Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012 Drive-In Super Monster-Rama

Well, it's finally happened.  The line-up for this year's edition of the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama has been announced!  What is the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama you ask?  Well if you don't know then here's some background information.

2011 Drive-In Super Monster-Rama marquee
A great retro-styled teaser ad for this year's show from
Nostalgic Drive-In Theater Newspaper Ads

Now in it's 6th year, the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama is simply one of the greatest retro-drive-in shows around.  Over the course of two nights (the Friday and Saturday after Labor Day in September) a total of EIGHT classic drive-in movies from the 1960s and 70s are shown on the big screen at the Riverside Drive-In in North Vandergrift, Pennsylvania.  That's four movies each night!  The show is put on by DVD Drive-In's George Reis--the driving force behind the show.  Admission is only ten dollars per person per night (that's only $2.50 per movie if you're counting!).  You can conserve even more money by taking advantage of the Riverside's offer to camp out at the drive-in for another ten bucks per night!  The Riverside Drive-In has been a great host for this show throughout its run.  They usually close for the season after the Labor Day weekend.  By making themselves available for this mega-show they get a chance to remain open for one last weekend of nostalgic drive-in fun.

So what exactly makes this show so special?  Well if the eight horror movies over two nights aren't enough there are many other reasons as well.  First off, George Reis acquires only 35mm film prints for the show.  It would be a LOT easier and more cost effective to simply throw a movie into a DVD player and project that onto the screen.  Any real movie fan can appreciate how much better it is to know that what you are watching is not only something that would have been seen at a dusk-to-dawn drive-in shock fest back in the 1960s or 70s, but also that it is being projected on the screen in the same way that it would have back then as well.

The Riverside's projector

And some of the 35mm film ready to roll

Here's the list of movies that will be featured at this year's show:

NIGHT ONE--Friday September 7th 

Horror House (1969)

Equinox (1970)

Son of Blob (1972)

NIGHT TWO--Saturday September 8th

Raw Meat (1973)

Psychomania (1973)

As if all that weren't enough, the movies aren't the only thing that you'll see up on the Riverside's giant screen at a Drive-In Super Monster-Rama show.  In addition to those eight films there are also tons of great trailers for all kinds of horror, exploitation and monster movies from around the same period.  Plus there are also many classic drive-in intermission ads before and after the features.  And there are always a few short subjects between the movies too (past shows have had Three Stooges shorts and cartoons like The Pink Panther and Mr. Magoo--just to name a few).  It's two nights (and early mornings) chock full of all kinds of celluloid entertainment.  And of course all of these elements are also projected on the screen via 35mm film stock, just like the main features!

Here are just a few of the trailers from last year's show:

And some images from the intermission ads:

And one of the shorts from last year

Being an active drive-in means that the Riverside also has an extensive snack bar menu filled with all kinds of great drive-in food choices (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, french fries, popcorn, candy, soda, and on and on...).  Just check out their menu to see it all:

There are always a few surprise items on the menu too!
The snack bar also features a couple great old pinball machines!

Still not convinced that  the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama is for you?  Well, if you're a fan of drive-ins and these kinds of movies then it really is about as good as it gets.  You get to enjoy all this great nostalgic drive-in fun at an actual operating drive-in and mingle with other fans who have come from all over the country to experience it.  Not only that, but the good folks from Creepy Classics and Monster Bash also set up shop in the snack bar with boxes and boxes filled with hundreds of DVDs for sale.  They also have t-shirts, posters, magazines, books, toys and other wares available.

Of course just being able to watch these kinds of movies in an actual drive-in setting is pretty special in itself--especially these days.  Drive-ins are becoming more and more rare every year.  The steady and unfortunate decline that has been occurring for decades is now about to be sped up due to Hollywood's move to replace film-based movies with digital versions.  It's not a huge problem for the big megaplexes, but for small independent theaters (including drive-ins) the cost of buying one of the new digital projectors to be able to show these movies--not to mention retrofitting the projection booth to accommodate the new technology--is prohibitive.  Many of these places barely get by as it is, and they will simply have to close if they can't afford to follow Hollywood's orders.  There are a couple of very important reasons to make the effort to get to the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama this year if you've always wanted to go but have never been able to make it in the past.  First off--and to be blunt--the Riverside Drive-In might not even be open next year.  As far as I know they haven't made a decision yet as to whether they will go digital or not.  If they don't then 2012 will most likely be the Riverside's last season.  Even if they do manage to find a way to afford the digital upgrade, the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama could still be in its final year there.  This is because of the fact that the show uses 35mm film prints for all of its movies, trailers, shorts and drive-in intermission ads.  If remaining drive-ins are forced to go digital the Monster-Rama will not be able to find a home.  I certainly hope to see a seventh Drive-In Super Monster-Rama in 2013, but it's far from a certainty at this point.

