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24 FRAME HORROR ON THE PAGE: DRIVE IN: THE MULTIPLEX


Few books hit readers like Joe R. Lansdale's The Drive In, a tale of a Texas six-screen drive in theater, The Orbit, that descends into an a hellscape after a strange comet passes over it, cutting it off from the known world and leading to violence, cannibalism, and a fusion of two teens into a creature dubbed "The Popcorn King".. For those who who read the book in the eighties and after, as well as the sequels, The Drive In 2, that puts the survivors ina dinosaur infested land, and Drive In 3: The Bust Tour that travels into a weird fiction realm, it exposed many to the story-bending possibilities in fiction, blending action, horror, humor, and coming of age. It's no surprise many of those readers became writers. Two of those writers, Christopher Goldene and Brian Keene, collected over twenty other authors for tales in Joe's universe with Drive In: The Multiplex.


The editors divide the collection into two sections. ACT !: Inside The Orbit mainly takes place inside the drive in, during the first book. ACT 2: The Jungle, Bus, And Beyond covers the sequels and possibly after, Lansdale and his son Keith kick it off with "Hoppity White Rabbit Done Broke Down" that straddles all three books and throws in Jack The Ripper for good measure. It's even weirder than The Bus Tour.


Many of the writers tap into Lansdale's dark sense of humor, often involving the male libido. Jonathan Janz depicts a drive in date that literally goes to Hell with "The Humpers At The Threshold". Owen King's "Behind Screen Four" follows a husband's sex game gone awry when he has his wife drive him naked in the trunk to The Orbit. King makes the lead funny, pathetic, and, by the end, human.


Two of the most unsettling stories involve children. Cynthia Pelayo takes the POV of a George Romero loving little girl who watches her parents and the world fall apart in "It's Only A Movie". Aaron Dries gives a Lord Of The Flies take on a group of kids who survive in the sequel world with "Orphans Of The Orbit".


Other authors go as dark as possible. S.A. Cosby shows how bigotry comes into play at The Orbit in "The Beast With 69 Eyes", best replicating the style and tone of the original book. Elizabeth Massie and Rachel Autumn Doering both explore the extra shade of hell being a woman in the drive in. Gabino Iglesias shows the bleak acceptance needed to survive life in the sequel in "Blue Lightning".


Two of the finest take us to the end. Weird fiction master Laird Barron moves through all three book with emphasis on the third with a second rate Schwarzenneger. David Schow's "Hide/Insert: A Saga In Ten Reels takes it all back to the book with a woman searching for her boyfriend and a Youtube caster sucked into the worlds. The last sentence cops the collection perfectly.


Other standouts include Chet Williamson's "Blood Harmony" about a country and western group trapped in the drive in and Norman Partridge puts pedal to the metal with a nerd turned Mad Max style hero in the sequel world with "An Ill Wind Blows Your Way". Nancy Collins adds a couple wrinkles to the lore in "Drive Invasion". All the stories in Multiplex expand on Joe Lansdale's world of comets, cannibals, and flickering nightmares as well as demonstrating the influence they had on those who wrote them.








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