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Joe Bob Briggs

The Official Home of America's Drive-In Movie Critic Extraordinaire

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Will Eat for Food

Some buddies of mine over in East Dallas have been taking in homeless people during the last year. They had this idea that if they started saying, “Hey, bud, come on in and sleep in the house,” that other people would notice and start doing the same thing.

Cause let’s face it, the government hasn’t done diddly squat. The churches haven’t done doo-doo. We’ve had nineteen bajillion TV fundraisers, benefit concerts and now social media campaigns, yet we’ve got more homeless people than when we started.

But, of course, nobody wanted to help out my friends. The project didn’t work. Homeless people take up your time. They have bad teeth. A lot of em have hassles with the law, or they’re sick, or they’re trying to kick a drug habit, or they’re trying to find a lawyer to handle their divorce. They need rides all the time. They’re hard to talk to. They’re secretive. Sometimes they pick up and leave in the middle of the night, and it makes you feel weird.

So most people–even the people who THINK they wanna help the homeless–don’t really wanna help the homeless.

This failed scheme was called “The Dallas Project,” and it was administered by the public non-profit Trinity Foundation. Here’s what they learned:

1.  Nobody wants to know or hear about the homeless.

If “homeless” is in the headline on this article, then 80 per cent of the people already turned the page.

2.  We don’t need more government money for the homeless.

The people who work for the government treat the homeless like beggars.

3.  We don’t need any more of those “Christian shelters” in the middle of downtown.

The way that works is you show up in the morning, sit through a sermon or whatever the place is selling, then collect the goods–either food, or clothing, or transportation. In other words, you’ve got to listen to what the place is preaching, then, as a REWARD, you get the stuff. If it’s a “Christian” shelter, you oughta get the stuff no matter whether you listen or not. This is why homeless people are the most cynical people in America.

4. There’s two kinds of shelters

–the kind that make you leave at five in the afternoon, and the kind that make you leave at eight in the morning. Day shelters and night shelters. This is supposed to be so you don’t stay there too long. Homeless people have already been kicked out of a lot of places. They’re not looking for some situation where they get kicked out as a WAY OF LIFE.

5.  Most homeless don’t need money.

Unless you can give em $50,000 a year for the rest of their lives, money’s not gonna make any difference. This is why these big fund-raising drives are so sick. All they do is raise money to build up another bureaucracy.

6.  Ten per cent of the homeless prefer being homeless.

The other 90 per cent lost their job, then moved in with a relative. Then there was a crisis. (Typical crisis: somebody in the homeless family wrecks the family car.) The relative got mad and kicked them out on the street. Believe it or not, this is as hard on the relative as it is on the family that gets kicked out.

7.  Almost all homeless people need medical attention, especially dental work.

Being homeless makes your body start to break down. The only way they can get free medical care is if some non-homeless person raises hell with a doctor or a hospital and makes somebody feel ashamed enough to provide it. The government won’t do this for you. The shelter will ask you to come back on Sunday night when the nurse is on duty. Only a living, breathing ANGRY person can do this. (It’s actually easier than you think, once you get into the doctor’s office.)

8.  Almost all homeless people need legal help.

They owe money. They need to file bankruptcy. Or they’re going through a divorce. Free legal services are either non-existent or a joke. Once again, they need a living, breathing ANGRY person, but this time they need an even ANGRIER one, because lawyers will come up with ten thousand self-righteous reasons why they don’t have time for it.

9.  Churches are the worst.

There was a time when churches would allow the homeless to sleep in their sanctuaries. Not any more. Churches have “programs.” All the “programs” involve the church member giving money, so that the church member never has to actually SEE the homeless person.

10.  Unless you have personally taken a homeless person into your house, you’re not an expert on the homeless.

This rules out almost all the government employees, most of the preachers, all the lawyers, all the doctors. This rules me out. I haven’t done it. I’m guilty. But I’m not gonna pretend anymore. I’ve given money to all the charities. But I’m not gonna do it anymore, because I know this much:

They don’t need money. They need us.


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Write Everyday

A few presidents ago, people started asking me how to write. Friends, mostly.

“Say Joe Bob, I’ve got this great idea for a book. All I need to know is how to get it in shape.”

Or “I’m planning to be a writer. Do you have any advice on where I could start out?”

Or sometimes I would get invitations to speak at writers conferences or journalism conventions or university seminars on weighty topics like “The Modern Humorous Essay.” And I would go to cocktail parties where bitter white wine was served in plastic glasses by women with two last names. And, for a while, when I first got these invitations, I would actually accept them and go spend a day spouting off about this thing and that thing and the other thing. And people would TAKE NOTES on the stuff I was saying. And when aspiring writers wrote me letters, I would write them back, volunteering suggestions on how to write and when to write and so on and so forth. And the aspiring writers would write me back, so GRATEFUL for what I had told them.

And then, one day, I realized . . .


If you met me during this Blabbermouth Period of my life, then you already REALIZE, of course, that I didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. But this realization didn’t hit me until much much later.

Now I’m trying to make up for it. I know practically NOTHING about the science, or art, or craft, of writing. But this column contains EVERYTHING that I know beyond a doubt.

