Alas, another season of Shudder’s The Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy has come to an end. Those 10 weeks really flew by as the mutant fam congregated every week for one of the last true communal watching experiences.
This season marked a change in location as Joe Bob and Darcy were in lockdown. And while all the guests had to join in remotely, this season featured some of the best interview segments we’ve seen thus far with the likes of Eli Roth, Clint Howard, Roger Corman, Bill Lustig, Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Combs, and more!
There’s definitely going to be a bit of a void left in our Friday nights. So in the interest of looking back on this amazing season, we thought it would be fun to rank every movie shown on The Last Drive In Season 3!
Note: This is purely a ranking of the movies themselves, not Joe Bob’s in between segments, the guests, or Darcy’s cosplays. Those are entirely others lists (which maybe we’ll do!)
To no one’s surprise, the two entries from VHS Night are at the bottom of our list. That’s not to say that VHS Night wasn’t fun, or something that we don’t want to see done again.
But the movies themselves, particular Things were simply devoid of all story, plot, logic, reason, cohesion, and anything else that makes something watchable. There are horror movies that are so bad they’re entertaining, and then there’s horror movies that are just bad.
When it comes to the double feature we got on VHS Night, Sledgehammer gets the edge over Things because at least it did have a semblance of a plot.
It’s not particularly well written or acted, but there’s a clear revenge/slasher story with a group of friends that does have an admitted realism in the sense that it feels like a group of friends just hanging out and someone has a camcorder (which is exactly how it was shot).
Plus it does deliver on a sledgehammer to the head kill, which is always fun! It’s miles better than Things, but still not quite on par with the rest of the season.
We are now officially entering the cheesy, but fun section of this list. As Joe Bob explained, Spookies is really two movies that where stitched together into the one Frankenstein-esque final product, and it very much shows.
That said, it has a really fun and memorable production design, just oozing with horror imagery, not to mention the fact that its shooting location is the former home of the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Jay. Overall, Spookies is something of a mess, but it’s a fun mess that’s re-watchable.
17. Mother’s Day
Blending dark humor with some truly disturbing elements around sexual assault that you wouldn’t see in a movie today, Mother’s Day is something of a mixed bag. The titular mother is a creepily fun and memorable villain, and watching the movie as Eli Roth realized just how much it inspired him was a lot of fun.
But the movie itself isn’t quite disturbing enough to be remembered like Last House of the Left, nor is it charming enough to really stand out like other late 70s/early 80s grindhouse pictures. It’s not necessarily a bad movie, but there were a lot of better ones shown this season.
16. Next of Kin
This lesser known gem from Australia was a genuinely interesting and engaging mystery/thriller. It had a real sense of dread and intrigue, and honestly the only thing that really held it back was pacing.
It had a lot of great reveals and made you think. But it got a little too confident in itself with how long it dragged everything out. That said, the ending was pretty awesome, particularly that explosion!
15. Humanoids from the Deep
In many ways, this movie feels like a 50s creature feature released 20+ years later. It’s cheesy, not particularly well acted or written, and gets a little controversial when you get into the behind the scenes drama of Roger Corman adding more nudity and sexual assault from the humanoids.
But if you look at what the movie’s intention is, it’s never really trying to be anything other than a cheesy little monster movie. In that vein, it’s entertaining, but again there were a lot of great movies shown this season.
Part of what makes The Last Drive In so fun is discovering these weird little gems you’d never heard of. And for many, that was the case with Evilspeak. Featuring an incredibly young Clint Howard (with a full head of hair), its early 80s aesthetic is made complete with Satan making contact via DOS. It took bold and creative choices, and while some came off as more bizarre than good, the end result was a really memorable and fun experience.
13. Little Shop of Horrors
For those who are fans of the 80s musical version, seeing the original for the first time on Last Drive In must have been quite the experience. For a movie shot in only 2 days with such a tiny budget, it’s kind of amazing that it’s as competent and well put together as it is. Granted, the picture and sound quality aren’t the best, even by standards back then.
But it still has really memorable and relatable characters, and you can really see just how much the more popular remake used from it. If Humanoids from the Deep was the essential monster movie released 20 years late, then Little Shop of Horrors was the quintessential one released at just the right time!
12. Day of the Beast
Eyes usually roll whenever a subtitled film is shown, but this one was a weird and fun gem that seemingly came out of nowhere. From a purely technical standpoint, it’s well shot. And it just blends this archaic supernatural mythology with a sarcastic sense of humor. Plotwise, it’s a bit similar to a 2012 American horror/comedy Hellbenders, but Day of the Beast does the subject matter better.
11. Dead & Buried
Small towns are rarely to be trusted in horror, and movies like this are the reason why. Part zombie film, part conspiracy thriller, Dead & Buried does a great job of evoking paranoia. It’s a cool mystery that gets creative with how it blends genres and it wound up being pretty memorable (which if you haven’t noticed is a good way to get ahead on this list).
