Tag Archives: Darcy The Mail Girl

“Got Some Mail For Ya”: An Interview with ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ Darcy the Mail Girl

Sometimes in life the stars align and magic happens. That was the case for Diana Prince, known to the Drive-In Mutant Family as Darcy the Mail Girl.

She was part of a contingent who regularly encouraged Joe Bob Briggs to make his triumphant return to television, and when Shudder decided to make it happen, Briggs remembered Prince, offering what can only be described as the gig of a lifetime for a horror fanatic.

From the first marathon last July through a pair of holiday specials and now weekly double-features, Drive-In fans everywhere have gotten to know the new Mail Girl, who has quickly found a special place in our collective heart, thanks largely to the fact that no one is a bigger Joe Bob fan that Darcy, herself. Whether the show is streaming live or not, Prince tirelessly tweets to promote The Last Drive-In and the man none of us can get enough of.

“The love that he gets makes me so happy. He still doesn’t get it, he’s just super humble. But he literally never understood how much he meant to us growing up,” Prince said, continuing, “You have no idea, man. You raised us.”

On Friday afternoon, Nightmare Nostalgia spent a few moments on the phone with Darcy to discuss her escape from Twitter jail, what the future holds for the show, a flick and guest combination she’d like to see happen that will blow your minds, and what being a part of the Joe Bob renaissance means to her.

Darcy 3NIGHTMARE NOSTALGIA: How does it feel to be out of Twitter jail? 

DARCY THE MAIL GIRL: [Laughs] It was actually really frustrating. I sent all these texts to anyone who would listen “They won’t let me tweet!” because I couldn’t tweet to anybody and all The Last Drive-In people panicked and were like “What are we gonna do?!” So Joe Bob was trying to figure out his password to let me tweet from his account, and he was like “I don’t know it. I don’t know how to do that [laughs].” It was actually really sweet how quickly they got it fixed, because so many people atted them and it got a real person’s attention and it made them look to see that I wasn’t a bot. So it was sweet and I hope that it doesn’t ever happen again [laughs].

NN: While we’re on the topic of Twitter, if you had to guess (and maybe you know), give us an estimate on the number of messages you receive from the mutants each day? And how much does that number balloon on air dates?

DMG: [Chuckles] Lord, I would have no idea how to guess that. I know the week before last Twitter sent me a message saying you’re getting a ridiculous amount of of messages, we need to compartmentalize or something, but I was like eh, just let ’em keep coming in [laughs]. It’s cool, I’m so happy everyone gets involved, but Lord I have no idea. Hundreds, hundreds, hundreds [chuckles].

NN: Sounds like you didn’t believe Joe Bob when he first offered you the gig, so that has got to be a good story. How did you land the role of Mail Girl?

DMG: I was one of several of his die hard fans who just really wanted him to come back and we kept encouraging him even though he insisted he was done, there was no place for him anymore. We were like that’s just bullshit, you have no idea how bad we need you and two of them, who are now the producer (Matt Manjourides) and director (Austin Jennings) said “If we can get somebody to do this will you just give it a shot?” and [Joe Bob] was like “Well, whatever.”

They took it to Shudder and Shudder was like “All right, we’ll do it” and Joe Bob said “Well, you believed in me forever, do you want to be my Mail Girl?” and I was like “Whaaa? [Laughs]” He said to me “You’d be doing me a huge favor if you would,” and I said “(Shocked sound) Okay, I’ll give it a shot” [laughs].” So, I guess that’s kind of how it worked out, just friends banding together and [Joe Bob] just being an amazing person saying “We’re all in this together. Let’s go.”

NN: For someone who’s a huge horror fan—and gets nervous on camera anyway—were you losin’ your s*** before the cameras rolled for the first time?

DMG: The first time was fucking ridiculous! I was a wreck. I actually didn’t leave on the plane the first time, I was like I’m going to mess up his show, and I know it’s going to be a pain in the ass to replace me last minute, but there’s no reason I should be doing this. I thought I was doing them a favor like “Sorry, I can’t make it.” They said “Get your fucking ass out here now [laughs].”

So I got another flight, went out and when it was time to actually go on camera I just couldn’t. They had Felissa Rose and I was like “You be the Mail Girl. You’d be amazing.” And she was just being so supportive and pushed my ass in front of the camera, but I was worried I’d have severe stage fright and not be able to speak, it was just a mess [laughs]. But once again Joe Bob was just very kind and understanding, like “You’ll get it. It’s going to be fine, don’t worry.”

