Interview with John Bloom AKA Joe Bob Briggs of “The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs” on Shudder by Suzanne 10/18/23
I was very honored to speak to John AKA Joe Bob, whom I’ve admired for a long time. He is an amazingly-accomplished man: an investigative journalist and movie reviewer; a comedy writer and standup act; an actor and showman with three successful late night shows about drive-in movies (mostly horror); and an author nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, several of whose stories and books have been made into movies. I’ve enjoyed his comedy writing since the early 90’s, and in the meantime, he’s become quite famous, and a hero to horror fans (his followers, which are lovely called “mutants”). I only wish I’d had more time to chat with him. I hope you enjoy our interview. Make sure to check out Joe Bob’s Spooky October shows this month on Shudder!
Rough transcript (we’ll fix it up better later)
Suzanne: We go to Little Rock a few times a year. my husband has meetings there and we love it. I know you grew up there…
Joe Bob: Oh yeah, yeah. No, I know every town in Arkansas because when I was 13 years old, I got a job at the Arkansas Democrat and, in the sports department and I was in charge of high school football. And so, so I learned, I learned every single town that has a high school football team and, And on Friday nights, I would have to, call up the coaches and, and get the info on the games. And so, so yeah, so I know all about Magnolia.
Suzanne: Yeah, I’m sure. Yeah, my husband’s had to drive all over Arkansas and didn’t know it before.
Suzanne: So, yeah, we’ve been all over. I’ve been up to Mountain Home and Fayetteville and all over the place. Yeah. So, well, thanks for being here today. Sure. Um, my husband and I are actually huge fans of yours since the 90s. Um. Wow. Yeah. I appreciate that. Well, you’re welcome. A friend of ours gave us one of your books, Joe Bob Goes Back to the Drive In.
Suzanne: Yeah. And then we subscribed to your newsletter, The Joe Bob Report. So,
Joe Bob: you know about that. That’s like, oh, that goes way back.
Suzanne: Yeah, I think we still have them. Uh, I put them in an album or something or what do you call it? You know, somewhere. Um, so we really love reading your writing and I actually didn’t watch your show because we didn’t have that channel.
Suzanne: Uh, so…
Joe Bob: You didn’t have you didn’t have, oh, the movie channel. Yeah.
Suzanne: Yeah. And do you remember you had a movie review club and you sent around VHS copies movies and then we would write review and then send the, the videotape to the next person on the list. I did that.
Joe Bob: Which, which committee were you on?
Suzanne: I don’t remember. It was a long time ago. I never get my reviews published in your newsletter, but that’s okay. I just because
Joe Bob: we had too many log jammers, they would get the, you would get the VHS and never review it, never look at it. And then the next person would, would, would, would be waiting and waiting and waiting on it. So, so the system eventually broke down from, from negligence.
Suzanne: But you know, it was pre Netflix, so it was great. I loved it. Great. So, congratulations on getting your, show picked up for season
Joe Bob: six. Yeah, I I thought we were going to be doing this one time in 2018. And here we are. Um, we’ve we’ve done something like 180 movies or something.
Joe Bob: We’ve we’ve gone over the top with this thing. So…
Suzanne: Is it still exciting, at this point in your career, to get your show renewed?
Joe Bob: Oh, it’s so much fun. It’s so much fun. I, I’ve been the luckiest guy in the world in TV because I’ve had, I’ve had three shows and none of my shows have ever had time limits. There’s nobody else. There’s nobody else that works in TV who can say that. That’s probably true, yeah. When I was at the movie channel, it was a premium channel. The movie channel was the fourth premium channel. And in terms of number of subscribers, there’s like, everybody had HBO and then most people had HBO and Showtime.
And then if you wanted a third channel, you bought Cinemax. And then if you really, really needed more movies in your life, if you just had to have a fourth premium channel, you bought the movie channel and that’s probably why it wasn’t, you know, available where you were. And so, um. Uh, I w I was always the late, the late night guy.