1. The way you become a writer is:  you WRITE   *Every day*  No exceptions

Nobody believes this. Everybody wants to believe in something called “talent” or “inspiration” or “the knack for it.” Maybe there IS such a thing, but it has nothing to do with becoming a writer.

So when someone says “I wanna be a writer–what do I do?,” the first thing I say is “Go and write for two hours a day for two weeks, and then bring me what you’ve written.”

To a professional writer, this is a very LIGHT writing schedule. But ninety-nine per cent of them vanish forever.

It’s too mundane. Nobody believes it.

2. What you write is not important

Nobody believes this, either. Most people think “If I could just get the right IDEA, then the writing would flow.” That’s like saying “If Nolan Ryan would just throw me the right pitch, then I could hit home runs for the Yankees.” Before you get the chance to face the big pitch from Nolan Ryan, you have to hit 200,000 other pitches. Every day. No exceptions.

The idea doesn’t matter. The practice matters.

3. Nobody is going to steal your idea

Everyone who is about to write a book is afraid that they will tell someone (like me) the topic, and six months later Doubleday will be bringing out a 200,000 first printing on the SAME topic, but written by Norman Mailer, and the aspiring writer’s chance for celebrity will be dashed.

Listen up. You don’t get widely plagiarized until you’re widely published–and then it doesn’t matter. Trust me on this.


There are only individual expressions of old ideas. If you and I write the same thing, it will come out in two versions so different that no one will notice, but BOTH versions will be extremely similar to things written 3,000 years ago. To put it another way, your imagination doesn’t belong to you–it’s just something you’re entrusted with for a time.

5. Be honest. It always works


6. Don’t listen to anybody’s opinions about what you write, especially your friends and family

(I don’t mean ignore these people. I mean listen to the voice inside you that says “That’s good” and “That stinks.” It’s the only voice that doesn’t lie.)

7. Never be afraid to write something that stinks

The more stinky stuff you put out, the more risks you take. And the more risks you take, the better chance you have of creating something beautiful. No great writer has ever been a wimp.

8. If you can explain how to write a book, then you don’t know how to write one. If you can write a book, then you won’t be able to explain how you did it. It’s stupid, but it’s true.

There are no rules about what to write, how to write it, or what will “sell.” Never ask a book publisher what will “sell.” They’re the last to know.

9. There are no membership cards or initiation rites for this profession

Anybody with a sheet of paper can do it. So you become a writer on the day you say “I’m a writer.” It doesn’t matter where your income comes from. The work you take joy from is writing.

10. Nobody can tell you how to write, but there are certain things you can do to get to a PLACE where you can write. There are three of them:


Write every day.
Write every day.
Write every day.

This is all I know.



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Advice to the Hopeless Aug ’12

Dear Joe Bob

I got into a argument with my trappin buds Sted Owder and Dewey Makefish ( I include their names so that hopefully the proper humiliation level can be achieved when they are proven WRONG). You remember Lurch of the Addams Family?

I said he is definitely a zombie while Sted maintains he is a vampire. Dewey, always out in left field, is so sure Lurch was made up like the Frankenstein monster outta spare parts by Grandfather Addams. I knew we had to take this to the world expert on these matters, and once the $2.50 bet was down, we all agreed that only the great Joe Bob Briggs could be relied upon for the correct answer.


May the Drive-in never die! And if it does, may it always return from Death, like our pal Lurch musta!

Ever a fan,


The grand prize goes to . . . DEWEY! Lurch is a version of the Frankenstein monster and was assembled from spare body parts. Only his heart is true Addams.

Preciate the nice words, bud.

Hang in there,

Joe Bob


Hey Joe Bob,

Have you ever thought of doing a podcast? I know they can be time consuming, but even if you only did one a month it would be pretty awesome.



I know what you mean, but the idea of a podcast has never really gotten me that excited. Maybe you can talk me into it . . .

Hang in there,

Joe Bob


Joe Bob,

Big fan from way back! Have three dozen weekend guides from Dallas Times Herald 1984/1985 in really good condition — any value to you? Hope you are well.



Are you asking me whether there’s a point in time when the Dallas Times Herald Weekend Guide would become valuable on Antiques Roadshow? I
doubt it! Preciate the nice words, bud.

Hang in there,

Joe Bob


Joe Bob,

Thank god you’re still kickin ! I used to watch your tv stuff,and 11 yrs ago, I left Ca. , and moved to Bumfuk, Arkansas.My ex and i came here,trying to get away from all the b.s.,and it sorta worked out. After 1 yr here,we split up. She remarried and I got my freedom. We have joint custody of our son,and decided to stay.THERE ARE NO DRIVE-INS HERE! There’s one about 100miles from here. That’s it, but it’s too cold in winter. I miss working in ,and on films,but ,oh well……man ,I’m glad you’re still around !-Good to see you somewhere besides my vcr.



You’ve got to EMBRACE the Farkleberry Spirit, man. I spent half my childhood in Arkansas and it’s largely responsible for what I became. Chug some Wiederkehr’s while wearing a hog hat, that always makes things better.

Preciate the support, man.

