Death of the Drive-In

Skyvue Drive In Ticket Booth-Mark Orr

By Mark Sean Orr

Drive-in theaters are all about packing your car full of people to see a movie in the great outdoors,the concession stand just steps away with the greatest American junk food ever! Intermission was the time to get snacks and meet up with friends. All this will be lost with the demise of drive-ins.

The first drive-in opened in 1933. In their heyday, there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in the U.S. Now there are about 350.

My best drive-in memories are of watching the campy horror films, double features, creature features and special attractions including fireworks and guest appearances by local TV and radio hosts. One favorite appearance of mine in particular was Indiana’s Cool Ghoul, horror host for WTTV 4 Sammy Terry. He scared the bejeebers out of Hoosier horror buffs for three decades and made many personal appearances.

You haven’t really seen “Creature from the Black Lagoon” until you’ve seen Roicou Browning in that monster wetsuit on a 40 x 50 foot screen. Or the great scene in ‘Jaws’ when Captain Quint becomes shark food. Even the sound seemed better at drive-ins, with hundreds of speakers hanging from everyone’s car windows and reverberating sound throughout the parking lot.

Echoing through the night summer air……

“You’re going to need a bigger boat!”

“Here’s Johnny!”

And the famous dreaded line in so many campy horror movie: “I think we should split up.”

If you’ve never watched a movie on a giant screen, beneath summer stars, in the comfort of your car, you have missed experiencing a piece of true American pop culture.

If you are lucky enough to still have a drive in theater in your town, patronize it and feel lucky!  The drive in theater in my area of Indiana (Skyvue) closed in 2011 and we are fighting a vigilante battle to save it before it is torn down and it’s history lost forever.

Big screen TVs and computers are great for movie-watching. But if you want the real experience, you’re going to need a bigger screen.