[Article] American Cinematheque’s Road Trip to the Drive-In
Let’s all go to the movies with Ghostface!
We get it. There’s a worldwide pandemic. It’s dangerous to go outside. You’re stuck inside most of the time and movie theatres aren’t open for a good reason. Hell, most things aren’t open. You hear me, AMC? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR GODDAMN MINDS? You can watch movies on streaming services, but it just doesn’t have the same burst of adrenaline as going to a rowdy screening at the American Cinematheque. Especially not after you volunteer for t-shirt gun duty.

Well, have I got some great news for you. The American Cinematheque in conjunction with the mighty Beyond Fest is doing a gonzo series of drive-in theatre nights every week. It’s on Thursday, so you don’t have to alter your important Saturday night plans to wash your hair and weep into your favorite bucket. Drive-ins, you might yell through a megaphone at me. Do those still exist? Don’t they have a funny metal speaker you have to put on your car window, you might query me via passenger pigeon? Isn’t the sound quality bad, you might question me via a biplane skywriting over Mid-Town?

Relax, I respond to you with a fiery set of letters set aflame on the side of a nearby mountain range. Drive-in theatres do indeed exist and there’s one just on the other side of the Los Angeles County line. You will technically be driving into the Inland Empire, but don’t worry, people are (mostly) friendly there. ROAD TRIP!

That’s what’s so fantastic about it. You get to go see some of your favorite genre films and take a bit of a drive too. Oo, look! Trees! Like most of us, the Cinematheque and Beyond Fest are concerned with safety, so they hit on this excellent idea to keep the People’s Republic in good spirits. Here’s the most recent double feature, The Terminator and Robocop!

[Article] American Cinematheque’s Road Trip to the Drive-In
Courtesy of The American Cinematheque
It was cyborg night recently, but they change it up frequently and it’s always a fantastic themed double feature. The shows usually sell out the same day, so, unfortunately, sales for this one are already closed. However, this bomb double feature screening series takes place at the Mission Tiki Drive-In, which never closed, even during the stay at home order, in the city of Montclair every week. Montclair is right next to Claremont, don’t question it. None of us know why that happened either.

The series started off super strong with a double feature of Mad Max: Fury Road and Death Race 2000. They got a personal introduction by the director and human God, Dr. George Miller, which was amazing and humble. There have been other intros from director Mary Lambert, producer Brian Yuzna, and everyone’s favorite Deadite hunter, Bruce Campbell. Groovy Bruce did a wondrous PSA on wearing masks and it was glorious. I am die hard about watching films in the theatre and this will go down in my personal history as one of my favorite screenings ever. The enthusiasm of the crowd was there, even in our individual cars. The sound is perfect, you just tune into the radio frequency for Mission Tiki and you can crank it as loud as you want. Pure cinematic joy.

Courtesy of The American Cinematheque

Every Wednesday, Beyond Fest drops a series of clues on their Twitter page and the tickets go on sale on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. The clues are part of a contest for free tickets and for cinephile fun. That’s all you have to do. When you arrive at the theatre, there’s a line to wait in, but that’s the hardest work that will be involved other than perhaps planning some cosplay or snacks for the evening, although the Mission Tiki does have a socially distanced snack bar. With funnel cake. For real.

Another great feature of these screenings is the special pre-show entertainment, curated by none other than James Branscome aka Cinematic Void on Twitter and Instagram. The trailers and theatre special selections are always specially chosen from the same genre as the night’s double features and include vintage snack bar ads. At last week’s Big Trouble In Little China and Enter The Dragon double, we were treated to Shaw Brothers trailers like 36 Chambers Of Shaolin and The Boxer’s Omen.

As I’ve noted in previous columns, James Branscome excels at finding and assembling clips like this and you will find new films that you have never heard of to watch later while enjoying the pre-show. He’s got a really great sense of cinematic themes and chaotic enjoyment that plays extremely well at the drive-in.

Speaking of cosplay, both the organizers and attendees have really gotten into it. At the Mad Max: Fury Road screening, there was this customized truck in attendance.

Photo Credit: @sarah_sprague

At the Evil Dead/Texas Chainsaw double, Leatherface was there to carve his way through the drive-in population.

 

At the tribute to Wes Craven double of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, you know Ghostface made an appearance. The themed trailers were a tribute to the late John Saxon.

To review, this is the entire list of screenings so far:

  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and DEATH RACE 2000
  • JAWS and TREMORS
  • EVIL DEAD and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
  • BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and ENTER THE DRAGON
  • THE LOST BOYS and FRIGHT NIGHT
  • RE-ANIMATOR and PET SEMATARY
  • ROBOCOP and THE TERMINATOR

And this week’s newly announced and sold out mega double of

POINT BREAK and TRUE ROMANCE

Beyond Fest and the American Cinematheque are also working with Grindhouse Releasing to get the very best versions of the films that they are screening. These are the details on the version of The Evil Dead that was screened a couple of weeks ago.

@BeyondFest
@BeyondFest

If humanly possible, you will see these films as the Movie Gods intended. This is something important to movie maniacs. It might not be important to everyone, but that they took the time to make sure the films are the best quality and true to the vision of the filmmakers matters. On a personal note, these screenings have been manna in the desert to me. They give me hope and something to look forward to every week. Bless the American Cinematheque, Beyond Fest, and Cinematic Void for this cinematic solace. The People’s Republic salutes you, comrades!

These are some of the delightful cinematic treats that await you at the Mission Tiki. You say you miss the movies, I say, go to the drive-in!

 

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Dolores Quintana is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles. She has written for blogs as diverse as Buddyhead, Pocho.com, and The Theatre @ Boston Court. She works as an actor in independent film and both immersive and traditional theatre with Alone: an Existential Haunting, Screenshot Productions, and Native Voices at The Autry.
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