Another year, another awesome season of The Last Drive In. There’s always a very bittersweet feeling at the end. While we’ve all enjoyed the last 10 weeks of Joe Bob and Darcy, there’s the knowledge now that aside from a special here or there, we’ll have to wait another year to see them again, week after week.
The fact that Shudder has already announced a 5th season does help. Season 4 brought with it the series’ 100th movie, as well as Joe Bob’s 40th anniversary of horror hosting. And to be honest, this lineup was probably one of the best we’ve ever seen. So in keeping true with annual tradition, here is our ranking of all 20 movies shown on The Last Drive In Season 4!
20. Anthropophagous (1980)
There’s no other way around it, Anthropophagous is just a bad movie. Now that’s very much the point when it comes to certain films showcased on Last Drive In. To its credit, it does boast some great practical gore and creature effects, but when it comes to everything else, it just doesn’t have that same charm that other low budget cheesy movies have. And as a result it just comes off as forgettable and kind of boring.
19. The Freakmaker (1974)
On paper, this movie has a lot going for it. As a modern (at least modern to the 70s) update on Freaks, it features real life freak show performers, as well as a charismatic performance from the always awesome Donald Pleasance.
It was also really fun seeing the iconic Doctor Who actor Tom Baker in more of a monstrous role himself. This movie certainly has huge ideas and even serves as a precursor to Jurassic Park with its themes. But it suffers from really poor pacing that results in a very slow, very dull movie at times that doesn’t live up to the promise of its premise.
18. The Baby (1973)
This one that probably deserves to be higher, and the fact that it sits at 18 has more to do with how awesome many of the other movies were this season. The Baby has a great and creepy premise that’s all held together from a pair of strong performances by Ruth Roman and David Mooney.
Honestly, the only thing that really holds it back is in how tame it is compared to how disturbing its ideas and themes were. It sets itself up for a lot, but doesn’t really deliver. Granted, part of that is its PG rating, and we live in a much more visceral time of horror filmmaking now. But it still feels like it didn’t take itself nearly as far as it could have gone.
17. Slaughterhouse (1987)
It’s nasty, it’s gory, it’s brutal, it’s everything you want from a Last Drive In movie! Featuring real life slaughterhouse footage in the opening credits (which many understandably don’t like) this movie holds nothing back, except when it comes to traditional writing/acting/etc. It’s sort of the epitome of the cheap but fun drive in type movie we see on here. And it’s lower on the list only because other movies like it were far more creative in their approaches.
16. Def by Temptation (1990)
This was definitely one of the more creative entries on the roster this season. Given that it was produced by Troma, it has their usual look and feel, coupled with a very interesting, if not a little convoluted storyline. It makes some bold choices, and granted they don’t all pay off but it’s just surreal and bizarre enough to be more memorable than other movies of its same budget. Plus, it gave us Samuel L. Jackson on The Last Drive In for the first time, so there’s that.
15. Housebound (2014)
Not really a bad movie outright, just a flawed execution of what seemed to be an interesting premise. The movie sets up its annoying, but relatable protagonist for her house arrest in a haunted house. But once the supernatural horror begins, it sort of goes all over the place and the movie isn’t sure what it’s trying to do. It gains points for its setup, but just falls short in the delivery.
14. Black Sunday (1960)
Along with Nosferatu, Black Sunday probably deserves the most credit for being a pioneer film that paved the way for many others to come. Mario Bava’s classic essentially jump started Italian horror and everything that followed, did so taking cues from Black Sunday.
All that being said, this movie crawls so that others could walk and eventually run. It has some amazing visuals, especially for the time and does a lot with what it has, but you do kind of feel like Bava is making this up as he goes (which he very much was). So the result is a great movie to inspire others to do more.
13. The Monster Club (1981)
Anthologies are very hit or miss. And while this has the campy charm turned up to 11, it works because of Vincent Price holding it all together. The stories themselves are entertaining enough, but it’s really those wraparound segments (and the songs) that are most memorable about this movie. Released in the early 80’s, it feels like the end of a long gone “spooky” era of horror films that Price had been so iconic in back in the 50s and 60s.
12. Uncle Sam (1996)
Uncle Sam was the perfect movie to kick off the season finale, especially since it was 4th of July weekend. This is a campy slasher that knows exactly what kind of movie it wants to be and just goes for it in every way, shape, and form. Sure it’s held back by some questionable choices in logic and plot holes. But it’s steeped in 4th of July imagery, and manages to have something to say, even if it does so in a not so subtle way.
11. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)
Between the very Oedipal themes coming from the psychotic aunt, and the disturbingly homophobic detective, there’s a lot in this movie that would make anyone cringe. And for some either of these make it an unpleasant and uncomfortable watch. But if you can manage the intentionally upsetting details, there’s more to this slasher than meets the eye.
Beneath the low budget camp is a very tense and interesting murder mystery that delves intothe question and sense of identity we all must face. It’s the type of movie you come for the kills and the cheesy laughs, but stay for the genuinely profound themes.
