As a youngster, one of my favorite things to do as previously mentioned in my “Critters” review, was to stay at home and watch all the horror films I could which had been edited to air on cable each and every Sunday afternoon. Most of these consisted of cheesy 80’s creature features with any foul language or nudity having been removed but each week they would feature a true classic, once again, edited for it’s heavier content, but it was where I was first introduced to films like “Halloween”, “ Friday The 13th” and the few “Nightmare On Elm Street” films I had yet to see up to that point in time.
This was always enjoyable but what really got me going was always the late night film marathons which were occasionally and randomly played after midnight on a few select stations, each with a host to talk viewers through what is going on while occasionally adding a few tidbits of information regarding the filming, set stories or the actors themselves. The one of these I recall the most was when “The Exorcist II: Heretic” had aired and the host kept making claims ( as most people had done since the original film ) that Linda Blair was crazy, she was locked away thanks to making the film and that she had not acted since. Obviously, for anybody who had the ability to do any research, or watched any of the movies she had starred in since that time. You knew this was bullshit but were still excited to see someone on TV pushing the genre we all love and used as an outlet while growing up.
Fast forward several years and Shudder announces they are bringing Joe Bob Briggs back for “The Last Drive In”. I thought this was a cool concept as I was able to catch some episodes of “Monstervision” on TNT near the end of his run and really enjoyed what he had to offer his viewers thanks to his knowledge and love for the genre, regardless of how good or bad the films actually were. I wasn’t over excited by the initial announcement but as time progressed, I felt myself wanting to watch the marathon more and more.
Come Friday the 13th, I could think of nothing else. I spent my entire work day thinking about this, planning what I was going to do, what snacks I was going to get for it and finding a way to get my son excited for a film marathon of this magnitude. And for those wondering if I succeeded in getting him interested, it was a quick sell as he loves horror films as well.
As 9:00 PM EST rolled around, I had gotten Shudder pulled up, popcorn, pop and son all placed on the couch only to get an error screen from the Shudder app on my XBOX One.
I panic. Rushing to bring my desktop tower upstairs to set it up which resulted in the same issue. I check my phone and am able to open the app. I try to load the live stream but once again, failure.
This was the moment I found out that I needed this marathon more than I thought I wanted it.
Throughout the down time, I rushed back and forth from different machines trying to get the show to work, constantly checking Twitter for Shudder’s updates and attempting to figure out what i’m going to be doing in the meantime.
As most of the horror community typically are, the friendliness and heartwarming outreach to Shudder was overwhelming. I read several comments from people who were upset about the issue, but not mad. Not even a little bit. They all displayed gratitude and thankfulness towards Shudder for bringing in Joe Bob Briggs for such an epic event and although they had issues with their streaming service at that exact time, they practically all stated that there was nothing cooler than seeing Mr. Briggs’ popularity crash an entire streaming services.
This made me grateful for the community that has been there for me through the thick and thin of my life. The feeling of warmth flushed through my body. Even if I was unable to watch any of this marathon, I was glad to see so many people come together in cheer to celebrate something that likely doesn't matter to most of the world.
Eventually, I was able to get on and watch a great portion of the marathon, smiling the entire time through till the bittersweet end.
Following my viewing, I sat there, appreciating what I had just witnessed but also coming to a realization. We need more of this in our lives. A grand viewing experience where fans can gather together from around the world via social media in order to share their thoughts, their history of the film playing or the genre itself or why something within this realm has aided them in their lived at any point in time.
Facebook has recently started allowing “Watch Parties” in groups and the results thus far, at least from what I’ve seen, has been amazing. Groups are gathering to watch a random episode of “The Twilight Zone” for example while people get to talk about it as it’s happening. It's truly amazing but missing the element of a real host but that is not talking down about it whatsoever as I do think the idea is brilliant, but again, it’s missing that edge.
If you’ve not yet seen the marathon, I highly suggest you take in some of the episodes as Joe Bob Briggs is highly informative, a great source of entertainment and the man can throw out a few knee slappers while he’s at it. If you’re wondering how to take in said episodes, they are all available on Shudder to stream thanks to the issues surrounding the beginning and parts around the middle getting cut off.
As a side note, the popularity was so massive, that Shudder has announced that they are bringing the man back for another marathon later on this year although no information has been released as of yet. If I were to make a wild guess, it would be that this next “Marathon” if that’s what it’s going to be, would likely be released on or around Halloween, but that’s just my thought on the matter.
Beyond The Void Horror Podcast talks about two movies this week that were in the 2000s slew of PG-13 Horror. They talk about the popular "The Ring" (2002) & the not so popular "The Unborn" (2009). Have listen here or you can Listen/Subscribe on iTunes here!