|Directed by||Ellen Hovde|
George V. Feta
|Presented by||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 and 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 Project-themed scenes for a later horror marathon, with the host mysteriously missing.
Beginning on June 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, and his presence was the main reason many fans tuned-in. However, the show's format change hinted at the eventual breakdown of the MonsterVision series. Briggs himself has stated that he believes TNT's scheduling of 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 9 PM 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.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Joe Bob Briggs hosted the "Dinners of Death" on November 22, 2018 at 9 PM ET / 6 PM PT using a similar format as the previous marathon, but with sets more akin to those seen on MonsterVision and a runtime of about nine hours and 45 minutes. Featured movies included The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Dead or Alive, and Blood Rage, with special guest Michael Berryman and a brief phone call with "mangled dick expert" Felissa Rose. Next, Joe Bob Briggs hosted "A Very Joe Bob Christmas" on December 21, 2018 at 9 PM ET / 6 PM PT, the first of its nature to stream simultaneously across the US, Canada, and the UK. In a surprise twist, the entire marathon was centered around the Phantasm film series, specifically: Phantasm, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, Phantasm IV: Oblivion, and Phantasm: Ravager. Overall, the marathon ran for a total of eight hours and 48 minutes, with guest appearances by franchise ice cream man turned hero Reggie Bannister and Phantasm: Ravager special effects makeup coordinator Gigi Bannister. Interestingly, Joe Bob supposedly decided against showing Phantasm II due to its depicted destruction of an original 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, although it was most likely a rights issue with Universal Pictures that prevented the movie's broadcast. Additionally, since Shudder did not have the rights to use any of Don Coscarelli's music, Joe Bob closed off the show by leading everyone in a song he called the "12 Days of Phantasm."
All three sets of films are currently on demand, by individual movie segment, with more content by Joe Bob Briggs coming to Shudder on Friday, March 29, 2019. For nine weeks, leading up to Friday, May 24, Joe Bob will be hosting weekly double features streaming live every Friday night at 9 PM ET / 6 PM PT. The films for the series will range over five decades and include everything from classics to obscurities to foreign cult offerings, with a handful of guests in between.
Movies shown by Penn and Teller on MonsterVision
- The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
- Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
- Mysterious Island
- Clash of the Titans
- The Outer Limits (1963 TV series)
- Night of the Lepus
- Queen of Outer Space
- Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
- Plan 9 from Outer Space
- The Manster
- Billy the Kid Versus Dracula
- The Howling
- The Thing
- King Kong
Movies shown by Joe Bob Briggs on MonsterVision
- The Hand
- The Creeping Unknown
- The Fog
- Night of the Living Dead
- Motel Hell
- Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn
- Logan's Run
- The Beast Within
- The People Under The Stairs
- Swamp Thing
- She (1984)
- The Valley of Gwangi
- Deadly Friend
- Midnight Offerings
- Soylent Green
- The Legend of Boggy Creek
- Project: Shadowchaser
- Zone Troopers
- Friday the 13th
- Friday the 13th Part 2
- Friday the 13th Part III
- Salem's Lot
- Time After Time
- The Beastmaster
- Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- The Horror at 37,000 Feet
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch
- Burnt Offerings
- Poltergeist II: The Other Side
- Poltergeist III
- King Kong
- Night of the Lepus
- Tiger Claws
- The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter
- Warrior of the Lost World
- Billy Jack
- Red Sonja
- Overlords of the U.F.O.
- The Lost Boys
- Little Shop of Horrors
- Smokey and the Bandit II
- The Monster Club
- The Fearless Vampire Killers
- The Fly
- The Swarm
- Child's Play
- Death Valley
- Theatre of Blood
- The Neptune Factor
- When Time Ran Out
- The Omen
- Village of the Giants
- The Master Gunfighter
- Saturn 3
- Chained Heat II
- From Beyond
- Back to the Future
- The Exorcist
- Exorcist II: The Heretic
- Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
- Donovan's Brain
- Slaughter High
- Man's Best Friend
- Mad Max 2
- The Doberman Gang
- The Elephant Man
- It! The Terror from Beyond Space
- Godzilla vs. Mothra
- Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
- Time Runner
- The Protector
- The Warriors
- Endangered Species
- It's Alive III: Island of the Alive
- Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby
- When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
- Howard the Duck
- Return of the Living Dead Part II
- The Nutty Professor
- Philadelphia Experiment II
- Alien 3
- Steel Dawn
- The Serpent and the Rainbow
- The Birds
- Phantasm II
- Big Trouble in Little China
- Theodore Rex
- Wes Craven's New Nightmare
- Halloween II
- Conan The Destroyer
- Hercules in New York
- Twilight Zone: The Movie
- They Live
- Capricorn One
- Four Days in November
- Clash of the Titans
- The NeverEnding Story
- Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
- Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
- Batteries Not Included
- Project X
- The Wraith
- Black Sunday
- Teen Wolf
- Maximum Overdrive
- Immortal Combat
- She (1965)
- The Seventh Sign
- Look Who's Talking Too
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- It Lives Again
- The Goonies
- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
- Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story
- Prelude to a Kiss
- Rosemary's Baby
- Genesis II
- The Dead Zone
- Warlock: The Armageddon
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
- Prehistoric Women
- The Fury
- Mannequin Two: On the Move
- Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus
- Surviving the Game
- Cleopatra Jones
- Poison Ivy
- Poison Ivy II: Lily
- Red Dawn
- Embrace of the Vampire
- The Last Starfighter
- One Million Years B.C.
- King Kong Lives
- The Gate
- It's Alive
- Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
- Play Misty for Me
- Needful Things
- Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead
- Joe's Apartment
- Pet Shop
- Raising Cain
- Xtro II: The Second Encounter
- The Silencers
- Dolores Claiborne
- The Kiss
- House IV
- The Hidden II
- Howling III
- Howling: New Moon Rising
- Ghoulies II
- Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
- The Guyver
- The Deliberate Stranger
- Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
- The Funhouse
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- The Outer Limits: "Cold Hands, Warm Heart"
- The Outer Limits: "I, Robot"
- 2020 Texas Gladiators
- The Ultimate Warrior
- Damnation Alley
- The Return of the Living Dead
- Jaws 2
- Love Potion No. 9
- The Time Machine
- Point of No Return
- High Plains Drifter
- The Long Riders
- Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
- The Surgeon
- The Blues Brothers
- Pee Wee's Big Adventure
- Conan The Barbarian
- Hot Shots!
- Aces: Iron Eagle III
- Planet of the Apes
- Escape from the Planet of the Apes
- American Graffiti
- Mars Attacks!
- Forbidden Planet
- Ice Cream Man
- National Lampoon's European Vacation
- The Great Outdoors
- The Devil's Rain
- To the Limit
- Somewhere in Time
- Adventures in Babysitting
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights
- The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
- Child's Play 2
- In the Mouth of Madness
- Heaven's Prisoners
- The Sitter
- Bram Stoker's Dracula
- Dracula: Dead and Loving It
- Top Gun
- The Shawshank Redemption
- Trading Places
- The American President
- Look Who's Talking Now
- A League of Their Own
- Dirty Dancing
- Rocky IV
- Future Hunters
- Project Metalbeast
- The Company of Wolves
- The Stepfather
- My Boyfriend's Back
- Body Armor
- Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
- Hercules and the Amazon Women
- Within the Rock
- Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice
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