10. Head of the Family (1996)
This Charles Band classic is peak direct to video 90s, but it’s charming as hell and commits to its absurd premise 100%. While most will look at it and only remember the several nude scenes from Jacqueline Lovell, the real stand out is J. W. Perra as the titular giant head, Myron. There’s something almost hypnotic to the eloquence and wit in which he speaks. He absolutely steals the movie and takes it from an easily forgettable low budget camp to something else entirely.
9. Hellbender (2022)
Written and directed by two parents and their teenage daughter, this is such a fun and surreal music video inspired supernatural coming of age story. The one thing that ultra-low budget indie films have over big blockbusters is the passion and creativity behind them and that’s definitely on display here. The fact that “Hellbender” is also the name of the family’s band in real life just provides another cool detail that adds to this wild ride that you willingly want to go on.
8. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
It’s hard to remake a classic like Nosferatu, but Werner Herzog did an amazing job with his “modern” update in the late 1970s, complete with color film and dialogue. Part of what makes it work so well is the incredible cinematography that pulls you into this dark and creepy world, along with a pair of stellar performances from the late Bruno Ganz and Klaus Kinski.
According to Joe Bob in his behind the scenes stories, Herzog tricked Kinski into giving a more held back performance, by tiring him out every day via arguing with him. Generally, we don’t recommend psychologically manipulating your actors, but Kinksi was a diagnosed sociopath and Herzog seemed to be the only one who could “wrangle” him.
7. Nightbreed (1990 Theatrical, 2014 Director’s Cut)
Prior to Last Drive In, I had only seen the theatrical version of this movie, and that film would rank much much lower on this list as it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But thankfully Joe Bob showed the version of the movie we were meant to see and that version contains a myriad of fascinating creature designs with monsters that are well developed and sympathetic. And all of it is held together with David Cronenberg taking a break from directing and acting in the creepiest role he’s ever done!
6. Habit (1995)
Thematically this one feels similar to Def by Temptation, and while it had a lower budget, it doesn’t feel as campy. Part of it is the fact that this movie takes itself much more seriously and uses its low budget and lack of resources to its advantage.
The result is a creepy vampire mystery where the gritty NYC setting feels like another character. It’s very much the “New York” indie film as described by Joe Bob, and there’s definitely a place for its more surreal arthouse approach. It almost feels like a student film, and that’s not a bad thing, thus it has a level of realism that you don’t often see.
5. Nosferatu (1922)
It’s not every season that a legendary, groundbreaking horror film turns 100, but this was the perfect movie to showcase on Last Drive In this year. Much like Black Sunday, this is a film that inspired many others that came later. But it feels much more coherent and confident in what it wants to do. The simple fact is Max Schreck’s iconic performance remains creepy as hell, even today, a century later. There’s a reason this movie has endured for so long, despite Florence Stoker trying to get it destroyed and erased from history completely.
4. Tenebrae (1982)
No one defined the giallo subgenre quite like Dario Argento, and Tenebrae is arguably his best. He was always known for his surreal storytelling and artful visuals. This movie combines both of those elements with one of the better storylines of any of Argento’s movies. It has the pacing and style of a classic murder mystery with the gore and shocking violence of a slasher, perfectly demonstrating everything we love about giallo!
3. The Stepfather (1987)
This movie has long been a personal favorite and it was an absolute joy to see it included in this year’s lineup. Granted, it has its flaws, such as the brother-in-law storyline not really amounting to much.
But it’s a solid mystery/thriller held together by a superbly creepy performance by Terry O’Quinn. He has this amazing ability to be super charming and super scary at the same time, much like a real life serial killer. It’s a skill he continued to utilize on Lost, where his character John Locke was shrouded in mystery as well.
2. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Long before she was Clarice Starling, Jodie Foster was already demonstrating her acting chops in films like Taxi Driver, and of course this one. Unfortunately, it’s a film that Foster herself has disowned, calling it one her least favorite movies she’s ever done. And she’s gone on to admit that the producers made her feel very uncomfortable, which is absolutely not okay.
But the movie itself is a masterclass in tension, and dramatic performances from a 13 year old Foster and Martin Sheen absolutely committing to creepiness. It’s a testament to both the writing and acting that a movie that’s mostly a single location where characters just talk could hold so much interest, intrigue, and tension.
1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Every few decades there is a film that comes along and changes the world. Before Night of the Living Dead, zombies were a component of Haitian folklore, and after this movie they represented a brand new subgenre that has since exploded onto both the big and small screens.
George A. Romero’s classic not only created a myriad of tropes that are still in use today, but it uses them brilliantly in its own right. Earlier on this list, we talked about original classics that crawled so later movies could walk. Night of the Living Dead ran before anyone even knew that it could crawl.
Between its brutal gore effects, terrifyingly realistic portrayal of how people act in desperate situations, and its unintentional social commentary that lives on with that ending, it has a lasting legacy that will never be forgotten. And because of the strange detail of it being public domain, it’s a film that will always be accessible.
Which ones were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
For more rankings, reviews, news and other fun horror/Halloween content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!
You can also shop Halloween Year-Round merchandise on Redbubble and support us on Patreon!