10. Fried BarryFried Barry is without a doubt, the most bizarre movie shown this year. One might even say it’s this season’s Tetsuo. While it’s not the strongest when it comes to plot (after all it’s an expanded version of a short film), its visual aesthetic is unlike anything else shown all season. It’s strange, it’s absurd, it’s the type of movie that makes you ask yourself, “What the hell am I watching?” but in a good way.
9. The House by the Cemetery
It wouldn’t be Last Drive In without a little giallo thrown in there. And while I may be a bit more partial to Fulci’s Zombie, House by the Cemetery is a gruesome and grotesque classic with all the practical gore you’d expect from Fulci. It’s an excellent addition to his unofficial “Gates of Hell” trilogy, as well as the lineup of our favorite show!
8. Maniac Cop 2
Watching both Maniac Cop movies back to back made for an awesome night! As far as sequels go, this one did a great job of really expanding the story and upping the ante by introducing the serial killer element. It goes more all-out than the first one did, which is why many consider it to be superior to the original. And while they’re very close, the slight edge has to go to the first movie.
7. Maniac Cop
Both this and its sequel are great films, but the edge goes to Maniac Cop for two reasons: its overall themes, and of course the one and only Tom Atkins. Throughout the film, we see themes of police corruption and brutality which eerily echo and remain relevant today.
But Maniac Cop does what horror does best, and explores these themes through the lens of a slasher. It’s the reason why horror can often “get away” with being topical and thematic without feeling preachy, because it’s primary goal is to scare the audience, and it’s able to wrestle with complex subjects because many characters in horror movies are morally ambiguous, much like these issues are.
And of course, we can’t discuss this movie without talking about Tom Atkins and his amazing performance as the no nonsense detective who will stop at nothing to get to the truth. He elevates everything he’s in, and it’s no different here.
Nicolas Cage’s acting style is truly unlike any other actor living or dead. And indie horror/action is where his style really seems to shine. There’s a very narrow place just between absurdly good and absurdly terrible, and that’s where his performance in Mandy exists.
His over the top insanity is perfectly utilized here because who wouldn’t react that way after experiencing the trauma he did? But it’s not just about Cage, the rest of movie is filled with a surreal, dreamlike quality, complete with amazing production/art design, and a story that’s less about narrative and more about evoking a feeling.
5. Train to Busan
By the time 2016 rolled around, the zombie subgenre had largely been done to death, and it seemed that nothing fresh or exciting could come from it anymore. Enter Train to Busan from South Korea, and we were treated to a high-adrenaline zombie thriller that placed character and emotional beats first.
The zombies themselves are terrifying and brilliantly choreographed with their movements. And I challenge anyone to watch that final scene of the little girl singing, and not get teary-eyed!
4. Class of 1984
Speaking as a former high school teacher, this movie may be much higher here than on other people’s lists. But again, speaking as a former high school teacher, this one resonated quite a bit.
It does a great job of subverting expectations by starting out like any other teacher drama where the new teacher starts at the rough school, and winds up making a difference in way they didn’t think they would.
But instead, this one builds conflict and tension to the point that it goes full slasher horror in the final act, and as absurd as it seems, it feels really earned after everything we’ve seen thus far.
Plus, it features a really young Michael J. Fox who looks like he’s 12, and Roddy McDowell pulling a gun on his students to get them to listen (which totally isn’t something any teacher has ever fantasized about…)
Given the frequent grindhouse status of many movies featured on Last Drive In, we don’t get very many critically acclaimed masterpieces; but Audition is one such masterpiece. It’s extremely well written, acted, and directed.
It does a great job of subverting expectations where the main character seems like the creep at first (which he very much is), but by the time he realizes he’s the prey it’s far too late, for both him and the audience. It’s more than just “torture porn” with something to say, and an almost hypnotic quality that draws its audience in.
2. Ginger Snaps
Using lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty is kind of genius, and it’s part of the reason why Ginger Snaps is such a revered classic. It also boats realistic, relatable characters, along with some amazing practical werewolf makeup effects.
Granted, it deals with two teenage girls, but it’s honestly relatable to anyone of any age who’s ever felt like an outcast. Plus it now remains a really cool time capsule of late 90s grunge.
1. Bride of Re-Animator
How could it be anything other than Herbert West?! Jeffrey Combs absolutely owns this role and it’s the rare exception of a sequel that’s very much on par with the original, perhaps even better.
Right from its opening with West in the middle of a civil war in South America, to its homage to Bride of Frankenstein, this one features a Herbert West getting more confident and ambitious with his skills.
And it makes for one of the most fun movies that Combs has ever done, and that’s saying something given his resume. Unfortunately the third one is a bit of a letdown, but the first two remain timeless classics!
Which one is your favorite and least favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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One thought on “Ranking Every Movie from “The Last Drive In” Season 3”
Dead and Buried is such a good film. I am happy he finally covered it.