Tag Archives: Shudder

“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

Did You Guys Here the One About: Joe Bob’s Best Jokes from ‘The Last Drive-In’

We’re all sad that the blissful days of October have once again come to an end, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find something to smile about.

HALLOWEEN (2018) is still ripping it up in theatres everywhere, SUSPIRIA (2018) opens tonight, and we’re not allowed to forget that Joe Bob Briggs returns to Shudder with the Dinners of Death Thanksgiving marathon on November 22, “because there are two things in life you should always binge on, horror flicks and Wild Turkey.”

See? Plenty to be giddy about.

We don’t need to remind any of you that no one spins a yarn quite like the drive-in Jedi, and with that in mind, it’s time to revisit some of Briggs’ best jokes from July’s The Last Drive-In.

Get ready to laugh. And when you inevitably share one or five of these with friends or co-workers later today, don’t thank us, thank Joe Bob.

TOLD AT THE CONCLUSION OF BLOOD FEAST

“So did I tell you guys the one about the history professor and the psychology professor at the nudist camp? The history professor and the psychology professor are sittin’ on a sun deck at a nudist resort, and the history professor turns to the psychology professor and he says ‘Have you read Marx?’ And the psychology professor says ‘Yeah, I think it’s from the wicker chairs.’”

THE PROWLER

“That actually reminds me of the one about the man who comes home from work and he’s greeted by his wife, and she’s dressed in spiked high heels and lingerie. And she says ‘Tie me up, sweetie. You can do anything you want.’ And so he ties her up and goes golfin’.”

Crew

SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA“evidence that in the ‘80s you could basically write a script on Tuesday, film it on Wednesday, and have it in the video store by Thursday.”

“Alright, man goes into a bar (laughs), man goes into a bar and he orders a drink. The bartender’s a robot, so this robot serves this perfectly prepared cocktail and then the robot says ‘What’s your IQ?’ and the man says ‘150.’ And so the robot proceeds to make a conversation about global warming and quantum physics and nanotechnology and string theory and Jungian psychoanalysis. And the customer is very impressed, but he decides, ‘Ya know, I’m gonna test that robot.’

So he walks out of the bar, turns around, comes back in for another drink. Robot serves a perfect cocktail and then he says ‘What’s your IQ?’ This time the man says ‘About 100,’ so immediately the robot starts talkin’ about football, NASCAR, baseball, supermodels, fast food, guns, and enormous hooters. Now the guy’s really impressed, so he leaves the bar again and he turns around and he decides to test the robot one more time.

So he goes back in, gets the perfect cocktail and the robot says ‘What’s your IQ?’ ‘Uh, it’s only about 50, I think.’ Robot says ‘So are you gonna vote for Trump again?’”

DEMONS

“I was watchin’ The Bachelor the other night, and it reminded me of this guy in Arkansas who was wantin’ to get married but he was havin’ trouble choosin’ among three likely candidates to marry.

So he decides to give each woman a present of $5,000 and watch what they do with the money. So the first woman does a total makeover, she goes to a beauty spa, she gets her hair done, new makeup, buys several outfits, joins a spa, gets toned, tells him she’s done all this to be more attractive for him because she loves him so much, and he’s fairly impressed by that.

Second woman, she goes shoppin’ to buy him a bunch of gifts. She gets him a new set of golf clubs, walk-in humidor for his cigars, some expensive clothes, and she presents all this stuff to him and she says she spent all the money on him because she loves him so much, and he’s fairly impressed by that.

The third one invests the money in the stock market, she earns several times that $5,000 back. She gives him back his $5,000, she re-invests the rest in a joint account, and then she tells him she wants to save for their future because she loves him so much, and the man is very impressed by that.

So he thought for a long time about what each woman had done with the money, and then he married the one with the biggest boobs.”

JBB Bowling

TOURIST TRAP

“Did I ever tell you guys the one about the Irish girl who runs away from home? I feel like we need an Irish joke in honor of Chuck Connors, this is Chuck Connors’ night. So, this Irish guy’s daughter disappears, she doesn’t come home for five years. She finally comes home and her dad cusses her out, ‘Where you been all this time? Why didn’t you write? What were you doin’? You know what you put your mum through?’ They call it ‘mum’ in Ireland.

