The 2011 edition of the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama at the Riverside Drive-In in North Vandergrift, PA is rapidly approaching. It's coming up on Friday, September 9th and Saturday, September 10th. While the movies were announced a while back, I kind of thought I had plenty of time to report on the show. All of a sudden it's only a mere two months away! Just like a schlocky monster or psycho killer in a cheesy 1960s drive-in B-movie, the Monster-Rama has crept up on me and pounced. Suddenly I'm scrambling to make sure that I'll be able to go to this awesome show.
2011 marks the fifth year of the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama. It's a nice little anniversary and it shows how this event is quickly growing into an institution for drive-in movie fans across the country. The majority of the audience seems to come from Pennsylvania, but plenty of people make the effort to plan ahead so they can make the long drive from all over the place. Last year was the first time I've been lucky enough to make it there. I live in Massachusetts, so it's not the easiest thing to arrange a trip like this. I hitched a ride with some friends (and Monster-Rama veterans) who were coming from even further away than myself (New Hampshire). It's definitely worth the effort if you can possibly make it happen. There simply aren't a lot of drive-ins putting on this kind of a nostalgic retro-show these days. Of course, there aren't a lot of drive-in theaters even still in business these days at all compared to the time the movies featured in the Monster-Rama first made the rounds in the 1960s and 70s. All the more reason to make a pilgrimage to this show.
So what is the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama anyway? Well George Reis and the folks at DVD Drive-In have been putting the show together the past five years, and the good people of the Riverside Drive-In make their theater available for it each year. The drive-in normally ends its season after Labor Day weekend. They stay open for one more week for the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama. While it's a labor of love more than a money-making venture for either party, the relationship works out very well for everyone (including the drive-in and movie fans who go to the show).
Over two nights in September (Friday, September 8 and Saturday, September 9 this year) eight movies are screened at the Riverside. Yes, you read that right--EIGHT movies. Four films are shown each night, along with a whole slew of other entertainment. There are cartoons and shorts between the movies, along with lots of nostalgic old drive-in intermission ads and tons of great (and sometimes rare) trailers for all kinds of movies that would have been shown at drive-ins in the 1960s and 70s. The trailers are heavy on horror and monsters of course, but you're also likely to see biker movies, beach movies and some random surprises that you might not have expected--just to keep you on your toes!
Four movies in a single night (along with all that other ancillary entertainment) makes for a looooong night. Luckily, there are other things to do if you feel the need to get up and stretch your legs. Many people have become regulars at the Monster-Rama and there is a lot of visiting between cars with people catching up and discussing drive-ins and movies. The Riverside's snack bar also remains open throughout the entire show--meaning you can snack on all kinds of drive-in fare whenever you feel the need. Along with the usual popcorn, candy, nachos, hamburgers and hot dogs, the Riverside also features french fries, pizza, chicken sandwiches and many other goodies. There's enough variety that you can eat different stuff all throughout both nights of the show. Here's the Riverside's menu to give you a better idea of what they have to offer:
There is another reason to go to the snack bar besides food though. Creepy Classics also sets up shop in the building with tables filled with books, magazines, posters, T-shirts, toys and more DVDs than you can shake a stick at! It seems to take all of both nights to get through all of the dozens of boxes of DVDs they have stacked up on the tables. The titles range from common stuff you can find in most stores to very rare stuff you'd have a tough time tracking down anywhere else. ...Oh yeah, the Riverside also has a couple cool vintage pinball machines that really complete the whole retro vibe.
So how much does all this fun and entertainment cost? Well, the organizers realize that many people are traveling a good distance to get to the show so they try to keep the price down. Tickets are only ten dollars a person per night. That works out to only $2.50 per movie, not including all the rest of the filmed entertainment you'll see up on the giant screen. Like I said, they're more interested in putting on a good show and trying to establish a nice following than making money off the event. It's not a cheap show to put on either. Everything that is projected on the screen (not only the movies but also the short subjects, intermission and drive-in ads and all the trailers) is coming from 35mm film stock. It would be incredibly easy (and a lot cheaper) to simply project an image from a DVD, but these people are film fans who take their movies seriously. They wouldn't want to see a DVD projected on the screen, and they wouldn't ask people to drive hundreds of miles to go to a drive-in to watch DVDs projected onto a big screen. Nope, everything you'll see at a Drive-In Super Monster-Rama is projected the same as it would have been back in the 1960s/70s heyday of drive-in horror shows like this. It's a very nice touch--and the show wouldn't be nearly as special without it.
So what are the movies that will be featured at this year's Drive-In Super Monster-Rama? Well, the films that will be shown on the first night (Friday, September 9) are:
Boris Karloff in Black Sabbath (1963)
Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Barbara Steele in Castle of Blood (1964)
Island of the Doomed (1967)
And the second night of the show (Saturday, September 10) will feature the following movies:
Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Price again in Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in I, Monster (1971)
For me personally this is a great lineup. I've seen (or at least remember seeing) exactly half of the eight movies (the first two of each night). This gives me a great variety of films I'm familiar with and enjoy, as well as some "new" stuff that I will be experiencing for the first time. And I'll be able to experience ALL of them as they were originally intended to be seen--on the big screen. The four movies I have already seen were all watched on DVD, so it will be a whole new ballgame seeing them up on the Riverside's giant screen.
I should also mention that the Riverside offers overnight camping at the drive-in for both nights of the show for only ten dollars per night. Not only would it be a very cool thing to be able to say you camped out at a drive-in, it's also another money-saving perk for those coming from a long distance who already have to worry about paying for all that gas. If spending the money on a decent hotel/motel for your stay is a deal breaker, then it might be worth looking into the Riverside's camping offer. See the website for the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama 2011 for more details.
I'm tentatively planning on going to the Monster-Rama again this year. If it all comes together and I do indeed get to go, I'm hoping to see a lot of returning fans as well as a bunch of new people experiencing the fun and frights that a Monster-Rama offers for the very first time (as I did myself last year). It's simply a great time, and if you are a fan of old movies like these and/or a fan of drive-ins then it really is a must.
For a more detailed look at what a Drive-In Super Monster-Rama entails, please check out my three-part look back at last year's (2010) show:
This one gives a general overview of the whole event
A detailed look at what was onscreen during the first night of the show
A look at the second night (which was dampened a bit last year by rain)
And, here's a promotional video about this year's show:
Like the song says, See You in September!