Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Return of the Living Dead 2

Zombies in Spam Cannisters

"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for 2/04/88
By Joe Bob Briggs
twitching zombie arm Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

Last week I was in New York City again, doing research on geek liberals, and I went down to 42nd Street and Times Square to check for slime and found out there's a full-scale Communist Assault going on, with three of the finest exploitation moviehouses in American about to be condemned, closed up, rebuilt by guys that wear goat beards and wire-rim glasses, and given to gay symphony organizations to make 300 bad PBS specials a year. The lead Communist is Tony Randall, who came up with this plan where the city of New York is taking away the theaters from their rightful owners, including the one that's been showin "Three Giant Kung Fu Hits" for the last 10 years. The city says they're condemned, but they don't tear em down. They give em to lesbian ballet companies to put on shows called Asphalt: A Retrospective.

This kinda thing couldn't have happened in the golden days of The Deuce. On the day that Make Them Die Slowly premiered, they had to bring in mounted police to control the line that went around the block. If you'd walked up to those people and said, "Hey, Mayor Koch says you shouldn't be watchin this stuff. You need to be attending plays about Vietnam veterans that yell at their mothers all the time and then commit suicide"--if you'd told those people that, I'll tell you what would of happened. You would of had some Bernhard Goetz Treatment on every wheelchair-basketball theater company in New York.

But they have been having these hearings for several months now, where Tony Randall comes and talks about the "cultural zone" he's gonna create where the great 42nd Street theaters used to be, and where Mary Tyler Moore comes and talks about how she just loves Times Square and how she'd like to go on taking people's money forever for the Broadway shows she puts on about middle-aged women whining at one another, and usually the New York subscribers to the Joe Bob Briggs newsletter show up and sit on the back row and try to get the chairman of the committee to listen to their statistical comparisons of (a) how many people go to those theaters to see Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity and (b) how many people would go to those theaters to see an Iranian acrobatic troupe perform the love theme from DAS BOOT. You see, the numbers are on our side.

Anyhow, the owners of all the great theaters on The Duece have found a way to fox Tony the Wimp and his tutti-frutti friends. Since all the old Times Square theaters were built by George M. Cohan and Flo Ziegfeld, the owners have been applying for "historic building" status. This means that, from now on, the city can't mess with em. Koch did get three of em already, though, which means we're gonna have the "cultural zone" side-by-side right next to the drive-in zone and so we'll have a chance to see just exactly which form of entertainment the American public really wants. We got the movies waitin. Bring on your best North Korean Hand-Puppet Street Mime Midge Music. We'll win.

Speaking of zombies on Broadway, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PART II came out a few days back and had James Karen and Thom Matthews robbing a cemetery in one of the first scenes--even though they already got turned into brain-eating zombies in Part One. You know, it's this kind of stuff that makes you not trust the movies anymore, like they hired the guys and then said, "Whoops! You know what? The story doesn't make sense!" but then decided, "Oh well, nobody'll notice." We noticed. These guys can't get zombified. They already got zombified. It's like casting John Wayne and Liberace in a 1988 movie. It wouldn't be a pretty sight, would it?

Anyhow, what happened is that evidently three or four cans of the secret zombie gas survived the nuclear explosion at the end of Part One, and now some Bozo Army truck drivers bounce a can of it into a suburb where some little kids open it up and watch it seep into the cemetery, where zombies claw their way up through the dirt and start demanding brain salads. The only people that can stop the world from being taken over are a 12-year-old, his aerobic-leotard sister, and, of course, a cable TV installer. Their plan -- lure the zombies to an electric power plant by leaving a trail of cow brains, then hose em down, hit the juice, and barbecue em from the gizzards out.

The question you got to ask yourself in any good zombie movie, though, is, "What kills the zombies?" In Night Of The Living Dead, the only thing that'll kill em is a gunshot to the brain. In The Evil Dead, you got to have total dismemberment--arms, legs, head, everything. And I only got one thing to say about these latest zombies--total dismemberment doesn't work. You ever try to kill a snake with a hatchet? That's what it's like.

No breasts. (New disturbing trend in horror flicks.)
16 dead bodies.
27 undead bodies.
Heads roll.
Hands roll.
Fingers roll.
Zombie aerobics.
Multiple brain eating.
Spike through zombie heart.
Shotgun to the zombie face.
First recorded instance of someone's face being punched out---literally.
Gratuitous aerobics.
Gratuitous pet-eating.
Screwdriver through the ear Fu.
Screwdriver to the throat Fu.
Drive-In Academy Award nomination for Suzanne Snyder, for excellent whining, right up until the moment her brains are chewed up by her boyfriend, and for saying "Joey, I'm not into dead guys";
Philip Bruns, as Doc Mandel, for diagnosing two zombies as having "chronic intractable rigor mortis";
Thor Van Lingen, as Bill the child zombie, for saying "You told, you told, now you die like me";
and Marsha Dietlein, as the Jamie Lee Curtis Survivor, for saying "they're ugly and they're dirty and they're dumb and I don't even care if they are dead, they're not touching me."

Three stars. Joe Bob says check it out.

© 1988 Joe Bob Briggs All Rights Reserved


Dear Joe Bob:
How come under the new, self-policing cinema morality you can tear someone's still-thumping heart out and eat it in living, close-up color, but if the plot requires a shot of a half dressed bimbo (a plot we don't see much of lately, come to think of it), it's taken at twilight and 150 feet away?
John Northrup
Corvallis, Oregon

Dear Bruce:
Cause the bimbos got lawyers and started stickin in Nookie Clauses. If the hearts ever get lawyers, we're in major trouble.

"Return Of The Living Dead 2" availability on video and on DVD from

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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