Well, the girl’s cryin’, she says ‘Dad, I’m so sorry. I became…a prostitute.’ And the dad says ‘What?! Go back where you came from. I don’t ever wanna see you again.’ And the girl says ‘Okay dad, I will, but I’m gonna leave all this stuff I brought for you. I have some fur coats for mom and I have a deed to this mansion I bought, and I have a savings account for five million euros, and I also got a gold Rolex for my little brother. And for you there’s a limited edition Mercedes outside, and if you want it, there’s a yacht, I parked it on the Riviera.’

And so her dad thinks for a minute and he says ‘Tell me again how you got this money,’ and the girl says ‘I became a prostitute.’ And dad says ‘Oh Jesus, you scared me for a minute. I thought you said Protestant. Come give you old man a hug!’”

BASKET CASE a film presentation that remembered Gerald the security guard, who was released on weekends to work (at the Highway 183 Drive-In in Irving, Texas), and would always have words of drive-in wisdom like, ‘Never walk up on a baby blue El Camino with two men inside unless you wanna see things described in the Old Testament.’”

“Girl goes into her doctor’s office for a check-up, as she takes off her blouse the doctor notices a big red ‘H’ on her chest. He says ‘How’d you get that mark on your chest?’ She says ‘Oh, my boyfriend went to Harvard and he’s so proud of it that he never takes off his Harvard sweatshirt even when we make love, so I guess it leaves an impression.’

Couple days later, another girl comes in for a check-up, takes off her blouse, there’s a big ‘Y’ on her chest. ‘How’d you get that mark on your chest,’ asks the doctor. ‘Oh, my boyfriend went to Yale and he’s so proud of it he never takes off his Yale sweatshirt, even when we make love.’

Couple days later, another girl comes in for a check-up, as she takes off her blouse the doctor notices a big green ‘M’ on her chest. So the doctor says ‘You have a boyfriend who went to Michigan?’ and the girl says ‘No, but I have a girlfriend at Wisconsin, why do you ask?’”

THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK

“Did I tell you the one about the husband and wife don’t trust each other? So the woman doesn’t come home one night and her husband wants to know why, and she says well, she slept over at a girlfriend’s house. So, the man calls his wife’s ten best friends, none of ‘em know anything about it. So he cuts her off, he calls her a liar, he makes her suffer for days.

Little while later, the husband doesn’t come home one night, so in the morning the wife wants to know why not. He tells her, ‘Well, I slept over at a buddy’s house.’ So, the woman calls her husband’s ten best friends. Eight of ‘em confirmed that he slept over, two of ‘em claimed he’s still there.”

Maple syrup

Joe Bob is Back!

When July 13 turned to the evening of July 14, and the lights dimmed and credits rolled on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, 24-hour marathon, those who live and die with blood, breasts and beasts believed they were saying goodbye to the man who had not only curated their love of drive-in cinema, but broke the internet along the way.

But as Joe Bob had relayed through a Diana Prince tweet on July 20:

PrinceJob Bob Briggs will be returning not once, or even twice, but three times, and the world is just a better place for it.

Shudder will bring back the drive-in Jedi for Thanksgiving and Christmas specials “to be titled ‘The Dinners of Death’ and ‘A Very Joe Bob Christmas,” and Shudder, “the premium streaming service of thriller, suspense and horror,” also has plans to launch a regular series featuring Mr. Briggs as host in 2019.

The Thanksgiving special is slated to air on Thursday, November 22, and the Christmas chicanery is set for Friday, December 21. “Both marathons will be streamed live and feature films hand-picked by Joe Bob himself, with special guest stars and Joe Bob’s signature brand of Drive-In deep-dives and commentary.”

From Shudder’s press release:

“The response to our first marathon was overwhelming, and we can’t think of a better gift for our members than to bring Joe Bob back for the holidays,” said Shudder GM Craig Engler. “We’ve been hard at work with Joe Bob and his team to make these new marathons unforgettable events, and we have even bigger plans for 2019.”

