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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

July 18, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
A Bloody Good Time The Last Drive-In Joe Bob Briggs

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Special Edition: The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a special edition of the internets movie review column that wouldn’t exist without the existence of the world’s foremost drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs and has been stylistically ripping him off for years, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this special edition, I take a look at what I managed to see during the 24+ hour horror movie marathon on Shudder, The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs, which sort of aired on Friday July the 13th, 2018 and for most of the next day.

The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

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When the horror streaming site Shudder, owned by AMC, announced that it would be doing a 24 hour horror movie marathon hosted by Joe Bob Briggs I didn’t believe it at first. The whole thing seemed too good to be true.

After Joe Bob’s show on TNT, Monstervision, had been dumped, unannounced, in 2000, there had been numerous rumors that Joe Bob would be “coming back” somewhere that then never happened. After the end of Monstervision he started working for United Press International as a columnist and reporter (he had a column about casinos, one called “Joe Bob’s America,” and he did another “Drive-In” thing for a little while), he started doing DVD commentary tracks (I Spit on Your Grave was the first one, and his most famous one is the one he did for Samurai Cop), he wrote a couple of books (Profoundly Disturbing and Profoundly Erotic), and he started appearing at horror and pop culture conventions. A new TV show? Nothing but rumors. He did do a pilot for CMT that didn’t get picked up (I believe it was called The Joe Bob Report or something like that) and he was announced to be involved in new all horror TV channels and websites that never appeared or eventually appeared but without his actual involvement (I seem to remember sites and channels called “The Horror Channel” and “The Scream Channel” that Joe Bob was going to curate. He didn’t do anything with either one of them as far as I know). It looked like Joe Bob hosting anything on TV again was a thing of the past, something his fans would have to remember. Clips from Monstervision and his first show, Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater on The Movie Channel, were on YouTube and those would have to suffice (well, you could try to attend a movie screening hosted by Joe Bob at an Alamo Drafthouse, but that was about as close as we were going to get). “New” TV stuff was just never going to happen. The world just wasn’t cool enough to allow it.

And then the Shudder announcement came, and it was the closest thing we had to a real show in 18 years. We initially didn’t get a firm date for the marathon when the announcement was made (the first date that was floated out was June 22nd but that, obviously, didn’t happen) but we were assured that it would happen. Joe Bob was coming back.

We eventually did get a real deal date for the marathon, Friday, July 13th, which made sense. Horror movies tend to be celebrated on Friday the 13th, and Joe Bob’s most famous Monstervision episode involved him hosting multiple Friday the 13th movies on Halloween. And with the date now firmly in place, all Joe Bob’s fans would have to do is show up. Would they? I knew I was going to show up. I knew my 411 colleague and fellow Joe Bob nerd Joseph Lee would be there. But who else? We would all find out on the 13th.

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The announced format for the marathon had Joe Bob hosting 13 movies over 24+ hours, with Joe Bob doing intros to every movie, the Drive-In totals, and periodically breaking in to talk about the movie, just like Joe Bob did with Monstervision. Shudder didn’t have commercial breaks, but, for the sake of the marathon, it would sort of act like it did. It was also announced that this marathon was going to be a one-time deal, that it would be the last time Joe Bob would host something on TV, and that if you wanted to see it you were going to have to show up and watch it on Friday the 13th. I knew that part of that had to be bullshit. There was no way Shudder would make the marathon a true one-and-done thing that people wouldn’t be able to watch, eventually, on demand in some format. That isn’t what streaming is all about. The part where it was set to be Joe Bob’s TV hosting swan song could have been true. Joe Bob wasn’t getting any younger, he had said multiple times in interviews that there were other things he wanted to do (like produce low budget movies on his own), and who could blame him for wanting to do other things? If The Last Drive-In was going to be it, then it was going to be it. At least it was happening.

And so we all waited for July 13th, made our plans, figured out how we were going to participate. I knew I would make it through a good chunk of it but I also knew that I was going to have to sleep at one point. I have to do one all-nighter a week for my job, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do two in a week, even with days off. Whatever I missed I was just going to have to check out when Shudder put it up on demand.

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So Friday the 13th arrived and it was just about time for the show to begin. Shudder and Joe Bob announced that the first movie would be Tourist Trap with Chuck Connors, and that at some point during the marathon we would see Sleepaway Camp and Basket Case. After checking out what movies Shudder had available I figured that, with the three already announced titles, we would also see Sorority Babes in the Slime Ball Bowl-O-Rama, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I was right about one of those titles. I went to the Shudder website at around 8:50pm, signed in, and clicked on the ShudderTV link. The original Night of the Living Dead was getting ready to end.

And then the screen went blank.

