Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together Believes in the Three H’s: History, Humor and Heart

Ho-ho-howdy, horror homies! It’s been a minute since I last discussed Joe Bob, Darcy, and The Last Drive-In crew. My multiple months-long sabbatical has come to a close, so what better way to get back into the Mutant Family groove than discussing the latest Christmas Shudder special, Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together?

The design for Joe Bob's Ghoultide Get-Together featuring Joe Bob, Darcy and others on a roof.

It’s fascinating to see how the character of Joe Bob Briggs has evolved over his many decades on television, from the fast-talking Texas “Ya-hoo” of The Movie Channel’s Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater to the sarcastic, multiple times divorced iteration on TNT’s MonsterVision to the current version on The Last Drive-In. While the character and channels changed over time, the core of what makes Joe Bob Briggs so beloved has always remained the same. Built from his love of the drive-in, he crafted the “Drive-In Oath” based on the belief of the “three B’s: Blood, Breasts, and Beasts.”

Yet, during his current stint on Shudder, I’ve noticed that the nucleus of what makes Joe Bob Briggs so beloved within the horror community is not just the “three B’s” but also the three H’s: History, Humor, and Heart.

Dating back to his early days on The Movie Channel, the amount of film knowledge contained within Joe Bob’s cerebellum is immense. Rattling off historical factoids about the actors, crew, or the film’s production at an ungodly pace became one of Joe Bob’s calling cards. Whether an insignificant and minute production detail or a salacious slice of cinematic sin, all was on the table for Joe Bob to discuss. Some of it is informative—other times, not so much. The only constant is Joe Bob knows how to make even the most mundane detail entertaining.

When not offering his education expertise, Joe Bob always found ways to mix humor with his knowledge. Especially during his tenure hosting MonsterVision, the character of Joe Bob Briggs found his rhythm and many ways to elicit hilarity. Joe Bob used the channel TNT and its owner, Ted Turner, as ways to concoct many moments of humor. Whether it was the infamous Friday the 13th marathon, where Turner is attempting to kill Joe Bob, or many commercial breaks used to poke fun at MonsterVision‘s schedule, all was in Joe Bob’s crosshairs.

After his time with MonsterVision abruptly ended, fans of Joe Bob Briggs entered an extended period of darkness. Relegated to sporadic appearances, those who grew used to seeing Joe Bob grace television screens regularly stood at the precipice of life, wondering if we’d ever again see a weekly show featuring Joe Bob Briggs. It took many years, but those hoping to see Joe Bob get back into the saddle finally got an answer in 2018.

For horror fans, the announcement that Joe Bob Briggs would be returning for another drive-in go-around elicited ecstatic enthusiasm that resonated throughout the horror community. Initially slated as a one-off marathon, the aptly-titled, The Last Drive-In marathon had the makings of Joe Bob hanging up the hat and bolo soon afterward. Joe Bob would be heading off into the sunset in a big way: with a 24-hour marathon showcasing some of horror’s finest (and not so finest) offerings.

Joe Bob listing the Drive-In Totals for A Christmas Horror Story.

Then a funny thing happened.

Joe Bob returned with a Thanksgiving special. And then a Christmas special. The rumblings began in earnest: might there be one more consistent show for Joe Bob? Those of us in the Mutant Family didn’t have to wait much longer as the announcement of a weekly streaming show titled The Last Drive-In would debut in 2019.

Premiering almost 20 years after Joe Bob’s last appearance on MonsterVision, how would The Last Drive-In follow in the previously-established formula of the show’s past, and what will The Last Drive-In do to forge its own path?

For fans like myself who have followed Joe Bob throughout his career, The Last Drive-In plays similarly to the best comfort food you’ve ever eaten. Joe Bob is smart enough to keep his established formula, spending each break discussing aspects of that week’s film—and additional time given to banter with his mail girl, Darcy.

And while most of The Last Drive-In balances that line of familiar formula with newly-added elements, what makes Joe Bob’s venture with Shudder stand apart is heart, the final ‘H.’

Each person handles aging differently: some can’t handle it and struggle to cling to their youth, while others embrace it as part of the natural process. What Father Time does to all of us as the years click by is slow us down. Getting slower isn’t a bad thing, not by a long shot. Having additional miles allows us to take things in at a different pace and allow our bodies and minds to evolve. We may not even notice such a change, but time catches up to all of us.

How does this pertain to The Last Drive-In? If you compare Joe Bob’s previous work on Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater or MonsterVision, the personalities, deliveries, and themes are much different than the later episodes on Shudder. For me, the topics are what stand out the most.

A shirt-less Krampus stands, holding a chain in front of wooden doors with bright light behind him.

Nowhere does the change in subject matter differ than on The Last Drive-In Christmas specials. Since the 2020 holiday episode, each December episode functions as a drive for various charities. And this year’s charity episode, Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Togeher, continues that trend.

Changing up the prior two Christmas-themed episodesJoe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together took the form of a typical episode of The Last Drive-In. Gone is the idea of a telethon or QVC design, and back to the set we know and love. And, for this Joe Bob fan, I feel this works in the episode’s favor.

Instead, Joe Bob gets comfy with Darcy by his side as they work their way down an advent calendar—discussing this episode’s double feature of Don’t Open Till Christmas and A Christmas Horror Story and this year’s auction items. While Joe Bob alternated between film production history and humorous asides, each film break featured bumpers hocking faux commercials with the items up for this year’s auction.

As is typical with The Last Drive-In charity auctions, multiple charities get to shine. This year’s charities are the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, March of Dimes, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, and Motion Picture & Television FundThe Last Drive-In crew and associates kicked the episode into high gear by featuring themselves in the charity commercials. Having those outside of the show’s host offer the charity items meshed well in allowing for multiple items their moment in the spotlight while letting Joe Bob do what he does best.

Yet, the final holiday surprise came during the final moments of Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together. As is custom with every episode of The Last Drive-In, Darcy provided Joe Bob with letters from the Mutant Family. Not one to keep a melancholy mood on set, Joe Bob recited two separate fan letters, each with an emotional punch that necessitated raising a tall boy and delivering a toast.

And moments like that showcase the growth the Joe Bob Briggs character has experienced over the past few decades. Gone is the self-serving, woman-chasing, three-times-divorced Texas “Ya-hoo,” and in his place is a more thoughtful, scholarly, and emotionally-resonant leader of the Mutant Family, who still flashes plenty of his quick wit and gift for gab. I’m not saying that any version of Joe Bob Briggs is better than the other; there’s no right or wrong. More, it’s welcome to see Joe Bob giving another dimension to his character by presenting others before himself.

Joe Bob seated in a chair wearing a red jacket and hat.

Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together continues the trend of standout holiday episodes from Joe Bob and the gang. It’s another episode of fun packed to the gills with plenty of joy and fun that will warm even the coldest of hearts, offering plenty of the “three H’s.” Even with many years behind him, Joe Bob Briggs still knows how to party like a jungle beast but adds a level of humanity that makes Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together must-see entertainment for any day of the year!

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Written by Robert Chipman

Robert Chipman has had a love of all things horror for as long as he can remember. His favorite horror franchise is the Nightmare on Elm Street series and his favorite horror director is John Carpenter. He thinks the Maniac Cop series is supremely underrated, Demon Knight and In the Mouth of Madness are slept on and loves what Don Mancini has accomplished with the Child's Play franchise.

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