It was a manic rush for time as I scrambled to get things set for Shudder TV’s The Last Drive-In, where Joe Bob Briggs once more returned to the masses for a dusk till dawn till dusk 24-hour plus 13-horror movie binge scheduled to begin at 8pm on Friday the 13th last weekend. And so, after doing several honey-doos for my dear sweet Mama Bear, yours truly made it back home just a little after 7pm. No sweat. I had a whole hour to get some beer, ice, snacks, and a pizza before my brother from another and fellow podcaster Mike Bockoven showed up. And then the wheels came off.
First off, Mike texted and said he would most likely be late. No problem, I’d have a seat and a cold one waiting for him. Then, when I called and ordered a pizza, they said they were swamped and it’d be at least 45 minutes for pick-up. No problem, I’d shower up, hit the grocery store first for the beer and ice, then pizza, then home, and then Joe Bob and those Drive-In Totals! And then the brakes failed.
I hit the grocery store at 7:30, beer, ice, chips, and head for the checkout. Which is swamped. I mean, really. It’s a Friday night and there’s only two, count ‘em, two checkers and only one of them is old enough to sell alcohol? Seriously? Seriously. So, I diligently get in line in the booze lane behind four other people and a coupon lady. The wait is then made even more interminable by the jerks with booze who got in the other line. And so, that caused the checker to keep checking out of our lane to go ring up their purchases in the alleged no-booze line. Anyhoo, it’s finally my turn and, sure enough, the cashier apologizes and bails to go help another customer. A customer who has been in line not near as long as I have been but I don’t wanna be “that guy” and hold my tongue and wait patiently. Tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock-tick...
So. After that cluster, I make it to the pizza place at 7:50. Not that far from home, no sweat. I got this. Except there’s only two people working the kitchen. One is in the back making more pizzas, the other’s on the phone taking an order from someone who, apparently, cannot remember their own phone number. Yup. Totally got this.
Thus and so, I fly into my house with mere seconds to spare, get the beer on ice in the cooler, tune into the interwebs, log into Shudder TV just as Night of the Living Dead (1968) wraps and Joe Bob Briggs pops up and teases what is to come. I pop a cold one, settle into the lawn-chair and brace myself for what’s about to hit me. Told ya’ll I had this.
And then, boom! boom! boom! out went Shudder TVs lights. And as I watched the circle spin on my monitor for five minutes, then ten, a quick check on Twitter showed I wasn’t the only one having problems as, apparently, the masses that showed up for a Joe Bob fix were so huge we kinda broke the internet. Well, not the internet exactly, but we sure threw Shudder’s servers into a terminal meltdown.
Any second now!
And as the minutes gave way to hours, and the fan meltdown on Twitter began in earnest in between assurances by Shudder that it was only a temporary glitch and, any minute now, they would have the problem resolved. At the time, I wasn’t even that angry at this gross negligence. Just disappointed, hoping they would at least be able to salvage something. Well, it took them almost three hours of “any minute now” before the circle stopped spinning and I was able to tap the stream about half-way into Sleepaway Camp (1983). Yeah, I wasn’t sure if they’d delay the start or just pick up wherever they were. *sigh*.
So, completely missed the first feature. Whatever THAT was. And by that time, Mike had already come, given up, and gone home. Myself? I managed to stay up for Rabid (1977), The Prowler (1981), and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988) before dozing off, missing all of Daughters of Darkness (1971) and most of Blood Feast (1963). But I did get to see all of Basket Case (1982) and Re-Animator (1985) before I had to cut out and head to work; with a plan to take a long dinner break and catch the last two features.
And so, I missed all of Demons (1985) after the intro and, alas, all of The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), which was double-disappointing as I got back just in time for Hellraiser (1987), a film and franchise that I don’t really care for. And then, as I braced myself for the last feature and steeled myself to say goodbye to a legend who meant a lot to me, once the testimonial vid wrapped up, Shudder TV's servers crashed again. Again.
To be fair, Shudder made good on their total fubar and made good on it really quick, making each feature with JBB’s commentary available immediately after the marathon concluded; and so, I did eventually get to watch Tourist Trap (1979) and Pieces (1982) along with Joe Bob’s emotional farewell that really got me in the feels. There were tears. Honest. And that was the problem. I eventually got to see it. For when it worked, The Last Drive-In was an amazing communal experience. A reunion 17 years in the waiting. Joe Bob was in fine form and his rants were ones for the ages. Again, this was great when it worked. And it was great. When it worked. As for me, well, it never really recovered from that initial derailment, which kinda took the piss out of the marathon and then was more or less ruined by the time it crapped out again for the finale. And so, and I hate to wrap this up on such a sour note, but, with a little better planning on Shudder’s part something this great could’ve been @#%*ing amazing from beginning to end. And I wasn’t the only one disappointed by the technical gaffes. Here’s what the man himself had to say.
But! This is not the end of our tale as the final coda to The Last Drive-In weekend saw me taking a couple of noobs to the TK Starlite Drive-In in Neligh, NE, for a double feature on Sunday night.
Lets all go to the snack bar. Lets all go to the snack bar. Lets all go to the snack baaaaar...
And get ourselves a treat!
The TK Starlite Drive-In has been around since 1952 and, sadly, it is only one of two drive-ins still open and operating in the whole state. And once you buy your ticket, it’s like stepping into a time machine that takes you back 40 or 50 years -- hell, all the way back to ‘52. Well worth the trip if you're so inclined.
It was a lovely night. The double-feature more than adequate. And everybody had a ball. Myself included, and it went a long way in washing out the residual disappointment of modern technology failing on such a grand scale. And as the man said, “The Drive-In will never die.” His mouth to the cinema gods’ ears, Boils and Ghouls.