Joe R. Lansdale Guest Blog: Why Drive-Ins?

Joe Lansdale's The Complete Drive-InTo help promote Underland Press’ recent release of the Joe R. Lansdale collection entitled The Complete Drive-In, we’ll be running a pretty cool contest starting on Friday, May 21st. Leading up to the contest’s kick-off, Joe will be guest blogging each day this week, answering questions pertaining to the book.

Today’s question posed to Joe is: Tell us about drive-in theaters. What were they like, and why did you choose to write about them?

I loved drive-ins. They were somewhere between being at home in front of your television set and being in outer space. The car was like your rocketship. In fact, I used to pretend that. We could also bring snacks, it was cheap, and the movies you saw there you often couldn’t see anywhere else; there were many made specifically for drive-ins. The largest percentage were awful, but some were inventive, and a lot, though not something that holds up now, were interesting for their time.

When you got older, you could bring dates to the drive-in, and that was private, for obvious reasons. Drive-ins were often called “Passion Pits”. You could also meet friends there and visit in the cars or out in the lot without disturbing others — though some worked hard enough at it they did disturb others. Now and again you saw fights there.

A summary of The Complete Drive-In follows. For more on the author, be sure to read Elaine Lamkin’s recent interview with Joe R. Lansdale, and check back tomorrow for more of Joe’s pearls of wisdom regarding the long lost artform of the drive-in theatre.

Friday night at the Orbit Drive-in: a circus of noise, sex, teenage hormones, B-movie blood, and popcorn. On a cool, crisp summer night, with the Texas stars shining down like rattlesnake eyes, movie-goers for the All-Night Horror Show are trapped in the drive-in by a demonic-looking comet. Then the fun begins. If the movie-goers try to leave, their bodies dissolve into goo. Cowboys are reduced to tears. Lovers quarrel. Bikini-clad women let their stomachs sag, having lost the ambition to hold them in. The world outside the six monstrous screens fades to black while the movie-goers spiral into base humanity, resorting to fighting, murdering, crucifying, and cannibalizing to survive. Part dark comedy, part horror show, Lansdale’s cult Drive-In books are as shocking and entertaining today as they were 20 years ago.

Debi Moore

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Debi Moore

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  • Vanvance1

    How ironic to see this article just as I am finishing a collection of Joe R. Lansdale stories.

    Reading ‘Bubba Ho-tep’ for the first time I’m amazed how close the movie is to the printed word. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story that translated so directly from the page to the screen.

    Lately I have noticed the appearance of many horror films that fit the drive in mode. I wonder which Joe is grooving too.