Hang in there,

Joe Bob


Hey Job Bob,

Been reading Job Bob goes to the Drive In and I been wondering what’s your take is on SciFi Channel releasing all this B Movie esq films? I realize they’re indoor bullstuff but most seem like they’d have been decent drive in films.



Well, of the three B’s–Blood, Breasts and Beasts–SyFy only gives us one: BEASTS. No breasts at all and no blood to speak of. Who do they think they’re snookering?

Preciate the support, bud.

Hang in there,

Joe Bob

Joe Bob,

Hello! I’ve been a fan of yours since your 1980’s show on cable! Obviously we’re both so old we don’t have time to waste so I should just cut to the chase – I loved your gathering of
movie hosts in 1991 and I wanted to make sure you were aware of my recent exclusive interview with movie host Randy Clower. He and Richard Malmos used to host the Texas 27 Film Vault late Saturday nights in your old Dallas stomping grounds so you may well remember the show.

Plus my blog is just weird enough to appeal to you I hope. As a minimum here’s a link to my Randy Clower interview.


Dear Ed,

Thanks for sharing those memories. Ironically, we used to shoot “Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater” at Channel 27 studios, the same place where Randy and Richard worked.

Preciate the support!

Hang in there,

Joe Bob

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The Radix

The Radix by Brett King
Reviewed by Karl Wolff

Brett King launches the reader into a world of intrigue, mystery and action with this novel. It follows the exploits of John Brynstone, an agent for the Special Collection Service (SCS).  The SCS uses the technology of the National Security Agency and the cloak-and-dagger tradecraft of the Central Intelligence Agency to spy on suspicious targets and collect sensitive data threatening national security.

As usual, the SCS doesn’t officially exist.  Brynstone possesses the combat skills of a CIA agent with a Ph.D. in paleopathology (the study of diseases in an archaeological setting).  He also has a sexy sidekick, a tech-savvy babe named Jordan Rayne, and a cat named Banshee.  Unfortunately, it’s the Christmas holiday season and Brynstone is on assignment to collect a rare artifact from the Saudi Ambassador.


The Radix belongs to that genre one can dub The Catholic Artifact Conspiracy.  Like The Da Vinci Code and similar books, it has a plot surrounding a powerful artifact.  In this case, it is the Radix, an ancient artifact with the power to heal or the power to kill.  The artifact was once in possession of the Borgia family, a wealthy family that provided Italy with Popes, dukes, and princesses, along with enough historically documented crime, torture, mayhe, and perversion to keep the curious occupied for quite some time.

Once Brynstone and Jordan acquire the Radix, the reader is swept along on a roller-coaster ride of mystery and violence.  We meet an insane former NSA cryptanalyst, the psychotic descendants of the Borgia clan, and the brother of the President up to no good.  The Borgias want the Radix for their dark ends.  Legend has it linked with the European Black Plague.  The billionaire brother of the President wants it to revitalize a struggling pharmaceutical company.  The NSA Director also wants it, but he’s not telling why.

The novel is packed with elaborate puzzles, riveting action sequences, and unexpected reversals.  When a former German skinhead kidnaps John Brynstone’s family, things get personal.  Will Brynstone save his family in time?  Will the insane cryptanalyst and the psychology grad student unravel the puzzles relating to Carl Gustav Jung’s work on psychology and alchemy?  Will the Borgias stop at nothing?

All these questions will be answered, but some things get left hanging, providing enough material for a rip-roaring sequel.  Brett King, when not writing about rampaging Borgias and the suspicious shenanigans of the American intelligence community, works as a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  His credentials give the material on psychology a much needed authenticity.  He also wrote a short Author’s Note at the end, separating the historical record from his fictional fabrications.3 stars.

Leisure, 2010, $7.99
ISBN 0-8439-6382-4

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The Devil Inside 2012

This latest in the string of exorcism flicks trying to capture that Linda Blair Anderson’s Pea Soup Magic Formula follows big-eyed Isabella as she tries to find out if her mama is possessed or just a whack-job.  You see, Mommie Dearest killed three people during an attempted exorcism (on her, which everyone reminds us repeatedly) back in 1989, was committed to a Vatican-sponsored insane asylum—who knew the Vatican ran loony bins?—and now her grown-up daughter has agreed to be part of a documentary about the whole thing.

Daughter Isabella travels to Italy, attends an exorcist class, meets some exorcist priests, and, well, I dozed off there for a while, but when I woke back up, Isabella’s mom was freaking out, screaming crazy demon-possessed things at her that only a demon would know, I guess. Then Isabella’s priest friends, who run an underground exorcism service, convince her that the only way she can truly recognize demonic possession is if she goes to an exorcism with them. So she does, and they do the whole cross-and-holy-water-demon-be-gone routine on a woman who twists herself into a pretzel. Now that Isabella’s seen the real thing, they decide to go to the hospital to do a demonic possession evaluation on her mom, only they have to kind of sneak around becausethe Vatican doesn’t approve of unauthorized exorcisms, except the hospital seems to have no problem with them doing it, so that part didn’t really make a lot of sense.

Anyway, Mom seems unpossessed for a couple of minutes, but then she seems really, really possessed, which gets the priests all excited because now the Vatican will have to recognize that they have video proof of possession! Except the Vatican refuses to talk to them, the documentary filmmaker guy whines about how he’s feeling left out, one of the priests loses it, Isabella loses it, and pretty soon we’ve got a car full of possessed people careening down the Eyetalian highway toward an extremely annoying ending.

Let’s take a look at those Drive-In Totals:

Five bodies. Zero breasts. Three, maybe four beasts, if you count the possessed people. One house that belongs on Hoarders. One police shaky-cam. One crazy woman in the crawlspace. One exorcism gone bad. One field trip to the Vatican School for Exorcism. One foreshadowing of “transference.”. Multiple head slamming. One underground exorcism ring. One extremely limber possessed woman. One desperate need for feminine hygiene products. Priest-flinging. One whiny documentary filmmaker. Attempted baby drowning. One motor vehicle crash. Gratuitous documentary cam. Gratuitous talking heads. Gratuitous focus on pupil dilation. Demon-possession Fu.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Fernanda Andrade as Isabella, for being named Fernanda, and for saying “I really need to understand what happened” and “Exorcism has defined my life”; Suzan Crowley as Isabella’s possessed mother, for being creepy and saying “Do you know how to connect the cuts?”; Evan Helmuth as David the priest, for declaring “The entity in your mother has disciples!” and “Of course I mean demonic transference!”; and Pixie le Knot for putting the “ewwww” in the exorcism scenes as the “contortionist double.”

One and a half stars

Joe Bob says check it out

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Why does God love Tim Tebow but hate the Broncos?

Have you noticed how much time God has been spending on home runs and slam-dunks lately? This winter I think God scored half the touchdowns in the NFL. I’ve never seen so many wide receivers crossing themselves in the end zone and giving thanks for those six points.

No wonder we’ve still got wars. God has turned into a totally SHALLOW Supreme Being.

Here’s what I wanna know:

If these professional jocks thank God every time they win a game, do they also BLAME God every time they LOSE a game?

It would make sense, wouldn’t it? If he’s gonna win for em, then he’s gonna lose for em, too.

Or, if they’re all that goldurn religious, if they truly have the unquestioning faith of St. Augustine, then why wouldn’t they THANK God every time they lose? If God is the Author of All Things–if he’s willing it and doing it all the time–then he’s making em lose, too.

But you never hear this. You never hear a post-game interview that starts out, “First of all, I’d like to thank God Almighty for causing me to drop that pass in the end zone. I’d also like to thank my family, the coaches, all the people who made it possible for us to lose this game.”

Wouldn’t this be a more CONSISTENT Fellowship of Christian Athletes faith statement?

But the main thing that burns my bacon is that these holy rollers, holy dribblers, and holy puck chasers always ASSUME that God’s main job is to monitor their personal lives and make sure they get everything they need.

Maybe God needs something for his own self

Perhaps He gets tired of being a babysitter in athletic stadiums.

“Damn it, I knew I should have Tebow’d this”

I would like to talk to Him about it. I would like to go up to Him, wherever He sits during gametime, and say, “God, do you REALLY watch every athletic event in the world and decide who You want to win? Do you do stuff like give Timmy Tebow stomach cramps on game day so he can’t play as well? Do you put a little sweat on the football so you get a fumble in the fourth quarter? Is your brain REALLY the equivalent of one MILLION video screens, showing all the games being played in the world, all day long, so you can keep score in heaven?”

I mean, maybe he does. After all, he can be everywhere at the same time, right? He can get involved as much as he wants to, right? He can do WHATEVER THE HECK HE WANTS TO DO.

OK, So what I really wanna know is . . .

If we humans can’t even accept that God would DESIRE us to lose an athletic event, how can we ever accept that he creates hurricanes and wars and our Grandma dying of liver cancer.

If all things come from God, then ALL THINGS COME FROM GOD.



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Rumpelstiltskin (1995)

Have you noticed how closing times at bars get earlier and earlier?

What’s going on here? Certain cities and states now have bars that close at MIDNIGHT, just like in Communist countries like Sweden.

Didn’t we already find out in the 1920s what happens when you monkey around with a man’s drinking habits?

He gets GRUMPY. He starts beatin’ bunny rabbits over the head with baseball bats.

He rips the legs off frogs and feeds them to his sister-in-law. He picks at scabs, runs nekkid across the golf course and sings the theme from “Green Acres” out loud on the subway.

There was a time when Texas bars were open all night long, just like in New Orleans. Now they close at 2 a.m. And you usually can’t even find any ILLEGAL ones after that.

Closing time in Atlanta was 3 a.m. the last time I checked. That’s a LITTLE more serious bar town.

New York still has a healthy regard for tradition. Closing time is 4, and if you’re still revved, you can generally find a party after that.

But if you wanna talk about a place that takes its drinking and dancing and carrying on DAMN SERIOUSLY, look no further than…Arkansas. Legal closing time: 5 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago I was hanging out with some party animals from Little Rock who took me to this warehouse at the end of a gravel road down by the Arkansas River.