And literally, I remember crying to him during the marathon “If this messes up it’s ’cause of me, because everyone’s going to love you and you’re doing everything great. The only thing people can hate is me, so I’m really sorry if you don’t get picked up because of me,” and he was like “That’s just nonsense.” His confidence made me feel a little bit better, but it was hard. It has gotten much easier, but the last few times it was really scary. You go out there and he’s just so Joe Bob-y, the set and everybody watching, and he nails everything like it’s nothing, and then I come out there like “Wha? Whaaa? [laughs] What am I supposed to say? Where’s the camera? I don’t know, can I go back to the Twitter now? [laughs]”

It’s been a challenge and interesting, but it helps me grow as a person and that’s one of the things that he’s great about, just encouraging people to believe in themselves and be more than you think you can.

NN: Your take on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) led to the Joe Bob reaction of all-time. It’s been since Thanksgiving, but that moment still has life doesn’t it?

DMG: Yeah, people have definitely not let me forget about that [Laughs]. I think some people were using that as why I shouldn’t be Mail Girl, like “She doesn’t even respect the first CHAIN SAW! You’re terrible! [laughs]” But I like different opinions and I know Joe Bob loves it, and that’s great, but I like the remake better. And a few people have signed up saying they feel the same so, alright [laughs].

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NN: Let’s talk cosplay. First, what’s been your favorite so far? And perhaps more importantly, when are you going to get the Drive-In Jedi into an outfit that isn’t jolly St. Nick?

DMG: [Laughs] I am trying so hard, trust me. He’s just a very stubborn little man. I’m grateful for the Santa Claus, if he hadn’t done that, it wasn’t even Christmas, come on! [laughs] But every time I say “How ’bout you wear this?” And he says “How ’bout I don’t? [chuckles] My favorite so far, I don’t know, I never feel complete because I have to travel and I don’t have all my stuff. I would love to do it in L.A. sometime where I could do really good effects makeup and stuff, so I could of feel like it’s half cosplay [laughs].

I really liked the pilgrim version of the condom salesman because I don’t know that people would have paid as much attention to Ted Raimi’s part if I hadn’t [chuckles], so it’s kind of cool to remind them that he’s there, and that’s a thing that happened. Although I forgot my machete with that. See, that’s the problem. I forget half my pieces before I go out on camera all the time [laughs].

NN: There have been so many, but for you, what’s been the moment of The Last Drive-In so far?

DMG: A bunch of [Joe Bob’s] speeches, I think this is the most ultimate thing that could ever happen and then something else happens [chuckles] and it’s like no, this. He’s had some really great speeches, but the one that sticks out the most, just because I didn’t know what was going to happen after, was when he was saying goodbye at the very end of [the original] The Last Drive-In where he was like “Thanks for having me back.” We worked so hard just to have this one moment of his just saying goodbye to people if nothing else happened, and then he was and it was like “Oh, no! [sad chuckle] Don’t say goodbye like that,” he walks away and left his hat and literally we were all crying. It was like, no [chuckles], we have to figure something else out for you, sir. That was probably the moment for me, and I’m so glad it wasn’t the end, but in the moment [chuckles].

NN: You’ve got to have a behind the scenes story.

DMG: There’s definitely a lot of behind the scenes craziness [laughs]. The first thing that pops into my head is Felissa Rose, the first day I met her she was so encouraging and she just has so much personality, she was trying to coach me up to be comfortable in front of the camera. We were having a blast, until I had to go on camera [laughs], but behind the scenes it was all jokes. “Oh, we’re going to be twins and blah, blah, blah,” and I was like “Oh, this is fun [chuckles].” So that was cute.

And then last week, everyone trying to blow up the blow-up doll really quick was very funny, have some good behind the scenes footage of that where we were like “We’ve gotta get the doll blown up! Hurry! [laughs]” And a lot of my costumes, it was like a group effort trying to put on my PHANTASM balls [chuckles], “I can’t get them to stay, man!’ We were trying glue and to staple them [chuckles]. Yeah, I cause drama, I think [chuckles].

NN: Yeah, the blow-up doll was fantastic. I didn’t see that coming and then you walked out with it and I was like “Oh, boy. Here we go!”

