- Hardcover: 140 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (February 1, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385239416
- ISBN-13: 978-0385239417
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,201,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Drive in: A B-Movie With Blood and Popcorn Made in Texas
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A two-shot pulse of comedy and horror, The Drive-In is a goretastic romp through B-movie stardom. Four teenage friends and the moviegoing locals are ejected into the front row of their very own apocalypse. Basic camaraderie is among the first to go as normalcy takes a back seat to survival. Engulfed on all sides by an ink-like substance that promises sure death, the crowd is barred from leaving the drive-in. They have for food and drink whatever remains of the concession supply, and only the looping movies and each other for company. The forces interacting from the outside manifest themselves in mysterious ways, slowly but surely driving the trapped masses to bedlam. The face of humanity slips away as if being sucked into the murk beyond, unmasking an anarchic depravity unseen this side of hell.
Lansdale paints a vivid world wrapped in a narrative economy that allows for just the right mix of action and character progression. In Stephen King's hands, this might have ballooned to 350+ pages, but Lansdale's tight writing forbids any eyes from glazing over. Keeping the chaos front and center puts the reader permanently on edge, while the author's extraterrestrial imagination makes for an unpredictable tale. Around every corner lies a gruesome conflagration or another fantastic one-liner, oftentimes both.
The characters are witty, but not as witty as Lansdale, who reserves the maximal comedic payout for himself. His deadpan descriptions always hit home and blend seamlessly into the unfolding horror. An early scene places the characters in a bar, and a dustup with a patron is foreshadowed thusly:
"His name was Bear and you didn't ponder why he was called that. He was six-five, ugly as disease, had red-brown hair and a beard that mercifully consumed most of his face. All that was clearly visible were some nasty blue eyes and a snout that was garage to some troublesome nose hairs thick enough to use for piano wire...What could be seen of his lips reminded me of those rubber worms fishermen use, and I wouldn't have been surprised to see shiny silver hooks poking out of them, or to discover that the whole of Bear had been made from decaying meat, wire and the contents of a tackle box and a Crisco can." (pp. 10-11)
The vibrant interplay between humor and horror is mostly successful, even if many of the sequences are about as over the top as it gets. Cannibalism? Check. Crucifixions? Check. Sacrilege? Check. One scene features a group of Christian evangelists using their faith as a cover for their cannibalistic jonesing, a swivel rightly qualifying as the nadir of religious experiences. The squeamish and easily offended might look for their fiction fix elsewhere, though the violence is never handled too seriously.
There also seems to be a whole social satire subtext in which the main character spends ample time existentializing amid the bouts of receding humanity arrayed before him. The rollicking lunacy of it all only adds to the absurdity of deep cogitation on things philosophical. Nevertheless, what the narrative seems to be getting at is that for all our pretensions to civility and higher consciousness, the only thing keeping us from reverting to the behaviors of the wild is the distance from our last meal. The collapse of society is only a hunger pang away.
But don't waste your time trying to find morals or life lessons embedded here. The Drive-In: A B-Movie with Blood and Popcorn, Made in Texas is raunchy-rowdy fun and a perfect alternative to a night at the movies. It's graphic and gritty in all the right ways and serves as a dark warning to humans everywhere: Grow too peaceable, and the gods get bored.
This book is horrible; it's just people doing random weird and violent things at a drive-in. Even the monster is a disappointment, since it's just two people who have become fused together. As for the aliens, they only make an appearance in a very brief dream sequence. The whole part about them trapping these people to make a movie seems like an afterthought thrown in to make the story (or lack thereof) somewhat understandable. Then there's the climax, which is one of the most disappointing I have ever had the displeasure of reading.
Avoid this book. Watch Dead End Drive-In Instead.
This story is extremely original, fast-paced, full of interesting characters and great dialog. It has everything; bad movies, cannibalism, monsters, aliens, and a few other surprises.
This book truly sucks. When the Popcorn King started his mindless chant, I almost heaved it into the swimming pool. My dilemma is that there are apparently some sequelae to this piece, and I have to decide whether to add those to my reading list. Sorry Joe, I don't think I can handle any more junk like this.
There are some moments. The discussion about the hypocrisy of organized religion takes on a new, hilarious, but somewhat sophomoric, look, which unfortunately cannot salvage the story. It does show, however, a preview of the genius that the author developed after he grew up.