, aren't I? Yall got any money in the mattress?
In the meantime, you can try "Fangoria," "Starlog," "Cinefantastique," and the one I KNOW you guys will like--"Femme Fatales." They all have a LOT of photos, and they're all about the movies I write about.
Dear Joe Bob:
Perhaps the enclosed article ["Free-Range Hens Lay Their Eggs In Safeway Nests"] will help you shed some fresh light on the age old debate over which came first: The free-range chicken, or the free-range egg?
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
So lemme get this straight. We now have people who will pay 50 cents more for a dozen eggs, just to make sure the chicken wasn't caged up, but the same person wouldn't even give a quarter to a street beggar.
Does that about sum it up?
Dear Joe Bob,
I've been really surprised reading your "America" article these days. Didn't you use to do a column called "Joe Bob at the Drive In" on the best of the worst horror movies? Maybe I have your name mixed up with somebody else's. Anyway, I thought your last couple of "America" articles were intelligent and a kick to read. But that isn't what suprised me‑‑what surprised me was the recent articles are very political or kind of "this is the way things oughta be", and completely different than the "Joe Bob at the Drive‑in" ones.
Anyway, the main reason I'm writing is that I'd like to know if you write these articles with a political agenda in mind. (I'm just curious, really.) If you've ever read the Ed Anger "My America" column in the Weekly World News (the finest publication in the United States, in my opinion), you have to wonder if the guy who writes that is trying to promote a liberal political agenda by making the ultra‑conservatives sound ridiculous, or whether he's just writing it to be funny. (If you haven't read Ed Anger, it's an editorial written by an old-fashioned staunch conservative persona. Ed Anger proposes things like banning all immigration into the U.S., liberally using the death penalty, etc., etc. I wish I could think of some of the really ridiculous things he's said but I can't off‑hand. The thing is, you know the real author of that column does not feel the same way about things as his persona does.) So when you wrote the mass transit column, do you believe that we should do some of the things you suggested to get people to use mass transit, or are you trying to ridicule some proponents of mass transit, or are you just trying to be funny, or what?
I myself hold all three of those views at once.
Your column also reminded me of Rush Limbaugh a little bit. (I hope you're not insulted‑‑I sure would be.) The last line of that column, "I'm suprised I have to explain this stuff," sounds EXACTLY like something Rush Limbaugh would say. Were you trying to allude to Rush Limbaugh when you wrote that article?
Thanks for taking the time to read this letter, Joe Bob. I wish you continued success with your writing. I really enjoy reading your articles.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The ideal article for me is funny because it's true. It's so true it makes you laugh out loud, you know what I mean?
So, yeah, I'm tryin to write funny, but I don't make this stuff up. I really don't.
Dear Joe Bob Briggs,
Read your article "Celluloid Sex and Savory Sells." I always enjoy your articles.
Where can I rent or buy a copy of "Birds Do It?" This sounds like a real winner. I want to see the elephant scene.
Tell your friend he should sell it by mail.
Hope to hear from you. Anxiously awaiting with baited "trunk"!
Unfortunately, "Birds Do It," the original animal-sex flick, has been out of circulation for years now. You would think that with the "Save the Elephants" movement, people would wanna see films that illustrate what elephants are doing to save themselves. But mankind doesn't always appreciate its artists during their lifetimes.
© 1995 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 Briggs.com
Joe Bob's latest book is Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History (Joe Bob's website will get a small royalty to help make ends meet if you use this link)
"Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movies are available on video and on DVD
Elvis has left the building, and he took Joe Bob with him.