Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Drive-In theaters

Tuesday June 6, 1933
The first Drive-In Theater opens!
Showing "Wife Beware"
Yes, that was the name of the first movie shown at the very first drive-in. 'Wife Beware' was the story of a woman who marries O.J. SIMPSON. Ha ha ha ha! Wow, I should write for Leno. He would love that joke.

Hey Leno, I have some more jokes for you:

The concession stand workers were great at the first drive-in. Today, they are not as great. I went to a concession stand, and the worker spilled my pop corn and my soda. Finally, I said 'listen former vice president DAN QUALE, stop spilling things.'

Oh, Jay will love that! Here's one more:

At the gate of the first drive-in they issued paper tickets. I hope there were no HANGING CHADS!

Yes, That should make Jay very happy.

Now, back to the drive-in.

The First Drive-In Theater was invented by Richard M. Hollingshead.

Hollingshead wanted to create a way for families to attend movies without the hassle of getting dressed up. In the 1930s it was common for people to wear their 'Sunday best' to the movies EVEN if it was a Tuesday. As movies became more popular, the clothes were worn more and more. By the time Sunday rolled around, the clothes smelled and needed to be cleaned.
Hollingshead envisioned a theater outside, where people didn't have to wear smelly clothes. Plus, he figured if you had to watch from INSIDE the car it would be very hard for others to smell you.

Hollingshead tested his concept by hanging a sheet on his property and putting a projector on top of his car.

Thus, the drive-in was born! In the 1950s, America fell in love with their cars and the drive in became even more popular.

As the 1970s approached families stopped coming to the drive-in. Instead, the drive-ins specialized in seedy horror films and other trashy films.

By 1980, things had gotten very bad at the drive-in. Attendance was way down and inventions like VCRS, Cable TV and transforming toy robots added to the decline of patrons.

In the 1990s the amount of drive-ins closing slows down. Many drive-ins reopen and some new ones are built.

Today there are about 435 drive-in screens remaining. This is a far cry from the peak, of close to 4000. Still, in the past 15 years about 50 theaters have reopened and about 30 have been built.

Let's take a look at three of them:

Shankweiler's Drive-In Theatre
Orefield PA
Second Drive-In Built & Oldest Existing Drive-In Theatre in America. Opened 4/15/34. You enter from the front of the theater, next to the screen. They still have the old fashioned drive-in speakers at Shakweilers. If you'd rather you can listen to the movie on your car radio. The screen is pretty big, and the concession stand prices are very low. The theater is only open in the summer. Shankweiler's has a lot of charm, plus it is cool to see the oldest ANYTHING. Except naked man, it would not be cool to see the oldest naked man.
Tickets are $5 for a double feature.

Vineland Drive-In Theatre
La Puente, CA
Quite possibly the best drive-in theater ANYWHERE. Located less than a half hour from the heart of fabulous Los Angeles, California, Vineland boasts 4 screens and truly state of the art picture and sound. The screens are large and picture is brighter than most drive-ins.
Tickets are $7 for a double feature.

Delsea Drive-In
Vineland, NJ
Not affiliated with the Vineland theater and that is a shame. This theater re-opened after a decade of sitting vacant, and looks like... it just spent a decade of sitting vacant. The concession stand has not been built yet, so a small cart serves up SOME food, and port-a-johns replace a functioning bathroom.
Let's hope the oldest naked man is not in there.
Tickets are $6 for a double feature.

Throughout the years filmmakers have used drive-ins as settings for films. Let's look at three of those, too:

Boris Karloff plays a retiring horror movie actor decides to make a final public appearance at a drive-in. That night, a serial killer goes on a shooting spree at the drive-in.

Drive-In Massacre
A killer stalks his victims at a drive-in. The film ends with a voice over telling you the killer is in 'this drive-in.' This effect doesn't work very well on home video.
The credits boast some very silly names. It was directed by Stu Segall, written by George 'Buck' Flower and John F. Goff. It starred Newton Naushaus, Douglas Gudbye and Norman Sherlock. I don't have a punch line or anything. Those are just funny names.

Dead End Drive-in
This takes place in the future when the Government rounds up all the young people and makes us live in a drive-in.

Man, I can't wait for that day!


  1. How about a Taco Bell stand at the drive in?

  2. A Taco Bell stand would be a good idea ANYWHERE!

  3. Anonymous8/31/2004

    I had no IDEA there were still drive ins!

  4. Dude, you HAVE to got to the Drive In church and send a report!