Joe Bob Briggs

Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, TX

I just got kicked out of a hotel bar for smoking a cigar. I don't mind so much gettin' kicked out, 'cause it was a 15-dollar Bolivar and I managed to save it without havin' to smush it out in an ashtray.

But what bugged me was: there was nobody in the bar! And I was in the smoking section!

Am I the only one, or has anybody else noticed that cigar-smokers are just slightly above heroin addicts in terms of social respectability?

People complained about the smell as they were walking by on the Midway! If they hated the smell, then they hated the smell of the finest tobacco in the world.

It's also interesting to me that, the more expensive the restaurant, the more they like cigars, and the cheaper the restaurant, the more they hate cigars.

You can still smoke cigars in all the restaurants of the Plaza Hotel in New York, but you can never smoke a cigar in the smoking section of a McDonald's.

Anyhow, here's my only point on this. I don't mind being considered the scum of the earth for cigar-smokin', but I'd like to point out a couple things.

Numero Uno, it's the cigarettes that smell bad. And the reason they smell bad is that most of what you're smelling is paper. People are burning paper. A cigar, on the other hand, is one hundred per cent tobacco leaf. Cigarettes were invented in the 1890s as a way to sell the waste products from cigars--the part left over--the smelly part.

Numero Two-o, when people say "How can you put that poison into your body?" they're missing the point again. A cigar is something you taste, in your mouth, like cognac. A cigarette is something you draw into your lungs, to get a rush, like opium.

Numero Three-o, when people complain about cigars, they're not really complaining about the particular cigar you happen to be smoking. They're really saying, "You're a disgusting human being for havin' that thing at all." In other words, it's not the cigar that people hate. It's the guy that smokes it.

I don't know why this is, but, believe me, I'm a veteran of the tobacco wars. It's true.

Speaking of great American traditions under attack, The Tall Man is back in Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead. We get a new Phantasm movie about--what?--ever six, seven years. And every time the producers assume that we remember the plot of the last movie, when the truth is, nobody could even figure out the plot of the very first one.

Basically it's about this ugly-lookin' old skinny guy who goes around collecting dead bodies, and the way you know he's coming is that a flying Christmas tree ornament with daggers stickin' out of it tries to imbed itself in your skull right before The Tall Man shows up.

There's always a lot of talk about who The Tall Man is, where he comes from, why he wants the dead bodies, what the flying Christmas tree ornaments are for--and I never understand a word of it. But it's neato-mosquito special effects, with all kinds of exploding goo.

This time The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) is hangin' around eastern Oregon, going from town to town cleanin' out the mortuaries while his army of zombies roam the countryside in pink hearses trying to kill the remaining members of the cast.

One cool thing about the Phantasm movies is that the hero always drives a Hemi 'Cuda, the most outrageous muscle car ever to legally prowl the highways.

And this is no exception, as bald-headed Reggie Bannister sets out to find The Tall Man and rescue his dead brother's soul. Meanwhile, he joins up with Kevin Connors, a little kid who's become a Grade School Rambo ever since both his parents were killed by The Tall Man. And the two of them join up with a crewcut black kung-fu queen named Rocky to destroy all the evil forces of the universe.

Twenty-three dead bodies. Two breasts. Exploding eyes. Multiple fireballs. Exploding hearse. Multiple exploding heads. One flying monster hand with teeth.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Angus Scrimm, as The Tall Man, for saying "Nothing is ever as it seems" and Reggie Bannister, as the man trying to rescue his brother, for trying to sleep with the hot kung-fu mama by saying "Ever try vanilla?"

Three stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.

Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's gray-matter tickler comes from Wes Pierce of Orlando, Fla.
"A few years ago I read an interview in Fangoria magazine, featuring actor Robert Clark, star of The Hideous Sun Demon. In the interview he said he had just appeared in a film, which had not been released yet. The film was a comedy in which an alien lands near a drive-in movie theater and decides to use it as a feeding ground. I don't know if the film was ever released or not, but the plot should be interesting to Joe Bob readers."

A video will be awarded to the correct answer.
We Have a Winner!
Erich Mees of Dunwoody, Ga., wrote: "I recently watched a tape of Psychopathia Sexualis (1966), from Something Weird Video.

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