Once you get inside, it’s a combination rave club/gay bar/transvestite performance-art space/beer garden/blissed-out, ecstasy-trance, Kool-Aid-head scene.

There were, like, THOUSANDS of brain-damaged individuals in this place, all dancing their politically-incorrect little tushies off, less than two miles from where Billy Clinton once presided over the Arkansas state government.

And everybody kept saying to me, “I guess this is no big deal to you, Joe Bob, because it’s only Arkansas, and you’ve been EVERYWHERE.”

And I would say, “I’ve been everywhere and I have NEVER seen anything like this.”

And the most amazing thing of all was the drag queens. I’ve seen drag-queen lip-synch acts in San Francisco, in New York and-the horror! the horror!-even in Key West. These were the most COMMITTED drag queens I’ve ever seen. Even the ugly ones.

In fact, the UGLIEST ones were the MOST COMMITTED. And people would say, “I guess you’ve seen a lot better than this, Joe Bob, ’cause, you know, it’s the best we can do in Arkansas.”

But I’m here to tell you something. If you wanna be a drag queen in Arkansas, you better know what you’re doing. These he- gals want it BAD.

Their acts were so good I wanted to propose marriage to three of ’em, including a guy with a five o’clock shadow, dressed like Madonna, singing “Like a Virgin.”

You had to be there.

But my point is, KEEP THE DANG BARS OPEN. It’s good for society. It’s good for the soul. Look what it did for Arkansas.

And speaking of deformed creatures, we finally got a decent horror flick this year. It’s called “Rumpelstiltskin,” and it stars Max Grodenchik as the deformed midget from the fairy tale who steals babies and eats body parts.

In the 15th century, the vengeance-seeking townsfolk-you know, the ones who always carry torches-set Rumpelstiltskin on fire and turn him into an ugly green rock and throw him into the ocean.

But 400 years later he turns up in an El Lay antique shop, and pretty soon we’ve got a nasty troll swiping the newborn baby of a cop’s widow and absconding to Bakersfield.

Actually, he can never quite KEEP possession of the baby, so Mommy flees to Bakersfield in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, forcing the cigar-chomping demon to hijack an 18-wheeler by decapitating a redneck.

Fortunately, a trash-TV daytime-talk-show host is on his way to the lake in a sport utility vehicle, so he picks up Mama and Baby, lures the troll into an over-the-cliff header and helps her bust out of jail when they’re arrested for killing a cop who actually died when the troll, with burns over 100 percent of his body, ripped off his own head and used it to eat the cop’s neck.

Obviously, there’s way too much plot getting in the way of the story here, but, basically, this is the old “Troll Wants the Soul” plot, with Rumpelstiltskin trying to get eternal life by dancing around and chanting a rhyme while the stolen baby rests in a zombie’s arms.

What makes the whole thing work is that Grodenchik, as the twisted, nasty little demon, is both hilarious and scary-he’s got that whole Freddy Krueger thing going for him, even one step better.

Fifteen dead bodies. No breasts. Flaming baby. Mace-clubbing. Eyeball-ripping. Eyeball-eating. Multiple ancient curses. Exploding demon. Close-up gunshot wound to the head.

Finger-hacking. Knife to the forehead. Broom handle stuffed in the mouth, exiting in rear.

Arm-hacking, with maggots. Neck-chomping. Flag through the stomach.

One shoot-out. Four motor vehicle chases, with two fireballs. Gratuitous zombie attack. Head rolls.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for …

* Max Grodenchik, as the pointy-eared, jug-nosed, cackling midget from hell, for saying, “Come, bring the pain!” and, “Thy future is harsh on thy throat!” and “I smell a baby!”

* Allyce Beasley, as the best friend who puts her hand on the ancient talisman and wishes for “an exotic male dancer.”

* Kim Johnston Ulrich, as the young mom running from the “satanic little freak with pointy ears.”

* Vera Lockwood, as the scary-looking antiques dealer who says, “Next time an old witch tells you not to buy something, you listen!”

* Tommy Blaze, as the talk-show-host-turned-demon-fighter who knows he’s a jerk and loves himself for it.

* And Mark Jones, the writer/director, for doing things the drive-in way.

Four stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Rumble in the Streets (1996)

Everybody in Hollywood is a cynic, of course, so I have a question.

How come, no matter how cynical they are, no matter whether they’re producers, directors, actors or grips, no matter how many horrible casting stories they’ve seen, they still believe-all of them, no exceptions-in the concept of Talent. I mean, some call it talent, some call it genius, some call it acting ability. But they all believe there’s some mysterious quality that separates the good actor from the bad one.

So when an actor goes to an audition, and doesn’t get the part, they’re often crushed because “I KNOW I could do that part. I KNOW I could do it better than anyone else. I KNOW I could do it better than the guy they gave it to.”

And the point is, all of that is PROBABLY TRUE. But they gave it to some guy they had heard of, because they think by putting his name on the video box, they can sell more copies, even though the last hit he made was in 1981 and so he’s “just a name” but maybe it’ll be worth a few bucks. And the fading star may have a drinking problem, and may not even CARE about acting anymore, but it doesn’t matter, and the producer doesn’t care, because they’re not buying his acting, they’re buying his name.