DMG: We film on a set where, I can’t remember his name, but some CNN guy or whatever, but it’s his place and sometimes they’re doing stuff at the same time and everybody from his camp was trying to come and be like [whispers] “That’s the room with the blow-up doll” and trying to see what was going on [laughs]. Like “Don’t mind us, this is work [laughs].”

NN: What movie are you really pushing for to be featured?

DMG: Oh, Lord. I have a whole frickin’ list of like please, please, please, but number one easy, is HALLOWEEN III (1982). It’s just sitting right there and it would be amazing, and I definitely want to debate [Joe Bob] because he’s so wrong in his hatred for it [laughs]. Plus, what is we had Tom Atkins on? That would be just fucking iconic. So I would love to share that, so easy, but he’s stubborn so we’ll see [chuckles].

But FRIDAY IV (1984) needs to happen. He did the whole marathon but [Briggs] had to leave that one out and he’s never done it before, and that’s one of my favorite movies ever. So, we have to figure out a way to do FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV.

NN: That’d be a hell of a double feature, a couple of huge franchise films like that, but I agree HALLOWEEN III is fantastic. And I hadn’t even thought about the idea of maybe Tom Atkins being a guest, that would be unbelievable. 

DMG: Right?! It would be amazing, and we can so do it. Ugh, get your shit together, Joe Bob [laughs].

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NN: Give us a HOGZILLA (2014) update.

DMG: [Laughs] HOGZILLA was never actually released. SYFY was talking to them about buying it, but they didn’t show enough of the hog so they bowed out and then they just said “Oh well, fuck in [chuckles].” There’s two people I know that have copies. One is the cinematographer or something but it’s on QuickTime or some weird thing, but our biggest lead so far is the director (Diane Jacques), who has it, and she’s just very difficult to keep in communication with.

She’s like “Oh yeah, we’ll figure it out,” so I think she wants to maybe release it if she can show it on The Last Drive-In if I can get everyone to agree to that. And if I can’t, I have to convince her to just “Let me have it, man! [chuckles]” We just have to show it somehow, but it’s kind of all in her hands, she’s like the sole HOGZILLA owner at this point. We’ll get it, though. I’ll get somethin’, man, even if I have to QuickTime it together [chuckles].”

NN: What can you tell us about VENGEANCE (2019), the FRIDAY THE 13TH fan film you’ve been working on?

DMG: It’s just a really amazing project from a bunch of really die hard FRIDAY THE 13TH fans that they’ve been trying to put together for a long time. I first shot a little bit for the trailer like a year ago, then they did a Kickstarter, and now it’s finally filming and coming together.

It’s different because they’re bringing in people who sincerely love it, all the kills are homages to other famous kills from the series, like the sleeping bag kill and mine is [short pause] an iconic one. I guess I shouldn’t say [laughs], but you’ll recognize it for sure. And it’s an actual sequel to PART VI (1986), the people involved loved that so much that they’re just continuing that story. (JASON LIVES director) Tom McLoughlin is a consultant I guess you could say, and then we have C.J. Graham and we have Steve Dash’s last appearance, Amy Steel’s coming in and it’s just like wow, what an amazing little thing to be a part of.

And everybody is giving up their fees to donate to a leukemia charity because one of our actresses (Chalet Brannan) was battling with that but she’s good now, so all the money that we don’t have to spend on production is going to that cause. We’ve got $15,000 raised so far, so it’s just a really neat little thing. They built this whole Camp Blood, very detailed set and it’s amazing to just be up there and shoot and walk around in Jason’s territory [laughs].

NN: Any new twists or expanded role in the works for you as we get more and more of The Last Drive-In?

DMG: [Laughs] [Joe Bob] is definitely trying, like with SOCIETY (1989), “Hey, you have knowledge in this. We’re gonna need you to come talk about it.” Like, “Okay [laughs].” He’s changing more and more as he gets to know me more. The first marathon was kind of like a written out character who was just being annoyed by Joe Bob and shit, and I was just like this is not at all what’s happening with me here.

So [Briggs] is like “Just be you,” so now I don’t have anything written, it’s just like “Darcy talks [chuckles]” and he brings me out. So that’s interesting and cool and he wants to do that more and more, and we’ll see how that goes [laughs]. ‘Cause I’m always like “I’m good, you’re nailing it. You can talk to yourself. [laughs].”

