George V. Feta
Penn & Teller|
Joe Bob Briggs
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original release||June 29, 1991– September 17, 2000|
The show underwent multiple changes throughout its over nine year run. Initially, the program revolved around a claymation-style moon character who narrated the often themed-nights, and served as the de facto host. Additionally, the show was regularly paired alongside the series 100% Weird, which brought viewers even more bizarre films. Later, in June 1993, entertainment duo Penn and Teller guest-hosted MonsterVision marathons featuring mainly old B-Movies from the 1950s and 1960s. Then, by July 31, 1993, the narrator of the series became solely a voice-over announcer.
From 1996 until around the show's cancellation in 2000, the series was hosted by Joe Bob Briggs, and featured mainly classic horror and schlock films from the 1970s to the 1990s. Here, much of the original formatting under Briggs was derived from his earlier work on The Movie Channel program, Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater. Yet, the series would also incorporate Joe Bob's Last Call, a segment that presented that night's last film. Then, in 1999, the overall program became styled as Joe Bob's Hollywood Saturday Night and MonsterVision, before ultimately returning to its non-host format in mid-2000.
Pre-Joe Bob Briggs (1991-1996)
When MonsterVision premiered on June 29, 1991, it was little more than a marathon of older horror, science fiction, or fantasy films beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET and ending well into the early morning. With a claymation-style moon character serving as the original narrator and 'host', broadcasts tended to air monthly, as well as certain holidays. Films often fit a general theme, such as "TNT Salutes The Outer Limits," "Halloween Night," "Attack of the Sea Monsters," "A Christmas Nightmare," "Harryhausen Havoc," or recurring "Godzilla Marathons," although other occasions had somewhat unrelated choices. Additionally, MonsterVision sometimes had special events, such as their "Dracula Weekend," which had a mini-interview with Christopher Lee in honor of the release of Bram Stoker's Dracula. A number of later marathons, beginning on June 5, 1993, were presented by the well-known entertainment duo Penn and Teller, before the show then transitioned to voice-over narration for the remaining duration of this period.
Joe Bob Briggs Era (1996-2000)
Beginning on June 28, 1996, Joe Bob Briggs (John Bloom), the drive-in movie critic, became the official host of MonsterVision, with the series transitioning into a regularly scheduled Friday time slot at 11:00 p.m. ET. MonsterVision would typically show no more than two films per night, though several episodes were much longer, such as the 1997 "Super Bowl Sunday Special", which consisted of sixteen continuous hours of horror movies. Nonetheless, on usual double-feature nights, Joe Bob Briggs would appear anywhere between sixteen to twenty-four times throughout the movies, significantly more than he did on his previous program. In these sections, Briggs would discuss the films, and more, from the inside and outside of a staged trailer home with a green neon TNT sign in the background. Briggs was also frequently visited by one of a succession of 'mail girls', including Honey (Honey Michelle Gregory), Reno, Summer (Kathy Shower), and Rusty (Renner St. John), who not only served as attractive, comedic 'sidekicks,' but also brought Briggs fan letters, sometimes from actual prisoners. TNT also added the segment Joe Bob's Last Call, which was used to showcase the final movie of the night. Similarly, the program was occasionally able to feature guests such as rapper and actor Ice-T, and directors Wes Craven and John Waters.
When it came to the movies, MonsterVision, under Briggs, would sometimes stray away from the typical horror and science fiction films, showing westerns, blaxploitation, kung-fu, dramas, comedies, and other film genres, specifically in the later years. Additionally, as a way to connect fans further to the movies being presented during episodes, MonsterVision was known for its early use of the internet at tnt.turner.com/monstervision. Here, fans were able to chat in Joe Bob's Rec Room, participate in weekly caption contests to win t-shirts, take part in Find That Flick contests to win obscure films, send fan mail, see images from the set, get free postcards, learn more about Briggs, and find out about upcoming films. Nevertheless, before each film, Briggs would often give the audience his formal on-air "Drive-In Totals," a list of what he considered to be the most notable, gory, or humorous points in the film, followed by a rating of up to four stars, usually all delivered in a deadpan style. He frequently played on the term "kung fu" to describe action sequences with a particular theme, such as 'Quicksand Fu' in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Briggs' introduction to Phantasm II, for example, comprised:
"Twelve dead bodies. Exploding house. One four-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Dwarf tossing. Ten breasts. Embalming needles plunged through various parts of various bodies. One motor-vehicle chase, with crash-and-burn. Ear-lopping. Forehead-drilling. Wrist-hacking. Bimbo-flinging. Grandma-bashing. Devil sex. Crematorium Fu. Flamethrower Fu ... Four stars. Check it out."
