(….as soon as the birds leave anyway.)
For three years, cult-movie buffs have been organizing “guerrilla drive-ins” in a number of cities, rigging together a nest of digital projectors, DVD players, and radio transmitters or stereo speakers, spreading the word online, and assembling on parking lots or fields to watch obscure films beneath the stars.
They project the image onto warehouses or bridge pillars, tune their car stereos to a designated FM frequency, and sit back and enjoy the show. The only thing they do not do is ask for permission.
This sounds wonderful. Something must revive the drive-in, not least because it’s the type of viewing that best suits the majority of the big movies Hollywood turns out. You need the easy distractions and odd interface of it, the distance and the other sensory entertainments to make some of these movies, well, watchable. You can eat junk food that makes stadium theater junk food look like soycakes and have a cocktail in your car. Or outside it on a blanket.
Something is missing from our cultural life with the death of the drive-in. I saw Clash of the Titans at our own centerpiece of smalltown life when I was five. When my dad and I went to get extra snacks — (we snuck in sodas and minimal snacks in our trunk; I had no idea when I was a kid that my parents were trying to save money… I thought they were hacking the mainframe) — I got to ask him a question he still remembers with mortification: why was my cousin Anthony on the ground puking near the snack stand? Sometimes boyfriends and girlfriends fight, was the response, and I still remember my cousin’s bleach-blond girlfriend towering over him, playing the conquistador. Would this ever have happened inside a movie theater? I think not.
Just when I got old enough to loiter at the drive-in by myself on weekends, the screen blew over during a thunderstorm. Drive-ins were dying by then, movie theaters switching from showing two movies at a time to six or ten, and it wasn’t worthwhile for the owners to fix it.
Viva la warehouse viewing.