For more on the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama and a closer look at what it's all about, here are my previous blogs looking at the 2010 and 2011 editions of the show:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Men in Black 3" and Weekly World News: Best Movie Promotion Ever?

In all the excitement about the much anticipated recent opening of "The Avengers" I almost forgot about another sure-fire summer 2012 blockbuster that's going to hit the screens soon.  "Men in Black 3" looks like it will be pretty good from what I've seen so far.  I remember really enjoying the first "Men in Black" (1997) when it came out.  That was during Will Smith's reign as Summer Box Office King.  Five years later "Men in Black II" (MIIB) (2002) came out.  It was pretty good, but seemed to suffer from a case of sequel-itis.  It's now been ten years since "MIIB".  This one will hopefully be worth the wait.

I was reminded about "MIB3" when I went to see a late-night screening of "The Three Stooges" on May 3rd--the night before "The Avengers" was released.  I forgot that there would be midnight screenings of it on the third though.  When I got out of the practically empty theater after watching the new Stooges around 11:45 I was surprised to see hundreds of folks milling about the lobby waiting for "The Avengers".  This was obviously the height of Avengers-Mania, but it was also the night that I was reminded that "Men in Black 3" would be coming out soon too.  It wasn't because I saw a trailer for the movie before "The Three Stooges" (I didn't).  Considering that "MIB3" will be out in just over a week I'm kind of surprised at how relatively low-key the promotion for it has been lately.  In this case it was a little bit of physical promotional material (as opposed to film-, TV- or web-based) that reminded me about the movie as I left that night.

It's not unusual to find various mini movie posters for upcoming releases out on the lobby counter that you can take on your way out of the movies.  I'll always grab one if it's for a film I'm interested in.  The "Men in Black 3" promo wasn't a poster though.  It was a copy of the tabloid magazine Weekly World News that featured articles and ads that are related to the movie.  I was surprised to discover that it was more than a promotional cover containing a page or two with info about the film.  Instead it is actually 32 (THIRTY-TWO) pages long!  There's a black and white poster for the movie on the back cover, but that's really the only thing that is an obvious direct ad for the film.

Front cover

Back cover--with MIB3 ad

The inside of the publication is filled with a number of stories that probably relate to the movie in one way or another.  There are also some ads sprinkled throughout for fictional products and companies--as well as some for Weekly World News products available online.  One of the few "real" ads is actually a clever full-page "article" about "Spikey Bulba" being found at a Dunkin' Donuts.  It's a pretty cool way to advertise without having to put a "real" ad in the fake magazine.  I've got a feeling that reading these "articles" will actually add to the enjoyment of watching "Men in Black 3" when I recognize references to some of them in the movie.

Here's a look at some of the magazine's contents:

An actual ad for some WWN stuff

Another Weekly World News ad

Here's the Dunkin' Donuts "story" mentioned above

Here's an "Undercover Black Cocoa Creme Donut"
...What can I say?  Advertising works.  Yum!

I LOVE the fact that this ad includes a phone number
but NO website--just like what would have been seen
in the WWN back in the 80s!
It's obvious that a lot of time and effort (as well as a few bucks I'm sure) went into making this movie promotional material.  It would have been a lot easier to simply hand out scaled down mini versions of the official movie poster.  But beyond the "thinking outside of the box" aspect of this piece, it might not seem all that great.  So why do I suggest in the title that it just might be the "Best Movie Promotion Ever"?  Well, you might need to be a person of a "certain age" to understand.  First off, I should mention that there used to be an actual Weekly World News publication that shared magazine rack space with such tabloid titles as the National Enquirer, Star and The Globe.  They were all similar in some ways, but the others focused much more on celebrity gossip while the Weekly World News was all about fantastic stories in the "real" world.  The magazine still has an online presence, but stopped publishing a paper edition in 2007.

Here are a few of my old issues of WWN from 1987-1989 still in my possession

According to Wikipedia, the Weekly World News started printing in 1979.  I would have been nine or ten at the time.  Back then there were precious few outlets for information about things strange phenomenon and unsolved mysteries.  This was a time long before The Internet.  The Weekly World News wasn't exactly a reputable news source, but it did feature stories on subjects like Bigfoot, UFOs, The Loch Ness Monster, Ghosts and anything else a Monster Kid might be interested in.  It was a great way for me to keep informed on the latest "news" about these subjects.  Because of this I had a strong affinity for it in spite of it's tabloid nature.  It was my best source for offbeat "news".  To see the magazine revived in such a complete way just to be used as promotional material for "Men in Black 3" was simply awesome to see for an old geek like me!  And it's a perfect match to pair the two together.

Here's a comparison of the new MIB issue and an old issue from the 1980s