But some of the movies, I definitely love being able to represent. Like we have one for the finale, it’s one that I want to say, it’s one I’ve been pushing for forever and I can’t believe we get to do it, so I think he wants me to be out there because I just love it so much to talk about it, so yay! [chuckles] I’m excited for that one.

NN: And you can’t tell us what it is.

DMG: I can’t! But God I want to so baaad! But that last week, I will just shout it “You guys have to watch this! [chuckles]”

NN: First, we had the hilarious Mail Girl v. Male Girl showdown from the original marathon, and now Felissa Rose is the show’s go-to mangled dick expert. How much more can we expect to see or hear from the SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983) star?

DMG: As many dicks as we can bring out, we’ll bring her [chuckles]. Any way we can bring in Felissa it’s always gonna be a party [chuckles]. And I’m always pushing [Joe Bob] to pick movies that have dicks anyway for equality, so it’s like we need dicks, and we need to talk about dicks [chuckles].

NN: We’re about to embark on Week 3 of a nine-week run of double features, but many are wondering, are there any marathons lined up for later this year?

DMG: We are hoping to. I know that we all love the marathons, it’s not Shudder’s favorite [chuckles], but we love doing them. They’re actually renegotiating everything now and figuring that out so none of us know for sure what’s going to happen after [the nine-week double feature run], but I’m hoping and Joe Bob’s hoping that we can do holiday marathons. We have Friday the 13th coming up, I want to do a proper Christmas [laughs], and I hope we get to. It’s just the vibe of a marathon is so frantic, hectic, and it’s such a party atmosphere. The weekly shows, people know that they can watch it later in the week or whatever. It’s cool, it’s still fun, but the marathons are such a different little monster [chuckles].

NN: You don’t have a lot of down time, but have you had that moment where it hit you and you realize what you’re involved with?

DMG: The second I walked on set the first time, I did. I was like “Holy fucking hell, this is Joe Bob and he’s back and I’m part of this somehow. That’s fuckin’ weird! [chuckles]” I’m so happy for [Briggs] to be back, and any way I can support him and the people who put this on, I’m so happy to be able to.

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It’s Time to Show Some Love to Darcy the Mail Girl

After Shudder raised the curtain on the first of The Last Drive-In, Friday night double-feature extravaganzas this past Friday, we are now twenty-three films deep into the return of Joe Bob. In other words, we mutants are invested in the Briggs renaissance, but for all the love we bestow upon the drive-in Jedi, it’s probably about time we offer some love to Darcy the Mail Girl.

This recognition is long overdue, but necessitated in a way because of a rather upsetting tweet that I noticed this morning. Granted, I’ve not seen any such tweets myself, but that someone else has noticed a few left me feeling compelled to address the matter.

Darcy (Diana Prince) handled the message that brought it to her attention with class, but let’s face it, it’s Twitter, so I’m sure she’s had more than her fair share of hate tweets and DMs since assuming the role of Mail Girl. However, as a lifelong Joe Bob disciple and avid fan of her role on The Last Drive-In, I wanted to review just a handful of ways that she kicks all the (as Joe Bob would say) heinie.

To begin, every job is more difficult that it appears. We have no real idea of the responsibilities Briggs and Shudder have bestowed upon Darcy, but rest assured, it’s far more than just sitting at a table next to the trailer and scrolling through social media and having the occasional conversation with Joe Bob.

That said, let’s stick with what we know.

Never has Briggs had a more knowledgeable Mail Girl. It’s been obvious from the beginning that Prince has a passion for and vast understanding of the genre we all know and love. While every Mail Girl has been tasked with tongue-in-cheek eye rolls toward our beloved horror host, I would venture to say that few if any have had the type of chemistry and rapport with him than we’ve seen from Darcy through the initial Friday the 13th marathon, or subsequent holiday all-nighters, nor the first double-feature.

We’re not allowed to forget Darcy’s delightful composure whilst conducting her “Stump Joe Bob” segments from last July. Even when Briggs wondered aloud if it would be impossible to answer one of her queries correctly, she shot back “Not if you know your horror,” which left Joe Bob looking to the crew and offering a dismayed “When did we start hiring intellectual Mail Girls?” And it’s impossible to forget how Darcy befuddled the host of hosts and mutants everywhere (to say nothing of the incredible GIF it created) when she admitted that she preferred the CHAIN SAW remake to the original on Thanksgiving.