And so they didn’t, they didn’t care how long I talked, because it was the end of the, end of the day schedule. And then when I went to TNT, I was also the late night guy. And they just, they said to me, you know, it was usually a double feature. And it didn’t have a start time. It didn’t have an end time because it would come on after basketball or something, you know, or something that ended at a weird time.
And then they would just say, you know, as long as you’re done by 6 am, we don’t care. You can finish it for you can finish it. 5. we don’t care. We’ll just put 3 stages in up till 6. and so. And so I never had any time limits at either of those shows. And then I go to a streaming network and it’s like, Oh, well, no time limits.
Joe Bob: Okay. This is great.
Suzanne: Your show’s meant made for streaming. Really?
Joe Bob: I know. I mean, it’s like when we did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I said to my producer, I said, you know, this is my favorite movie. And he says, yeah, that’s why we’re showing it. And I said, well, You know, I may have to talk like a long time, and he says, as long as you want to talk, so the, the, the, the interruptions, the time on the interruptions is longer than the movie, and I’m, I’m not proud of that, that’s, that’s not a good thing, but, but, enough people have continued to watch that thing and watch it and watch it and watch it over and over again that Um, I guess, you know, occasionally you can get away with that But that’s really the tail wagging the dog and so shutter let me do that and And i’m grateful for that
Suzanne: so you can go back and watch older episodes of your show and go watch the texas Chainsaw Massacre one on there.
Joe Bob: Oh, yeah. Yeah, they keep the library. I mean, sometimes they lose the rights to the movie. Um, but, but they have a, but most most of the movies are still on there. And then they have a section. If they do lose the rights, they have a section called just Joe Bob, where if you’re really nerdy, you can watch the watch the intro and the breaks.
And we tell you the time code. At the break. So if you wanted to sync it up with some you could it’s kind of like a rip tracks thing but but without without talking over the movie, you know, and and so that is that is available and people do watch those. Especially people. Well,
a lot of times, you know, shutter is available in Canada, England. Australia, New Zealand, but a lot of times we don’t have the, we don’t have the rights to the movie in those, in those countries, they still have the just Joe Bob’s and so the really hardcore fans will go in and sync it up with the just Joe Bob’s and, and watch it anyway, but so
Suzanne: that’s cool. I might have to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I’ve never seen that.
Um, you’ve never seen it.
Yeah. You know, I’m actually not a horror fan. I like you. No, and I like low budget movies. I, I, I don’t li I, I don’t mind the showtime blood for Dexter here, but I don’t, you know, I’m sort of squeamish and I don’t like really gross things, so it’s terrible.
Suzanne: I know. I don’t mind spooky or scary, eh, not, not too keen on the. You know, splatter and gore and vomit. Okay.
Joe Bob: Well, we have horror for all, for all tastes. Every sub genre in the world is part of the Shudder library.
Suzanne: Cool. I have watched a few things on Shudder before. So, but anyway, so, October is a big month for you and for Shudder.
Um, you have a Halloween special in two days and the description says that you quote, Celebrate the spooky season in style. With a demonic double feature sure to get your blood pumping and one very scary special guest unquote. Can you tell me more about
Joe Bob: that? I can tell you everything except, the, the titles of the movies because we don’t, we don’t, reveal the titles of the movies in advance.
Okay. And, what I did is I turned over the, I turned over the planning for this year’s Halloween to Darcy, the male girl, because she complains every year that I screw up Halloween. I screw up the Halloween show. And so I said, okay, you do it. And so she’s planning the decorations and the, and the stunts.
And the guests, and I didn’t know who the guests was going to be until I noticed that Dan Housen, you know who that is, you know who Dan Housen is, Dan Housen is a wrestler for AEW who dresses up in, um. Monster makeup, and, and says he’s a demon. And so he’s a professional wrestler who says he’s a demon.
Uh, and so he’s kind of started tweeting about, or what do you call it? X ing about whatever, What he’s going to be doing this Friday night. And so I’ve kind of surmised that Dan housing may be the special spooky guest. So, that’s Darcy’s doing. Yeah. Um, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve met that Dan housing a couple of times.