Joe Bob Briggs adds, “In November we’re turning Black Friday into Red Thursday with the best deadly-dinner movies in history, and in December we have a very special way to fill that void felt by American households ever since ABC stopped airing the ‘Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey’ Claymation special.”

Continuing:

Details for the Joe Bob series will be announced in early 2019. Both the marathons and the series will be produced by Matt Manjourides and Justin Martell and directed by Austin Jennings.

Nightmare Nostalgia will offer more details on this developing story as they become available.

Briggs smile

WTF Am I Watching: Microwave Massacre (1983)

Not since high school algebra have I been as terribly confused as I was today while scrolling through Shudder’s horror library. How, in all my years of watching cheddar-flavored schlock, had I never heard of Microwave Massacre? Just this morning, I’d have been willing to bet my brother’s kid that this film would be enjoyable – and since I love my nephew to pieces, I’m quite glad that I didn’t.

Typically, the WTF Am I Watching train only comes around once per week, but fuck it. We’ve been off the tracks since Black Devil Doll From Hell, so why conform now?

microwave massacre

Microwave Massacre fittingly begins with a glimpse at a fancy microwave oven and a deteriorated severed head, which, by my standards, is the peak of film openings. Unfortunately, when you reach the highest point of my fictional mountain, the only way left to go is down. A slow, methodical descent into Shitsville (The town at the bottom of the mountain, in case you didn’t know) is the respectable way to come down, but Microwave Massacre more-so slips on eagle shit and slams against every jagged rock until it reaches the surface below.

In layman’s terms, it’s really bad.

Immediately following the opening sequence, the camera follows a young woman around town, focusing primarily on her breasts and butt. This is painfully indicative of the woefully sexist film to come. The woman eventually arrives at a construction site and leans over to peek at the workers through a hole in a fence. At this point, a random man pinches her ass, pushes her boobs through the hole in the fence, and has sex with her.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like rape to me.

Strangely, Microwave Massacre plays this sexual encounter for comedy, with eccentric music accompanying the construction workers as they notice the breasts poking through the hole and rush over to find the woman that they’re attached to. When they reach the fence, the moaning woman removes her breasts from the hole and inexplicably hurries away. Can you see why I’m so goddamn baffled about this? If the woman was being raped, which we all agree that she was, why have her rush off so that she didn’t get caught having sex? Does this mean that she was willingly having sex with a stranger who grabbed her ass and made unsolicited advances? Your boy needs answers, and this film isn’t giving them to me.

All this in the first five minutes of the movie.

donald

The primary focus of Microwave Massacre is Donald, a construction worker who has grown tired of his nagging wife and the diet she forces him to follow. Rather than separating from his partner in the more traditional sense, Donald’s constant misery drives him to bludgeon her to death with a pepper grinder and pop her in the microwave. The way she would have wanted to go, he says, staring directly into the camera.

Now with a hankering for human flesh, Donald cuts his wife into dozens of pieces, wraps her up in tinfoil, and places her in the garage freezer. The only part of her body that isn’t covered in foil is her head, which brings to mind The Voices, a far superior horror comedy starring Ryan Reynolds. In that film, Reynolds’ character also keeps the heads of his victims in a refrigerator. While I doubt that Microwave Massacre was any sort of influence on that vastly different film, the connection of that tiny detail seems almost prophetic since there’s a roll of Reynolds Wrap on top of Donald’s meat freezer. This is the type of thing I’ll make conspiracy videos about when I’m 35 and in desperate need of life direction. Not that I couldn’t use some now.

Anyway.

Free from his burden of a wife, Donald starts hanging out with his work buddies more often, feeding them sandwiches made from her corpse. When he grows tired of her meat, however, Donald begins inviting prostitutes over to his house, where he kills them, cuts ‘em up, and cooks them in the microwave – all the while making Rodney Dangerfield style quips while looking, you guessed it, directly into the camera. This occurs repetitively throughout the last 45 minutes of the film, and just when we think Donald has been backed into a corner and that the plot will finally shake things up for us, he uses a bread roll to snuff a woman out and evade trouble.

A goddamn bread roll.