Mail Girl v. Male GirlAs per usual, Prince chuckled but held her ground, all the more impressive because she’s made it quite clear that appearing on camera is still something that rattles her nerves because such endeavors rest outside of her comfort zone.

Her banter with Briggs is never lacking for humor or enthusiasm, and it’s clear that she is thrilled and honored to have been chosen for the gig by Joe Bob himself. And oh-by-the-way, that’s a little nugget of truth that should never be overlooked.

Never mind the fact that Prince tirelessly promotes the show on social media and at horror events throughout California (and the country), as well as while the shows are streaming. How many mutants have actually stayed up for the duration of each marathon? Because Darcy has. She tweets all night long, but more than that, she interacts with the fans. Not only does she retweet observations and funny takes from the fans, she responds to as many messages as she can. And if we take a moment to truly consider what that means, it deserves our respect because we’re talking thousands of messages coming in, not only every minute the show is streaming, but the next day. And the day after that. Three days later. It never stops. She doesn’t complain, she doesn’t say she needs a break, she just keeps on. Happily, enthusiastically, with a smile on her face. Every day.

And we haven’t even touched on her cosplay, which Joe Bob has mentioned loving numerous times. Prince is playing a character, yes, but the cosplay just adds an element to the part that makes The Last Drive-In that much richer. Which character will she choose? What spin will she come up with to represent a film or character? Again, take a moment to consider the amount of time that level or preparation and creativity requires.

Then remember the way you smiled at the Fouke Monstress and the Ted Raimi condom vest, or her hilarious “got some mail for ya” interaction that gave us Mail Girl v. Male Girl from SLEEPAWAY CAMP, which if we’re honest about it, is one of the moments of the show thus far.

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And for The Last Drive-In’s recurring communal theme, it was Darcy who shared a bunch of @thestichkeeper’s crocheted figures lovingly constructed from flicks featured on the program, or offering a Michael Berryman figure to auction off to help raise money for Florida’s Seacrest Wolf Preserve, a place near and dear to Berryman’s heart, which had suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Michael.

For as invested as we are in Joe Bob and The Last Drive-In, so to is Prince. As she mentioned in her Twitter response, she’s just a fellow mutant who has been blessed to be a part of the magic, and her heart is in it, every second of every day. And that deserves our respect, because for as much fun as it is, it’s also far more work than any of us realize.

Darcy’s knowledge and banter, unrivaled cosplay and inclusiveness, and devotion to Briggs, the show, and the fans are a far bigger part of this than we often give credit for.

So if you notice a negative remark directed toward her on social media, don’t get into an argument because that’s silly and not worth your time, but do offer this simple response and leave it at that: The Last Drive-In is better because of Diana Prince. She is our Mail Girl, and we are damn lucky to have her.

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Why 2018 was the Year of Joe Bob

I bought a bolo. That’s how much I adore John Bloom, affectionately known as Joe Bob Briggs. I’m old enough to (at least vaguely) remember his diatribes on The Movie Channel and wondered who the hell was this guy who could rant and ramble about obscure films at the drop of a hat. I was fascinated.

And then he took over MonsterVision on TNT, and I was hooked, completely taken. So cool and composed, funny and intelligent, he made spinning a damn fine yarn seem easy, when I know good and damn well it’s anything but.

He made good movies great and bad movies worth your time. He seemed to know every detail about production and the cast. With stories and experiences that took place in Texas and Arkansas and New York and everywhere in between, it seemed as though Joe Bob was the Alfred Pennyworth of the horror universe—a man who has lived what seems a thousand lifetimes.

Briggs was apt to say that when the network cancelled MonsterVision, the people must suffer, and he was right. For 17 years we missed him and yearned for someone to resurrect the finest of drive-in hosts. What did it matter that he was the only one, we never needed to lay eyes on a competitor to know that he had none.

JBB WhoaWhile Joe Bob still roamed the countryside doing film presentations and conventions, it just wasn’t the same. For all his travels, it would be impossible for one man to hit every town, or even come near enough for everyone who wanted a Briggs fix to get access, so still we suffered.

Then Shudder swooped in, the Jesus to Joe Bob’s Lazarus, and scratched that itch which had been tormenting us for nearly two decades.

