Your Daily NEL: New English Library

Cheap and Nasty Seventies Horror Pulp

Joe R. Lansdale – The Drive-In

Posted by demonik on September 15, 2007

Joe R. Lansdale – The Drive-In: A B-Movie With Blood And Popcorn, Made In Texas (Nel, 1989)

Among Lansdale’s finest shorts is By Bizarre Hands and this sure reads like it was written by one of them.

Bob, Randy, Willard (the biker who’d saved Randy’s skin in a Redneck pool hall) and Jack attend the all-night horror feature at the Orbit. Midway through the second movie, The Toolbox Murders, the site is buzzed by a comet which leaves the Drive-in surrounded on all sides by a fudge-like mass of darkness. It’s also flesh-dissolving, as one cowboy discovers to his cost when he inadvisedly puts his arm through it and is reduced to a pool of gunk.

The five films (I Dismember Mama, The Evil Dead, Night Of The Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre being the others) are repeated on a loop and gradually the starving captive audience crack. Brutal orgies, butchery and cannibalism are soon commonplace occurrences and things take a turn for the worse when Willard and Leroy are struck by lightening and fused together to become the Popcorn King, a Lord of greed and violence. The tattoos on Willard’s body take on a life of their own and he’s soon firing flesh bullets from a crude bandanna image which prove lethal as the real thing and decimate a biker gang.

We’re just about the halfway mark now and still to come are blood-drinking cannibals for Jesus, a triple crucifixion and violent deaths, scores of them.

This is the second time I’ve read The Drive-In and while I much prefer his zombie western novella On The Far Side Of The Cadillac Desert With Dead Folks and the crude, unflinching Night They Missed The Horror Show, this is still a great zippy read and well worth picking up if you find a copy lying around looking lonesome

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