Monday, July 06, 2020


This is one of two print ads that ran in Friday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times Calendar, the section of the paper devoted to the city’s arts and entertainment. The Calendar, like just about every city paper up until everyone started using the Internet to check up on movie times, locations and tickets, used to be overrun with ads for what was opening and continuing at a theater near you. And when I was a kid, I would buy the Friday and Sunday editions of the big papers- The Portland Oregonian, The San Francisco Chronicle and (if I was lucky) The New York Times— just so I could pore over the bounty of movie pages from places that seemed so far away that I would never get there myself.
But newspaper movie sections just ain’t that way anymore. So when I opened up the paper over the weekend and saw this ad, I was momentarily taken aback and kind of saddened by the paucity of the page it was on. And then it started to make me feel kinda happy because 1) “Now Playing in Drive-in Theaters!” and 2) the ad itself, which is laid out with a nod to the sort of bald exploitation that characterized almost every ad for anything that ever played in a drive-in during the ‘60s and ‘70s, when those theaters were in their prime and preparing for their decline. On top of that, the movie itself is supposed to be pretty darn good.
Seeing this just made me think of all the great and not-so-great and downright shitty movies I ever saw or dreamed of seeing in venues like this back in the day, and even recently (some friends and I enjoyed a great triple feature of Death Race 2000, Zombie and Invasion of the Bee Girls right here at a SoCal drive-in seven or eight years ago). And it just makes me happy, amidst all the sadness and horror that created the situation to begin with, that suddenly low-budget movies like this, which would now normally be known as straight-to-video shelf or streaming-stockers, have had a path cleared for them to be showcased in drive-in theaters, where their spirits, if not their intents, may well have be born. I hope Relic is still playing next weekend, because if anything could get me into my car and send me straight back to the Mission Tiki Drive-in next Saturday night it might just be this one.


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