Now Scream This: The Best Of Shudder's Joe Bob Briggs Marathon

(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: You know how I keep insisting that Shudder is an essential streaming service for horror fans? If their Joe Bob Briggs marathon doesn't drive home such thinking, then you're a lost cause. Shudder isn't just here to stream random horror movies. They're here to culturally preserve genre institutions while shaping the future of cultivation and accessibility. Joe Bob Briggs: the patron country-boy saint of midnight monster movies your crazy uncle might show you. Horror Twitter was abuzz with warm remembrances to TNT's famed after-hours program for one special day. Maybe we've just seen the beginning of a new yearly event?

Chris: We normally try to give you variety with Now Scream This, and offer horror selections from a variety of streaming services. But the return of Joe Bob Briggs was such a huge deal in horror community – it actually crashed Shudder – that it seemed important to highlight it. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming in the next edition. 

The Legend Of Boggy Creek

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: I'll admit Charles B. Prince's cult-lauded classic is far from my speed, but one can easily see the almost Mystery Science Theater 3000 obsession with this Bigfoot remix (Prince's sequel lives on in MST3K infamy). Conspiracy footage, rubber Party City gorilla suits and overacting to the billionth degree? "It is really more of a glimpse at lower-class swamp culture from the seventies, though, than a monster flick," reads IMDB's plot synopsis, which stands true. Monster glimpses aren't about Sasquatch version 0.5 tearing kiddies limb from limb. Prince focuses on Fouke, Arkansas' population from isolated cabin families to animal ranchers who complain about missing herds. Again – like, I can't stress this enough – The Legend Of Boggy Creek eeks forward at the slow lurch of a steamroller. But if you're into a faux creature documentary literally filmed in small-town backyards? Sure, go for it. It's what some even define as one of the first found footage films ever (but is it?).

Chris: I am only familiar with this from its sequel, Boggy Creek II: and the Legend Continues. In that film, there's a baby bigfoot. It's terrible.

Tourist Trap

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: David Schmoeller's Tourist Trap is f*ing bananas. Chris did not undersell this mannequin vacation massacre. Chuck Connors' portrayal of Mr. Slausen is that of a loony, definitely-holds-some-secrets antique store owner except his version of antiques are full-sized waxwork dummies of historical figures. Vacationers drop in, start splitting up and soon learn a magical, telekinetic secret. Also, maybe the mannequins are alive? Who cares. As Slausen's creations "reanimate," the movie skews hard into absurdity (a la Demon Wind) that never defines clearly what nefarious deeds evildoers can or cannot actually accomplish. What we do know is there's a magnificent dance sequence involving an inanimate partner and it's too far gone lead, making for quite the enticing trap indeed. Weird, wacky and absolutely a must-see.

Chris: I've written about Tourist Trap before, so I won't take up much space here. All I can say is you haven't seen weird until you've seen this movie.


Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: My favorite part of this Joe Bob Briggs themed week is getting to toss my own two cents in on personal favorites Chris previously stole from under me. In this case, Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator. You're hard-pressed to find a better Lovecraftian adaptation, from horror icon Barbara Crampton's performance as kidnapped, violated and petrified girlfriend Megan Halsey to that damned, darned zombie cat. Early sequences are more about morbid anatomy and Herbert West's (Jeffrey Combs) unhealthy "raising the dead" obsession, but then Gorden unleashes cadaver chaos inside Miskatonic University's body fridge. Laughs are hearty, sci-fi and horror blend with scientific egotism, and Gordon masterminds one of the all-time great genre comedies. Hell, give David Gale an Oscar for playing a drugged-up, decapitated super pervy head who just wants Crampton all to himself. WATCH. THIS. MOVIE. 

Chris: Jeffrey Combs deserved an Academy Award nomination for his work in this movie. I am not joking. This also applies to his work in The Frighteners. Don't @ me.

Sleepaway Camp

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Robert Hiltzik's Sleepaway Camp is – in my opinion – Joe Bob Briggs' most out-of-bounds marathon selection. Somehow. There are '80s slashers, and then there's Sleepaway Camp. A film that wastes absolutely no time getting into attempted child molestation at the hand of a pigish cafeteria cook. A film that inserts "Daddy and other Daddy" flashbacks without warning or establishment. A film that lets the aged Mike Kellin play conspiracy poo-pooer Mel Costic, who fills one of the hottest counselor's grandaddy fetish. You've seen Friday The 13th, The Burning and so many other overnight woodland slashers, but Sleepaway Camp is something else. Most notable for a...well...let's just say Felissa Rose's now infamous performance and Hiltzik's even more notorious final shot. HOW DO YOU END ON...WELL...YOU KNOW! THAT!

In all seriousness, Sleepaway Camp plays by no man's rules from dead children to pacing oddities to pretty brutal sleepover memory desecration. I'll still never forget my friend's unceasing laughter after telling him I'd just enjoyed my first watch. "What the actual shit, right?" WTS indeed, my friend. One thousand and one WTSs.

Chris: The final scene of this movie is...very surprising. To say the least. They made four more of these movies, but this is the only one I've seen. I'm fine with that.


Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Clive Barker's Hellraiser shouldn't be that foreign to casual horror fans and diehards alike. You know the story. Pinhead and his sadomasochistic Cenobite buddies are on the hunt for carnal pleasures that may or may not be painfully intense, while recently reborn Frank Cotton regains his "strength" by consuming other men's lifeforces. Kristy (Ashley Laurence), the Cotton girl who solves a Moroccan "puzzle box" that unleashes Pinhead's tribe while her mother feeds hopeful hookups to her undead ex-lover. All in the name of love? Chains, bondage, flaying of skin – Barker's vision blurs the lines of "experience" into a bloodlusty expulsion of Hell-on-Earth gore. It's a twisted yarn of deception, boundless sensations and some majorly unsettling practical effects work (which we love around these parts). One of the truest depictions of "Hell on Earth."

There's a reason some ten Hellraiser sequels exist at this point. They may not all boast quality, but again, there's a reason – and it's all thanks to Barker's knock-em-out original.

Chris: I'm going to be the dick here and say I've never liked the Hellraiser series. Not even the first one. I appreciate how artsy it is, and I enjoy the ideas here. But I just never liked the execution. I do sort-of like the one sequel where Pinhead turns a DJ into a DJ cenobite that shoots killer CDs, though.


Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: "As any citizen in the streets can tell you, martial law has come to Montreal!" David Cronenberg's Rabid is part vampire film, part zombie film, and all gnarly '70s atmosphere. This isn't close to being Cronenberg's best movie, or most polished, but it has such a low-budget, high-concept charm that it's not easy to shake off. Marilyn Chambers plays a woman who is badly injured in a motorcycle accident (if there's one thing Cronenberg loves more that body horror, it's motorcycles). After undergoing experimental plastic surgery to treat her accident wounds, Chambers' character grows a phallic-like object from her armpit (Cronenberg is weird, folks).This object is used to feast on human blood, and that's not all – Chambers' victims become infected and turn into raving, murderous ghouls foaming at the mouth and thirsting for blood. Don't worry, it all builds to a happy ending. Just kidding! Only misery awaits!

Matt: My advice? Watch Rabid so at the very least you have a reference point for the Soska Sisters' upcoming remake (that's begun shooting already). As Chris already mentioned, it's neither Cronenberg's best or most popular title, but still deserves a watch nonetheless.

The Prowler

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: I love The Prowler because it's so surprisingly nasty. This movie feels dirty, like something that should be playing in an empty theater with a rip in the screen, rats nesting in the seats, and dried blood on the floor. I also like it because it was filmed in beautiful Cape May, New Jersey, where my family used to vacation every summer. Anyway, this movie is about a guy in a World War II uniform brutally murdering young people with a pitchfork. Tom Savini did the gore effects here, and this might be some of his very best work. Is the story good? Oh, heavens no. But if you're looking for slasher movie sleaze, you can't go wrong with The Prowler!

Matt: New Jersey horror always gets a recommendation from this New Jersey native. You got a problem with that, eh? Fuggedaboutit.

Basket Case

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: Good lord, what a strange movie this is. I don't even know where to begin. Basket Case is the story of two brothers: Duane and Belial. These brothers aren't like normal siblings, though. They were once conjoined twins, and while Duane is a regular looking fellow, Belial is a mutated monstrosity. Who lives in a basket (thus the name). I'd like to think the origin of this film came from writer-director Frank Henenlotter thinking of the phrase "basket case" and saying, "I should make a movie about that. Somehow." The result was...whatever this is. The brothers are out for revenge against the doctors that separated them, but things get complicated when Duane grows friendly with a nurse, and Belial gets jealous. Filled with weird atmosphere and rubbery-yet-effective special effects and also a scene where Duane feeds Belial raw hot dogs, Basket Case is one of those weirdo gems that you can't shake off.

Matt: Basket Case is one of those underground gems my horror mentors made me watch in my early years of "exploration." Right next to recommendations of popular classics was Basket Case championing and boy, is "weirdo" the right word to use.


Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: Lamberto Bava's grimy Italian horror movie Demons has enough bubbling goo and bright-red blood to satisfy the hungriest gore-hound. The film focuses on a group of people, seemingly selected at random, to attend a sneak-preview of a new horror film. The film they watch is about four teens digging up the grave of Nostradamus (Yes, the Nostradamus; I'm not kidding). Personally, I'd rather watch that film in full. Alas, it's not to be. Instead, the audience slowly turns into demonic monsters and/or die after one of the movie-goers is infected by a weird mask in the theater lobby. Does any of this make sense? No, it does not. But the 1980s vibe mixed with the nasty gore is enough to get you by.

Matt: Italian horror is in good hands when run by the Bavas and Argentos of the world (well, sometimes coughDracula 3Dcough), but it's not always my favorite. Demons is a snappy little gore flick sinister enough to get by, but something about it doesn't quite reach that top-tier level. Maybe I just need a refresher watch?

Blood Feast

Now Streaming on Shudder

Chris: Herschell Gordon Lewis essentially invented the splatter film with 1963's Blood Feast. The film focuses on a fucking weirdo named Fuad Ramses who kills women to sacrifice to the Egyptian goddess Ishtar. I'm not going to lie – this movie is terrible. It's boring and strange, and has the same exact vibe as being stuck at a party in shag-carpeted house with your parents' weird friends you don't like, and all those people are drunk and flirting with each other while also burping, and you just want to get the hell out of there and go home and take a shower. And yet, Blood Feast is worth seeing simply for its place in history. And to learn that you can somehow make a movie for exactly zero dollars.

Matt: Did you know that a Blood Feast remake just silently dropped onto VOD last week after massive crowd funding initiatives and tons of hype talk? Now you do – but you should still watch the original instead.