I refreshed the screen, signed in and out a few times, then refreshed the screen a few more times. Nothing worked. And when I say nothing worked I mean absolutely nothing on Shudder worked. I couldn’t even get the main Shudder page to appear. I attempted to sign in on another computer. Same results. I turned on my video game system. Same results. I waited until 9pm and tried signing in again. Same results.

Joe Bob’s fans, the drive-in mutants, had overwhelmed Shudder and shut it down. Now, some people had no problem at all accessing the show. Plenty of people on Twitter and Facebook reported that their stream access was fine. The majority of people, though, it seemed, had no access to anything on Shudder. Both Shudder and Joe Bob reached out to the people who couldn’t get through via social media and attempted to explain what was going on. Plenty of fans were angry and annoyed, and plenty more were ecstatic that everything was down because it showed just how big a following Joe Bob had. If people were patient, the marathon would eventually work.

Eventually.

I couldn’t get Shudder to work on anything until around 1:30am, when David Cronenberg’s Rabid was on. I had missed Tourist Trap and Sleepaway Camp, which featured an on set appearance by the great Felissa Rose. Happy that I finally got Shudder to work I watched most of Rabid, a movie I hadn’t seen in twenty years, and it was absolutely insane (that car crash!). More importantly, I finally got to see a Joe Bob segment and it was fabulous. Here it was, 18 years later, and Joe Bob hadn’t lost a step. He was funny, he was insightful, and it looked like he was having a blast, “watching the movie right there with us.” The show clearly wasn’t “live,” like happening right then and there. It was more like it was “live on tape,” just like Monstervision used to be. And with the amount of Lone Star beer Joe Bob was drinking how could he still be awake and coherent at 2:30 in the morning?

Well, live or “sort of” live, it was still cool and it was still Joe Bob. That’s all that really mattered.

It was at that point that I knew I had to step away and get some shut eye. It had been a long ass day and the marathon would still be going strong when I woke up… unless Shudder shut down again. And so I woke up in the morning, a little later than expected, and quickly found out that I had missed four movies; The Prowler, Daughters of Darkness (Joe Bob did an Alamo Drafthouse show with this movie two days before the marathon), Sorority Babes in the Slime Ball Bowl-A-Rama, and Blood Feast. The classic Basket Case was up next, and it would be the first full movie I would get to see. And it was a blast. I saw Basket Case for the first time on “Drive-In Theatre” on The Movie Channel and it was just as gory and gross and ridiculous as I remember it. It definitely looked better/cleaner on Shudder.

Demons

After Basket Case, Joe Bob had on Re-Animator (I forgot how catchy that damn opening theme was, and way better than the theme it’s completely ripping off, the one from Psycho), Demons (Joe Bob’s explanation of just how many movies are in the Demons franchise is one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard), The Legend of Boggy Creek (Joe Bob interviewed monster hunter and Boggy Creek book author Lyle Blackburn during the movie), Hellraiser, and the show ended with the notorious Pieces.

Now, the Joe Bob segments usually started with a rant of some kind followed by an introduction of the movie. Joe Bob would then pop up every twenty minutes or so with another segment, although I could be wrong about that. The new mail girl, Darcy (the gorgeous horror blogger Diana Prince) popped up every so often wearing a cosplay outfit that corresponded with the movie in some way (the first movie I saw her in was Re-Animator) and brought a question for Joe Bob to answer. She had good chemistry with Joe Bob but she wasn’t on enough. And then, at the end of the movie, Joe Bob would give a hint towards the next movie and then tell a few jokes (he did that on both Drive-In Theater and Monstervision).

The directing of the Joe Bob segments was a little weird. There were times when the director would switch cameras but Joe Bob was still looking into the first camera and it didn’t look like anyone was off camera telling him which camera to look into. Doing that certainly broke things up a bit, but, to me, when the camera was looking at the side of Joe Bob’s face while he was talking was weird. I expect to see that kind of thing in a documentary or a news magazine segment, not on a “live” show. This didn’t kill the show or anything. I just thought it was weird.

Joe Bob also swore quite a bit throughout the marathon. He obviously didn’t cuss on Monstervision, and I don’t remember him doing it on The Movie Channel, so hearing him say “fuck” or “goddamn” was a little jarring. It wasn’t off putting or wrong or anything, I just wasn’t expecting it. It did fit with the tenor of the marathon. The movies were all uncut, so why shouldn’t Joe Bob be the same way?

Pieces

Joe Bob’s opening segment for Pieces was a brilliant tribute to horror host John Zacherle (Joe Bob called Zacherle the greatest horror host of all time) and a terrific explanation of what it is horror hosts do. Joe Bob’s voice actually cracked a bit here, a touching moment of one man’s humanity.

And when it was time for the marathon to end?

Yeah, I’ll admit it. I cried. Well, I should say that I cried when I watched Pieces on demand, as my Shudder feed went down right before the first Joe Bob segment. Damn near everyone tuned in to see what Joe Bob would do in his final segment. How would he sign off? Would it be funny? Would it be weird? Would it be ridiculous?

It was funny. It was touching. And it was kind of sad. Joe Bob said goodbye, got up out of his recliner, and then walked off the set. It really was over.

Joe Bob then came back to his chair, said that he screwed up his goodbye because he was supposed to throw his cowboy hat into his chair (he did that on the final episode of Drive-In Theater), then said that he screwed that up, too (something about ruining the integrity of the hat). Joe Bob then sat down again in his chair, the lights went out, and he stared into the camera as the credits rolled. A guitar theme started playing on the soundtrack. And that was it. It was, finally, really over.

And, again, yeah, I cried. I knew Joe Bob was important to me, but it was at that moment, when it was over, that I realized just how important he was. He was back. And just as soon as he was back he was gone. On one hand, that didn’t seem fair, didn’t seem right, especially after the blast I and so many other people had watching the marathon. There had to be more to come. On the other hand, it was so damn great to have him back. I never thought it would happen again. And there were thirteen new Joe Bob “episodes” to watch and enjoy. Were they tears of sadness or tears of joy?

Were they both?

Since the end of The Last Drive-In I’ve watched the Blood Feast episode (a great examination of director Herschell Gordon Lewis) and the beginning of Tourist Trap, just to see how Joe Bob got the whole marathon started (the whole “choosing a bolo tie” thing is another example of how the marathon was “live on tape”). I plan on keeping my Shudder account long enough to see the other episodes (I may even full on review some of them here in The Gratuitous B-Movie Column) and, heck, I’d become a lifetime Shudder customer if we got more new Joe Bob at some point. And with the way the marathon played out, how could there not be more?

Yes, I know, Joe Bob said this was it. I can accept it if that’s real. But Joe Bob broke Shudder. There’s a massive audience out there for Joe Bob and for hosted horror event programming in general. How could The Last Drive-In really be the end? It’s a gold mine just waiting to be exploited. And look at how many people went on Twitter and Facebook and thanked Shudder, thanked Joe Bob, and expressed just how much happiness the marathon brought them. The world needs more happiness. Why not find a way to create more of it?

We all want a return to the old double feature every Friday or Saturday night. That’s probably not feasible. A double feature once a month would be cool. A twice a year marathon would be okay, too. Or just a section on Shudder called “The Joe Bob Collection” where he does his thing on a series of movies with new ones every so often. That would be cool. Of course, if we’re going to wish for a return to the old Monstervision, putting Joe Bob on Shudder’s parent AMC would be the ultimate. The movies would be edited for television, but then that would be a small price to pay to get regular Joe Bob again. And, man, if that didn’t happen, I still say AMC should have him host Fear Fest in October. How awesome would it be to have him host a bunch of Halloween movies on Halloween?

As of me writing this Shudder hasn’t announced anything about more Joe Bob. And Joe Bob hasn’t said anything about putting on the bolo tie and hat and cowboy shirt again (he’s probably working with his team on how to keep his own website from crashing again so he can release that Joe Bob history quiz). We’ll have to see how it all plays out.

Thank you, Shudder. And thank you, Joe Bob. It was so damn cool to hear once again, that the Drive-In will never die.

Get a Shudder subscription and see The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. See it, see it, see it.

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So what do we have here?

13 movies.

Best movie? Re-Animator and Hellraiser (tie)

Worst movie? The Legend of Boggy Creek, but come on, they were all awesome in their own way.

A bunch of random nudity.

Gore and blood and whatnot.

Two special guests.

Gratuitous Sleaziest Movies in the History of the World.

Gratuitous VHS homage

Gratuitous Joe Bob Briggs. Gratuitous Joe Bob Briggs picking a bolo tie. Gratuitous Joe Bob Briggs drinking Lone Star beer. Gratuitous Joe Bob Briggs changing shirts throughout the night. Gratuitous Joe Bob Briggs swearing. Gratuitous Joe Bob Briggs looking into the camera at the end of the marathon.

Gratuitous pet lizard named after the old Monstervision floor director.

Monster fu.

Slasher fu.

Surprise penis fu.

Heavy metal fu.

Fake documentary fu.

“Jesus wept” fu.

Pieces fu.

“Made in New Jersey” fu.

Four stars.

Rating: 10.0/10.0

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And those The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs movies were (just in case you missed it up above:

Tourist Trap
Sleepaway Camp
Rabid
The Prowler
Daughters of Darkness
Sorority Babes in the Slime Ball Bowl-O-Rama
Blood Feast
Basket Case
Re-Animator
Demons
The Legend of Boggy Creek
Hellraiser
Pieces
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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.