Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Crazy Kids at the Drive In Movies

The year must have been about 1969. I was eighteen and a fan of monster movies (and westerns, but mainly monster movies!) and so was my best friend Steve. Steve was more than a friend. A couple of years younger than me, his brother had married my sister. And his sister was divorced from the man who married my other sister (!), so we had some family connections. Steve was a big fan of monster movies and monster magazines too. We'd trade Famous Monsters back and forth, covet each other's rare copies of Castle of Frankenstein, Monster Mania. It's a good bet that most of our money was spent on either monster mags or going to see monster movies.
So when we saw an all-night horror movie marathon at a local drive-in, we just had to go! Well, it wasn't TOO local, it was in Petaluma, eighteen miles south, but close enough! We were both big fans of Hammer Films of England, and this show was to be five big hits from Amicus, a studio which had borrowed Hammer's formula to good success. The movies were THE PSYCHOPATH, THE SKULL, THE DEADLY BEES, DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS, and I forget the other one, because we didn't get to see it. You see, we had no car. No access to a car, either. Everybody was either disinterested, busy, or laughed in our faces when we asked to borrow a vehicle. Finally I said, "Screw it, we'll take the motorcycle!"
Steve looked nervous. I had a spindly old Honda 90 with lots of miles on it. But we really wanted to see these movies, so we set out soon after dark and finally got to Petaluma an hour later. The Honda wasn't big enugh to go on the freeway, so we had to take back roads, and by the time we got there the first feature had already shown, which is why I can't recall it, and THE PSYCHOPATH was on. We paid, found a spot and put the bike on its center stand. We draped the speaker from the handlebars, and settled down with our backs on the bike.
And the movies were great. Particularly THE SKULL and DR. TERROR. They almost made the whole thing worth while. THE DEADLY BEES, ehh. We liked the scenes of the girl in her bra swatting at bees with her shirt. About the time she was bending over to swat some bees right in the camera's face, the Honda tipped over backwards. The speaker stretched out as far as it could, then recoiled and banged off the door of the car next to us. I peeked over to see if there were big guys in the car who would presently come out and beat on us for awhile, but luckily it was a just a family who were cowering against the far window! So we picked up the bike and finished watching the flicks. Then we had to drive home.
It was summer, but in northern Caifornia, the days are hot, the nights are cold. We hadn't realized this. I had a windbreaker, no gloves, no helmet (these were the good old days!). To say I froze on the ride home is putting it mildly. I was pre-beard, but if I'd had a beard I'd've been combing icicles out of it. Steve huddled behind me sniveling and it was the longest ride of my life. I just wish we had drive-ins nowdays, although in my maturity I'm much too smart to go to an all-night monster movie marathon. Three movies would be about my limit.


  1. Great post Brian. Drive-Ins, pre-teen and teenage years, are one of the best memories of my youth. Sitting in the car or on the car didn't matter. Listening to a soundtrack from a speaker worse then any transistor radio you ever owned and smelling popcorn, pizza and other delights from the snack bar will never be forgotten. Later it became the place to take my girlfriend and we would usually watch one feature and make-out during the second. Of course today cell phones would be going off and guys would set there boom boxes up the speakers and you'd be able to hear the film 5 miles away.

  2. I like the sound of 'The Deadly Bees'. It's up there with 'Sartana is coming, trade your pistol for a coffin'. If I've got that right. XD

  3. Always enjoy reading your blogs, amigo!
    They are truly great!
    Gonna miss having you around in Tombstone next month.....