After each commercial break, Briggs would deliver a diverting short or long monologue concerning general observations about the film, as well as popular culture, society, and his thoughts about life in general. These could be more serious discussions, for example, of trivia about obscure film actors, or controversies such as the race debates around films such as Big Trouble in Little China. Conversely, Briggs' pieces could be more lighthearted, with deliberately outrageous political statements and occasional banter with his film crew. He frequently described his notional day-to-day activities, including supposed problems with his girlfriends (or lack thereof) and his four ex-wives (usually the fourth, "Wanda Bodeine"). Lastly, Briggs usually signed off each episode of MonsterVision with a casual debriefing on the movie just-ended, along with a series of deliberately bad jokes, and a reminder that "the Drive-In will never die!"
Furthermore, during these sections, Briggs routinely criticized and lampooned TNT's censorship of the films, with frequent reference to the channel's owner, Ted Turner. This running gag culminated with a Halloween marathon of Friday the 13th movies, which portrayed strange occurrences throughout the night, leading to Joe Bob realizing that Turner was trying to 'kill' him. The final scene saw Joe Bob give an impassioned apology to Turner, claiming he was an amazing person, before the video feed cut off eerily. A similar stunt was staged in Blair Witch-themed scenes for a later horror marathon, with the host mysteriously missing.
Beginning on July 7, 1997, the series moved to Saturday nights in order to avoid further conflicts with TNT sports broadcasts. Then, on September 11, 1999, the program was almost completely revamped in order to attract a wider audience, particular more women, resulting in the creation of Joe Bob's Hollywood Saturday Night and MonsterVision. Moving from Dallas to Los Angeles, not only was the general aesthetic of the show changed to feel more 'Hollywood', but the first film of each episode going forward tended to be more 'mainstream', while the second was usually in accordance with traditional MonsterVision. Subsequently, this meant that the Joe Bob’s Last Call segment would be dropped altogether. Although the original formula of the program was now changed, this transition allowed for more guests, such as Rhonda Shear, and horror movie specials still remained a staple of the show. Nevertheless, possibly due to a decline in ratings, TNT was unable to fully justify the increased budget after the move to Los Angeles, thus shifting to a one movie a night format starting on January 15, 2000.
Cancellation and Shudder Revival
Briggs hosted MonsterVision for a little over four years, becoming the main reason many fans tuned-in, still, late in its run, the show's addition of Hollywood films into its format hinted at the initial breakdown of the MonsterVision series. Briggs himself has stated that he believes TNT showing fewer horror and drive-in movies may have led to the program's fall. Thus, on July 8, 2000, Briggs unknowingly hosted MonsterVision for the last time (airing Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice). Days later, Briggs received a letter from TNT management, stating that "his services were no longer needed." Afterwards, the show returned to its original non-host format, the program's final transition. Yet, fans never received any sort of on-air closure, only officially learning about Joe Bob's departure through the main website. MonsterVision was then eventually removed from TNT's lineup after September 17, 2000.
However, almost over 17 years since its cancellation, Briggs stated that Shudder had shown some interest in reviving MonsterVision. This ultimately resulted in Joe Bob's return to television in a marathon for the Shudder TV live feed. On Friday, July 13, 2018, at 9PM EDT / 6 PM PDT, Shudder aired The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, a roughly 26-hour and 35-minute block featuring 13 of the greatest horror movies of all time as chosen by Briggs himself. Despite some technical difficulties, these films included: Tourist Trap, Sleepaway Camp, Rabid, The Prowler, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Daughters of Darkness, Blood Feast, Basket Case, Re-Animator, Demons, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Hellraiser, and Pieces. Then, although there were no commercials, these movies contained several interruptions for Joe Bob's legendary "Drive-in Totals," insider stories, and amusing tangential rants. Additionally, these segments also included Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince XO), who not only showed up in movie-themed outfits to banter with Joe Bob and bring him messages from fans, but also spent the entire time live-tweeting with viewers. Lastly, as with MonsterVision, Briggs also had a few surprise guests, including Felissa Rose and Lyle Blackburn. The full marathon is currently on demand, by individual movie segment, with another one coming later this year.
