A Letter of Appreciation from @TheSchlockJock
I was a wrestling fan in the 90’s. The ‘rasslin wars were going on and I never missed a Monday for six years. The damned thing is, it was only after the end of it all that I realized I never truly enjoyed or soaked in all the feeling and happiness that that era had given me. I never realized how truly special that time was until after it had ended.
Sure ‘rasslin still exists but, as B.B. King once succinctly put it, the thrill is gone. That feeling of being a viewer of something unique and special ended the day after Vince McMahon showed up on WCW to effectively shut the company down. I’ve never stopped kicking myself over never taking time to truly appreciate the golden years of being a fan in the mid to late 90’s. The ‘rasslin era.
I tell that story to bring up that while I mourned the passing of ‘rasslin on TNT and thus the Monday Night Wars. It never occurred to me until much later how much I missed the other tent pole show that was shut down the same year on that very same channel called Turner Network Television. We all call it MonsterVision, but there was also The Last Call and, later on, Joe Bob’s Saturday Night. It was the Joe Bob Era.
If the 90’s was the golden age of cable ‘rasslin then it was also the golden age of cable horror hosts and Joe Bob Briggs was king. From Xtro 2, to the only way to enjoyably watch Howling: New Moon, to Ice Cream Man, Saturday Nights were the nights to gather around the TV and enjoy the B-Film and Horror goodness (edited by the high sheriffs of course).
It’s funny how the mind works. I’d thought of Joe Bob a time or few, but I never felt his absence until 2010 when Cinemassacre made a tribute video to MonsterVision. Call it nostalgia, call it a quarter life crisis, call it memory-fu, but my love for Blood, Breasts, and Beasts had returned and I felt the absence of my Saturday Night horror friend.
I don’t need to tell anyone to imagine how it felt when we got the word that Joe Bob was coming back with a one night only marathon on Shudder. I think it’s safe to say we all had a similar feeling. We don’t need to go back over the happenings of that marathon either. Everyone well and truly knows how he broke the internet. How the beginning of the marathon had seen the servers so overwhelmed that for some they never got to see the first film.
I got lucky, I only missed the first 30 minutes of Tourist Trap and after that I was fine. But what I remember about that marathon wasn’t the internet breaking. It wasn’t the quality and variety of films. It wasn’t being hopped up on bennies and Monster energy (but mostly bennies). No, it was the final segment of what would be the final hurrah of Joe Bob as far as I knew.
As Joe Bob talked of horror host history in general and Zacherley in particular, I remember the bittersweet swelling of emotions that washed over me as I watched. I can still feel the happiness that I got being able to watch Joe Bob do his thing one final time (26+ hours of it no less). But, mixed with that happiness was another feeling, the feeling that it wasn’t enough. 26 hours just wasn’t enough. As I watched the credits roll on a Resistol (Dwight Yoakam styled) sitting on a Barcalounger, I remember saying out loud “Thank you, Joe Bob.”
Of course, we know it wasn’t the final time.
Nearly two years later, we’ve had four specials and two series.
What does Joe Bob mean to me? He’s not just the horror friend who kept me entertained during the Saturday nights and introduced me to a ton of genre greats and groans. He’s not just an amazingly funny, smart, and clever wordsmith who’s given me a ton of chuckles and things to mull over through the years with his insights. When he returned he gave me, gave us all I think, something we ever rarely get. He gave us all a second time around.
It’s been one of the best gifts I thought I’d never receive. The knowing of how special something I’m watching is and knowing I need to cherish it with everything I have. And that’s where ‘rasslin comes in.
There are very few things as bad as losing something and realizing, all too late, how special it was to you. It’s a true gift if you’re able to get it back. We’ve been given it back. The fun, the irreverence, the knowledge, the ability to gather in one place at the same time and interact, and be introduced to films we’d never watch otherwise or re-watch films we’ve seen a dozen times only now in a new way, is something truly special and only possible with a horror host. A feeling only possible with Joe Bob Briggs.
I watch Svengooli. Elvira. A dozen other horror hosts and none of them give me the feeling that I get when I watch Joe Bob Briggs. It’s a unique and special feeling and to have that back and be able to fully appreciate it, it’s a great feeling. We need all the great feelings we can get.
I always liked the film “Peggy Sue Got Married” where Kathleen Turner goes back to her teen years and gets a chance to see her parents and really appreciate how precious that experience was. In a way, The Last Drive-In is “Peggy Sue Got Married” only instead of a frog voiced Nic Cage, it’s a still shooting at everything Joe Bob.
The world is crazier than ever, thank god for the Drive-In. Thank god for Joe Bob Briggs.