(Originally published on UltimateTV.com in July 1998)
In this world of the thumbs up/thumbs down movie critic, it is a rare treat to find someone who tells us what we really want to know about movies. A welcome exception: former “drive-in” movie critic and current host of TNT’s “Monstervision,” Joe Bob Briggs.
Back when Briggs was still writing syndicated reviews (1982–1997, for the New York Times syndicate; he started at the Dallas Morning Observer before he got his syndie deal) he dispensed with the wishy-washy “I liked it, I liked it not” school of criticism and got right down to the nitty gritty. Most of the movies Briggs wrote about were never even reviewed by mainstream critics.
In the last few years of his career as a critic, most of the films he reviewed never even made it to theaters.
With most of the drive-ins in America turned into swap meets and parking lots, the B-movies that Briggs adored became strictly straight-to-video fare.
Briggs judged the films in his column according to solid content: how many gallons of blood, how many dead bodies, how many breasts and how much aardvarking, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
An example of his style (from the review of “Barbarian Queen”): “Lana has arms like a couple of №2 Faber pencils but that’s cause all the beef is concentrated somewhere else, if you know what I mean and I think you do.”
Unfortunately for his devoted fans, Briggs done burned himself out on all that scribblin’, and his written reviews have gone the way of the drive-in. On the bright side however, Briggs can still be seen every Saturday as host of TNT’s “Monstervision,” sort of a film festival for the demented.
This summer “Monstervision” is experimenting a little by presenting “Joe Bob Briggs’ Summer School,” wherein each night of programming will feature a theme and a guest lecturer.
Highlights include “Black Studies Night,” (July 25) with Briggs and guest Ice T will discussing two classics of the African-American experience, “Surviving the Game” (featuring the O.G. himself); “Cleopatra Jones” (starring Tamara Dobson and Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas); and “Sex Ed Night,” with Briggs and author/sex expert Nancy Friday discussing the merits of the first two installments in the hard-hitting “Poison Ivy” trilogy.
In addition to his work with TNT, Briggs, under the name John Bloom, can also be seen in such big-time motion pictures as Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” and last summer’s smash “Face/Off.”
Altar ego Bloom is also regularly featured on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” where his popular “God Stuff” segment is often the hilarious high point.
As if two television series weren’t enough, Briggs/Bloom has also authored six books, including the award-winning true crime novel “Evidence of Love,” which CBS adapted into the movie “A Killing In a Small Town.”
His now-defunct Movie Channel series, “Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater,” was that station’s highest rated show for seven years and was nominated for two CableACE Awards.
And to top it all off, he is the world’s most respected expert on the difference between barbecue, Bar-B-Q and BBQ.
And that’s just some of what makes Joe Bob Briggs the hottest redneck on television.