The 1980s Fan-Favorite Gonzo Horror Classic That Needs An Adaptation Immediately

By Brian Myers | Published

Horror fans have been spoiled in recent years, as great novel and short story titles from the genre have made their way to the small screen. Most notably, the works of Shirley Jackson and Edgar Alan Poe received terrific adaptations on Netflix by director/writer Mike Flanagan, who gave the world The Haunting of Hill House and The Fall of the House of Usher. The talent of Flanagan to transform the literal word of great horror writers into a limited series means it’s time he breathed onscreen life into Joe R. Lansdale’s horror series, The Drive-In.

From The 1980s And Horror

As a kid in the late 1980s, I devoured anything and everything horror. Amid the gory film posters on my walls and the stack of VHS tapes that contained countless hours of recorded late-night fright flicks, I had a bookcase overflowing with horror novels.

Scores of books ranged from William W. Johnstone’s soft-core trash to better-known titles from Steven King, Richard Matheson, and Shirley Jackson. Amid the shelves were also small press titles, including Lansdale’s 1988 classic, The Drive-In.

First Of Three Novels By Joe R. Lansdale

The Drive-In is the first of three novels in Lansdale’s series, and it successfully took everything an 80s kid loved about horror and wove them together to produce pages worthy of reading over and over again.

The book follows a group of young teens that are attending a horror film festival at the local drive-in theater. The boys set themselves up for a day of enjoying Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Toolbox Murders, The Evil Dead, and others.

But the Orbit is no regular drive-in. The theater is a complex that is composed of six individual screens, each of which is six stories tall. There are enough parking spots at the Orbit for more than 4,000 cars, each space occupied as eager horror fans cram onto the property to see their favorite horror films.

Takes An Eerie Turn


The Drive-In takes an eerie turn in the middle of the festival when a comet scorches across the sky and plunges the property into darkness. Panicked theatergoers converge at the snack bar, where some of the attendees decide that leaving the Orbit is the best idea.

But as the first person who crosses the complex’s property line immediately dissolves in front of everyone’s horrified eyes, it becomes quickly apparent that the thousands of patrons are stuck in limbo at the drive-in.

Savagery And Chaos


The book continues as the humans at the drive-in soon devolve into monstrous beings that display behaviors that rival those of the screen villains they had just seen in the films.

The savagery and chaos that ensues create unexpected alliances and turn old friends into mortal enemies. The Drive-In is every bit a supernatural suspense as it is a novel that shows that man is the real monster we need to fear most.

Needs The Perfect Creative


Imagine a Mike Flanagan production where the first novel in The Drive-In series was crafted into a limited series of six episodes.

The director has done a brilliant job of combining creature/specter horrors with the monstrosities that humans are capable of inflicting on each other, which proves to me that he is the right one to bring the novel to life for viewers.

No Current Plans For An Adaptation


And in typical Flanagan style, you’d likely see many of the same faces from his previous horror endeavors. The Drive-In would have a role perfect for Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, Kate Siegel, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who would bring their A-games back as believable characters that are as despisable as they are relatable.

No plans for a film or series adaptation of The Drive-In are in the works. But this fan will keep dreaming of a day that it becomes a reality.