Monstervision Host Segments for

Death Valley (1982)


And don't try this at home. If you happened to tune into Joe Bob's Last Call this past Friday night on TNT, you would have seen Wilford Brimley receiving some unwanted open heart surgery. And here's old Joe Bob hisself to give you the grisly details about the unfortunate Mr. Brimley plus his famous drive-in totals on the psycho-killer thriller, Death Valley.

Joe Bob's Saturday Night at the Movies

"Death Valley" Intro

"....We're gonna go right into "Death Valley" now. Catherine Hicks is back, and this time she's trying to get her little yard monster to be nice to her new cowboy boyfriend, Paul Le Mat, when they all end up out west on a vacation and the local geekazoid psycho serial killer. decides he better get rid of the little kid because of what the kid might know. This movie actually kinda grows on you. Came out in 1982 and played in theaters for about five minutes, but it's the film debutt of Peter Billingsley, who would later become famous as the star of "A Christmas Story." The kid is HONING HIS CRAFT in this one. What do people mean when they say that? "I'm honing my craft." Sounds like they're whittlin, or makin Christmas tree ornaments to sell to tourists. All right, let's look at those drive-in totals: movie poster

Seven dead bodies.
Multiple throat-slashing.
RV crash.
Pickax to the chest.
Two shootouts.
One motor vehicle chase.
And gratuitous Wilford Brimley. Three stars."

"Death Valley" Commercial Break #1

"Do you ever notice that, when you see a little boy and his father having FUN in the movies, spending the day together, playing chess, walkin in the park...what does that mean? It means the kid's parents are DIVORCED, right? It's always a divorce thing. In the movies, parents only pay attention to their kids if there's been a divorce. "Kramer vs. Kramer" started this, I think. So anyhow, the beginning of this movie looks like one of those Kramer vs. Kramer things, right? And then it slowly dawns on's SUPPOSED to be a horror least it's kind of a tipoff when two people get their slashed in a trailer home. So what we've got here is a "Kramer vs. Kramer" social-issue serial killer sorta-horror flick. Right? I think that's what they were going for. Anyhow, we'll little Billy wanders off into the sagebrush of....Death Valley. Roll it.

[fading] When did this thing start of parents being the FRIEND of their kids? The way they do those scenes, the parent and the kid are total equals. Which is fine, until one day the kid says, "Hey, dad, I just met this hot babe in my grade-school class. I think I'll try to have sex with her." The friend thing kinda goes right out the window, doesn't it? Just an observation."

"Death Valley" Commercial Break #2

"Wilford Brimley, doing that Wilford Brimley Thing. He's always pretty much the same character no matter what movie he's in. Wilford Brimley was on a roll when this movie came out. He made "The Thing," he made "Tender Mercies," the same year "Death Valley" came out, 1982, and the year before that everybody remembered him for "Absence of Malice." He's one of those actors who started getting a lot of major roles after he was fairly advanced in his career, even though his FIRST movie was "True Grit" with John Wayne back in 1969. Anyhow, I should mention that when "Death Valley" came out, the screenwriter said it was based on a true story. But when you read the fine print of the production notes, here's the true story. Richard Rothstein, the screenwriter, went on a vacation with his family in Death Valley. When they first drove into the valley, on this lonely two-lane road, there was one car coming toward them, and they got spooked because they thought there might be MEAN PEOPLE or KILLERS inside the car. And then the car went by and there was nothing wrong. And the whole family breathed a sigh of relief. And "Death Valley" was born. Isn't that fascinating? Okaaay, back to the movie. Based on a true story.

[fading] I have this idea for a movie. I was doing the intro for the first movie tonight, and suddenly I thought that Ernie the floor director was gonna kill me with a knife. But then he didn't kill me with a knife. And I breathed a sigh of relief. Don't you think that would make a good movie? We'll call it "Dead Guy in a Cowboy Shirt."

"Death Valley" Commercial Break #3

"Bye-bye, Wilford. That was a pretty good pickax to the chest, don't you think? Anyway, it's interesting how the critics reacted to "Death Valley." Half of em said it's cynical and manipulative horror, a total turnoff because it's based on harm to a child. The rest said it was placid and unscary and harmless. So nobody was crazy about it. I tend to be in the second group, I think it's pretty plain vanilla, mainly cause, look, it's the same plot we've seen before. A child witnesses something a bad guy does, and then the bad guy comes after the kid. It happened in "Witness," right? They didn't say THAT was a turnoff. The first time this plot was used was in "The Window" in 1949. Anyhow, the thing that does make the movie watchable is the performance of the little kid....Peter Billingsley, who was mostly known as the commercial spokesman for Hershey's candy when this came out, but would later become immortal as the child star of "A Christmas Story," which is one of the most popular movies we show around here. The kid's just got something. You wanna watch him, no matter what he does.

[fading] He's on that show "Sherman Oaks" now. I guess he's in those awkward not-a-child-anymore years. The audience generally hates it when a child actor tries to become an adult actor. It's not fair, it sucks, but that's what they do. Good luck, Peter, but that SHOW...yuk. Stick around next segment, the Mail Girl will be out here.....well, you gotta say SOMETHIN to hook em in."

[rest of transcript missing. Does anyone have this one on tape?]

Do not use above email or websites. Joe Bob's new one is:

Trivia courtesy the Internet Movie Data Base

* Movie tagline: Welcome To Death Valley - not even a scream escapes...

* Filmed in Death Valley National Park, California

* Director Dick Richards appeared in Alligator (1980) as gator vendor #2, and produced MonsterVision movie Tootsie (starring Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray)

* Wilford Brimley's credits include both Cocoon movies, Remo Williams: The Adv. Begins (Joe Bob liked the movie, hated the title), John Carpenter's remake of The Thing (1982), Robert Conrad's 1979 TV-movie Wild Wild West Revisited (as President Grover Cleveland), The China Syndrome (1979), and even a bit part in the John Wayne movie "True Grit." He is best known to tv viewers as the star of "Our House" and several episodes of "The Waltons"

Wilfred Brimley ended up a dead man with a pickax in his chest.
Not to be confused with Pirates Of The Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest

Back to Monstervision

The nurse station in a hospital gets a phone call.
"How's Mr. McAfee doing?"
"Oh, he's doing fine. We expect to release him tomorrow. May I ask who is calling?"
"This is Mr. McAfee. No one tells me a damn thing around here!"
The Drive-In will never die!

Host segment transcript of broadcast
1997 Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved