Joe Bob Briggs

Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, TX

Last week I belted down three whiskeys, grabbed a couple of ammo belts, and prepared to enter the Place of Unspeakable Darkness.

Rhett Beavers wanted to go to...
The Computer Store.
Why do all the people in computer stores look like terrorists? Their hairdos stick out in 17 different directions, they wear ugly-ass T-shirts with pizza stains on 'em, and they have this wild look in their eyes, like, "Give me that CD-ROM tabletop organizing device or I'm gonna WASTEYOUand everybody ELSE in this damn place!"

What are they so FRANTIC about? Why are they running around like cokeheads in a rock star's penthouse? What is it that they're SEEINGin this place whereI can't even figure out what the words on the signs MEAN?

Rhett Beavers told me he needed a "gender changer." I told him that normally you have to go to 42nd Street to find that sorta thing, but he said it's a doohickey that turns a female mouse into a male mouse. A transsexual mouse is evidently one of the most exciting things that ever happens in a computer store, because the baby-faced but boring sales guy went on for about five minutes on just exactly which kinds of gender changers Rhett had to choose from.

By the way, there are only two kinds of employees at the computer store: The nice ones who don't speak English and are only here to keep you from shoplifting some double-reverse RAM booster crunchers, and the bored, slur-their-words types who are only called "salesmen" in computer stores and on planets visited by the Enterprise.

What's amazing to me is that, when you watch these maniac computer shoppers in the checkout line, they generally throw a couple of pieces of plastic down on the counter and the clerk will say, "That will be $437, please. I mean, they're buying stuff that Jiminy Cricket could floss with and it costs HUNDREDS of bucks. And you wonder why they need all this stuff. And if you ask 'em, they'll tell you it's because they have to boost their memory and extend their RAM and speed up their modem and upgrade their flight simulator, and I'm looking into their eyes when they're talking and all I can see are guys who are INLOVE. They're in LOVE with these robot love-dolls called computers.

And then you realize why they don't mind the money. Cubic zirconia will be just fine for the wife, but it's only the best for Big Bertha.

Fortunately, I was able to prod Rhett out of this cyberspace swing club before it was too late. As we walked out the door, I said, "Rhett, I want you to remember one thing."

And he said, "What?"
And I pulled the gender changer out of his little plastic bag and I said, "Whatever this thing is..."

"Yeah."
"It became obsolete as soon as we walked out that door. You already need a new one."

"No I don't."
Thank GOD, I screamed. He was still sane.
And speaking of people on the brink of lunacy, my buddy Kevin S. Tenney has a new flick called Pinocchio's Revenge, the latest killer-doll movie, starring an ugly marionette whose battered wooden body SEEMS to be possessed by the soul of a recently executed child-killer. Pinocchio likes to do things like ram sticks through bicycle spokes of mean girls at school, flinging them in front of oncoming school buses.

Taking the heat for Pinocchio's psycho behavior is little Zoe, played by Brittany Alyse Smith, who makes the mistake of having a debate with Pinocchio about the proper uses of violence during a videotaped session with the child psychiatrist. Add a couple of murder attempts--Mama's boyfriend and the nanny--and you end up with an elementary school student who needs the expert services of Rosalind Allen, the public defender who also happens to be her mom.

What we've got here is an excellent Child's Play rip-off that Kevin gets away with by playing with the "Is it the puppet or is it the little girl?" plot. And it satisfies the first rule of drive-in filmmaking: Anybody can die at any moment.

Kevin is the guy who did Witchboard, by the way, one of the most underrated pictures of the '80s.

Four dead bodies. One dead cricket. Four breasts. One electrocution.
Aardvarking. Kiddie-school catfight. Doll mutilation.
Low-angle Pinocchio cam. Fire poker to el cabeza. Butcher knife through the hand.

Puppet fu.
Drive-In Academy Award Nominations for:
*Brittany Alyse Smith, as the sometimes-sweet, sometimes-mean little girl with a wooden-puppet fetish, who screams, "What are you doing with my Pinocchio?"

*Lewis Van Bergen, as the creepy guy on Death Row who begs to die.
*Rosalind Allen, as the sexy lawyer/mom who works up the first criminal defense based on demonic voices that really exist.

*Todd Allen, doing an excellent job as the weenie boyfriend who gets knocked down the basement stairs by the killer marionette.

*And Candace McKenzie, as the understanding nanny who takes a full-frontal shower.

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

Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's nutcracker comes from Nick-Bob Funk of Adana, Turkey:
"I remember seeing this incredibly cheesy Japanese flick. The story line and special effects were hilarious. I couldn't exactly classify it as a 'B' movie. It was more in the 'Triple Z' category.

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