At the Drive-In

I went to my first Drive-In movie last week!!! It was the Stars-and-Stripes Drive-In here in Lubbock, and it was really, really cool. Obviously, with the screens outside, movies can’t really start until the sun goes down, so when I arrived at the Drive-In, there was already a line of cars going down the feeder road. When I finally made it to the booth, I paid the high school kid and drove in the gates. There are 4 total screens at the Stars-and-Stripes theater, with their entire lot being divided into quadrants. I was at theater 1, so I pulled my truck up in front of the screen, right up next to all the other cars and trucks, and turned off the lights, and tuned the radio to FM 97.9, the station where the audio for my movie would be playing. There were tons of trucks backed up to the screen with chairs, couches, and pillows in the bed, and people were hanging out, sipping drinks. With the wine bottle opened and the sun going down, it was a fantastic atmosphere, despite headlights constantly being cast on the screen.

Of course, the actual experience at a Drive-In isn’t nearly as good as in a darkened theater with digital projection: you have to wrestle the elements if you’re in the truckbed, or the windshield if you’re in the cab. You’ve gotta worry about the lights on the dashboard in your face, and you’re car’s tendency to to kill the power to the radio to keep the battery from dying. But, despite all this it was really cool. The coolest thing? It was $6 for a double feature!!!

The first movie I saw was Fright Night. Here’s my 10-word review:

Vampires, Great Cast, Hot Girl, Decent Direction, Decent Script: Solid.

Now, the film that was playing on Screen 1 after Fright Night was Final Destination 5, but there was no way I was going to watch that, so I turned on the truck, grabbed some food, and cruised over to screen 3 to watch Conan the Barbarian!!! Here’s my Review!

Fact: Conan’s Jacked, but the script is Whack. 
Stay Back.

Yeah. But, hey, whatever.

I watched the first 15 minutes of the movie standing up in the back of the truck, with my food sitting ont he top of the cab in front of me. It was deep in the night, so the air was cool and dry, and the lights of lubbock were hazy in the distance behind the screen. It was a great moment while it lasted, but I eventually got back into the cab so I could hear the movie. With the movie starting somewhere around 10:30, the crowd had thinned out quite a bit by the time it was over, so it was easy to get out of the theater. As I cruised back towards the lights of town, with bright West Texas stars overhead, I reflected on my experience. Going to a Drive-In, out in the desert with the cool night air rolling in, is just such a classic piece of Americana, and it evokes so many iconic images, like the scenes from Grease, or the memory of my dad telling me that he and his friends used to put friends in the trunk of their car to sneak people into the theater. It’s a shame that there aren’t many Drive-Ins around anymore. I mean, i get it…with only a 4-5 hour window to show movies, and all the downsides to it, it’s not nearly as profitable as theaters, but…it’s a great experience. I’d bet working there would be the perfect summer job for a High School kid (movie idea? DING!). I’ve been saying for some time that the Movie Theater is my church, and it was a really cool experience to get worship in a new way.

But…I must admit, I won’t be seeing Moneyball at the Drive-In. I’ll be a cold, quiet, darkened theater with digital projection.

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