This episode we're talking with Joe Bob Briggs, host of Shudder's series The Last Drive-In, which returns to the OTT horror service this month. Joe Bob first came on the scene as the "drive-in movie critic" (a concept that Briggs had to invent) for the Dallas Times Herald in 1982. Since then he's seen his column syndicated and authored a number of well-reviewed books including Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In, true crime books like Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs, and the thoughtful, deep-diving Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies that Changed History. In our talk, Joe Bob talks about why he got involved in reviewing drive-in movies in the first place. He notes that at the time there were constant conversations about first amendment rights in which the arguer would condemn the movie while "defending its right to exist." Briggs says his attitude was, "let me defend them because I like these movies."
Briggs (writing also under the name John Bloom) was also the regular Times Herald critic, so he had to cover both the "respectable" movies and the ones that would eventually make him world-famous. Briggs drew a distinction between drive-in movies, which tended to be "exploitation pictures" (so-called because they were built around a readily-accessible fear or obsession that a movie could build a story around) and "indoor bullstuff," the expensive Hollywood pictures (ET, Top Gun) that would play the indoor theaters. Briggs also talked about the curious, passionate, iconoclastic political streak of Joe Bob. He explains that he is of the old journalistic school that never speaks about his party or voting, but he is willing to absolutely rail with lacerating force against injustice where he sees it (witness his rant about zero-tolerance policies of all kinds in his introduction to Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2) and he's happy to be satirical "turret gun," striking sacred cows on all sides.
Joe Bob Briggs' The Last Drive-In returns to Shudder on April 24. Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk podcasts, the editor of the Castle of Horror Anthology series, and the author of Quest for the Nautilus: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books.