This past weekend, I attended the latest Saturday Night Rewind event at the Little Theatre in Rochester. This happened to be a 35mm screening of The Warriors, hosted by Joe Bob Briggs. (More about the show here and here.)
I’ve written before about my admiration for Joe Bob and how influential his books and Monstervision show were for me. In my “self-curated film school,” Joe Bob was one of my virtual professors. It was a thrill to meet him in person.
In the Q&A after the movie, there was a question to Joe Bob about the worst movies he was asked to present on TNT’s Monstervision. He recalled the film Superbeast was a stand-out, and that that upon showing it, he challenged his audience to write in with an explanation of just what the heck was going on.
Superbeast (1972) was shot in the Philippines, and, as Joe Bob puts it, doesn’t make a lick of sense. I barely remember it, but I do remember that I took Joe Bob up on his challenge. With a little digital digging, I found my email from March 2, 1998. I present it here for posterity.
Dear Joe Bob,
The other night you practically begged us to write in with our interpretation of the opening minutes of that Filipino classic “Superbeast.” I’m surprised that the plot puzzled you so.
It was quite obvious to me that the film opens with the plight of the persecuted man. An everyman, you might say. This man is desperate to escape the jungle of everyday life. This jungle could represent a tortured existence, a loveless marriage, or a meaningless employment. At the same time, he is afraid to die. Even as he despises his life, he must continue in the struggle to survive. He will even kill to stay ahead. This our main character does, killing a truck driver and stealing his vehicle. Now he has a chance to break from the dreaded jungle of unhappiness.
He arrives at a hospital, looking for a way to perpetuate his fleeting success. He discovers that competing members in this race for enlightenment have beaten him here. He is approaching burnout, and he has no time to wait for the treatment of his soul’s wounds. Now he must resort to violence again, for that is the basis of competition. He takes a man unawares at his most vulnerable point. The man in the lavatory is the metaphorical man “with his pants down.” By obtaining this man’s “ticket to nirvana,” we see the Machiavellian premise (the ends justify the means) acted out.
Our man journeys to higher level of enlightenment. This time he travels in a more complex vehicle, representing his higher stature. He has almost realized his goal. At the flight’s destination, others believe him to be mad. His understanding of the universe has exceeded his ability to cope with the corporeal plane. He is shot and released from his confining body. His spirit is one with the ethereal world. He is no longer man or beast. He is “Superbeast.”
I hope I’ve helped you to fully understand the subtext of this rich, glorious film.
“Mad Dog” Mike Boas
P.S. Do I win a beer? How about a T-shirt?
Pretty cheeky of me, sure. But I thought it fell in line with the spirit of Monstervision. I tip my hat to Joe-Bob… the drive-in will never die!