Microwave Massacre is the equivalent to that one friend who thinks he’s hilarious, though he’s actually just obnoxious and abrasive. The attempts at humor are desperate and sad, and the element of horror is non-existent. It’s not the so-bad-it’s-good type of horror movie that the title suggests: it’s just bad.

And I’m done talking about it.

WTF Am I Watching: Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972)

Suppressed deep within the crevices of my mind are hellish memories of Paris Hilton on a farm. A brief sifting through internet garbage determined that these waking nightmares were pulled from a reality series called The Simple Life, which I have no recollection of ever watching. Now, this could very well be a symptom of life’s recurring stress finally frying my brain to the point of memory loss, but after watching Invasion of the Blood Farmers, I’ve deduced that the likely alternative is this:

Paris Hilton is a druid queen fueled by blood that farmers are secretly harvesting from unsuspecting victims all over the world, and I’m having psychic visions of her terrifying reign. Totally logical, right?

invasion of the blood farmers

For this week’s installment of WTF Am I Watching, it was my pleasure to stream Ed Adlum’s low budget Invasion of the Blood Farmers on Shudder – emphasis on low budget. The production of this exploitation flick is so noticeably cheap that I half-expected the movie to end thirty minutes into the runtime with a title card describing what would’ve happened if the filmmakers didn’t run out of money. IMDb claims that the budget for Invasion of the Blood Farmers was $40,000, but if that’s true, I imagine it was paid for in pennies and IOUs.

The film takes place in rural New York, where otherworldly druids pose as farmers in order to harvest blood from civilians and resurrect their queen. You’d be hard-pressed to decipher that they’re druids throughout the first forty minutes of the movie, though, as they appear to be basic, straw hat-wearing farmer dudes with an insatiable bloodlust. Farmers drink dog blood all the time, don’t they? There’s no real difference here.

It’s not until we’re introduced to the leader of the druids, who talks like a twirly-mustached cartoon villain, when we find out exactly what the hell is going on – but even with the numerous scenes of this character standing in a singular spot and sprouting exposition like goddamn wildflowers, it’s hardly clear cut. It’s something to do with a magical key and finding a host for the blood, and the most heavily-featured druid farmer uses a cane that may or may not have some sort of mystical power… who the fuck knows. The point is that the plot of Invasion of the Blood Farmers is hardly the film’s strong suit.

invasion of the blood farmers

Fortunately for my entertainment, the nonsensical story elements only add to the charm of a film that’s brimming with fantastically low quality. There isn’t one decent performance to be found in Invasion of the Blood Farmers, and while most people would mark that as a criticism, I found this aspect of the movie to be endlessly amusing. It’s painfully obvious that the actors struggled to memorize their lines, not because I’m personally questioning the confidence of their dialogue delivery, but because they actually pause mid-sentence, NUMEROUS TIMES, and search for the words in their mind. It’s a rare feat for one of the actors to get through a line without pausing or stuttering, and it’s honest-to-god delightful.

I know it sounds like I’m bullying a film that couldn’t afford the security to protect itself from jerks like me, but these especially poor quirks are the foundation for a retro exploitation flick that I thoroughly enjoyed. I like my movies how I like my beer: dirt cheap and questionable. Invasion of the Blood Farmers proudly checks both boxes, so it’s alright in *my book.

*This book does not exist

WTF Am I Watching: Day of the Animals (1977)

If we fight over everything else in life, I think we’d still unanimously agree that the sun sucks. You likely need no more evidence of this since you can’t walk outside without the skin melting from your flesh, but you can bet your ass that I’m going to give you more anyway.

On this week’s installment of WTF Am I Watching, we’re taking a look at Day of the Animals, the not-so-classic natural horror film from director William Girdler. This choice flick plays like a cautionary tale of terrors to come, as a depleted ozone layer leaves all life on Earth exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun- especially those living in high altitudes. In those particular areas, scientists discover that animals are becoming highly aggressive towards humans.