Then he’s, he’s a, he’s a great, he’s a great guy. Very strange, very strange man. He’s his slogan is I’m very nice. And very evil.
Suzanne: That’s funny. How far in advance do you write and shoot the show?
Joe Bob: Um, I start, I try to. I, as soon as they’ll give me the titles, I start doing deep research on the movies because the fans demand it.
Joe Bob: I mean, if I don’t, if I don’t, by the time the movie airs, even if it’s a movie I’ve seen many times, I watch it again. And then I seek out, you know, additional information about it because, the fans want to know everything they want to know every single thing about the making of the movie, the, the, the box office of the movie, which is actually a hard thing to find because people lie so much about box office and, um.
Joe Bob: And, and, if it’s the fans love the eighties for some reason, they, they love the eighties and they especially love the eighties slashers, you know, so if it’s an 80 slasher, you gotta really know your stuff. Um, and, but, but we’ve shown a lot of, I mean, I think one of the most difficult. Research movies I’ve ever done is the Exorcist 3 because the guy who, William Peter Blatty, who, The exorcist stories, was, he was a Catholic intellectual and he had all these theories about life, religion, God, and the devil and, and exorcism.
Joe Bob: And so he just got lost in this morass of stuff about William. And why certain symbolism is in the movie and all that and I tried to explain it, you know I mean, I didn’t have I didn’t have time to explain all of it But tried to explain it when we when we presented the movie, but I just remember reading article after article about About what laddie may be trying to do in exorcist 3 plus it was a troubled movie it’s one of those movies where they screwed it up and they had to go back and do re shoots and And they, you know, brought in a new actor at the very end to do the actual exorcism.
Joe Bob: And then the special effects didn’t work and I had to reshoot those. And so there was all this stuff and, somehow we got it all in there, but, um.
Suzanne: It happens when they give you unlimited time and you can play as much as
Joe Bob: you want. I know, right? I know, right? You can’t, you can’t skimp on a movie like that.
Joe Bob: No. Um, I mean, The Prowler, no problem. You don’t really need that much time to research The Prowler. You know, but, but there, another one, another one we had, we kind of, We kind of rescued from obscurity, this movie called Demon Wind that was made really at the end of the slasher era. Um, and it’s just so weird that it was hard to find information on it.
Joe Bob: Um, but we showed it. It’s, it’s impossible to describe and really impossible to understand. I don’t really think anybody could summarize the plot accurately, but I noticed about six months after we showed it, it started turning up on midnight shows and theaters all across the country. And so I’m like, okay, well, we revived the fortunes of that guy.
Suzanne: That’s yeah, no, I know what you mean about doing research on trying to find the ratings and box office and stuff like that. I was yesterday. I was trying to find some ratings for some shows in the 70s and that wasn’t, you know, I mean, it was a long time ago, but you think you could find it. I couldn’t find just like certain years.
Suzanne: I mean, I was just like.
Joe Bob: And, and I, I kind of penalize myself because I don’t, I trust very little that’s on the internet, right? And so, so we tend to go for print, print magazines and books and, and, and actual interviews with people, because I just, as a last resort, you know, we. We use the internet as sort of a pointer.
Joe Bob: It points you in certain directions, but we don’t really trust anything on the internet because what will happen is the fans, somebody will Make up a fact or make up a fiction, a fiction that sounds plausible. It sounds plausible, you know, it’s something that might have happened, but it didn’t happen.
Joe Bob: And, and, and, and because it’s interesting, it’ll get, especially if it has to do with, you know, sex, drugs, rock and roll, you know, if it has to do with something spicy, it’ll get, it’ll get mentioned, and
Joe Bob: 100 times on various websites, and then it’ll become fact, even though it’s still not fact, but it’ll become fact because it’s been mentioned so many times on so many websites. Yeah. And so that’s why we don’t trust the internet. Well, I
Suzanne: don’t have unlimited time. Unfortunately, they’re telling me I need to wrap it up. So I really appreciate you talking to me today.
