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Friday, April 15, 2022

“Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater” Was Our Original Introduction to Joe Bob Briggs [TV Terrors]

For this month’s installment of “TV Terrors” we revisit the Joe Bob Briggs series “Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater,” which aired from 1986 through 1996 on The Movie Channel.

“Joe Bob’s Drive In Theater” came along before the internet, before cell phones, before Wikipedia, and hell, before Google. Joe Bob Briggs, with his garish cowboy outfits, self awareness, and love for beer, was a professor of genre cinema who made movie watching feel like an educational community experience. Even if you didn’t like what he was premiering on “Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater,” you at least got to learn something from Uncle Joe Bob, and he was always informative and entertaining. He always came prepared with one of his signature rants, and a nigh endless supply of movie facts that made every show special in its own way.

While “USA Up All Night” delivered the goods in classic schlock, horror, and trash cinema, Joe Bob Briggs offered up an education with his movie watching, which was (and still is) an absolute delight. Even in the digital age, there’s nothing like hearing Joe Bob educate about various filmmakers and the origin of certain sub-genres. Joe Bob Briggs is the pen name and persona of John Irving Bloom, a highly acclaimed and well respected movie critic, journalist, and provocateur who spent much of his days writing reviews for drive-in movies, and discussing modern America. Along with penning some highly coveted books exploring film, Bloom took Joe Bob Briggs to massive heights, including an entertaining stand up comedy special entitled “Dead In Concert.”

“Joe Bob’s Drive In Theater” ran from 1986 to 1996 with Joe Bob initially serving as a guest host and offering up comedic relief. Later in June 1987, Briggs was made the permanent host of the series. Eventually he was given input in the movie acquisitions by 1991. Format wise, “Joe Bob’s Drive In Theater” originally ran on Friday nights, before airing on Saturdays in 1988. Additionally, the show began with only one film per episode, before transitioning to double features in 1991 and then triple features in 1995.

On The Movie Channel, Joe Bob was allowed to be as silly and risqué as possible. All the while he educated his viewers on some of the greatest and or most obscure horror (and various other genre) films ever made. “Joe Bob’s Drive In Theater” garnered an excellent treasure trove of cult films that ranged from horror, science fiction, exploitation, erotica, and various other sub-sub-genres. Among some of the gems that Joe Bob viewed during the series’ run (many of which are still out of print!) the offerings included classics like Syngenor, Savage Streets, Basket Case, the Bikini Carwash Company movies, Small Kill, the nigh endless Emmanuelle movie series, Night Eyes 3, and the painfully underrated Jim Wynorski horror action comedy Hard to Die.

The features were often grouped together into themes (Nick Cassavetes Night, Emmanuelle Week, Post Apocalypse Month, Attack of the Killer Queen B’s Month) which helped elevate the novelty, and often featured special guests. Among them were Linda Blair (for Linda Blair month!) in which Joe Bob viewed many of her films, including the much derided comedy Repossessed. He also brought on fellow horror hosts like Zacherley, Elvira and Ghoulardi, and had great conversations with horror titans and various cult stars like Frank Henenlotter, Jim Wynorski, Robert Forster, Gary Busey, and Julie Strain, respectively.

And who can forget the buxom Honey the Mail Girl? She was later succeeded by Reno, Kat, Rusty, and currently the one and only Darcy for Shudder’s popular “The Last Drive-In.”

One of the more notable episodes of “Joe Bob’s Drive-In” featured Joe Bob screening the original Night of the Living Dead and Tom Savini’s fantastic remake. He was accompanied by surviving cast members of Romero’s original as well as Savini himself, all of whom contributed informative and fun anecdotes and recollections. Joe Bob is noticeably awestruck during these segments and everyone gets to offer their own discussion about working on the original classic. Savini also can’t help boasting about Romero’s masterpiece, amounting to what feels like a once in a lifetime experience.

Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater show

For years, “Joe Bob’s Drive-in Theater” became the network’s highest-rated show and was twice nominated for the industry’s Cable ACE Award. The series sadly ended when The Movie Channel changed its format in early 1996. Joe Bob was off the air for only four months before joining the TNT network, where he hosted the equally loved “MonsterVision” for four years. As many know, “MonsterVision,” under Joe Bob’s lead, carried much of the format and humor over from his Movie Channel series, offering a great unofficial sequel. “MonsterVision” ended in 2000 when TNT also decided to change its format.

For many, “Joe Bob’s Drive In Theater” was their introduction to Joe Bob Briggs, a persona who was and remains an excellent source of horror movie knowledge, general wisdom, and sheer, unparalleled enthusiasm for the drive-in.

Is It On DVD/Blu-ray/Streaming? Many of the movies presented on the series can be found streaming or on physical media, while many of the movies featured still haven’t had an official release (Hard to Die, please!). Sadly none of the full original shows for “Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater” are available on any physical format. However, a massive collection of the segments shown before, between, and after the feature presentations are available in full on YouTube. You can also access fully restored footage on Joe Bob’s official Patreon Page, “The Lost Drive In.”

Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater movie channel

Horror and science fiction have always been a part of the television canvas, and constant attempts have been made over the years to produce classic entertainment. Some have fallen by the wayside, while others became mainstream phenomena. With “TV Terrors,” we take a look back at the many genre efforts from the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, exploring some shows that became cult classics, and others that sank into obscurity.

The post “Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater” Was Our Original Introduction to Joe Bob Briggs [TV Terrors] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!