Movies Shown by Joe Bob Briggs
- The Hand
- The Creeping Unknown
- The Fog
- Night of the Living Dead
- Motel Hell
- Slaughter High
- Logan's Run
- The Beast Within
- Damnation Alley
- The People Under The Stairs
- Swamp Thing
- The Hidden II
- Soylent Green
- The Legend of Boggy Creek
- The Howling III: The Marsupials
- Zone Troopers
- Friday the 13th
- Friday the 13th, Part 2
- Friday the 13th 3-D
- Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
- Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
- Salem's Lot
- Salem's Lot, Part 2
- Time After Time
- Warlock: The Armageddon
- The Beastmaster
- Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time
- In the Mouth of Madness
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- Horror At 37,000 Feet
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture
- Halloween II
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch
- Burnt Offerings
- Poltergeist II: The Other Side
- Poltergeist 3
- The Funhouse
- King Kong
- Night of the Lepus
- Within the Rock
- The Kiss
- The Howling VII: New Moon Rising
- Pee Wee's Big Adventure
- Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby
- Mary Shelly's Frankenstein
- Poison Ivy II
- The Lost Boys
- Philadelphia Experiment 2
- The Monster Club
- The Warriors
- The Seventh Sign
- The Fly
- The Protector
- Child's Play
- Plan 9 From Outer Space
- Theatre of Blood
- The Time Machine
- Ice Cream Man
- The Omen
- Village of the Giants
- Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
- Company of Wolves
- From Beyond
- Back to the Future
- The Exorcist
- Exorcist 2: The Heretic
- Man's Best Friend
- Project Shadowchaser
- Mad Max 2
- Hercules and the Amazon Women
- Alien 3
- When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
- The Serpent and the Rainbow
- Ghoulies II
- The Birds
- Phantasm II
- Big Trouble in Little China
- Theodore Rex
- Fearless Vampire Killers
- Conan The Destroyer
- Twilight Zone: The Movie
- They Live
- Return of the Living Dead
- Return of the Living Dead Part II
- Wes Craven's New Nightmare
- Clash of the Titans
- Time Runner
- Xtro 2
- The Wraith
- Teen Wolf
- Maximum Overdrive
- Basket Case
- Basket Case 2
- Basket Case 3
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- It's Alive
- It Lives Again
- It's Alive 3: Island of the Alive
- Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
- The Dead Zone
- My Boyfriend's Back
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
- Godzilla's Revenge
- Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
- Godzilla vs. Mothra
- Red Dawn
- Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
- The Last Starfighter
- One Million Years B.C.
- King Kong Lives
- The Gate
- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
- Jaws 2
- Joe's Apartment
- Raising Cain
- Immortal Combat
- Dolores Claiborne
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- Conan The Barbarian
- Planet of the Apes
- Forbidden Planet
- Mars Attacks!
- The Devil's Rain
- To the Limit
- The Fear
- Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead
- Child's Play 2
- Ultimate Warrior
- 2020 Texas Gladiators
- Pet Shop
- A League of Their Own
- The Shawshank Redemption
- Trading Places
- Dirty Dancing
- Rocky IV
- Project Metalbeast
- The Stepfather
- House 4
- Escape from the Planet of the Apes
- Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes
- The Black Hole
- It! The Terror from Beyond Space
- Capricorn One
- Top Gun
- The Slayer (film)
- Somewhere in Time
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights
- Play Misty for Me
- This Stuff'll Kill Ya!
- Needful Things
- National Lampoon's European Vacation
- Love Potion No. 9
- The Guyver
- The Fury
- Deliberate Stranger
- Dracula: Dead and Loving It
- Deadly Friend
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Bram Stoker's Dracula
- The American President
- Adventures in Babysitting
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