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Joe Bob Briggs

Critic/Actor/TV Personality
Interview by: 
Big McLargehuge

HV: Hi Joe Bob, I’d like to thank you up front for taking the time for this interview and to thank you for the decade or so of wonderful television you’ve offered to the bad-movie lovers of America.

One of my fondest memories of television was watching your Monstervision presentation of perhaps the worst movie ever made, "Megaforce", and for the first time actually enjoying the experience. What do you think makes a bad movie into a good experience?

JBB: That was kind of my specialty when I started out on The Movie Channel years ago. They had bought all these virtually unwatchable European sex and horror flicks, and the idea of hosting them was to get people to actually sit through them. The theory is that you'll watch ANYTHING if you have enough interesting information about how it was made, especially if it's a turkey that a lot of people took very seriously. Of course, on a lot of the movies, I didn't have that much information, so in those cases I would just make jokes about logic lapses in the plot, costumes, scenery, acting, anything that struck me as weird. And I always took the attitude that I was watching the movie WITH the TV viewers, that it was a joint experience, so I tried to refer to things that had just happened on screen while they were fresh in the audience's mind. This kind of show is actually the only place where you can watch a scene and then immediately DISCUSS the scene, which was great when we had the actual actors or the director on.

Following that up. Some movie experiences are so god awful that no amount of sarcastic name calling can lift it out of the dumpster of filmdom. If there was a special place in Hell for bad directors to spend eternity suffering through endless loops of their films who would you put there and what would you make them watch? For me it would be Paul Verhoven and "Starship Troopers".

The guy who made "Gandhi" almost made "A Chorus Line." Two of the best horror films in history. Excruciatingly painful. He should die by being forced to watch Ben Kingsley in a Bob Fosse rehearsal studio being humiliated by Michael Douglas.

I think Michael Bay deserves his own VIP room in Movie Hell. If you were the bouncer what other directors would you allow to sit in on the eternal screening of "Pearl Harbor" and "Armegeddon" double bill?

Steven Spielberg would be there, but you're right about Michael Bay. Do you know that he intends to remake the greatest drive-in movie of all time, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre"? Assassinate him, quick.

In rare cases a film can transcend its crap-factor andactually offer something worth looking at be it the cavalcade of Italian boobsin Lamberto Bava’s "Delirium" or a great gun fight like the first ten minutes of "Nemesis". Do you have any personal favorite films, or film moments, that fit this unique category?

Well, there's always the wide-screen closeup on the chests of 12 nekkid girls running toward the camera in slow motion in "Gas Pump Girls." They should have shot that scene in Cinerama.

Hollywood seems to have a fatal case of remake-itis with such titles in the works as “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” directed by Martin Scorcese and “Akira” directed by Stephen Norrington, some awful remakes already in the can like “Get Carter” and “Psycho”. Is Hollywood content to simply recycle itself, and if so, how can they be stopped?

Assassination is the only solution. Actually I don't understand why they don't remake FAILED movies. Why remake the ones we already love? Remake a script that somebody SCREWED UP the first time, like "Howard the Duck," which was a great comic book but an unwatchable movie.

What in the hell was up with “Get Carter?” I’ve seen more interesting excrement fights in the Franklin Park Zoo Monkey House. Why remake, and stupidify a classic? I mean, won’t comparisons be made? Why put so much money into something that will ultimately fail?

Because a lot of people in the movie business are more concerned with their own personal psychodramas than with creating truthful works.

Have there ever been any good remakes?

I think the "Night of the Living Dead" remake is okay. They changed the ending just enough to make it interesting, and all the effects are better than the original, thanks to Tom Savini, and the acting is great.

The other disturbing trend in American film is to shoot for the demographic of 12 years old and younger, i.e. everything has to be suitable for the youth market. Since this has effectively destroyed the ability for anyone to produce films enjoyable by adults, and dealing with adult problems, does this leave the field open only for the DVD market? Consider films like “Henry and June” or “Dawn of the Dead,” could films like these even get made today without the trend towards in-home cinema?

Oh yeah, I think these things come in cycles. We'll see what they do with "Spiderman," whether they go for kids only or they do the dark version of it.

When “The Sixth Sense” walloped American audiences with its highly touted ingenious storytelling technique, i.e. not giving away every single plot nuance before the opening credits end, it gave some creds to the spooky ghost movie genre. What do you think of the swill that’s followed such as “13 Ghosts” and “House on Haunted Hill”?

Well, those are both remakes, and since we've already established just how much remakes suck, I don't think we need to go into that. I didn't even make the connection in my mind between "The Sixth Sense" and the other two. Even though "Sixth Sense" was a horror movie, it wasn't promoted as one. This seems to be the way to get genre films past the prejudices of the mainstream audience. Another horror film starring Bruce Willis is "Die Hard." It's basically a "Friday the 13th" film, just set in a high-rise office tower.

