In a vain attempt to reduce the size of my coverage of Joe Bob’s Drive-In Jamboree, I summarized a lot of things. Then that was too long, so I split it into two posts. You can see the first part of the weekend here at Ace’s (where comments will get you banned) or here at Moviegique’s (where nobody comments and we don’t know how to ban).
Today let’s talk about Sunday on a sweltering summer day in Memphis. (I actually found it quite pleasant but I’m used to 100+ weather.)
Sunday night began with a riff of Hogzilla. Led by “Mystery Science Theater 3000’s” Jonah Ray, and helped by “The Last Drive-In” team (Darcy the Mail Girl, Austin Jennings and John Brennan) as well as riffs from the crowd, it’s safe to say this movie doesn’t really get any better with time. Darcy dug up a print to air a season or two back to torment Joe Bob with—to this day, the slightest provocation will get the crew and audience chanting “Hogzilla! Hogzilla! Hogzilla!”—its major crime, really, is claiming to star Joe Bob when he’s in very little of the movie. (This, of course, is a low-budget tradition.) That and, the rest of the cast is aggressively unlikable, which I think is less to do with them than a kind of cheap way to add tension when your monster budget is low to non-existent (also a low-budget tradition).
There’s not much to it, alas: It’s just a slasher movie with a giant feral boar taking the place of the slasher, but otherwise behaving exactly as a slasher does, down to picking off people alone and…well, I guess he doesn’t hide the bodies or anything but they seem to pop up unexpectedly anyway. This is the sort of movie that runs 90 minutes (if you count the very, very slow moving end credits) and really needs some riffing to get through. Ideas for Hogzilla 2 were floated, as well, such as Hogzilla 2: Pig In The City and 2 Hog 2 Zilla.
This is one of those movies that isn’t even going to make it to cult status.
The 2022 Hubbies
The Sunday night close-out and the ostensible reason-for-the-season was the Drive-In Academy Awards (the “Hubbies”). I actually re-scheduled my flight and took Monday off so I could be here for this, and I don’t regret it. Out of 250 submissions, ten winners were picked and then screened after the announcements. I missed two of them because I was waiting in line for an autograph, but the one takeaway I have from the eight I did see was: Wow, the technical level of the indie film has gone through the roof!
Of course, I’m seeing the top 4%. The other 96% almost certainly contained some more amateurish stuff, but the first one up was “Polybius“, based on the urban legend about a video game with a sinister effect on young minds. (If you go to the Wiki link, there’s an FBI meme in the offing: The FBI you wish you had fought crime; The FBI you’d settle for are evil high-tech geniuses; The FBI you get raids arcades because a kid has a seizure playing Tempest.) Trailer.
Anyway, this very ’80s premise was executed on a level to where you didn’t notice the budget. That’s kind of a big deal, I think. If you can walk away from a 20-minute $50K short just thinking about the contents of the short and not how they cut corners, that’s really something. For scale, consider the budget of the 1960 Little Shop of Horrors was over five-times that (adjusted for inflation) and used existing sets, and still feels inescapably cheap (for all its amusing aspects).
So, something is going on here which is potentially very good. Tom Atkins is in this one, by the way, and damn, can he still act. I mean, he’s 86 and he can’t hear very well, but he still projects strength and authority on screen. Very impressive. (Atkins won a Lifetime Achievement Hubbie.) Writer/director Jim Kelly was floating around and seemed like a hell of a nice guy, too. From Mount Sinai, New York.
I missed the feature winner Greywood Plot because I was standing in line to get an autograph. Joe Bob and Darcy The Mail Girl powered through the weekend on a couple of hours of sleep (after which they ran off to do a show above the Mason-Dixon line) at least partly due to JB’s insistence that he see everyone. He was dead on his feet—on his butt, actually, since he was sitting—by the time I got to him and still managed a sincere smile and chit-chat. (Trailer here.)
From Josh Stifter and Dan Degman of Crystal, Minnesota, Greywood is the tale of wannabe influencers who end up on an all-too-successful cryptid hunt. Kudos for the trailer effectively giving a brief shot of the monster. That’s just a rare thing period. (They either don’t show it or you wish they didn’t.)
The animated short The Mechanical Dancer, was not only as good as anything I’ve seen from a studio, it’s legitimately aesthetically superior to anything I’ve seen recently. A stop-motion-looking cartoon done in the style of the 1920 film The Cabinet of Caligari, this takes elements of that plot with a twist of Frankenstein/Bucket of Blood…it’s just nice to look at. Josh and Jenna Jaillet are professional artists and have produced something that you might find in front of a Pixar flick, minus the corporate blandification. From Sunrise, Florida.
Threshhold: A voice-over artist is haunted by ghosts…or is she just crazy? Or both?! (Entire short here.) Directed by Mike Thompson of Louisville, Kentucky.
Last Day for Videos: A documentary about the closing of the last video store chain in America. (Entire short here.) Nostalgic, melancholic, and oddly affecting considering video stores were about a 35-year phenomenon. Hell, you nearly 29-year-olds probably barely remember ’em. Directed by Chad Campbell of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Be Mine: This black comedy short reminded me heavily of a Julie Nolke bit gone horribly wrong, when a guy on a Valentine’s Day date is ready to take his relationship with his new “from out of town” girlfriend to the next level, only to realize he knows absolutely nothing about her. From Ryan and Anthony Famulari of Long Island, New York, I cannot for the life of me find a trailer or even a still of this, and “Be Mine” is a title shared by about a dozen horror shorts made in the past decade. But it made me laugh out loud!
Lethalogica: Calling this “micro” budget probably doesn’t do justice to the word “micro”. The budget was about $800 per director Tony Reames and co-writer Haley Leary. Leary stars in the film with Luke Tanner as a couple who have a slight misunderstanding that unfolds in a very drive-in way. From Georgia. No trailer I can find.
The Thing About Beecher’s Gate: Another micro-micro, made for about $250 over two weekends by Jeremy Herbert of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, the premise of this 26-minute short is that a new deputy in a small town must undergo a hazing ritual (or is it?), guarding a shed overnight which—well, let’s say it’s inspired by Assault on Precinct 13 and leave it at that. This was entertaining to me, but somewhat disappointing in that it’s clear that the events of the night don’t play out as planned, but it made me wonder what the “going right” could’ve possibly meant. Trailer.
Mannequins: Directed by David Malcom from the UK, this story of mannequins playing out horror stories is fun, unusual and also has a kind of arty feel. Mannequins haven’t been this sympathetic since Kim Catrall! (Entire short here.)
The last film was a full-length feature called HeBGB TV. Sketch films are always kind of hit-and-miss but the noteworthy aspect is that there are some hits, and the technical/aesthetic quality is overall a pleasant callback to those old Rubinstein TV shows like “Tales from the Darkside”. From Jake McClellan, Adam Lenhart and Eric Griffin of Lancaster, PA. This is just a remarkable first time effort!
The takeaway for me was this: You could sit through these and think, “Hey, these are pretty good.” As opposed to “Hey, these are pretty good for the budget.”
JB has decided next year the Hubbies will be the first night instead of the last, which is a good move. Winning a Hubbie isn’t necessarily a ticket to fame and wealth or even to being able to make another movie—the people who get that far should be feted by the crowd that loves them best. We were up past 3:30AM Monday AM seeing these, and a lot of people had to leave beforehand.
I had no regrets a few hours later when I stumbled through the Nashville airport: Totally worth it!