Thursday, September 12, 2013

Drive-In Memories


Karen: The drive-in theater, that All-American icon, is sadly nearly extinct. It was a place for the whole family to bundle up in the station wagon (kids, put on your pajamas!) and go see a film -or two. Or, if you were in your teen years, it might have been the spot of many an amorous adventure! Care to share any memories of the Drive-In?

I'll start: I was just a tot but I was terribly excited that we were going to go see Planet of the Apes at our local drive-in. Mom and Dad did the usual -they put blankets and pillows in the back of the station wagon for me and my brother, and off we went. Before the movie started, we cavorted in the little playground behind the snack bar, waiting for it to get dark. Finally the cartoons began and we returned to the car. After watching a few of those, the movie finally came on. I watched enthralled through the astronauts crashing on the mysterious planet, exploring, being chased through the tall grass, and then, inexplicably, I fell asleep. Hey, I was only 4! I awoke as my Dad started the engine. What? It was over? Where were the apes? I had to wait til the film was shown on TV a few years later to actually find out!




13 comments:

J.A. Morris said...

Saw a few drive-in movies as a kid in the 70s. But the only ones I can remember are Blazing Saddles and Bad News Bears. I usually ended up falling asleep just like Karen.

david_b said...

I had some friends go see the Apes movies and a few years later, watch the original Galactica movie at an outdoor, but the few times I went with parents in the early '70s..?

Stupid movies no one would remember. I certainly don't. It was a novelty even by the mid-'70s, I recall the sound boxes being so bad..

The cartoons before the movie about going to the concession stand for an icy-cold Sprite were probably the best.

Doug said...

When my wife and I were dating we went to the local drive-in, long since defunct. I believe it was a double-feature of Michael Keaton's "Gung Ho" and Cruise's "Top Gun". There was something in the air -- ragweed or some other vegetation -- that caused us both to develop these allergy colds that had us miserable for the next three days. We never went back.

Doug

Anonymous said...

I was sixteen years old when both neighborhood drive-in theaters went bust. I got NOTHING accomplished. Thanks a lot, progress.

Edo Bosnar said...

Never been to a drive-in movie, ever. It was just something my family never did when I was a little kid, and by the time I was in high school (1982-1986) they were already considered really passe where I was growing up. Given that, I'm actually surprised they held on as long as they did, with some still operating even post-2000.
Otherwise, though, I liked that in a lot of cities and towns the drive-in lots hosted flea markets on Saturdays and Sundays - always cool places to find awesome stuff like old pulp paperbacks, comic books, magazines, music in any format, tie-dye T-shirts...

Garett said...

I went once to see Dragonslayer, for a friend's birthday party. It rained. I don't remember the story now, but it seems to me the special effects were quite good. Looking it up now, I'm surprised that the lead actor was a young Peter MacNicol, from the tv show Ally McBeal.

themiddlespaces said...

Dragonslayer has some weird cool gender stuff going on it. One of these days I am going to re-watch and write about it.

Anyway, I have only ever been to a drive-in once. It was in Puerto Rico in 1982 (I was 11), and the film was Victory, with Sylvester Stallone, Pelé and Michael Caine - I remember nothing about it (except the soccer) and have never seem it since.

Humanbelly said...

Hoo-boy, I'm at both ends of Karen's memory-spectrum, here. Plenty of amorous adventures (probably more than was proper, I imagine) from the late 70's to the early 80's. But also some straightforward movie-watching during that stretch. Saw the first Poltergeist film with a gang of friends at a drive-in, and it scared the daylights out of us!

The US 31 Starlight Drive-In, located between Niles, MI and South Bend, IN was our primary high school venue-- long since torn down. It's also the one my folks took us to when we were little, w/ all of the same experiences. Always, ALWAYS fell asleep barely after the main feature started. Our regular bedtime was 9:00, and in the Michigan timezone then it was usually not dark enough to start an outdoor film at that point. The first cartoon always started as the faintest of images on the screen. One distinct memory I have is of waking up during one feature and watching a couple scrambling around on Mt Rushmore while a bad guy tries to kill them-- eventually with the bad guy standing on the cliff-clinging good guy's hand. . . man, scared me to death! It wasn't until my sophomore year of college, in film history class, that we watched NORTH BY NORTHWEST, and I had to stop myself from leaping out of my seat during the final sequence, suppressing shouts of, "THIS IS IT!! THIS IS THE FILM!! OMIGOD, OMIGOD, OMIGOD!!!!"

Hey, and did any hot dog on planet EARTH ever taste as good to a little kid as a drive-in movie concession dog? Ha! I think not!

HB

Fred W. Hill said...

My family often went to drive-ins throughout the '70s to early '80s. Among the movies I recall seeing in drive-ins were Jaws, Dirty Harry, Red Sun (a Charles Bronson western). Another film we intended to see but only watched sparingly was Capriocorn One (I think that's the title), with O.J. Simpson and a plot about a faked trip to Mars; my dad & brothers & I were much more interested in the porno we could see on another screen through the backwindow of the car! I also saw a double-bill with the Ramones' "Rock & Roll High School" and the Who's "The Kids Are Alright" (I got into the Who in a big way after seeing that).

Anonymous said...

I know I saw a few movies at drive-ins, but the only one I remember offhand is Empire Strikes Back. The only time I remember falling asleep in the back seat was when we went to see Coal Miner's Daughter; my parents were big country music fans, but I lost interest immediately after the opening cartoon.

Mike W.

Rip Jagger said...

Drive-Ins were not that uncommon when I was little, but increasingly became so. Even as a young couple the wife and I went a few times to a local one which remained open into the 90's.

One flick I remember seeing which was a Drive-In only experience was the dreadful "Hercules" movie Lou Ferrigno made. It's a terrible movie and for all his fine traits, Lou was not that good either, but the movie had an awesome special effect the night I saw it, actual real lightning and thunder which often corresponded to the action on the screen. It was pretty interesting, and most memorable.

Rip Off

Redartz said...

The North Drive-In in Anderson, Indiana was our local feature. Didn't go very often, but I recall one cool triple feature: "Grease", "I Want to Hold Your Hand", and "FM". My then- girlfriend and I spent much of the night there, and actually watched the films...

William said...

In South Florida, where I live, we have one of the only still functioning Drive-In Movie theaters left in the country. The Thunderbird. It becomes one of the largest open flea markets in country on Thursdays.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I went to the drive-in almost every weekend. Where we saw such masterpieces as "Death Wish 2", "Porky's", "Cannonball Run", "Pet Cemetery", "Battle Beyond The Stars", and countless kung-fu movies. We used to sneak my friend's little brother and his friends into the movie in the trunk of the car.

Good times.

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