There are literally HUNDREDS of examples of this, and yet the frustrated aspiring actor still believes in the idea of “being discovered.”

What’s even worse, the guy who keeps getting jobs on the basis of an old TV series thinks that he’s being hired because of HIS talent.

And the director thinks: “Wow, we got this talented guy. I’ve HEARD OF HIM.”

The fact is, for every great Hollywood part, there are probably 500 actors laboring in university theaters and regional opera companies and community playhouses who could do it BETTER than the star who’s actually hired. And I think the audience knows this. What’s amazing is that HOLLYWOOD DOESN’T KNOW IT.

I mean, Hollywood HAS to know it, right? Because Hollywood INVENTED it.  But you’ve still got all these old cynical directors and producers talking about “star quality”-which, let’s face it, is half good looks and half good lighting, “performance of a lifetime”-which means the star finally did something different from what she did in her last 10 movies, and “that special magic.”

“That special magic” usually means she’s 17 years old, gorgeous and willing.

Of all the key players who combine to make a movie-writer, director, cinematographer, sound man, art director, editor, composer-I would put the actors about eighth or ninth in order of importance. And as movies get more sophisticated, and more visual, the actor’s role diminishes. It will never diminish on the stage, of course, but in film you can sometimes do the same thing the actor does with animation or effects or old footage. As Robert Mitchum once said, “Rin Tin Tin was the greatest actor Hollywood ever had.”

So my question is: Why don’t they just cut the crap?

Does anybody know what I’m talking about here?

And speaking of guys who have NEVER been impressed by stars, drive-in king Roger Corman is at it again this week, recycling a script he made seven years ago and making everybody but me think it’s a brand-new movie.

Remember “Streets,” the minor cult classic starring Christina Applegate as a teen-age runaway heroin-junkie hooker trying to escape a maniac cop? Well, that story made its way back up to the top of the stack as “Rumble in the Streets,” but this time Roger hired my buddy Bret McCormick, an ultra-low-budget Fort Worth filmmaker, and Bret did it like a documentary on homeless street kids who live at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Of course, we all know the Fort Worth police would never ALLOW any homeless at the stockyards, because it would scare off all the tourists, but Bret kinda makes it work.

Actually, the box cover says, “The streets of Dallas have been cruel to Tori….” But there’s not a single Dallas scene in the whole deal. This is Fort Worth all the way. I guess Roger just couldn’t bring himself to say, “The mean, nasty streets of Fort Worth….” Somehow Fort Worth doesn’t cut it as a Quentin Tarantino-type location.

Other than changing from El Lay to Fort Worth, thereby throwing in a few cowboy references and having a man ride a steer through two scenes for no reason at all, it’s the same dang movie. Kimberly Rowe is the junkie teen hooker who refuses to have sex with anybody she actually likes. David Courtemarche is the singing cowboy who tries to love her. And Patrick DeFazio is the cop who tries to kill her, then kill her again, then kill her again, as he grows progressively uglier from scars and burns on his face, forehead, legs and arms. He’s sort of like a uniformed, motorcycle-riding Jason.

This one is actually a little easier to watch than the original. After watching “Streets,” you had to go rub the sleaze off your eyelids. This one still has the gross-out heroin-needle scenes, which are a little hard to believe when Kimberly Rowe looks as healthy as a vegetarian clog dancer, but the emotional stuff is done a lot better.

Good work, Bret. Bret has always been the one-man Fort Worth film industry, but I remember the ole boy when he was making monster flicks for 30 bucks in his cellar.

Seven dead bodies. Six breasts.

Attempted rape. Face-clawing.

Dirt clod to the eyes. Bloody Scotch-glass crunching. Hand-slicing. Hand-smashing. Hand-burning. Hand-crushing.

Close-up heroin injections. Little-girl torture. Blood-licking.

Guy executed by gunshot in a place where…naw, we’re just not going into it.

Leg-stabbing. Flaming cop.

One motor vehicle chase, with crash. One mugging. Aardvarking. Electrocution.

Drive-In Academy Award nominations for…

Peggy Ann Mitchell, for writing and singing the main theme song, “She Tries To Fly,” a great song in a genre that usually thrives on bad songs.

Kimberly Rowe, as the teen hooker who says, “I keep thinking I know you from somewhere-I always remember the guys on bikes” and “I don’t do that much heroin-just enough to get straight.”

Mike Nicol, as the scruffy, wisecracking drug connection who says, “My name’s Bob, but I spell it backwards.”

Randy Rostetter, for riding around on a Longhorn steer for no reason.

David Courtemarche, as the lovestruck homeless singing cowboy.

Patrick DeFazio, as the sick, perverted, twisted street cop.

And Bret McCormick, the director, co-writer and producer, for doing things the drive-in way.

Three and a half stars.
Joe Bob says check it out.


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Road Kill USA (1993)

I guess I’m the last guy in the world who thinks cigarettes are okay.


Lately there’s been a slew of articles and news magazine shows about how EVIL the tobacco companies are. They’re actually trying to get people to SMOKE CIGARETTES.

