We recently covered one of my top 10 horror films on Slasher Radio which is the 2001 classic, JOY RIDE! To this day, that film is one of the most original and well executed productions in recent memory. Horror was starting to shift in the early 2000’s, but JOY RIDE took a detour and switched gears to pull off a film that was clearly ahead of its time.
Although the film dwells on the idea of a psychotic truck driver, in reality, the drivers are actually more likely to experience bizarre encounters. I’ve heard countless horror stories over the years from my step dad who has been behind the wheel of big rigs his entire life. These instances ranged from attempted robberies and hijackings to ghosts. Yes, ghosts. On Episode 42: JOY RIDE, I was able to share one of the many ghost stories that were passed on to me, but the unsettling tales don’t stop there. My step father, Ray, or “Red” as he’s also known, is full of wild stories of happenings from the road or while dropping off deliveries. Most of the criminal activity he dealt with stemmed from dispatches to New Orleans, Louisiana, which he admitted is his least favorite stop in the country. Many years ago, him and his partner were being followed down an alley way by a suspicious individual. When Red pulled back his jacket to reveal that he was fully armed, the crooks stopped their pursuit and hightailed it in the opposite direction. During a separate trip to the same city, a man tried climbing aboard his truck in an attempt to gain access to the cab and hijack the trailer which was loaded with currency. I personally can’t imagine being stuck in any of these predicaments because not only are the would-be thieves aggressive but these instances occur all too often.
On top of the criminals and long days away from home that truck drivers deal with, the number one stress factor is the road itself. Unfortunately, our family knows this all too well as we lost a loved one who was on the last few hours of his assignment. My step uncle Danny and his partner Jason were driving through Gore, Oklahoma one rainy evening and were headed to the Federal Reserve Bank in Little Rock, Arkansas. Red and his brother both worked for the same company called American Armored Transport which dealt with shipping currency to various Federal Reserve Banks across the country. These trucks were unlike any other with fully bullet proof windows and required a driving partner for every trip.
With only a few hours left until their destination in Little Rock, Jason was behind the wheel as Danny slept in the camper to catch some z’s after his shift. Driving at night can be difficult in itself, but considering the rain and exhaustion from the trip both added to the level of danger. All of these factors proved to be overwhelming and are what contributed to their fatal accident. The truck veered off an embankment and wrecked onto an adjacent embankment which caused the 18-wheeler to catch on fire. One occurrence at the scene of the accident that didn’t make it to the news report (full report HERE) is what forever ruined my faith in humanity. Despite the truck being engulfed in flames with two individuals inside, some passersby stopped only to steal bags of dimes that had been strewn about after the accident. This was truly unbelievable to me, but luckily, the thieves were caught red handed when trying to deposit the large amount of dimes into the bank. Danny and Jason were both down to earth, respectful and hard-working men who left us all too soon. While out on an assignment after Danny’s passing, Red heard his brother talk to him from the passenger seat of his truck. Danny said to him, “where are we going now?,” to which Red turned his head only to gaze at an empty passenger seat.
I’m grateful to have shared time and stories with the truckers around me as they are truly what keeps the world going round. Countless businesses heavily depend on them to help fulfill consumer demand. I feel this is an underappreciated career that’s typically stereotyped and portrayed in a contradicting way. Sure, horror films are all for entertainment, but it takes a real badass to power through the true terrors of the open road.
Listen to Episode 42: JOY RIDE (2001) below: