Joe Bob Briggs is that of an unapologetic redneck Texan with an avowed love of the drive-in theater. He specializes in humorous but appreciative reviews of B-movies and cult films, which he calls “drive-in movies” (as distinguished from “indoor bullstuff”). In addition to his usual parody of urbane, high-brow movie criticism, his columns characteristically include colorful tales of woman-troubles and high-spirited brushes with the law, tales which inevitably conclude with his rush to catch a movie at a local drive-in, usually with female companionship. Briggs revealed in an interview with James Rolfe that he intended the character to have an ambiguous sounding name and initially thought of calling himself “Bubba Rodriguez”, but was told that the name Rodriguez would be perceived as racist and decided to go with “The whitest name I could come up with.”
The reviews typically end with a brief rating of the movie in question’s “high points”, including the types of action (represented by nouns naming objects used in fight scenes suffixed with “-fu”), the number of bodies, number of female breasts bared, the notional number of total pints of blood spilt, and for appropriately untoward movies, a “vomit meter”.
A typical summarization would read, “no dead bodies. One hundred seventeen breasts. Multiple aardvarking. Lap dancing. Cage dancing. Convenience-store dancing. Blindfold aardvarking. Blind-MAN aardvarking. Lesbo Fu. Pool cue-fu. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Tane McClure. Joe Bob says check it out.”
Originally, Briggs’s film reviews were limited to pictures shown at local drive-ins. Later, after a tongue-in-cheek ‘battle’ with his own convictions in Joe Bob Goes Back to the Drive In, he also began reviewing films released on VHS and DVD.
Over 17 years after the cancellation of MonsterVision, Joe Bob Briggs tweeted that Shudder had shown interest in reviving some version of the series. An official announcement was made on June 25, 2018 that Briggs would be returning to television in a marathon for the Shudder TV live feed. On July 13, 2018, Shudder aired The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs (“July 2018 Marathon”), a roughly 26 and a half-hour block featuring 13 horror movies chosen as the “greatest of all time” by Briggs. The films were Tourist Trap, Sleepaway Camp, Rabid, The Prowler, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Daughters of Darkness, Blood Feast, Basket Case, Re-Animator, Demons, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Hellraiser, and Pieces. The movies contained several interruptions for Briggs’s “Drive-in Totals,” insider stories, and tangential rants. These segments also included Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince), who showed up in movie-themed outfits to banter with Briggs and brought messages from fans, as well as live-tweeted with viewers. The show’s guests were Felissa Rose from Sleepaway Camp and Lyle Blackburn for The Legend of Boggy Creek. On June 25, 2018, it was also announced that Briggs had partnered with Fright-Rags to bring licensed merchandise for The Last Drive-in.
Following the success of the “July 2018 Marathon,” on September 5, 2018, Shudder announced the decision to greenlight two more specials for 2018 and a regular series beginning in 2019. For Thanksgiving, Briggs hosted “Joe Bob’s Dinners of Death” on November 22, 2018, cementing the shows format. Featured movies included The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Dead or Alive, and Blood Rage, with special guest Michael Berryman, who played Pluto, and a phone call with “mangled dick expert” Felissa Rose. Next, Briggs hosted “A Very Joe Bob Christmas” on December 21, 2018, the first to stream simultaneously across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The marathon was centered around the Phantasm film series, specifically: Phantasm, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead, Phantasm IV: Oblivion, and Phantasm: Ravager. Guests included franchise hero Reggie Bannister and Phantasm: Ravager special effects makeup coordinator Gigi Bannister. Briggs supposedly decided against showing Phantasm II due to its depicted destruction of an original 1971 Plymouth Barracuda, although it was most likely a rights issue with Universal Pictures that prevented the movie’s broadcast. Since Shudder did not have the rights to use Don Coscarelli’s music, Briggs closed the show with a drive-in original song, the “12 Days of Phantasm.”