Listen up, you guys. THAT’S THEIR PURPOSE IN LIFE. I already KNEW this. I didn’t need Diane Sawyer to tell me about it. Every time I see a big tobacco leaf come up on the screen, and giant letters that say “THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY,” somehow I already know the next words are NOT gonna be “Friend of the American Consumer.”

In the fifties and sixties, there were documentaries on tobacco that actually tried to let BOTH SIDES speak. They don’t even TRY anymore. If they do have any interviews with a tobacco company spokesman, they set the camera down at around shoelace level, shoot up into the guy’s nostrils, and zoom in for closeups of the sweat oozing out of his neck. This is so we’ll all know HE’S A LIAR.

Why bother? It’s like watching a show on the Ku Klux Klan. We don’t sit there in suspense, wondering who’s side the network is on.

Anyhow, as a person who sometimes still sits in the smoking section–PLEASE DON’T KILL ME–I wanna say a few things in favor of the Wicked Weed People.

Numero Uno: A cigarette is only ONE of the legal things that can kill you. Jack Daniels, Budweiser, and Beanee Weenees are equally lethal. And, in every case, you die in the same way. You USE TOO GOLDANG MUCH OF IT. When John Candy died, I don’t think anybody called for a ban on pasta.

Numero Two-o: It says on the package, “This here cigarette can kill you.” Since only grown-ups can buy it, IT’S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.

Numero Three-o: Tobacco was the first American crop. It’s historic. It’s part of our heritage. And for the first 300 years we grew it, NOBODY CARED. You can’t ask people to invest in a business for 300 goldang years, and then suddenly tell em, “Okay, that’s it–WE’VE CHANGED OUR MIND.”

Numero Four-o: The reason the tobacco companies are so powerful is that, in the early seventies, tobacco advertising was banned on TV, the first time the First Amendment was steamrolled and stomped on in this country. That means that ONLY THE BRANDS THAT EXISTED IN 1971–Marlboro, Winston, Kool, and the lighter ones owned by those same companies, like Virginia Slims–could survive. Nobody else could get into the market, because they couldn’t get their advertising message out. So you had four or five huge companies completely controlling the market, making more and more money each year, spending millions on tennis tournaments, charity events, stock car races, and anything else they could put their names on, becoming more and more identified as permanent immovable objects, until today they’re among the biggest companies in the world, and they have subsidiaries that own everything from cranberry juice to missile guidance systems.

If you don’t like the tobacco companies, then you shouldn’t give them a monopoly on the market.

The regulators were stupid. The censors lost. The tobacco companies won. Game over. Now leave em alone.

Speaking of things North Carolina should be proud of, Tony Elwood, the one-man Charlotte film industry, has made a new flick, and this time I think he’s qualified for the Drive-In Olympics. You might remember Tony as the guy who made “Killer” two years ago for $9,000. I called it the cheapest drive-in movie ever made, but other people have come forward since then to claim they made em cheaper. Anyhow, it’s still the cheapest drive-in movie that you can ACTUALLY SIT THROUGH. I put it on my cable show, it had a video release, film festivals showed it–and everybody’s been waitin to see what Tony would do next.

And here it is–“Road Kill USA”–the story of a typical psychotic white-trash couple careening across the back highways of the South with a hapless good-ole-boy teenager in the back seat, trying to figure out why they keep driving all through the night and giggling about whoever they just carved up, clubbed to death, or crushed to death with a hydraulic lift.

This is a great funny sick weird road movie, and Tony did two things to move up into the big leagues:

1) He hired actual professional actors.

2) He included a scene in “Joe Bob’s Drive-In” in order to suck up to me and get a good review.

It worked.

This movie is so good that if I tell you what happens, it’ll spoil the whole thing, so lemme just say it’s the story of a twisted maniac with two much time on his hands, the small-town Texas girl who loves him as much as her Spearmint, and the small-town South Carolina kid who, even after the fourth murder, still thinks he’s just riding around with some ECCENTRICS. (I guess he HAD to be from South Carolina, didn’t he? Anybody from NORTH Carolina would have been considered too intelligent for the part.)

Anyhow, just when you think you know what’s happening in this movie, you DON’T. And just when you realize you don’t, you STILL DON’T.

Great job. Best of the year. And even though Tony doesn’t want me to tell you how much he spent on this one, lemme just say it was less than “Schindler’s List.” In fact, it was less than “Schindler’s Grocery List.”

Nine dead bodies. Two-by-four to the forehead. Steel pipe to the skull. Throat-slitting. Neck-slicing. Kneecap-shooting. Gratuitous foul-mouthed hitchhiking circus clown. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Andrew Porter, as the sneering redneck ringleader, for saying “Living is the key to all knowledge”; Jeff Pillars, as the sleazeball motel owner and rapist who dies by having his mouth and nostrils Super-Glued shut (it’s not a pretty sight); Sean Bridgers, as the kid whose idea of a felony is to sneak up on top of the K-Mart dumpster so he can see the drive-in porno movies for free; Deanna Perry, as the bimbo nympho who says “I was abducted by aliens once–at least I think I was–there was this weekend when I was about 18 years old that I don’t remember nothing about”; and, of course, Tony Elwood, the young whipper-snapper who is well on his way to the Drive-In Hall of Fame.

