Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In
By Joe Bob Briggs, Drive In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas
For the week of September 26, 2001

Before we were so rudely interrupted by terrorists, I was trying to bring some order to this world of ours by leading you to exactly those video titles that are banned by the Taliban and almost every other Arab country, but did you listen? I think not. Do you realize how many people rented "The Sound of Music" at Blockbuster last weekend alone?
Let's not dwell on it.

Instead, let's celebrate our drive-in freedoms, because we still live in one of the few places in the world where you have the sacred right to put any dang thing on film that a) makes money, b) identifies you as a geek, or c) makes your mother nervous. What do you think Delta Force is over there trying to defend anyhow?

There was a lot of bullstuff in the press last week about how America is too frivolous, America needs to sober up, America has been living in a fantasy land. But I'd rather live in a country where you can pig out on Doritos, buy a Jet-Ski on layaway, and do the funky chicken. We'll kick hiney when we have to, but we're not gonna chuck the big-screen TV into the swamp just cause some creepsters in burnooses try to mess with us.

Which leads me to that great American institution, the From Hell movie. The first one was "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" (Nanny From Hell), and since then we've had Wife From Hell, Girlfriend From Hell, Houseguest From Hell, Video Service Technician From Hell ("Cable Guy"), and all the other variations of that obsessive psycho type we all know and love. This week we have the Beautiful Babe Next Door With No Visible Means Of Support From Hell, in the form of Justine Priestley (sister of Jason Priestley), a recent parolee from the Home for Homicidal Maniac Young People who shows up in a suburban home next door to Rolling Stone writer David DeWitt and his blues-singer wife, Karen Grosso.

Karen spends a little bit too much time on the road, so the frequently mini-skirted, bikinied, high-heeled and otherwise babed-up Justine keeps coming over with hors d'ouevres, wine, and--whoops!--the inevitable invitation to Jacuzzi nookie. DeWitt goes the way of all hapless horny guys on late-night cable, and pretty soon Justine is doing spooky things like sneaking into his house and setting up a closed-circuit surveillance system, tapping his phone, trying to spike his wife's beer with acid, and--oh yeah--murdering various cast members and burying them in her fresh new flower garden.

As erotic thrillers go, it's fairly decent and has some truly spooky moments. David DeWitt is outstanding as the faithful husband who makes a stupid mistake, and Justine is so totally demonic that you almost forget how beautiful she is. Now that is acting.

No breasts. (Automatic one-half-star deduction.) Three dead bodies. One dead dog. One drooling sleazeball mental health professional. Shovel to the noggin. Chained psychiatrist-baking. Medication flushing. Bloody guardian angel. Multiple hot-tub canoodling. Ear rolls. Gratuitous torch-singing. Motor vehicle Fu. Cameo by Reggie Bannister, of "Phantasm" fame. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Justine Priestley, as the Babe From Hell, for saying "It's not the smoke that kills--it's the smoker" and "You made love to me in your hot tub--don't you recognize my voice!"; Karen Grosso, as the career-obsessed wife, who says "It does look better if people think I'm single"; and Michael Rissi, the writer/director, for doing things the drive-in way.

Three and a half stars.

*** 1/2

To check out Joe Bob's voluminous guide to all the B movies ever made, go to www.joebobbriggs.com or email him at JoeBob@upi.com. Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221.

© Copyright 2001 United Press International and Joe Bob Briggs