An Interview With Joe Bob Briggs
   (conducted by members of 
MST3K: The Discussion Board)


(groopdog) Q:  What horror movies, to you Mr. Briggs, are the worst of the worst ever in the history of movies?

A:  That’s a tough one.  I’ll forgive a movie almost anything except absolute boredom.  I’ve always said that “A Chorus Line” is the best horror film ever made–20 dancing weenies pouring out their guts while Michael Douglas sits in the shadows snarling like a bulldog.  Now *that* is scary.  Usually the worst horror movies are those that are made by people with a contempt for the genre.  They think it’s fast and easy money and they don’t understand the principles of storytelling. “Nightmare,” in 1981, was like that.  They told the story from the point of view of the serial killer, assuming the audience would identify him.  Bloody, gory, but ultimately people just fled the theaters, pissed off.

(Shep) Q:  Joe Bob, I loved Monster Vision, but I’ve gotta ask: Were all those letters from prisoners you read on the air real or did you guys make them up?

A:  Oh, they were all very real.  We were popular in the prisons.  I had to be careful because, in a couple of cases, we got the prisoners in trouble and they lost their cable.

(Shep) Q:  You guys showed some great bad movies.  A personal favorite was Yul Brynner in The Ultimate Warrior.  What was your favorite, and were there any films that you really wanted to screen that never happened?

A:  I always wanted to show “I Spit On Your Grave,” but it was on the unofficial “too grisly for cable” list.  In fact, I still think it’s on there.  I’ve never heard of it airing on cable, even premium cable.  “Hellraiser” was probably my favorite of the ones we showed, although there are others–like “The Time Machine”–that were more fun to talk about.

(yousonuva) Q: What are you doing to pay the bills these days?  Is there any chance of Monster Vision returning?  Do you make enough to pay my bills too?

A: Writing books, writing magazine articles, doing DVD commentaries (12 so far), taking the occasional film role, and the main thing is that I’m working with the guys in New York and Los Angeles who are launching a new cable channel devoted to horror, suspense and thrillers.  “MonsterVision” can never return–the moguls canceled it, so now the moguls must suffer.  But I’ll do something similar.

(Afgncaap5) Q: 
How do you see the work provided by folks like yourself, MST3K, Vampira and other “Horror Hosts”?  Is it a noble tribute to forgotten films, a slap in the face to Hollywood, a fun outlet for sketch comedy ideas, a mixture, I said, how?

A:  Most of the other horror hosts make fun of the movie.  The movie is simply an object for comedy. I try to celebrate the B movie genre.  I’m not above taking a cheap shot at a bad movie, but that’s not what the overall tone is.  My goal is celebration.

(Shep) Q: 
Joe Bob, you’ve written several great books. Which is your personal favorite?

A:  The best one was actually written by my alter ego, John Bloom. “Evidence of Love,” a true crime book co-authored with Jim Atkinson. As for the others, I’m always fond of whichever one I’m working on at the time, so at present it’s the one I just finished, “Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies That Changed History.”

(Shep) Q:  What was it like working with Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese in Casino?

A:  Easier than any other movie I’ve ever made. They like actors and they like movies. They like to talk movies.

(Laserblast) Q:  Name your favorite drive-in theater (past or present) and what would be your dream double feature to watch there? Also..........“The Drive-In will never die!”

A:  That would have to be my old haunt, the Gemini Drive-In in Dallas. Rest in peace. “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

(VanHagar) Q:  Will the Horror Channel ever come to the United States?

A:  I’m not sure which one you’re talking about. Are you talking about 13th Street, the horror channel in Europe?  At any rate, I’m working with an investment group that is about to launch a new horror, suspense and thriller channel, currently called HorrorNet, although the name will probably change before launch.  So yes, it will happen.

(losingmydignity) Q: 
Joe Bob, what is the absolute sleaziest scene you’ve ever seen in a movie?  I mean a scene that (as they riff in some MST3K episodes) made you want to take a shower after watching it.

A:  That would probably have to be the 23-minute gang rape (actually four separate rapes) in “I Spit On Your Grave.”

(Don) Q:  Have you seen Manos: the Hands of Fate?  If so, what did you think of it?

A:  “But master, you have six wives–why can’t I have one for myself?” “Because you are not one of us!” Texas should be proud.

(Snoozer328) Q:  What is your favorite B-movie soundtrack?

A:  That would probably be “Suspiria,” with music by Goblin.

(Torgo) Q:  First I must say I miss Monster Vision. That made my Saturday nights and you were the man. My question is semi-MST-related, seeing how we’re on an MST3K site (so I’m assuming you know what MST3K is). A while back you contributed to a few episodes of a VH1 Movie Rules series along with MST3K head writer Mike Nelson. Were you two interviewed separately or did you two have a chance to meet? Or have you ever met an MST3K crew member in the past, maybe compared experiences in bad movie watching?

A:  No, I’ve never had the pleasure. We were filmed separately for that show. I think I was at a fan convention in Philadelphia when that happened.

(Dr. Forrester) Q:  What are your favorite horror films?

A:  The original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” “Hellraiser.” The original “Night of the Living Dead.” “Black Sunday.” “Audition.” “Suspiria.”

(Dr. Forrester) Q:  What stops a horror film from being effective?

A:  A great horror film is one of the rarest things in the world, so many things can ruin it. On the ultra-low-budget end, the most common mistakes are amateur acting, lack of art direction, and unimaginative cinematography. For higher budgets, the flaws are more subtle. Some people make horror films who have a contempt for the genre–they’re looking down at the audience–and that always shows. Most often the films are derivative–they’re versions of films we’ve already seen.

(Dr. Forrester) Q:  Which movie version of The Shining is the best?  The mini-series version made in 1997 – or the original classic 1980 version with Jack Nicholson?

A:  The 1997 version is more faithful to the book, but this is one of those rare cases where the unfaithful version is better, due to the genius of Stanley Kubrick.

(Dr. Forrester) Q:  What do you think of all these recent horror film remakes?  Is Hollywood running out of ideas?

A:  Hollywood has always done remakes. There was a spike in horror box office in the late nineties, and that caused studios to go in search of scripts. There’s some indication this year that remake box office is falling off again. Everything is cyclical.

(Dr. Forrester) Q: 
Will American Scary ever be released to DVD?

A:  I don’t really know what the distribution status of the flick is.

(Dr. Forrester) Q:  Do you recommend any DVD’s?

A:  I recommend any DVD that includes a Joe Bob Briggs commentary track. Those would be, from Elite Entertainment, “I Spit On Your Grave,” “The Double D Avenger,” and “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter.” From Media Blasters, I have “Samurai Cop,” “Blood Shack,” “The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher,” “Hell High,” “Hell’s Angels ’69,” “Warlock Moon,” “Blood Sisters,” “Run, Angel, Run,” and, of course, “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies.”

(mrschlitz) Q:  Quick! Who would win a bitch-slap fight – Leonardo DiCaprio or Orlando Bloom?

A: Meryl Streep.


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