Now, I’m no scientist, therefore I cannot vouch for the legitimacy of this threat. However, since worst case scenarios seem to be the norm, I’m gonna go ahead and buy into it: The sun will turn animals against you.

day of the animals

Day of the Animals takes place somewhere in Northern California as Steve Buckner (Christopher George) accompanies a dozen hikers on a days-long trip up a mountain despite the warning from local law enforcement. Unbeknownst to them, the group is being stalked through the woods by mountain lions, bears, wolves and more- each of which are inexplicably at peace with each other, even with their hyper-aggression. I would assume that carnivorous creatures at peak monstrosity would be at each other’s throats, but again, I’m no scientist.

I digress.

When the group stops to rest, they notice that the mountain has fallen silent and that the birds are exhibiting bizarre behavior. This is also the point when each individual in the group is introduced, among them Leslie Nielsen as Paul Jenson, an angry-type man with an insensitive and racist sense of humor. So a typical old white man, amirite?

That evening, Steve and the hikers come across a campsite that appears to be in use by another group, who are nowhere to be found. Worried about the campers, Steve decides that they should stick around for the night and wait for them to return. As the group sleeps, a woman is attacked by a pack of wolves while in her sleeping bag. The hikers manage to chase the wolves away before she’s killed, but she’s badly injured and needs medical assistance.

The following morning, the woman and her husband journey to a nearby ranger tower in search of help, but she’s attacked by vicious birds and knocked over a cliff to her death. Her husband manages to escape, and in doing so, finds a young girl who is presumably part of the missing group from the night before. As the film progresses, the two escape the mountain, but while searching for help, the newly widowed husband is ambushed by a mad dog AND rattlesnakes, resulting in his death. The child survives though, destined for life without parents or protectors while dealing with the constant trauma and paranoia from seeing several people she cared about be ferociously torn apart by animals. So that’s a silver lining, I suppose.

Elsewhere, Steve leads the group to a spot where food has been left for them, only to find that animals have raided the area and devoured all of their grub. Tensions begin to rise as Paul questions Steve’s leadership, ultimately resulting in the groups splitting up after they are attacked again. Paul takes his group up the mountain towards the ranger tower, and Steve leads the rest back down the mountain.

day of the animals

During a rainstorm, it’s revealed that Paul has lost his goddamn mind, and in an unexpected turn, believes himself to be the macho king of the mountain and attempts to rape one of the young women in his group. He’s briefly fought off by her boyfriend, but ends up driving a walking stick through his gut and murdering him. He then drags the woman away to rape her while the rest of the group watches helplessly, until a large grizzly bear intervenes. The group manages to escape and find safety, other than Paul, who, naturally, wrestles the bear until his throat is ripped out.

If you ever wanted to see a shirtless Leslie Nielsen fight a bear to the death, Day of the Animals is the movie for you.

As for Steve and the remaining four members of his group, they are attacked by a pack of especially aggressive German Shepherds (I didn’t count, but the glance-test deduced that there are at least nineteen of them). Two of the hikers are overcome by the dogs, and even Steve barely manages to escape with his life. He and the other two survivors drift downstream on a raft, eventually coming to a safe place as all the affected animals simply drop dead.

Lesson of the day:

The sun killed them, and it will kill you too. Stay indoors and monitor your goddamn pets.

Joe Bob Broke Shudder, but Not Our Hearts

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all suffered through dry spells. Droughts of the romantic variety, which led to withdrawals and yearning, and eventually to copious amounts of K-Y, and inevitably, blister cream. We’ve all been there. Then one night everything falls into place and you hop back on that horse affectionately known as tonsil hockey and your brain can’t handle the overload. “This is amazing! Why did we wait this long?! Let’s never do that again!” as you engage in “the sign of the double-humped sperm whale.”

And make no mistake, that’s exactly what happened this past weekend. We all got some after a hiatus that bordered on abusive.

Yes, it was the one-of-a-kind charm of Joe Bob’s twang that had our hearts aflutter, but more than that, it was the communal experience knowing that we were all watching at the same time. The closest we come to that anymore (beyond live tweets) is AMC’s FearFest, but if we’re honest about that, it’s lost a bit of its luster what with those Walking Dead marathons that eat up large chunks of our beloved October tradition, leaving many of us unsatisfied.

Sure, we had the internet when MonsterVision played out on television screens every Saturday night across America and beyond back in the day, but social media wasn’t a thing quite yet, so we couldn’t really share those experiences in real time.

