For a certain group of kids in the mid- to late '90s (i.e., weirdoes and mutants), TNT’s MonsterVision was a permanent late-night fixture for the weekend. On the surface, it was a horror movie show hosted by Joe Bob Briggs, a redneck with a penchant for bolo ties and B-movies, but it was actually a piece of television that sneakily combined a love for horror and science fiction with an alternative comedy sensibility that shared a similar spirit with The State and The Young Ones.
While Joe Bob Briggs stayed firmly inside of his late-night format, he used its restrictions to tear apart the entire idea of what hosted interstitials could do with narrative, all while doing his best to make sure the audience was in on the joke. Due to the nature of MonsterVision’s schedule, and the volume of content that Briggs and his team produced, it’s impossible to track down everything that went out on the airwaves, but these are the best episodes that MonsterVision had to offer.
When Briggs wasn’t goofing off and drinking tall boys on set, he would sometimes interview people from the world of B-movies and exploitation films. He sat down with heavy hitters like John Waters (who made the host touch his mustache) and schlock cinema lifers like Clint Howard. Briggs's ability to talk all things horror proved that he genuinely loved the films he was showing, and his reverence for the weird, frightening, and downright bad would inspire an allegiance to late-night horror films in an entire new generation of fans.
Episode 73 - Return of the Living Dead
From time to time, Joe Bob Briggs brought on everyone from directors and the stars of the films he was showing that week to UFOlogists, and for The Return of the Living Dead, he interviewed Linnea Quigley, the gal who gets buck naked and dances on a tombstone to SSQ (the only band to hail from Norwalk, California). In just a few short minutes, weird 12-year-old boys across America discovered their new scream queen obsession, and they heard the phrase "pickaxe to the brain."
The First Annual Dusk to Dawn Friday the 13th Marathon
For the five years that Joe Bob Briggs hosted Monstervision, he mostly stuck to his standard format of stepping out of the trailer, cracking open an Old Milwaukee, and chatting with his crew for a few minutes before introducing the movie. But once in a blue moon he switched things up and it was always fun. One of the most memorable format changes came when he hosted a 12-hour marathon of Friday the 13th movies and made the marathon into a quasi Jason film unto itself - except instead of being hunted by a hockey-mask-wearing derelict, he was being chased down by Ted Turner himself.
Episode 16 - Phantasm 2 and The Beast Within
Before every film, Joe Bob Briggs would lay down what viewers would be seeing in a bullet-point format so they'd know they were getting the most bang for their buck. Phantasm 2's Drive-In Totals may have been the best of the entire series: "Twelve dead bodies. Exploding house. One four-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Dwarf-tossing. Ten breasts. Embalming needles plunged through various parts of various bodies. One motor-vehicle chase, with crash-and-burn. Ear-lopping. Forehead-drilling. Wrist-hacking. Bimbo-flinging. Grandma-bashing. Devil sex. Crematorium Fu. Flamethrower Fu... Four stars."
Episode 38 - The People Under the Stairs and Halloween 3
The final film shown on MonsterVision's last Friday night - they were moved to Saturdays - was Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which sent the show "out on a whimper." But even with the uninspired cinema on his hands, Briggs picks up the ball and runs with it when he breaks down exactly what you need to have in a slasher to make it enjoyable, and he succinctly sums up franchise films in two sentences: "The Friday the 13th people have integrity. They've made the same movie eight times."