The scariest thing you'll ever find in a flick is not a goo-faced, bug-eyed monster and it's not Freddy Krueger or Jason or Leatherface and it's not a bunch of skinheads with razor blades.
The scariest thing you'll find in a movie is the Psycho Hag.
The Psycho Hag is a spooky old lady. She's the same kinda lady who rams your grocery cart for no reason, cuts in front of you in line, and stomps on the shoes of young girls with her clunky tennis shoes.
The only difference is, in the movies, the Psycho Hag also has weapons.
The first Psycho Hag I ever met was my sixth-grade teacher, who had so much rouge on her cheeks they glowed like a chipmunk that's been zapped with nuclear radiation.
She had those tight lips with little lines all the way around 'em and hair that stuck to her head like a football helmet. Her favorite thing to say was, "Joe Bob, all four legs of your desk must be on the floor at all times."
But the thing that made this particular Psycho Hag really scary was that she was relentless.
If she said, "We're not leaving this room until somebody tells me who made the filthy drawings," then we didn't leave the room until she found some weak Nazi collaborator, like Sarah Scroggins, who would break under the pressure and say: "Joe Bob did it! I saw him pass the paper to Frankie right before you grabbed it."
And then Sarah Scroggins would watch me walk to the gas chamber without even being bothered by it. She was prob'ly a Psycho Hag in Training.
Anyhow, there's a great tradition of Psycho Hag movies. Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and, of course, my personal favorite, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave.
And now there's a new classic. Diane Ladd and Olympia Dukakis form a Psycho-Hag Tag Team in Mother. As the poster says, "She'll love you to death."
Triboro Entertainment, which has been the fastest-growing exploitation company the last couple of years, actually convinced two Academy Award winners to star in this thing.
Diane is the controlling mother and greeting-card shop owner who forgets to take her medication and goes off her rocker when her 19-year-old son decides he likes girls more than he likes her.
Olympia plays the creepy, nosy neighbor who lurks behind curtains and eavesdrops, hoping to get her chance to make the sign of the triple-jointed varicose vein with the hunky young boy, who she's had her eye on for years.
When the kid gives her the idea that maybe she's a little too ugly for him, she goes nutzoid, too, and pretty soon we've got a cute little girlfriend with an archery target on her back.
I don't wanna tell you exactly how it comes out, because it'll keep you guessing, but lemme say one thing: The whole story happens in...Rochester, New York.
Horror movies set in El Lay never scare me. But to be trapped by your mother in Rochester--now that is frightening.
Five dead bodies. No breasts. One bathtub electrocution.
Fire-ax body-chopping. Hand-scalding. Butcher knife to the face. Butcher knife to the stomach.
One motor-vehicle crash.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for...
* Olympia Dukakis, as the oversexed old lady from across the street who says things like, "He's not exactly a little boy anymore," and, "I find your sincerity deplorably nauseating."
In the movie's most terrifying moment, she rubs blood on her cheeks and removes her wig.
* Diane Ladd, in the title role, who burns up her son's college scholarship acceptance and hisses to the girlfriend, "You leave him alone!"
* Ele Keats, as the girlfriend who introduces the son to the joys of fuchsia.
* Morgan Weisser, as the troubled boy who screams, "Let me live my life!"
* And Frank Laloggia, the director, for doing things the drive-in way.
Joe Bob says check it out.
Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's mental mangler comes from...Mark Mazuroski of Sayreville, New Jersey:
"Hey, Joe Bob, we need your help in finding out the name of some Kung-fu-type movie where the hero uses a circular-saw blade as a throwing star and utters, 'Thank God for Black & Decker.'"
A video will be awarded for the correct answer. (The winner chooses from our library of titles.) In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held. Send "Find That Flick" questions and solutions to Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221. You can also fax them to (213) 462-5982 or e-mail them to Joe Bob on the Internet: 76702.1435
"All my life my mom has been telling us this story of a movie she saw on late-night television.
"She says she saw it while she was pregnant with me. That makes it spring, 1955. It was a Japanese horror film.
"The one scene she remembers clearly is monsters rising out of the sea. But when they step onto land they turn into 18th-century bronze samurai figures that then terrorize the local fishing village.
"She doesn't remember the title, the plot, or the director, but I would like to track this film down and maybe find it on video for her."
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We had zero correct answers, but will still award a video to late entries.
To discuss the meaning of life with Joe Bob, write Joe Bob Briggs, P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221 or fax him at (213) 462-5982. Joe Bob even hangs out on the Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1996 Joe Bob Briggs (Distributed by NYT Special Features