Then Shudder swooped in to cure the horror community of its collective blue balls.

And it was glorious.

JBBMy Twitter feed was littered with Joe Bob Briggs and The Last Drive-In. All anyone could talk about was how long they’d been up, how much they’d missed this, shared laughs and memories, complete with quoting Joe Bob’s latest “Did ya hear the one about…” Not gonna lie, I shared at least three of them, myself.

But it extended beyond social media. It was an event, and how many of those do we really have in the horror community? Yes, there are movie premieres and Twitter explodes whenever shows like American Horror Story air new episodes, but it’s rare for all of us to be all-in on one thing at exactly the same time.

We’d been counting the days since April, were sure to have our Joe Bob tees clean, fridge and pantry stocked with snacks, and our favorite koozies prepped for maximum consumption of brew. I giddily left work on Friday afternoon to pick up a mess of wings and a 12-pack of Grain Belt (only because Lone Star wasn’t available here) and sped to my buddy’s place with one eye on the clock. Two hours early. We pulled up Phantasm IV: Oblivion and added our own running track. “Fuckin’ Reggie, man. Poor bastard can never seal the deal.” My pal’s wife yelped her way through the Tall Man’s extraction of the silver sphere from Mike’s skull, and we all wore shit-eating grins during Reg-Man’s ice cream commando (kinda sorta) montage. And the hour hadn’t even struck 8 (I live in the Central time zone).

All the more smile-inducing because I knew full well, we weren’t the only ones pregaming.

Even the technical issues that prevented many of us from seeing The Last Drive-In from the beginning became a shared experience. Sure, some bitched and complained and harassed Shudder, but the vast majority knew that the Netflix of Horror would make it right and we’d get our Joe Bob fix. And again if we’re honest, it was a lot of fun to see GIFs of cats hammering away at the keys of a laptop or Andre the Giant in the ring trying his best to hold off a rabid crowd, or @richpatine’s tweet that pleaded “Joe Bob broke Shudder! Add 1 crashed app to the drive-in total please!”

We were all-in, and we were all-in together.

Scrolling through message after message of childhoods relived and resurfaced memories was magical.

TealEventually, though, the sun set on Saturday night. Pieces came to a close and Briggs offered his farewell. Tweets of excitement and laughter turned somber at the realization that this was the end, that we would never experience a night like this again, because no one can ever fill Joe Bob’s shoes. A fact we know far too well.

Yes, there were some tears, but more than anything, we were flooded with messages of gratitude and love. For as long as we’d all held onto our memories of MonsterVision from years before, came the knowledge that it paled when held to the neon glow of The Last Drive-In. This would be a night, a marathon, a borderline religious experience that we would never forget.

While the Drive-In Jedi’s send-off touched on the fact that his “goofy little show” was intended to offer laughter and an appreciation of forgotten films, he also mentioned that it was aimed at the “weirdos” and “misfits” who felt “left out” of the mainstream. Briggs went on to say that he hadn’t realized how many of us were out there until the past few years, which was ironic because Shudder discovered that the hard way when us drive-in junkies feenin’ for Joe Bob obliterated their server.

For all the stories and the rants and the laughs and the memories, that is what I’ll take away from The Last Drive-In – the sheer number of Joe Bob disciples who had suffered and waited. The fact that we broke Shudder is not a testament to the number of horror fiends out there, or that we just had to get one more dose of drive-in totals, but that Joe Bob Briggs means that goddamn much to us. It was a communal experience, yes, but that stemmed from the myriad personal connections that we have to someone who was either directly responsible for or augmented our love of horror cinema.

It wasn’t the kills or the gore that were difficult to watch, but rather those last moments as one-by-one, the lights turned out, and Joe Bob sat in his recliner, hat in hand, as the credits rolled, and a sad guitar took us to that final fade.

The last thing Mr. Briggs said was “I have a Dwight Yoakam hat.” Comforting in a way, because even if this truly was the end for Joe Bob, we won’t find ourselves a thousand miles from nowhere, we will carry Shudder’s magical romp in our hearts forever. Because the drive-in, and our love for Joe Bob, will never die.

Hat