The Drive-In by Joe Lansdale. Review by Jeff Burk

Book Cover

In his cult classic, The Drive-In, Joe Lansdale (Nightrunners, The Bottoms) makes the horror fan's ultimate dream into a surrealistic nightmare. The book tells of a group of friends who head out to the Friday All-Night Horror Show at The Orbit, a drive-in theater with six screens each showing a different splatter-film. When a blood-red comet with a giant fanged mouth flies by, the movie-goers find themselves trapped on the drive-in grounds. Just as food begins to run low and tempers flare, the Popcorn King comes to save them all.

Lansdale creates a surreal terrifying world in The Drive-In. He breaks away from his characteristic splatter-punk violence and instead frightens the reader by bending reality to match the horror movies being shown on The Orbit's screens. Monsters, aliens, biker gangs, cannibalism, dinosaurs, and loads of other surprises give the book the feel of a freak show gone wild.

Despite the craziness that fills the pages, Lansdale never loses sight of his characters. The various people trapped in The Orbit react believably and realistically to the insanity they are presented. Their attempts at survival fuel the plot and provide thoroughly gripping drama as the situation breaks down into every-person-for-themselves. Think Lord of the Flies by way of Vincent Price's filmography.

This book was followed by The Drive-In 2 and The Drive-In: the Bus Tour, but the original reigns as the mass fan-favorite of the series. Currently, The Drive-In is out of print, but copies are readily available on the second-hand market. Grab your soda and popcorn, The Drive-In is one horror-show not to be missed.

Jeff Burk has been an avid fan of wierd fiction for longer than could be mentally healthy. He also writes reviews at the Bizarro webzine the Dream People.