If someone were to ask me what was the best part about being a horror fan when I was a kid in the 90s, what was the thing I enjoyed most, that I could look forward to, it was always discovering new or unheard of gems that hadn’t planted dynamite at the base of my brain and blown it to smithereens yet. And my favorite way to do that was to tune into the various horror hosts that populated late night TV on the weekends, in particular, Joe Bob Briggs on TNT with his show, Monstervision…
…Beginning in 1996, Monstervision and host Joe Bob Briggs gave me a reason to shut off the lights, grab some pizza and a shit ton of soda, and let dive into a world of monsters and ghouls, body counts and B-movie “terror”. Some of my best memories of childhood are those late nights expanding the library of horror in my mind, engaged in Joe Bob’s sometimes funny, sometimes interesting remarks and interviews with special guests as he interrupted whatever was playing that week during the commercial break with his particular flavor of commentary. That’s why I’m delighted that, tomorrow, on July 13, 2018, Shudder is bringing back Monstervision with Joe Bob Briggs for a LIVE 24hr horror marathon entitled The Last Drive-In beginning at 9pm ET. It’s a momentous occasion for fans, new and old, one that will feature 13 horror films and include special guests, giveaways, and perhaps most incredibly, fan discussion, allowing us all to react and interact together during what might as well be a national horror marathon sleepover. It is, without a doubt, one of the coolest horror events I have ever had the extreme pleasure to witness, but it’s also one of dire importance.
See, this isn’t just a horror marathon that we all get to tune into, enjoy, and then move on from and forget about. To me, this is an opportunity to re-establish something which has been missing from the horror genre for the past couple of decades…the horror host. For those of you that didn’t grow up with Monstervision, Elvira, or even Svengoolie, who is still chugging along, God bless him, there was something special about those nights that is difficult to put into words. It’s hard to describe the feeling of excitement and wonder as you waited to discover which blood-curdling horrors would be shown that night, and nine times out of ten, it was something you hadn’t experienced before. These days, we don’t get that. If you want to find something new, you have to go hop on streaming services and spend an exuberant amount of time scrolling through uninteresting catalogues of films like some mindless couch zombie with a blank look in your eyes and a little drool hanging off your lip. But imagine if you had a show that you could tune into where the host not only did the work for you in helping you unearth something fun to watch, but they were actually entertaining? (A foreign concept, I know).
The horror host means something to the horror genre. They have the ability to bring us back to that time in our childhood when the genre was still something forbidden and electrifying. Who doesn’t miss lying to or hiding from their parents the fact that they were up all night watching buckets of blood be splashed across the screen in the name of our love for horror?
Already, The Last Drive-In has filled me with that same kind of nostalgic anticipation. At this point, we only know three of the films being shown during the marathon: Tourist Trap, Basket Case, and Sleepaway Camp (all of them gratuitous classics, by the way). Other than that, we know by the shirts being sold by Fright Rags that the marathon will contain 146 dead bodies, 37 undead bodies, and 131 gallons of blood. Who knows what else will show up during the marathon, or what sort of insights Joe Bob may give us on these films. Who knows which guests will appear to talk about their time during or after the making of these films. What I do know is I’m all in, and I’m ready for a day of reliving everything that makes being a horror fan so much fun.
We, as horror fans, have a chance to prove to the world that this sort of event means something. If Shudder doesn’t receive the type of ratings they need for The Last Drive-In to be a success, then we can’t expect anything like it will ever happen again. It isn’t even that difficult to tune in, as Shudder offers a free 7-day trial, so grab the trial, tune in, and dump it after if that’s your prerogative, there’s no commitment. But I’m making this plea to all of us fans, not just for Joe Bob Briggs and Monstervision, but for that sense of discovery that is so hard for horror fans to recapture…save the horror host. Tune in tomorrow night and celebrate Friday the 13th the best way you can, by spending it with classic horror films, an enormous community that loves and supports each other and the genre, all the beer or soda or candy or whatever the hell you want, and the man who became a legend for his knowledge of the genre, Mr. Joe Bob Briggs.
For more details check out the trailer and the post below, and make sure to follow Shudder to join in on the live discussion!
By Matt Konopka