Four stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Ring of Fire 3 (1993)

This week I’m wondering why those fat, cow-faced husbands on “Oprah” never defend themselves.

You know the guys I’m talking about? They bring out some chunky, ticked-off Jenny Craig dropout with a lab experiment on her head, resulting in Blonde Meltdown, and she says, “Oprah, I found out he was sleeping with three of my best friends, and sometimes all four of them would make love on the couch while I was sleeping in the next room. I had NO IDEA this was going on.”

In other words, they’ll tell this white-trash story that’s purt near impossible to believe, then they’ll ambush the guy by bringing out all the secret girlfriends, and all the time the guys will sit there with his elbows on the arms of his plush daytime talk show studio chair, twiddling his thumbs, grinning like a cheetah at a parrot show.

And all these women will scream for a half hour, and the guys says NOTHING. Nada. Zip. He doesn’t even act like it BOTHERS him that this is happening to him on national TV.

And then, when they finally DO calm down long enough for the guy to say something, he says, “Uh, well, uh, yeah, I guess I did, uh-huh. I guess I, uh, shouldn’t have did that. But I still love Trisha.”

And then the audience screams at him for 15 minutes about how “You don’t love her!” and “You don’t know what love is!” and “You’re a dirty slimeball!”

And the guy STILL just sits there like a catatonic lab animal. And maybe, at the very end, he’ll offer some explanation like, “I couldn’t decide which girl I wanted.”

Where do these guys come from?

I mean, I’ve heard of guys who score a lot. I’ve heard of guys who sleep with a lot of women and don’t have any conscience about it. I’ve even heard of guys who lie to every woman they sleep with. But this is something different.

This is a guy who has a big sign on him: Most Disgusting Male Who Ever Lived. And he’s ENJOYING IT. He’s eating it up. It never occurs to him to say either, “I’m sick,” or else, “I don’t personally think there’s anything wrong with having group sex with the neighbors while my wife is sleeping.”

The guy doesn’t say he’s WRONG, and he doesn’t say he’s RIGHT. He just sits there, grinning, twiddling, contemplating his next Dorito. It’s like it’s happening to someone else.

And it’s not like there’s just one of these guys. There’s an UNENDING STREAM. Jerk of the Week. Male Pig of the Century. You could probly call these guys up and say, “Hello, I’m from the Oprah Show, and we think you’re the scummiest human being we’ve ever heard about. Would you like to be on the show?”

And they would just say, “Yep.”

Somebody explain this to me, cause I’m punting.

Speaking of guys who look out of place, Don “The Dragon” Wilson returns this week as the mild-mannered doctor who heals by day, kills by night, and takes on the Italian Mafia AND the Russian Mafia while rescuing his real-life son, Jonathon Wilson, from vicious rednecks, biker gangs and KGB hitmen, while falling in love with Desert-Storm-veteran-turned-forest-ranger Bobbie Phillips, while uttering the minimum amount of dialogue.

Of course, you know what I’m talking about.

I’m talking “Ring of Fire III: Lion Strike.”

They said it could never happen. They said that, after “Ring of Fire Uno,” one of the worst kung fu movies ever made, there could never be even ONE sequel, much less two. But never underestimate Don The Dragon, the Energizer Bunny of martial arts, to keep going, and going, and going, no matter how many times he walks down an alley and is surrounded by six stupid goons in sweatshirts who stand still while he kicks them in the head one by one.

Gangsters from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bogota, Moscow and, of course, El Lay are meeting in a secret mansion, trying to dominate the world by selling nuclear weapons to the Third World. Unfortunately, Don The Dragon keeps getting in their way by machine-gunning helicopters from the roof of the hospital where he works, kung-fuing hitmen who get in his way while he’s driving home, and going fishing in the mountains with their secret computer disk in his bag. So the Italians and the Russians team up to hunt him down, terrorize his girlfriend, kidnap his little boy, and cause the obligatory face-off in a warehouse at the end.

We’ve seen it all before, but have we seen DON do it before?

As a matter of fact, yes we have.

Thirty-eight dead bodies. No breasts. Exploding helicopter, with fireball. Three motor vehicle chases, with crashes, burns, fireballs. Car through a mobile home. Finger-breaking. Dart to the neck. Strangulation. Exploding cabin, with fireball. Neck-snapping. Eleven Kung Fu scenes. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Robert Costanzo, as the pompous gangster who announces “We are the future of the new world order!”; Bobbie Phillips, as the forest ranger love interest, who says “I feel like I’m closer to heaven up here”; Morgan Hunter, as the Russian mobster who says “That is a very loud smelly man, no?”; C. Nelson Norris, as the ex-KGB hitman who says “The doctor will see his last patient”; and, of course, Don The Dragon, for keeping that torso greased.

Two and a half stars.

Joe Bob says check it out.


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Joe Bob Briggs is a film critic, writer and comic performer. He has appeared on The Tonight Show , Larry King Live and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” amongst others.

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