Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dragons Under the Stars

Or more like under the clouds. A big rainstorm last night kind of put the damper on the double feature, but regardless, sometimes there's just nothing more satisfying than the good ol' drive-in movie experience. Cruised up to Eden last night to catch How to Train Your Dragon and Iron Man II at the drive-in picture show, and we had just gotten through watching the dragons when the big storm started. We soldiered on for a while, but actually seeing the second feature was an exercise in futility, so we headed on home, figuring we'll have to make another attempt, probably at an indoor theater, to catch the Iron Man.

Growing up, watching movies at the drive-in was just a fun fact of life. We had several outdoor theaters in Martinsville, where I got to see so many of my all-time favorite movies for the first time — Godzilla, James Bond, Dark Shadows, and many more. My folks had to have the patience of saints to take me and several friends on these outings, but they usually did it without complaining (except in the case of Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, which came on a double-bill with Night of the Living Dead, and even thinking about seeing the latter in those days was right out for young Mark). Sadly, there are no more drive-in theaters in Martinsville, here in Greensboro, or anywhere nearby except for Eden, and I really hope it has a long lifespan. There had been two others in reasonable traveling distance — Mount Airy and Durham — but both of those have recently closed down, succumbing to the prohibitive cost of operating such niche enterprises. I occasionally hear things about a resurgence of drive-in theaters because so many people enjoy the experience and want to support them, but at least in this neck of the woods, unfortunately, they continue to diminish rather than proliferate.

Although I love the whole drive-in experience — particularly the part where we scarf down the world's most delicious cheeseburgers and fries while lounging in our camping chairs — nowadays, you're still getting the first-run movies, whereas back in the day, it was the premier venue for your classic horror and monster movie roadshows. That experience, I fear, has simply gone forever. Particularly in Martinsville, just to get to the drive-ins, you had take some creepy old roads to get out in the country a ways, and that was all part of the build-up to a good scary movie....

I tell you, if you've got a drive-in theater anywhere nearby, and you don't avail yourself to it, do so now. Please. The drive-in experience is cheap, fun, and unique, but I suspect it's going to die out before the current young generation even has a clue of what it's missing. Support the theaters — and take some friends with you.

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