InPraiseOf: Rewind – Joe Bob Briggs’ “MonsterVision”

Note: Busy busy at work right now, though hopefully I’ll get to an original essay soon. Anyways, here’s a piece from my backlog, about an old late night TV hero of mine:

If you were a loner like me back in the late ’90s, you spent most of your Saturdays chillin’ at home, with maybe a book or the TV to occupy your time. Luckily, Turner Broadcasting, TBS and TNT respectively, would hit full bloom during those times.

They’d start with a Busch Series NASCAR race in the early afternoon, followed by a two-block hour of WCW Saturday Night. It was a syndicated wrestling show that scraped with either no-name talents or mid-card squashes, filmed in some third-rate arena in the Deep South. Then you’d have either an NBA game or a Movie of the Week, so it was either Lakers vs. Suns or “Roadhouse.” Another quality two-hours gone.

All this led up to the piece de résistance, TNT’s “MonsterVision” hosted by Joe Bob Briggs. Briggs was a svelte Texas redneck who wore impeccable satin cowboy button downs, the ones with the roses and lightening bolts on the shoulders that skinny guys wear to impress cowgirls in off-highway roadhouses. He’d host two horror movies, the second during his “Joe Bob’s Last Call” portion, in front of his Double-Wide somewhere in the West Texas desert (actually the TNT studios but damn if you didn’t feel like you were in his living room somewhere).

The movies were Grade Z horror stuff: Chucky, Freddy, Jason, Clive Barker movies, Ray Harryhausen pics, Godzilla, as well as the more obscure flicks like Phantasm or The Fury. It’s suck you with this intoxicating mix of John Ford meets the Grindhouse.

And, like “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” it wasn’t the movies that drew you in but Briggs’ segments, where he’d use his educated, yet at the same time peckerwood humor to ease down the visual crap you were swallowing en mass. Every movie had a quick breakdown, followed by a review.

Here’s his take on Clive Barker’s Nightbreed: “Killer Porcupine Breasts, Exploding Monsters, Throat Slashing, Bimbo Staking, Head Hacking, Guy Cutting of his Own Face, Whimpering Mutant E.T. Dog that Turns into a Little Girl When its Taken Out of the Sunlight, Heads Roll, Mutant Fu, Flamethrower Fu, Earthquake Fu.Three Stars, check it out.”

He’d also have letter segments where he’d offer Advice for the Hopeless, or, my personal favorite, Letters from Prison, (apparently he had a large inmate following). His best line “Free your mind and your butt will follow.”

Don’t know why all this came up, other than it clicked and I searched YouTube and there he was.I guess I was just remembering how easy life was in some aspects back then. Wrestling, Roadhouse, Joe Bob Briggs.


One response to “InPraiseOf: Rewind – Joe Bob Briggs’ “MonsterVision”

  1. Joe Bob is my hero. He inspired me to start my blog Lost Highway where we do similar sarcastic reviews of vintage b-movies and cult films with our own little drive-in totals (Roadside attractions) Hope you’ll stop by at take a gander through.

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