Joe Bob Briggs

Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, TX

You ever go to one of these groovy tourist towns like Santa Fe, N.M., or Sedona, Ariz., or Eureka Springs, Ark., where they sell genuine folk-art paintings of cows wading through a stream and necklaces with turquoise roosters painted on 'em?

Wouldn't you expect some 85-year-old Ozarks lady with wrinkly hands to be selling this stuff? Or maybe an 85-year-old lady and her 92-year-old whittling, fiddle-playing husband?

Nope. You know who sells this stuff?
Retired cab drivers from the Bronx. Displaced homemakers from Detroit. Neohippies from Seattle.

It's a little strange the first time it happens to you. You're wandering around in the crystal-paperweight store, going: "Look, honey, a hickory ashtray in the shape of a mongoose. It must be some kind of local tradition."

And then some guy from Encino says: "My nephew made that. He's a junior at Bennington College."

I mean, if it's a native crafts store, where are all the goldurn natives?
And why are all these unemployed insurance adjusters living here in the first place?

What did they do, take their grandma's inheritance and buy out a few pig farmers?

"The wife and I love it here. We came here six years ago on vacation and decided we'd stay." This is generally how the story goes.

Every once in a while I go to the Telluride Film Festival, held every Labor Day in Telluride, Colo., and it never fails that somebody buys a condo, gets into a land deal or tries to start a business there. Somebody who, three months ago, didn't know the place existed!

People are doing some serious drugs out there. Either that or these are people who spent the first 50 years of their lives making no friends, so they don't give a flip where they live, as long as it looks like something out of National Geographic outside their floor-to-ceiling mountain-chalet picture window.

Which is all right, I guess, except it's kind of disappointing when it comes time to buy that wild mustang carved sculpture in the window. Somehow I was hoping it was carved by a guy named Buster who wears overalls and actually once tamed a wild mustang. Don't tell me. Buster is in the Bronx driving a cab.

Ain't America great?
And speaking of people with too much time on their hands, this week marks the long-awaited premiere of Romeo: Love Master of the Wild Women's Dorm, the movie that asks the question, "How large can one man's ego be?"

This flick was written, produced, directed and edited by Denis Adam Zervos, who sings a really bad lounge song called "I Will Be Your Romeo" that he also wrote.

The premise of the film is that Denis is such an irresistible hunk of man-meat that every woman at UCLA wants to sleep with him, and so he's never able to study for his classes because he's too busy doing the old Prehistoric Bedspring Hustle with the entire female population of El Lay. Obviously, my kinda guy.

Denis is so famous, in fact, that his roommate gives guided tours of his bedroom and charges five bucks for guys to actually touch his bed.

Unfortunately, Denis ends up falling in love with the plain-Jane bookworm who introduces him to Shakespeare, and pretty soon the flick descends into roller-skating montage sequences.

Yuck. One of the best movies ever made for less than 40 bucks.
No dead bodies. Seventeen breasts. (All are the dreaded stunt breasts.) Gratuitous musical plant-watering. Whipped-cream fu.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for...
*Denis Adam Zervos, as the plant-loving hunky dimwit who says, "No way am I wearing weird Minoan underwear."

*Leigh Decio, as the take-charge ROTC girl who likes to pin Denis to a massage table and say, "Are you ready for a workout?"

*Kathleen Robinson, as the human-sexuality major who likes to do a lot of research, for saying: "You? You're functionally illiterate!"

*Tom Fahn, as the hustler roommate who sells cologne and magic condoms.
*And Mary Kelly Blad, as the wallflower movie usherette who finds true love in the arms of a dimwit.

One and a half stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.

We Have a Winner!
In the Aug. 6 column, Robert G. Wildow of Grand Prairie, Texas, asked about "a late-'50s mad-scientist science-fiction movie. A bunch of people get some kind of silver metallic solution pumped into their veins, and the mad scientist controls them like robots with some kind of radio transmitter.

"The people walk around like zombies, killing people and getting into other mischief. The hero knocks out the transmitter and they all fall dead."

We received five correct answers, so our winner was chosen by drawing. And she is ...Nancy Peay of Norman, Okla.:

"The movie Robert asked about is Creature With the Atom Brain, a 1955 Columbia Pictures film whose story and screenplay were written by Curt Siodmak, better known for writing the story for the movie Donovan's Brain. Gregory Gay plays a mad scientist who creates remote-controlled corpses powered by atomic energy. A luminous, radioactive fluid is pumped into their veins and electrodes are implanted in their brains. These creatures are used by a gangster (Michael Granger) to get revenge on all those who sent him to jail. They are sent out to find the gangster's enemies and crush them to death.

"The hero of the movie is a police lab scientist played by Richard Denning, who tries to stop the rash of killings by these zombie-like creatures with glowing 'blood.'

"A police captain (and friend of Denning's family's) receives the zombie treatment, but no one notices anything odd about him until Denning's daughter discovers that 'Uncle Dave' has dismembered her favorite doll. (In fact, no one ever seems to figure out that these creatures can be identified by the huge scars on their foreheads.)

"Denning follows 'Uncle Dave' back to the mad scientist's lab. While the creatures battle the police who have surrounded the place, Denning destroys the lab, causing the creatures to collapse. At the end of the movie, Denning's daughter receives a new doll from 'Uncle Dave,' whom she is told will be 'away' for a while."

(To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, or to get his world-famous newsletter, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221. Joe Bob's fax number at his trailer house is always open: 214-985-7448. Joe Bob even hangs out on the Internet: 76702. 1435@compuserve.com)

Copyright 1995 Joe Bob Briggs (Distributed by NYTSpecial Features/SyndicationSales)

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