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As the supersized season six of the wildly popular “The Last Drive-In” kicks off on Shudder, we interview the icon himself, Joe Bob Briggs.

Joe Bob Briggs The Last Drive-In

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Joe Bob Briggs is one of the most respected names in horror. The Last Drive-In on Shudder has been a welcome return for long-time fans and a great introduction for those who did not have a chance to see MonsterVision or his show on The Movie Channel. With the sixth season upon us, Joe Bob talks about the current state of genre films, fans, and Donald Trump.

Nathaniel Muir: The Season Six premiere is a tribute to Roger Corman. Given his incredibly vast catalog, how did you decide to discuss Bucket of Blood and Death Stalker?

Joe Bob: Well, I wanted to show one movie from his directing career, and I wanted to show one movie from his producing career — you know, the heyday of New World pictures.
I felt that both of those movies were sort of neglected classics.

There were more obvious choices that we could have done. But I think Bucket of Blood is better than Little Shop of Horrors, yet it gets overshadowed. It’s the same plot. Bucket of Blood is, in my opinion, the far superior movie.

Deathstalker is just one of the most amazing low-budget movies ever made. They have so many stunts and effects in that movie. I don’t even think it could have been made in the United States; I think it would have violated a lot of safety laws. I think the only they could have made was the way they did. They made it in Argentina with a deal that Roger had set up with one of the oldest studios in Argentina because they were on hard hard times. He actually saved that studio from bankruptcy.

NM: I know you can’t spoil too much, but what can you tell us about Season 6?

JB: We’re going to a new format. We actually have more movies than we normally have in any season, but we’re gonna do them in one movie every second week. And then we’re gonna have specials. We’re probably gonna have a marathon in the summer, and we’re gonna bring back Joe Bob’s Summer School, which is something that we did at MonsterVision when I was at TNT. We’ll have themed movies, and I will lecture on various subjects.

We don’t announce the titles in advance, so it’s difficult to talk about them. We have some really interesting guests that you wouldn’t expect, but I can’t talk more about them because I would have to reveal the titles.

NM: You mentioned your lecturing — or, as Darcy calls them, tangents. What inspires those?

JB:  Oh, man, it can be anything. It used to be headlines, whatever was in the news, but I tend to stay away from that now because it inflames the Internet.

It used to be that anybody who does satire does the most basic thing—the staple of all satire—make fun of the President. It doesn’t matter who the President is—you make fun of the President. I’ve made fun of every President since Carter — actually, since Ford.

But it was not until Obama that people started being mortally offended. If you did what used to be fairly conventional, exaggerated satire about the President… the Obama supporters would be very touchy about it.

And then came the Trump supporters. Oh my God! They were so touchy that you just couldn’t go there. They’d say, “You’re an idiot. You’re an idiot liberal tool of the Northeastern establishment” or something like that, just because you made a bunch of jokes about Trump — who’s an easy, easy guy to make fun of.

And then, that’s continued into the Biden administration. It’s just the world we live in now, where we can’t laugh at ourselves.

I don’t talk as much about current events anymore because people get so upset, and it’s no fun if people are not willing to laugh about it.

Now, I take from culture. You know, cultural satire, stupid things that people do that became common, how we use technology, and things like that. But it’s hard compared to the kind of satire I did at the beginning of my career when everything was fair game.

NM: You talk about inflaming the Internet. Some of your choices have been very polarizing. Cannibal Holocaust. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. What are some of the welcome changes you’ve seen in genre cinema?

JB: What people call genre cinema today can be anything. I mean, it can be an art film, a hardcore exploitation film, or an underground film. But for the most part, people have decided to play it safe in the modern world.

I think after 2016 when The Shape of Water became the first horror film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, horror became big-budget. Therefore, it was controlled by studios, and it had the same standards that they apply to Marvel or DC comics films.

And then, there were the guys coming out of film school. They would do these homages to eighties films, because that’s what they love. But they would leave out the controversial things about the 80s. They wouldn’t do the shower scene. They wouldn’t do the gratuitous beheading.

Is there such a thing as an exploitation film anymore? I don’t even know if there is such a thing. I think that’s why they switched to the term genre film. Just to mean things that used to be forbidden and used to be outlawed.

And now have entered the mainstream.

NM: You have many long-time fans who have followed your career from the start. But you’re also speaking to a newer generation. How does that feel to have such wide appeal?

JB: Oh, it feels great! I love the new fans because, you know, the ones who never do anything except streaming and never knew anything except home entertainment, they’re more likely to go back and watch the stuff from previous decades. They’re easier to deal with. They sense, somehow, that they’re missing something about the raw power of those movies that were true exploitation films from the heyday of the exploitation film. They sense that, in a way, they were cheated of their inheritance.

The Last Drive-In Season 6 premiered on Friday, March 15 on the Shudder TV and AMC+ TV feeds.

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