The Last Drive-In fittingly arrived on Friday the 13th this past July, but for all the anticipation and publicity, no one could have expected what happened. Joe Bob broke the internet. Now, he commented at the time (a stance he still maintains) that the show didn’t work because there were so many who were unable to see the open or much of the first portion of the marathon as it was happening, but it was truly a moment where the communal experience wasn’t necessary to fully appreciate the magnitude of the event.

The Commodore 64 servers simply proved insufficient for all those who wanted Joe Bob. Though we knew he was loved by horror fans everywhere, it was the first time that we truly realized just how much Briggs means to so many. The demand was simply overwhelming.

The stories were as brilliantly weaved as ever, the jokes were fresh and just as funny, and the knowledge once again left us shaking our heads in disbelief, while we shared our observations and laughter and discussed it in real time on social media.

And that was before he asked Felissa Rose if her dick was deformed.

Briggs RoseIt was hyped as the ultimate last call, that the 13 flicks that began with Tourist Trap and ended with Pieces would be the final opportunity for us to share such time with Briggs. That we obliterated Shudder’s servers, however, and offered so many messages of joy and love and thanks (to say nothing of our Billy Idol-like cries of more, more, more), was all it took for Joe Bob to tweet through Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) that “The people have suffered enough. Assemble the squad. We’re gonna need more servers.”

Shortly thereafter came the announcement of a pair of holiday marathons—Dinners of Death for Thanksgiving, and A Very Joe Bob Christmas—and if that weren’t enough to leave us collectively giddy, word dropped that there would be a regular show sometime in 2019.

Dinners offered a glimpse of Briggs’ otherworldly appreciation for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and a passionate defense for its director Tobe Hooper, who horror fans are well aware has never gotten his due outside of our little community. Next was an incredible conversation with Michael Berryman that once again left us wanting more, and resulted in a signed figure that Prince auctioned off to raise money for Florida’s Seacrest Wolf Preserve which had been decimated by Hurricane Michael. Darcy even brought out some of the crocheted figures passionately assembled by Twitter’s @thestichkeeper, further demonstrating that the horror community is as tightly woven as one of Joe Bob’s stories.

BerrymanAnd this past Friday, we sat with drinks in hand and smiles on our faces as the Drive-In Jedi guided us through the Phantasm franchise, complete with an interview with the Ice Cream Commando himself, Reggie Bannister, as well as the oddest and most awesome version of the 12 Days of Christmas any of our ears have ever had the pleasure of hearing.

Before Briggs dug into Pieces for The Last Drive-In, he lovingly spoke about late and legendary horror host John Zacherle. Voice cracking with emotion, Joe Bob said “he knew the journey was not about the stage, it was about the life and the joy that you create while you’re standin’ on that stage.” Briggs added “So John Zacherle, I never got to say this to you, but wherever you are, this one is for you.”

For all the smiles and the laughs and the composure, that was the first and only time we’ve seen that type of sentimentality from Briggs. Though he was speaking about Zacherle, it was obvious to all watching that Joe Bob was also referring to himself. Clearly the joy that Briggs has brought to millions over the course of 30-plus years has never been lost on him, and the love he’s received from us has been heartfelt and appreciated. In that moment, Joe Bob truly believed that he was about to embark on the final film of his television career, and he—like us—was lost in the moment.

Thankfully, we (at least in part helped to) change his mind.

The absolute perfection of Briggs and Prince and Shudder will begin its regular program early next year, which is mercifully just around the corner. For this year, though, the glory that was Halloween (2018) and Mandy, the Oscar-worthy performance of Toni Collette (Hereditary), Robert Englund’s turn as Freddy in an All Hallow’s Eve episode of The Goldbergs, Jordan Peele’s victory for Best Original Screenplay, and The Shape of Water capturing Best Picture, the horror story of the year is, was, and ever shall be the return of Joe Bob Briggs.

And for someone who idolized the man growing up, and later got an opportunity to host an ode-to-Joe-Bob horror movie program for a television station, nothing could be better.

SignSo at the end of November when I traveled north for Briggs’ How Rednecks Saved Hollywood show at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis, I did so wearing that bolo. The only other thing I had with me was the piece I’d written thinking (at the time) that The Last Drive-In was a farewell.

When my turn finally came to meet the only other man rocking a bolo, he smiled and shook my hand. We made small talk, and I asked if he’d be good enough to sign my article. He glanced at it and asked if he had read this before, to which I simply replied “You shared it on your Facebook.” He smiled and said, “If it made it to Facebook, I definitely read it.” As he leaned down to scribble a message, my heart soared at the memory of that share, because it was done with just a single word: “This.”

