Combustible Celluloid

Profoundly Disturbing, by Joe Bob Briggs

Review by Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Profoundly Disturbing, by Joe Bob Briggs

One of our greatest living American satirists, John Bloom, a.k.a. Joe Bob Briggs adopted as his platform of choice the job of drive-in movie critic. He began small in 1982 and championed movies' use of sex and violence, counting the number of rolling heads and "nekkid breasts." He was not above misspelling a word or using slang and mostly told stories about the characters he knew around Texas.

But as Job Bob's column began reaching a greater number of papers, his grammar suddenly improved and he began using the column to discuss his pet issues of the day -- mostly making fun of the stupid way we humans do things. He grew bolder and bolder, eventually getting himself in big trouble with his parody of "We Are the World," and moving out into other non-movie directions, such as his column "The Vegas Guy" and his book "Iron Joe Bob."

Still, movies were in Joe Bob's blood and he earned a living hosting cheesy horror movies on cable TV. And his sharp, clear, deadly wit still survived. Earlier this year, his brilliant, insightful commentary track for the new I Spit on Your Grave DVD had me in stitches.

Now Joe Bob has published his fourth book, "Profoundly Disturbing," featuring long essays on fifteen of the most controversial films ever made. Surprisingly enough, the overt laughs are gone, and are replaced by fifteen extraordinarily researched and well thought-out explorations. This is Joe Bob's plea for mainstream acceptance; it's a film book that will take its place on shelves next to Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris.

Fortunately, Joe Bob still has little use for what he used to call "indoor bullstuff," or films that couldn't be shown in the drive-in (A Beautiful Mind or The Hours, for example) and he treasures these truly subversive titles, which range in age from 1919's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to 1996's Crash.

And, yes, the writer has even come up with one title that I had never heard of, a 1945 traveling exploitation/education piece called Mom and Dad that warned teens against the dangers of sex.

And with the dozens of volumes of writing that has appeared dissecting Quentin Tarantino, Joe Bob manages to come up with something new and original to say about Tarantino's 1992 Reservoir Dogs.

Joe Bob is probably the only film writer alive who could piece together a serious essay on Hershel Gordon Lewis's 1963 gore classic Blood Feast, then come to the conclusion that the film "is more fun to talk about than it is to watch."

Each chapter comes illustrated with vintage art and posters, and Joe Bob provides footnotes recommending other related movies.

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