Monday, September 19, 2005


If you were a movie-mad kid in the '60s and '70s like I was, ads like these will look very familiar and may send you off into uncontrollable daydreams of leafing through the paper and trying to take in all that there was to see. And if you were a movie-mad kid in the '60s and '70s who, like me, had to get your movie fix largely from imagining the thrills to be had from triple features like Mad Doctor of Blood Island, Blood Demon and Battle Beneath the Earth because you
A typical drive-in movie ad from
the Drive-In Gallery

lived in an isolated town and the paper you looked into every day was from a city 400 miles away (Portland, Oregon), then you'll know that staring at these ads could often, and often had to be, as good as seeing the movies themselves. (In fact, in the case of some of these pictures, your imagination probably far outstripped the actual movie.)

I would see an ad for a drive-in showing something like a triple feature of The Green Slime, Night of the Living Dead and She and know there were better, grander places beyond my hometown just waiting for me to get there, drive up to the boxoffice, lay my money down and settle in for a world of ridiculous and awesome wonders. And what's amazing is, some of these places were showing triple features made up of the likes of The Wild Bunch, The Green Berets and Cool Hand Luke. That's not cut-rate fare-- well, The Green Berets isn't a very good movie, but it was certainly positioned as one by Warner Brothers at the time. It was an epic, an event, not a B-movie horror flick or biker adventure (my own hometown drive-in, in a rare display of enthusiasm and showmanship, trumpeted it on the marquee thusly: "The Big One Is Here!") And if that triple feature in particular was running during the mid-summer months, the show wouldn't start until about 9:00 (if your projectionist was conscientious and didn't fire up the carbon arcs until dark had arrived completely). These three movies together, not factoring in intermission times, clock in at just over seven and a half hours, which means that if you wanted the biggest bang for your buck, you'd be blearily hitting the exits at around 4:00 a.m. And these triple features of Hollywood fare and cheap horror weren't one-off dusk-till-dawn novelty shows booked to stir up attention or give local car clubs a place to rev their engines all night long, as they would be today-- this was standard operating procedure for a lot of these places. How absolutely wonderful and amazing is that, in an age when exploitation pictures are the meat and potatoes of big budget Hollywood and no longer the sole province of renegades like American International Pictures, when most drive-ins can only afford bare-bones presentations of mainstream Hollywood fare if they expect to survive?

Take a gander at some more great ads at Drive-In, and other wonderful newspaper clippings of the era, walk-in and drive-in, courtesy of, and be amazed.

(If anyone knows any other places to which I can provide links that feature ads such as these, I'd really be grateful if you'd let me know.)


Anonymous said...

Well, you certainly started my workday off well--except for those expecting me to work! I went off into another world for awhile, looking at those drive-in ads...I noticed "Roy R. Sheider" in "The Curse of the Living Corpse," and looked it up on imdb...apparently it's the same grumpy Roy Scheider we know and love! Can't believe how many of those drive-in movies I've actually seen--some of them at drive-ins! The idea of all those '50s cars hooking up their "huge personal car heaters!" worries me a little, should rain or snow come along, but I guess it's a little late to worry now.

Aaron W. Graham said...

I've seen the abominable "Curse of the Living Corpse" and it IS indeed THE Roy Scheider. I think he plays the assistant to some sort of mad doctor [or I may be confusing another B movie where Burt Young had that illustrious role].

I love your drive-in posts. It's an era that i've sadly missed [born: 1983] but oddly feel nostalgic for. I've spent my fair share at drive-ins, but the feeling isn't the same whilst watching big-budget Hollywood epics instead of the product seen on most screens in the 1960's and 70's. I'm currently writing a screenplay that has its finale in a drive-in.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Yeah, guys, I could lose myself very easily staring at page after page of these ads, remembering how much fun it was (or how much fun I anticipated it would be) to see some of these films. Alas, they most often were high-quality fare like Curse of the Living Corpse or crap that Blaaagh and I saw in college like The Temptor (genuinely sick and tasteless Italian Exorcist rip-off) or Legend of the Wolf Woman (fairly unwatchable, as I recall). I do remember seeing It's Alive and It Lives Again at a Eugene drive-in with Blaaagh and having a great time, however! (That's one of many great drive-in visits!)

And thanks for the positive input on the drive-in stuff. I'm always a little wary of just how interesting these posts are or how interested anybody would really be, but whenever I mention drive-ins I always get good responses from people, and they almost always seem to be amazed that any still exist, and especially that they could actually be a good place to see a movie. I'll post a bit about taking some friends to the Mission Tiki last Saturday night in a day or so. I'm headed out to another SoCal Drive-in Movie Society meeting Saturday night, so there will be some more to talk about after that get-together, I'm sure. And Blaaagh is coming to visit at the end of October, and he's going to be here on the night we have our big meeting at the Mission Tiki to unveiling, to the TV and radio press we've invited, of the new marquee at the MT and other renovations, as well as details about our club. Big night! Hopefully some good movies to see too, but even if they're dogs, it's still fun to be at the drive-in with your best friend!

Anonymous said...

Dennis, I do believe we've seen far more dogs than good movies at drive-ins together--and I'm still crazy about going to them, especially as infrequently as I find the chance nowadays. Can't wait to go in late Oct., whatever's playing!

Machine Gun McC.: I was happy to read that you're nostalgic for drive-ins, even though you were born too late; I've always been nostalgic for the experience of going to drive-ins in the '50s,when they were new and the cool thing to do, which I missed, so I can relate.

Anonymous said...

I wish they would show movies like this! Either the weird stuff or that really sweet Wild Bunch triple feature. How about an all-Spaghetti Western night on all four screens at the Mission Tiki!! Are you listening, Mission Tiki?!? The Mission Tiki was fun to go to a movie at in any case. Great projection quality, great cheap food, and a fun atmosphere. I recommend it no matter what the movie is.

-The Mysterious (A)dri(an (b(etAmA(x

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Absolutely! And thanks for the independent verification-- the Mission Tiki is truly a wonderful find. You really can't go wrong there-- well, you could, but the fun you'd have just being there would more than offset the bummer movie (I should know-- I saw The Longest Yard there earlier this summer). Did I ever tell you about the Dollars Trilogy + Hang 'Em High drive-in dusk-till-dawn-athon that I skipped during my college days because I had to study? What the hell was I thinking? Here's to a similarly great triple feature sometime in the Mission Tiki's near future!