Speaking of “The Sixth Sense”, how many minutes did it take you to realize that Bruce Willis was dead?

The movie totally worked for me. The setup, the illusion, the mind racing back over the preceding two hours to check the premise of the ending. What annoyed me were the comments of people leaving the theater, discussing whether it was intellectually honest. We're talking about a GHOST MOVIE, people.

Would an ample showing of nubile breasts or a gunfight madethe middle of “The Sixth Sense” less tedious?

A gunfight between nekkid women with big breasts would make anything less tedious.

A really funny web critic named Mr. Cranky (www.mrcranky.com), suggests that if M. Night. Shamalayan’s films moved any slower they’d be shown with a slide projector. Any comments?

I always thought Ken Burns was the slowest, most boring filmmaker in existence. I think that whole Civil War mini-series was just ONE photograph. Pan across, move in, move out, cut to the funky history professor, reposition the photo, repeat.

The upcoming “Spiderman” and “Star Wars blah...blah...blah”will again reset the bar upwards for the cost of making a movie. Is there room today for a low budget film?

There are hundreds of low budget films. The problem is not availability of talent or films, it's the distribution system. I've seen these things before, however, and I know that the revolution always starts from the bottom.

Considering even low budget movies cost tens of millions of dollars today, Do you think anyone will take the place of Roger Corman when he dies and is converted to film stock for use on Carnosaur 8? Are B-movies dead?

B movies will never be dead. There are lots of primarily video low-budget distribution companies, including Monarch in Nashville and Salt City in Syracuse. Then there's always Lloyd Kaufman. He's younger than Roger.

With the enormous popularity of the DVD format thousands of formerly unavailable titles have hit the market, most noticeably, at least by me, are the old 1970’s era exploitation pics like “Blackula” and “Zombie”. Do you have any personal choices for exploitational excitement?

Well, the seventies WAS the golden age of exploitation, and I'm happy to see things like "I Spit On Your Grave" and "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS" and "Cannibal Ferox" showing up again, because there's no way in hell they'll ever be on TV.

With which implement would you prefer to slap Kevin Smith around with and why?

A: 16 ounce hammer

B: A Louisville Slugger

C: A Ginsu knife

D: A “Sergeant Kabukiman” VHS tape

I would prefer the ballpeen hammer used in "Hell's Angels Forever."

Is John Hughes pure evil?

Not Sir Richard Attenborough evil, but he's in the top ten.

With the deaths of both Monstervision and Mystery Science Theater 3000 the era of critical entertainment, i.e. shows that poke holes in their own presentations, seems dead. Any chance we will see you on television again? And, since I have already created a voodoo likeness of Ted Turner for canceling Monstervision, where should I stick the first pin?

It wasn't Ted's fault. By the time I got to TNT, it had been taken over by the AOL Time Warner evil empire. But yes, there's an excellent chance of my returning to TV. The secret plot is afoot at this very moment.

You were the best thing in “Casino”. Are you offered many film roles?

I'm offered many film roles in films that don't pay actual money, but when it comes to the big-budget stuff, I don't really like the auditioning process, so I very rarely try for them.

Is there a particular director that you think works best with little or no budget? I tend to think of Sam Raimi, though I haven’t seen the mega-hyped “Spiderman” yet I still feel his best work was “Darkman”.

Well, it's true that Sam Raimi is a good low-budget director, but "Darkman" as a pretty decent budget. Roger Corman is the best low-budget director who ever lived. Those Edgar Allan Poe films were absurdly cheap.

Does a big budget stifle a director’s creativity?

No, not necessarily. Martin Scorsese worked for years with small budgets, but when he finally got a big one--for "Casino"-- he made the most of it.

If you had to spend a week handcuffed to both Jean Claude Van Damme and Don “The Dragon” Wilson which arm would you gnaw through first?

Jean Claude gives me the willies. Don, on the other hand, is a nice guy.

What was the first film that inspired you to write about it?

That would be "The Grim Reaper," the Italian cannibalism mini-classic directed by Joe D'Amato, better known as Aristide Massaccessi and about 15 other pseudonyms.

If you were forced to spend two hours a day watching only one movie over and over again until you went blind, which movie would you choose to speed up or slow down the onset of said blindness. I’d have to go with “Godzilla King of Monsters” to slow and “Hell of the Living Dead” to speed up the peeper shutdown.

"Gidget Goes Hawaiian" to speed up blindness. "Lawrence of Arabia" to slow it down, because you can't WATCH "Lawrence of Arabia" in two hours.

If you could have made any movie, which one would it have been and why?

"The Hustler." It's a damn near perfect movie.