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Can You Remember the Drive In Experience?

Looking back I realize that the drive in craze was pretty much coming to an end during my childhood days and I am hard pressed to recall very many trips to the outdoor theaters with the swing sets in front of the giant sized screens.

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I recall my parents talking about sitting in a crazy line up of cars to see a Planet of the Apes sequel with me in tow but I have no recollection of being there for that outing. I can only assume I was sound asleep in a car seat.

The funny thing is we lived close to a local drive in. I can remember driving by it on a regular basis. Now it’s location has been converted to a strip mall with a Toys R Us store. There was another local drive in operation that ran up until about 1990. The only one left in my area today is about an hours drive from my home. I have been to it once as an adult. I took my kids to see the atrocious Rocky and Bullwinkle flick there a few years back.

I believe my earliest memory of actually going to a drive in was to see a double bill. Outlaw Blues and Killer Force. A double Peter Fonda bill. I was of course dragged along by an older crowd of teens. They were probably told they had to take me along. The best thing of the whole night was the fact that I knew the one actor in Killer Force was none other than Dracula himself. Christopher Lee.

During my youth, Jaws hit the screens and I remember driving my parents crazy to see Grizzly. The latest nature flick to feature a hungry animal hunting down us lowly humans on the food chain. I still love this flick.

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And how about sneaking in to the drive in cramped under a bed in the back of an old van with two other under aged kids. Yup, I did that too. The double bill was Death Wish 2 and Lucio Fulci’s Zombie. No way we were gonna miss the latest Bronson feature. Me and the other two boys cajoled a good natured hockey coach of ours into driving us down in his old van. We had a great time watching Charlie cut down the latest cast of criminals as well as the famed Zombie vs. shark scene in the Fulci bloodfest.

I also recall wishing I could drive and go more often as they would host all night horror features that included re released Hammer films and other horrors that I wouldn’t see till they finally turned up on VHS at the nearest outlets.

Writing this I do know I went to see Murphy’s Law as I was old enough to borrow Dad’s car and take a lucky girl with me to see the latest Bronson offering. If I remember correctly it played with Tough Guys. That’s a double feature worth paying for!

My favorite drive in story has to do with collecting film posters. When the one local drive in shut down, I pretty much cleaned them out of posters that had been sitting around for the last 20 years. The Godfather, Death Wish, Outlaw Josie Wales, Taxi Driver and so on. That was a good day.

So how about you? Any drive in memories to share?

4 Comments »

  1. that local one must have closed in 91 because last movie I saw there was Backdraft and that was in a van too, which is a great way to go to the drive-in. Visited the other (now Toys R us one) many times, but don’t remember titles other than Mr Mom and Max Dugan Returns! weird. Thanks for the memories…..

  2. Believe it or not, drive-ins still exist and are fighting tooth and nail to survive in today’s digital age. I’m fortunate to still have two open within an hours drive. Its my preferred theater viewing actually, as I hate going to my local multiplex where there’s always flashing or ringing phones, sticky floors, or some big really big guy who hasn’t showered in a month sitting directly in front of you. The cost is also a big factor, where else can one see two new movies projected on a big screen for under $10? Its a shame there are many cheapies out there who would ruin this experience for everyone and hide under a seat or in a trunk. With my schedule I don’t get out to see new movies often enough, but the last one was Transformers Age of Extinction and Edge of Tomorrow, both were great under the stars.

    • I rarely go to the theater but for me drive ins are pretty much over and done with. I know they are still out there in pockets but the mainstream movie goer isn’t all that interested and the value of the real estate put so many of them out of business. I would imagine historians would say the fifties and sixties were there heyday.

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