Anthology films are generally very hard to get right. The hallmark for this particular style of movie, certainly for my own generation, has to be the famed Creepshow (1982, dir. George A. Romero). It is the benchmark by which all other anthology films would then be judged from there on out. Creepshow showed precisely what it would take to make a quality anthology film, and I would say first and foremost the most needed ingredient would be imagination. When you have a prime Stephen King helping to pen down ideas with you, that isn’t as difficult as it may at first seem, but how does one go about making a solid anthology flick work on a minimalist budget? Well, Drive-In Horror Show may not be a groundbreaking film in the same vein as Creepshow, but the filmmakers do show that it is entirely possible to make a highly entertaining film within this genre without having millions of dollars behind you.
Drive-In Horror Show is an anthology title based around, duh, a drive-in! This drive-in is no regular makeout spot for teenagers however, this particular theater location is set in the middle of a post-apocalyptic America. Several years after an apparent nuclear holocaust, "The Projectionist" (played by Luis Negron) spins several horror movies for the ghosts and ghouls who show up to enjoy the festivities. The first story shown is "Pig", which shows a college boy receiving his comeuppance after committing date-rape. "The Closet" shows what happens when a young boy discovers a monster in his closet… and that its appetite can be controlled when selecting the perfect "meals" for it. "Fall Apart" is a neo-noire horror tale that shows a doctor coming in contact with what could be the most violent virus since Ebola. Will he manage to stop it before his skin simply melts away? "The Meat Man" follows two young kids who discover the local serial killer may, or may not, be their very own father! Our final ghastly tale is "The Watcher", a slasher story that follows four young people who head out into the woods only to find someone is watching them from a distance and plans to end their trip for them earlier than expected.
It truly is the idea-factor that make this as entertaining a picture as the movie ultimately proves to be. Although that are some rather cliche bits here and there, the overall panache and clever concepts behind these short stories make them all pretty interesting. The Closet and The Watcher are the two segments that feature the most cliche content, since we’ve seen stories like these before, but both are done with such enthusiasm that they come across as being unique in their own special ways. Despite the fact that The Closet is ultimately a re-imagining of The Pit (1981, a Canadian horror film from my own childhood) or even Little Shop of Horrors to enough degree, it features a set of interesting performances from the main cast members and features some very witty banter amidst the dialogue. The Watcher acts as a condensed version of almost every slasher film you’ve ever seen, but with its brief runtime, and the really interesting stories that came before it, it seems like a really solid compilation of slasher film variables.
My favorite segments would be both "Pig" and "Fall Apart" however. The two segments couldn’t be more different, but are both of a very high standard of quality. “Pig” may not be the most complex from a narrative standpoint, but what it attempts to do, it does well. The entire premise for the sequence revolves around a girl acting out her vengeance on a date rapist and her one act of torture consists of a slowly filling bathtub, a hammer and a tremendous amount of glue. The segment is unbearable in its cruelty and it starts the movie off in a very bent direction. "Fall Apart" is great mainly for the noire-influenced voiceover narration via our doctor character who fills us in as the short plays out. A really great performance from all involved, the short becomes easy to lose yourself within. It also features some of the most gruesome FX work within the movie. A reliance on pure latex and classic gore-FX, “Fall Apart” shows the human anatomy melting away bit by bit. A truly disgusting segment, but absolutely one of the best.
"The Meat Man" is probably the most light hearted of all segments within the movie, but that doesn’t say a whole lot since there are still plenty of hacked apart bodies and grotesque imagery. While its not my favorite bit in the movie, it certainly has its place and tells a solid and fun story. As I previously mentioned these segments are broken apart by "host" bits starring The Projectionist who is a VERY solid horror host, I must confess. I actually have a pretty low tolerance for cheesy horror-hosts, especially ones who riff on really bad puns, but I think Luis Negron brings enough of the nostalgia out in his performance that I found it easy to sit back and enjoy his scenery chewing. He’s actually one of the best aspects of the movie to be honest.
I can’t stop singing its praises. It may not receive a huge release through distribution, but it deserves it. I hope that director Michael Neel can go on to bigger and better things, because he’s apparently an enthusiastic and entertaining individual. Perhaps we will see a bigger budgeted version of Drive-In Horror Show one of these days? Or maybe a TV show hosted by Luis Negron? One can only hope. You can read more about the project via the official website: