Last night the horror streaming service Shudder brought back the world’s foremost drive-in movie critic, Joe Bob Briggs. I know there were a lot of horror fans who were excited to see Joe Bob back hosting movies and giving us all the nitty gritty details. He was probably instrumental in getting a good chunk of us into horror and it had been a long time since MonsterVision went off the air. We were all more than ready to get our fix. I don’t think anyone, including Shudder, expected the actual demand for this kind of thing. Servers were crashed, delays were dealt with, and if you watched it all unfold with the right kind of eyes lessons were learned.
So, there I was, cold beer in hand, various other intoxicants swimming through my blood, waiting for nine o’clock to roll around. I rearranged the entire evening’s schedule so that I could sit down and enjoy what would be the biggest shot of nostalgia I could imagine. My wife and our friend were both pretty much unaware of the glories of Joe Bob Briggs which made the night even more special. Then the stream wouldn’t load. Then Shudder wouldn’t pull up. I was pissed. The universe and my FireTv had surely plotted against me. They were out to get me. I just knew it. My anger at the gods of streaming technology only lasted until I learned the truth of the matter. It didn’t take long to find out that Shudder’s servers had been overwhelmed by the number of people signing in to watch The Last Drive-In.
I went from feeling like a sinner in the hands of an angry god to feeling more like what I was, what each of us were at that time: a member of a huge community who longed for an event like this. So, once learning that there were widespread technical issues, I did what any rational human would do and went to Twitter. It was when I went to search for Shudder’s account that I found that #TheLastDriveIn was one of the top trending hashtags. I finished my beer, settled in, and prepared for the firestorm of hate that was surely to come after clicking the link. Anyone familiar with the Internet knows that Twitter is where people go to be absolutely fucking horrible to other people so that is precisely what I was ready to see.
In exploring this hashtag, there was an important lesson. Even in a time when it has become somewhat acceptable to take to the Internet and be a total cunt about everything, the majority of the tweets I found were lighthearted. Sure, we were all upset but there was more to it than that. I saw so many people, myself included, talking about how exciting it was to see the horror community come together like this. Even if it did result in a giant clusterfuck. Of course there were some people who were being extra bitchy about to but they were pretty much drowned out by the rest of us. For the most part there were memes, jokes, a little bit of excitement, and super chill exchanges with the Shudderofficial Twitter account. Instead of the angry mob I expected to see, I was shown a community of people who were just kind of killing time until things were sorted out and the show could finally go on. So, the takeaway here is that even in the midst of a massive clusterfuck the horror community is a pretty good lot. The way the majority of the community online handled things last night made me proud to be part of this community. Pat yourselves on the back, ladies and gents, you all deserve it.
It was while reading some of these tweets that another, more important, lesson was driven home. I saw several people who had taken time off work, adjusted their schedules, and hosted huge watch parties for this event. Lone Star beer was selling out in several stores, This wasn’t just something that people were going to tune in to because they didn’t have any other plans. This was people’s plans. This was an event that people far and wide were utterly pumped for. Which, if you think about it, further illustrates what kind of community we have. It also shows that even in the digital age where everything we want to watch is on demand at our fingertips, we crave things like this. It was long assumed that the digital age had killed the horror host along with so many other things but this assumption was proved wrong last night. With that revelation it is my sincere hope that this event is the catalyst for the resurrection of live shows with great hosts who make bad movies good and good movies better. Long live the horror host! Long live Joe Bob Briggs!
As of now, the stream is up and running, so if you haven’t yet I urge you to go check out The Last Drive-In. If you’re familiar with Joe Bob, you’ll love it and if you’re not this is your chance to see a legend in the game work his magic live in and in color. I know that as soon as I can, I will be sitting down in front of the TV with a hot woman and a cold beer to enjoy this window into a bygone era that, with any luck, is on the verge of making a comeback.