Writing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember, and in that moment, I knew that what had come from my heart had resonated with a man I’d adored my entire life, and had received the seal of approval from Joe Bob Briggs.

This is just one story, and one reason, why 2018 is the year of Joe Bob Briggs. All the other stories, shared and unshared about three marathons, 21 movies, and countless laughs and memories that brought us all together are why no other event from this year can offer even a meager challenge if you know what I mean…and I think you do.

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Joe Bob and ‘Dinners of Death’ Redefined Family

Before signing off on The Last Drive-In for what we believed to be the final time this past summer, Joe Bob Briggs noted that the Shudder marathon, as well as his Drive-In Theater and MonsterVision programs “tried to be the place to hang out for the weirdos and the misfits, and the people who felt left out of mainstream culture,” before touching on the myriad people who had shared tales of how he had saved their lives by giving them something to look forward to.

Some of it had to do with “horrible home” lives, and the ability to “lock the doors of their room when our silly show came on, and it would make ‘em feel able to face the next week.” Ever the gentleman, Briggs added that it was a “wonderful by-product” of shows intended to make people laugh and expose them to forgotten films. He then added, “I can’t take credit for that.”

I’m here to stump Joe Bob by saying yes. Yes, he can.

A common theme of both The Last Drive-In and Dinners of Death was the idea of communal experience, that stories were intended to be viewed together, to be shared and discussed with friends and strangers alike. In other words, like family.

The horror community is a small one, in many ways like a family, and that is exactly what I want to discuss here.

Be it because of depression or absence of actual family, the holidays can be a difficult time for people. I know—I fall under each category—and also know that I am not alone, not by a wide margin.

Whether direct or extended, Thanksgiving is a day for family, to gather around a table for a meal, to talk and laugh and love. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that opportunity. Maybe they’ve moved and can’t return home for the holiday, they don’t want to burden their friends by “tagging along,” or their loved ones have passed away, or they simply don’t speak with family members anymore. Whatever the reason, it can leave people feeling worthless, and very alone.

But that’s where Dinners of Death and Joe Bob Briggs and Diana Prince come in.

DarcyThe concept of giving folks something to look forward to still rings true, because for many (myself included), waiting for the clock to strike nine and Shudder’s Thanksgiving marathon provided those who were feeling alone something to hold onto, something to share.

As soon as Joe Bob opened the festivities with a crack about Wild Turkey only needing to be aged eight years and “do not make me tell you this again,” a smile found our lips, perhaps for the first time all day, and the stress of said day began to fade.

And as the drive-in Jedi began to regale us with tidbits about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and vehemently defended the career of Tobe Hooper, we felt connected to what he was saying (not just because it was true goddamn it), but because we too felt discredited and forgotten. All it took was a few short minutes of impassioned twang from a man we all adore to feel peace for the first time all day.

And it was shared. Not only on the screen, but on Twitter and Facebook. Not just with fellow fans who may or may not have been or felt alone that day, but thanks largely to Darcy the Mail Girl, otherwise known as Kinky Horror. She spent the entire marathon, nearly 10 hours, interacting with us as we watched. She laughed at our observations, shared images and stories (even the Drinking Game Fu I came up with while downing a turkey dinner at a restaurant by myself), answered questions, and just…kept us company as we enjoyed what was unfolding in and outside of Joe Bob’s “trailer.”

Many felt alone for most of Thanksgiving, but from nine o’clock on, we were anything but. Briggs and Darcy made sure of that. They gave us something to look forward to. Joe Bob and Prince gave us something to share. With a Drive-In Mutant family. They made what would have otherwise been a sad day one to smile about.

Briggs had said he couldn’t take credit for such things back in July, but to be honest, that burns my bacon. Yes he can. And he should. As should Prince.

A professor of mine once said that when it comes to art, if a person takes something away from it that its creator had never intended to be there, it’s still real. It still matters. Briggs and Diana gave something to all of us that can never be taken away, intended or not.

Maybe Joe Bob and Darcy hadn’t set out to give folks who were feeling alone a sense of inclusion and peace and family on Thanksgiving, but that’s exactly what they did. Something for which I, and many others shall be forever thankful .

For all those who feel as I feel — please — take credit for that.

JBB