There’s a drive-in about twenty-five minutes from my house. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve realized how lucky that really makes me.
Now, I’m not talking lucky in a “retro getting a piece of the past” kind of way. Every time I tell someone I’m going to the drive-in, they say something along the lines of “That sounds so quaint,” or “it’s a dying piece of Americana.”
My response? Screw that. I go to the drive-in for one reason. The movies.
The first time I went, of course, it was all about the novelty. But once I pulled the lawn chairs out of the trunk, filled my paper cup with a little smuggled-in whiskey and settled in with my radio tuned to the soundtrack, I immediately got giddy. I was about to enjoy three movies…a triple feature of the greatest kind. Under the stars, with friends.
That first time at the drive-in we were celebrating the release of Rob Zombie’s Halloween. If you read the site, though, you know that I’m not a huge Rob Zombie fan. Instead, I was there for the first feature–John Carpenter’s Halloween.
Not only were they showing an original print of the movie (faded and with scratches and all-around amazing), but Tony Moran was in attendance. You know…the guy that played Michael Myers for that one shot where his mask gets pulled off?
And in Georgetown, Indiana–home of the Georgetown Drive-In–Tony Moran is kind of a big deal. The line for autographs was a mile long, with everyone FREAKING OUT about the possibility of meeting Michael Myers in the flesh.
These are my kind of people: horror fans without a hint of doubt or cynicism. This man was Michael Myers…that’s all there was to it.
Anyway, back to the movies. I bought a delicious five-dollar steak sandwich and settled in for the films.
As an unabashed Halloween fan, watching the original print of the film on the biggest screen imaginable was nearly a religious experience. It was also the first time I ever saw a film print burn and waited fifteen minutes for the movie to get up-and-running–which made me cringe knowing that a few seconds of the film was gone forever…but was also kinda cool.
Since that night I’ve been back to the Georgetown Drive-In multiple times to enjoy the cheap food, the cheesy announcements, and the great weather. But, in the end, it’s always been about the movies.
I’ve seen Friday the 13th Part Seven and The Exorcist and District 9, and I’ve shaken hands with special guests Linda Blair, Tommy Lee Wallace, and Michael Madsen. On fright-fest horror nights, I’ve even been chased through a maze-like concession stand line by both Leatherface and Michael Myers…AT THE SAME TIME.
Most recently, though, I returned to Georgetown for a back-to-back screening of Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween 2, followed by Inglourious Basterds. By this time, I had it down to a science, tracking down an ancient MP3 player that also happens to have an FM tuner, putting in ear-buds and enjoying the films in full stereo. Sitting under the stars, I realized fully for the first time that I wasn’t there for the atmosphere or food or celebrities. This is the only way I could experience this triple feature. It was cheap and comfortable, and it was the only theater in town intelligent enough to actually put some thought into its programming.
I wasn’t a big fan of Halloween 2, and I loved Inglourious Basterds. Regardless of the quality of the films, I really don’t know that there is a better way to watch them from a purely cinematic perspective. The biggest screen around. A real 35mm print. Ear-buds blasting the soundtrack as loud as I want. And a cup full of whiskey at the ready.
I’ll make it back to the Georgetown Drive-In as much as I can before it closes for the season. But the reason I make the trek isn’t for the nostalgia or the atmosphere or the “change of pace.” It’s because they’ve got damn good movies that I love to watch. In the end, that’s all that really matters.