|Directed by||Greg V. Feta|
|Presented by||Penn & Teller
Joe Bob Briggs
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original release||March 1, 1993– September 2000|
MonsterVision was an American variety series that aired on TNT from early 1991 to September 2000. (There is no clear air date for the first MonsterVision but the oldest known video footage of the marathon is from 1991.) The series was hosted by Joe Bob Briggs from 1995 to 2000, and featured mainly classic horror and schlock films from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Before the arrival of Joe Bob Briggs as a permanent host, a claymation style moon character narrated the bumper segments and served as the de facto host. Later, Penn and Teller guest-hosted MonsterVision marathons featuring mainly old B-Movies from the 1950s and 1960s. Late in its run, the show changed formats, discarded "Last Call," and became Joe Bob's Hollywood Saturday Night and Monstervision.
When MonsterVision first began in the early-1990s, it was little more than a marathon of horror, science fiction or fantasy films starting at 8 p.m. EST and ending well into the early morning. A Claymation style moon character narrated the links and served as the de facto host. Usually the films were unrelated, but sometimes there would be a general theme such as a Harryhausen night or a Godzilla night. MonsterVision would sometimes have special events, such as their Hammer "Dracula weekend" with a mini-interview with Christopher Lee in honor of the release of 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Following the arrival of new host Joe Bob Briggs in 1995, MonsterVision would show typically no more than two films per night, though several episodes were much longer, such as a 1997 Super Bowl Sunday special which comprised 16 continuous hours of monster movies. On regular double-feature nights, the second movie was billed as Joe Bob's Last Call. Briggs would host the segments from a set which resembled the inside and outside of a trailer, and was often visited by one of a succession of 'mail girls', including 'Rusty' (played by Renner St. John). The program occasionally featured guests such as rapper and actor Ice-T, and directors John Waters and Mel Stuart.
MonsterVision under Briggs would occasionally stray from horror and science fiction, showing western, blaxploitation, kung-fu, dramas, comedies and other film genres. Before each film, Briggs would usually give the audience his formal "Drive-In Totals," a list of what he considered to be the most notable, gory or humorous points in the movie, followed by a rating of up to four stars, all delivered in a deadpan style. He frequently played on the term "kung fu" to describe action sequences with a particular theme, such as 'Quicksand Fu' in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Briggs' introduction to Phantasm II, for example, comprised:
"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. Check it out."
After each commercial break Briggs would deliver a diverting short or long monologue concerning general observations about the film, as well as popular culture, society, and his thoughts about life in general. These could be more serious discussions, for example, of trivia about obscure film actors, or controversies such as the race debates around films such as Big Trouble in Little China. Conversely, Briggs' pieces could be more lighthearted, with deliberately outrageous political statements and occasional banter with his film crew. He frequently described his notional day-to-day activities, including supposed problems with his girlfriends (or lack thereof) and his four ex-wives (usually the fourth, "Wanda Bodeine").
During these links, Briggs routinely criticized and lampooned TNT's censorship of the films, with frequent reference to the channel's owner, Ted Turner. This running gag culminated with a Halloween marathon of Friday the 13th movies, which portrayed strange occurrences throughout the night, leading up to Joe Bob realizing that Turner was trying to 'kill' him. The final scene saw Joe Bob give an impassioned apology to Turner, claiming he was an amazing person, before the video feed cut off eerily. A similar stunt was staged in Blair Witch-themed segments for a later horror marathon, with the host mysteriously missing.
Briggs usually signed off each episode of MonsterVision with a casual debriefing on the movie just-ended, along with a series of deliberately bad jokes, and a reminder that "the Drive-In will never die!"
Late in its run, the program changed formats to show mainly Hollywood films. Briggs has said he believes TNT showing fewer horror and drive-in movies may have led to the program's fall. On July 8, 2000, Briggs unknowingly hosted MonsterVision for the last time (showing Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice). Days later, Briggs received a letter from TNT management, stating that "his services were no longer needed." Afterwards, the show returned to its original non-host format. MonsterVision was removed from TNT's lineup in early September 2000.
Before joining TNT, Briggs hosted a similar program on The Movie Channel called Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater. Briggs went on to host MonsterVision for four years, before TNT executives decided to change the station's format.
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