J.R. Lansdale’s The Drive-In

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The Adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s “The Drive-In” is as much about humanistic horror as it is supernatural. A devious, and visceral lab experiment with humans as the test subjects. A group of young friends in Texas decide to spend an evening at the Orbit drive-in movie theater to see an all night long horror film festival with movies like “Evil Dead”, “Dawn of the Dead”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, and more, but the terror will soon turn all too real. Best friends Jack and Bob, along with sheepish Randy, and tough biker Willard think they’re in for a long evening of horror classics and beer when the appearance of a meteor changes everything. Suddenly the four friends find themselves trapped in the drive-in with hundreds of other customers by an otherworldly force. They are virtually cut off from the rest of the world by a darkened sky and an impenetrable wall which virtually melts anyone who tries to leave.

Without any means of calling for help, and dwindling food supplies from the concession stand, it is the reactions of the captives that provide the true horror. Some rage forth to try and takeover the concession stand for themselves, others decide that end of the world sex is the way to go, while a fundamentalist Christian movement starts up preaching the way of God. Jack retreats into a shell and has to be pulled out of his self-imposed isolation by Bob who has a hidden stash of food in his car. Meanwhile Willard and Randy’s relationship soon turns grossly symbiotic. The pair takes over the concession stand and are struck by a bolt of lightening which should have killed them both. Instead, the pair’s bodies have become virtually fused together in a twisted, corroded form that now calls itself the Popcorn King. This demonic dark lord soon has most of the residents worshipping him as a God, even as he feasts upon their bodies. Bob & Jack soon realize that they may be the only hope of salvation for the survivors as they hatch a plot to destroy the Popcorn King.

Lansdale’s original story is adapted by Christopher Golden who is probably best known for his Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels as well as writer of the Buffy comic for Dark Horse. He is aided greatly by the beautifully chaotic artwork of Andres Guinaldo who captures the drive-in in all its animalistic glory. The true horror isn’t the demonic Popcorn King but seeing how humanity quickly degrades in the face of adversity. Typical, and outstanding Lansdale and a fine job by Golden and Guinaldo. The graphic novel also includes an interview with Landsdale.

Reviewed by Tim Janson

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