Joe Bob: Sure. Thank you for talking to me.
Suzanne: All right. And good luck with your October things and all the other things that you do. I know you do still do stand up and other you do shows and things.
THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS
FOR A SUPERSIZED SIXTH SEASON
Joe Bob Briggs Signs on to Host More Titles Than Ever Providing a Consistent Presence
on Shudder Throughout the Year
NEW YORK – September 28, 2023 – Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thrillers and the supernatural, announced that it has renewed its hit original series The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs for a supersized sixth season. The expanded season will include a record number of more than 30 titles, starting with a series of seasonal specials then transitioning to a new schedule beginning in March 2024. The show concluded its fifth season on July 21st, with each new episode trending in the Top 10 nationally on Twitter every Friday night.
The sixth season kicked off this month with The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs: The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon special on September 15, featuring special guest Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead). This season will also feature two Halloween-themed specials in October, a Holiday special in December and a Valentine’s Day special in February. Then, beginning in March 2024, Shudder will roll-out the new schedule of Joe Bob’s signature movie watch parties every other Friday night, featuring single titles and surprises.
“As everyone knows, you should never invite me into your home, because I always show up. Shudder has graciously invited me to stick around for a sixth year, and I intend to use that kindness to haunt your phones, laptops and big-screen TVs with the most ghastly examples of perversity in the history of cinema,” said Joe Bob Briggs. “Plus a few old jokes and some celebrity guests who will still return our phone calls. Put it all together and it spells PARTAY.”
“We’re delighted to bring Joe Bob, Darcy and the rest of The Last Drive-In Team back for our biggest season yet of crazy, scary and crazy-scary movies and specials, with the most entertaining commentary on TV,” said AMC Networks’ Executive Vice President of Streaming Courtney Thomasma. “Joe Bob will be hosting more movie nights than any previous season and we can’t wait to continue the Friday night party with our Shudder family.”
On The Last Drive-In, Briggs, the world’s foremost drive-in movie critic hosts eclectic horror movies, talking about their merits, histories and significance to genre cinema.
Shudder and Briggs first teamed up in July 2018, for the 27-hour marathon intended to be Briggs’ final farewell to televised movie hosting. After the special turned out to be an unprecedented hit, Shudder brought The Last Drive-In back as a weekly series and for multiple holiday specials.
The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs is produced by Matt Manjourides and Justin Martell and directed by Austin Jennings.
- The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs: Halloween (1978) (Shudder Original Special)
Premieres LIVE Tuesday, October 10 at 10pm on AMC, AMC+ TV and Shudder TV
Joe Bob celebrates the 45th anniversary of this iconic horror film.
- Joe Bob’s Helloween (Shudder Original Special)
Premieres LIVE Friday, October 20 at 9pm on ShudderTV and AMC+ TV
Horror legend Joe Bob Briggs and his co-host Darcy the Mail Girl celebrate the spooky season in style – with a demonic double-feature sure to get your blood pumping and one very scary special guest.
AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit www.shudder.com.
From https://www.texasmonthly.com: John Bloom wrote for Texas Monthly, as both a staff writer and a contributor, from 1978 to 2006. He is a successful investigative journalist, actor, and author who was born in Dallas and raised in Little Rock, and he attended Vanderbilt University on a sportswriting scholarship. His nine books include the true-crime classic Evidence of Love (1984), Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies That Changed History (2003), and Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story (2016). He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award three times and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by United Press International for his eyewitness coverage of 9/11. Bloom is best known as his alter ego, Joe Bob Briggs, a nationally syndicated “drive-in movie critic” whose wisecracking take on B movies was featured on two long-running late-night television shows, first on the Movie Channel and then on TNT. That tradition continues with his latest series, The Last Drive-In, currently featured on AMC’s Shudder streaming platform. During the course of his hosting career, Briggs has executive produced 20,000 hours of television and has become the leading authority on exploitation and genre films. In 2022, two true-crime articles he cowrote for Texas Monthly were adapted into the HBO series Love and Death.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda