I grew up (partially) right outside of Wildwood, NJ. Waaaaay back in the seventies there was a double drive-in theater in Rio Grand; it was aptly named the Rio Drive-In. It was great. You could go with your parents or your friends parents, sit on the top of the station wagon and if the film you were watching wasn’t your bag for the evening then all you had to do was turn around and see the rated “R” horror fest playing on the other side. Hey – that’s how I saw “JAWS” for the first time. My mother had taken me to see “Peter Pan” but what I really wanted was all of the carnage that Bruce the rubber shark could dish out, so up to the roof I went. After seeing the film I couldn’t get into the bathtub without thinking of how “a shark’s eyes are like a doll’s eyes…” I knew for a fact that that soulless fish would find a way to swim up through our pipes and devour me whole. I still check for dorsal fins before adding the bubbles.
I remember moving to Vineland in the early eighties and being very pleased that they had a drive-in too. Heck there was even one over in Bridgeton – a town not all that far from my new home. I was there for them all – to take in the splendor of the love affair between the car and the cinema. I was also there when they started to die away. The Beta Max and VCR began to take their toll. People could watch B-movies right from the comfort of their own homes now; why on earth would you want to put yourself out and go to a drive-in? My beloved Rio Drive-In was the first to succumb – it became a series of strip malls. The Delsea Drive-In in Vineland had a slow death as a porn theater before passing away into that good night (if Pee Wee Herman only knew!) and the Bridgeton Drive-In became a Shop Rite.
That’s progress. Well, for the past few years it has been re-opened and now the Delsea Drive-In Theater lives again! Gentle Reader, if you get a chance go and support them. It is New Jersey’s ONLY Drive-In Theater. It would be nice to see it stay around. I don’t know if there is a way to get it onto the national list of historical places but that’s a petition I would sign.
Here’s their web site: http://www.delseadrive-in.com/. The features change weekly so keep checking in. Bring a radio and some lawn chairs or just do it the old-fashioned way and watch from the comfort of your own car. They’ve got concessions and flushing toilets (wow!) but plan your bathroom breaks accordingly since the line can get deep just after the first movie.
So what are some great movies to see at the Drive-In? Just like the flavor of Soylent Green, it varies from person to person. I think it would be great to have “Mad Max”, “Close Encounters”, and “Night of the Living Dead “,” Twister, “Blade Runner” and, of course, “JAWS” in their repertoire but what do I know… What do you think would make a good triple feature at the Drive-In?
See you in the line for the bathroom!