Film Reviews

Joe Bob Briggs

I be readin' about "Ebonics.'' It's the new "Black English'' just officially certified by the Oakland school board as a second language.

Why didn't they have this when I was in high school? I had to take Spanish and French. I hated Spanish and French. Especially French. Hell, I would have opted for Ebonics all four years. Maybe I even could have gotten into one of those exchange-student programs, where you go live with a family in the homeland of the language you're learning. "Junior Year in South Central''--I'll bet I could have gotten so good at Ebonics that they wouldn't even have known I was not from The Hood. "Summer Term in Harlem.'' "Inner City Detroit Independent Study.'' The mind boggles.

I could study Ebonic Cinema, beginning with "Shaft'' and continuing right on through the classics, like "Five on the Black Hand Side,'' "Super Fly,'' "New Jack City,'' "Boyz N the Hood'' and, of course, "Black Emanuelle in Africa.'' If I was good enough, maybe I could write the actual English subtitles they'll have to start using when Ebonic classics are shown in theaters catering to white-English-speaking people.

The makers of "The Groove Tube'' and "Airplane'' turned out to be way ahead of their time, didn't they? In "The Groove Tube,'' they use a "jive translator.'' In "Airplane,'' they simply subtitle all the Ebonics spoken. And all this time WE THOUGHT THEY WERE JOSHING! (Or should I say, "goofin on us.'' I'm sure I said that wrong. I'm sure I used the wrong Ebonic term. I haven't had a single course in Ebonics, so please, gimme a little slack till I be learnin' how to get down wif the bros.)

Because of my special skills, I could also be employed as a translator of Ebonics into Redneck. For example, we begin with a simple Ebonic phrase:

"Yall don be messin wif me.''
First we translate that into traditional, outmoded, old-fogey WHITE English:
"All of you are requested to cease being aggressive.''

Now we take THAT sentence and translate it into a THIRD language, spoken mainly in Appalachia, the Deep South, and East Texas:

"Yall don be messin wif me.''
The main difference between the Ebonic sentence and the Hillbilly translation is that, in Hillbilly, there is a full expectoration between the words "messin'' and "wif.'' So the sentence actually SOUNDS like this:

"Yall don be messin (hock one up and spit it out) wif me.''
The Oakland school board is absolutely right. This has opened up a whole new field of serious academic investigation. Ebonians unite for your right to jive!

And speaking of people who make up stuff as they go along, it's time for the latest effort from Steve Latshaw, the mad filmmaker of Central Florida.

You've heard of those big studios in Orlando where they make the big-budget flicks? Well, Steve works right outside the studio gates, and he could make approximately 900 movies for the budget spent on ONE Hollywood movie. And the new one is "Death Mask,'' which is sort of a geriatric "Carrie,'' the story of a sensitive old coot who can only get work as a carnival geek due to the horrible scars on his cheeks--until a witchy-woman from the swamp tells him how to carve a beautiful mask that makes his eyes flare up like forest fires and turn people into suicidal psychos.

The pizza-faced geek is secretly in love with carnival hootchy-cootchy girl Linnea Quigley, who takes a GREAT shower and bumps her way through a "Harem of Baghdad'' sideshow. But there's nothing Linnea can do when James Best, as the geek, goes nutzoid one night and starts wasting hookers and everybody else who makes fun of the scars he got when his daddy the clown forced his face down on a hot waffle-iron for playing with daddy's makeup without permission.

Daddy still flits around in James' hallucinations, dressed up like the Death Joker in a pack of Tarot cards, grinning as James goes after the cruel carnival owner who makes everyone LAUGH AT HIM.

The face scars, by the way, are really, like, yucko.
My kinda movie.
Seventeen dead bodies. Twelve breasts. Snake-to-the-face.

Swamp drowning. Exploding pickup truck. Bullet through the brain. Two catfights. Chicken head-biting. One heart attack, with blood-coughing. Crooked-bone finger-jabbing. Witch-burning. Multiple aardvarking. Grandmother-head-smashing. Sword through the torso. Face-scalding.

One motor vehicle crash-and-burn.
The old ice-cube-on-the-breast ski trick. Heads roll.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for:

*James Best, for writing the screenplay and starring as the geezer with a scarred face and a scarred heart, who says, "I show the pain of humanity in my masks.''

*Brigitte Hill, as the swamp witch who's searching for the severed head of her grandmother, for saying, "This mask harbors the soul of a vengeful monster!''

*Robin Krasny, as the sultry hooker who says, "Anyone who had a face like this would be a lady-killer."

*And Linnea Quigley, the veteran Scream Queen, still delivering those great B-movie performances as the burned-out stripper with a fetish for ugly senior citizens.

Three stars. Joe Bob says check it out.

Joe Bob's Find That Flick
This week's cortex crusher comes from ... Cheyenne Dvorachek of Boulder, Colo.:

"I saw a movie 10 or 15 years ago that probably took place in the late '70s or early '80s. It centered on these American exchange students who were spending a year in France--Paris, perhaps?--and in one scene, a male student was attempting to speak in broken French to a clerk in a bookstore or library.

"He was making no sense, and there were subtitles telling us what he was actually saying (it was hilarious). As I recall, some of the statements were offensive to the clerk. She made fun of him by responding seriously to his nonsensical remarks. Does anyone know this film?''

A video will be awarded to 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: [email protected]. (E-mail entries must include a postal mailing address.)

1997 Joe Bob Briggs (Distributed by NYT Special Features)

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Joe Bob Briggs