Monday, March 5, 2012

The Complete Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale

The Complete Drive-In, by Joe R Lansdale(author of Bubba Ho-Tep) is one of the most unique books I have read in a long while. The series, which is three books in all, are all combined here under one cover with a few little bonus extras. As far as the plot, well, that is hard to describe. Saying too much kind of gives things a way. I can say that it is like The Stand meets Cannibal the Musical, slammed full of pop culture references. It's quirky B movie fun in book form. It also has a nice, southern charm to it.

The first book, The Drive-In: A “B” Movie with Blood and Popcorn, Made in Texas, starts off with a group of buddies going to a classic Drive-In. Once there a mystery comet(with a large smile on its face) flies in. The Drive-In is completely surrounded by a black goo that melts away anything it touches and all goes it hell. The first book is about the struggles of the people trapped in this Drive-In. Though that sounds pretty straight forward, it gets whackier and whackier as it goes. There is a little something for many weird tastes within, including dinosaurs, a mutant named the Popcorn King, cannibals, and even aliens.

The second and third books, The Drive-In 2: Not Just One of Them Sequels and  The Drive-In: The Bus Tour, are also quite good, though not as good as the first one. They also start to get a bit low brow, relying on potty and penis humor a lot. There is a part where a person is killed by choking on giant fish excrement. 

My only real complaint, though it is a big one, is the ending. It's a let-down. For such a well written series, it surprises me that the author would end with kind of a cheap way out. There is a slight twist to it, but not enough to get past the "it was all a dream" type ending I hate so much.

So why am I writing about this book where I disliked the ending quite a bit? Well, the first  book is soooo good, it is worth it just for that. Its much like a great movie with a couple of sub-par sequels. Also, maybe knowing the ending is let down, new readers won't be expecting as much and won't be as disappointed.

Bottom line, read the first book, The Drive-In: A “B” Movie with Blood and Popcorn, Made in Texas. It is one of the best things I have read in a long time. Then, if you want more and are prepared for a less than stellar ending, continue on. Though not as good, the other two books are still very much worth reading.

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