Drive-In Movie Memories

The weather is (Finally! Finally!) turning a corner and getting a little warmer…and movie fans know that with warmer weather, drive-in season is on its way.

That is, if you are lucky enough to live near a drive-in.

These nostalgic bulwarks standing against the easy-to-be-cynical-about multiplexing of movies have been an endangered species for decades now—but they became threatened with total extinction anew with the advent of digital projection. With studios ceasing even the production of celluloid film prints, all-digital presentation of new movies is no longer the future, but the present, and any drive-in unable to foot the bill for a digital conversion will soon have to be shuttered.

(I’m relieved that Shankweiler’s, the drive-in most convenient to me, successfully made the switch)

Let’s hear from Irv now about some of his own favorite drive-in memories:


Now share your own recollections of drive-in visits from the distant (or recent) past—and when you’re ready to hunt around your region for a drive-in to visit, go here:

  • Butch Knouse

    Here in South Dakota we lost 5 out of the 7. About the first of the year one of them was purchased by locals who are reopening. The former owner already owned the local indoor and couldn’t afford to buy 2 digital projectors. The good news is, none of the closed DIs are in areas where land is booming, so they could be reopened if the price of the projectors is lowered technology or if the ecomony experiences an ACTUAL recovery.

    • Butch Knouse

      Replying to myself, I’m happy to say in of all of the gloom and doom of last fall, all but one of the D-Is in South Dakota remained open. The four more were all in towns of 1300 to 5000. Small town America is alive and well.

  • stsparky

    John Carter of Mars!

  • Suitsme

    The last movie I remember was, “Wild in the Streets” a “seemingly ridiculous premise: an unbelievably handsome 22-year-old millionaire singing idol (Christopher Jones)–who can make his own LSD!–helps a congressman (Hal Halbrook) become senator on the platform of lowering the voting age to 15, through sheer charisma gathers thousands of youths to rally in both L.A. and D.C., eventually wins the office of U.S. President as a Republican (!) and then forces anyone over 30 into a “paradise camp” to be forever happy on LSD so that they are incapable of causing any more trouble”. I didn’t like the movie but loved the drive-in. Honestly, this was a real movie but the end for Christopher Jone’s (Ryan’s Daughter) career.

    • Tsagiglalal

      -I saw Wild in the Streets and know it was a movie…how real, one never knows.

  • linda

    I will never forget a warm night in Albuquerque when my friend’s parents and I went to the drive in to see How the West was won. We were laughing about the different scenes and in the car next to us the wife was telling the man what was happening and we were trying to listen to her and forgot to watch the movie for awhile. The places that certain scenes were filmed are no where near each other and we had seen a lot of them for real. We sure had a good time. I hate to think of all the theaters closing.

  • Carolyn Ferrante

    I remember my parents taking me and my sister quite often to those wonderful drive-in movies. Nowadays it’s too dangerous at night to even think of going to one. I remember being forced by my aunt in Massachusetts to go see “Dondi.” My favorite was with my parents: “Stalag 17.” Those were the nights!

  • Tsagiglalal

    -I will never forget my mother taking me to a double feature at The Starlite Drive-In in The Dalles OR of “The Birds” and “Psycho” when I was about 12. I’m in my 60’s now but will never forget that night.

  • Frank Petrone

    I married my childhood sweetheart, we both have great memories of going to the ‘Drive-In’. She and I lived on the same street, In West Babylon LINY. We’d go to the ‘Sunrise Drive-In’ in my first car a 1951 Mercury. On those hot summer nights, it would be bumper to bumper traffic on ‘Sunrise Highway’ the sight of those neon lights on the back of the giant screen, could be seen for a few miles on the highway. Its too bad that the kids of today won’t have that wonderful ‘Drive-In’ experience.

  • Debbie Coley

    On one of our family vacations we stayed at a hotel which had a drive-in behind it. The cool thing was that the hotel room had a large window facing the screen and one of those drive-in speakers so you could watch the movie from your room! I remember that we saw Goldfinger there.

  • MissBrendaWI

    My favorite memories of Drive-ins. Were the times my parents us (brother, sister & I) to see Disneys Love Bug (Herbie) movies, when we owned a ’67 beetle. Mom would bring paper bags of poped popcorn for all of us to share, with soda. From home. Father made a plywood bench to rest over the back seat when folded down, to give use kids a more comfortable perch, for watching the movies. And to stretch out if (when) we fell asleep.

  • DonDz

    We’re bringing Dr. Butcher MD as part of our Halloween Retro Horror Film Marathon at the Mahoning Drive-in Theater, Lehighton, PA (Eastern PA) this coming Friday and Sat. Oct. 24 and 25, also including live bands and costume contests. Dr. Butcher aka Zombie Holocaust (1980) plays with A Nightmare on Elm St. (1984). The Gates of Hell (1982). Tales from the Crypt (1972). Plus vintage shorts and cartoons All in 35 mm film! Relive your favorite drive-in memories of horror retro programs at a REAL drive-in theater and the Mahoning has one of the five largest drive-in screens in the country at 105 foot wide. Just $10 a carload.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      DonDz, thanks so much for posting this here! That is a seriously great lineup of movies(kudos on including the Cushing), and I’m nearby enough that attendance for me may be mandatory!

      • DonDz

        Excellent, George. We’ll look forward to seeing you! Please introduce yourself when you arrive. I’ll be around and look like my photo. I saw Tales from the Crypt at a drive-in theater outside of Madison, WI where I grew up as the third feature of House that Dripped Blood (another Amicus classic on Turner Classic Movies this month Oct. 28, at 3 am in the morning so may need a DVR) Ben, the Willard sequel and Tales from the Crypt. After sponsoring these drive-in retro shows these last few years, I was glad to have finally found a 35mm copy of Tales to bring back to the drive-in! Should be a fun night. Gates will open about 6 pm and we have live music and contests. Then the movies will start, with first about 20 minutes of vintage exploitation film trailers and cartoons at 7:30 pm. The owner of the Mahoning has a lot of those old concession stand commercials that will play at intermissions throughout the evening. I strive to bring back the full retro 60’s through early 80’s drive-in experience discussed in the video. Thanks again, Don Dzikowski Nostalgic Drive-in Theater Newspaper Ads on Facebook at 201-696-0083

  • Quiggy

    I spent my formative adult years (18-23) in drive-in movie heaven. Those were the years that I was an avid reader of Joe Bob Brigg’s weekly column in The Dallas Morning News and follower of his recommendations. (A note here: For those of you uninitiated to Joe Bob the writer, there are two books of his old movie reviews out there, maybe out-of-print, but check the used bookstores) I saw one of my favorite movies first @ the drive-in: “The Warriors”. It was actually the second feature, and I know longer remember what the main-billed movie was. Also saw quite a lot of pretty cheesy T & A stuff back then. Never was a real horror buff, but I did see the first Creepshow in a drive-in.