Friday, August 30, 2013

2013 Drive-In Super Monster-Rama

The 2013 edition of the annual Drive-In Super Monster-Rama is only one week away.  It takes place Friday, September 6th and Saturday, September 7th.  While it would have been nice to get the word about this awesome show out earlier, I guess late is better than never.  After thoroughly enjoying the 2010 and 2011 Monster-Ramas I had to miss out on last year's show due to moving into a new city and all the craziness that accompanies that.  Luckily the schedule should permit me to once again make the long trip down to Pennsylvania for this year's show.  And what a show it promises to be!

Let's start with a little background information for those who might not be familiar with everything that a Drive-In Super Monster-Rama entails.  Back in 2007 drive-in enthusiast George Reis from the website DVD Drive-In partnered with the Riverside Drive-In in Vandergrift, PA to launch what would become a very cool and very successful series of retro drive-in shows.  The Drive-In Super Monster-Rama takes place over two nights on the weekend after Labor Day.

George Reis of DVD Drive-In
Each night four (FOUR) classic horror movies from the 1960s and 70s (the type that would have been likely to have been seen on hundreds of drive-in screens across the U.S. in the 60s and 70s) are featured.  A total of eight movies are shown over the course of the two nights.  The fun starts at dusk and runs well into the morning hours of the following day (expect each "night" to end around 4:00 in the morning).  While that might sound like reason enough to go to the show, there's actually a LOT more to it than that.  Before and after the movies the giant Riverside screen continues to entertain with tons of classic drive-in intermission material.  There are vintage intermission ads from the 1950s through the 1970s, cartoons, live-action shorts (usually The Three Stooges) and an amazing number of trailers for loads of movies similar in theme to the ones being screened during the show!  And, in what could be the best bit of news for anyone who's a big fan of this kind of programming, it's very important to mention that every single bit of entertainment projected onto the screen during the show is on 35mm film!  It would actually be pretty easy to put on a show like this with a DVD projector, a bunch of DVDs and some time on a computer splicing together a bunch of videos of trailers and intermission ads.  Instead, George hand picks prints of these old classics from suppliers around the world to showcase at the event.  The intermission ads, trailers and shorts shown between the movies are film-based too.  All the work putting the show together and making it happen year after year is truly a labor of love for George and the folks at the Riverside.  And for fans of old horror movies and drive-ins it's truly a wonderful thing to know that someone cares enough to put on a show like this.  It's the closest you can get to taking a trip back in time to experience what it was like going to an all-night drive-in horror show from the past!  Keep in mind that all this authentic drive-in entertainment is being shown at an authentic, honest-to-goodness, operating drive-in--a rare commodity these days (and one that's sure to become even more rare with the imminent conversion from film to expensive digital projectors mandated by Hollywood that surely has many drive-in owners feeling it would be easier to simply lock the gates and sell their land than to spend tens of thousands of dollars on new equipment that they really shouldn't need in the first place...but I digress).

Here's a look at some of the highlights from the
2011 Drive-In Super Monster-Rama

The Riverside's projector and film platters
ready to spool out lots of film-based fun

The crowds mingle and wait for the show to get underway

Classic drive-in ads for PIC and Chilly Dilly pickles

The ads are interspersed with loads of trailers
for great (and not-so-great) old horror movies

Plenty of intermission ads throughout the night
featuring a wide variety of food and drink

A couple classic cartoon shorts are always mixed in...

...As well as a couple Three Stooges shorts

But don't forget the Main Event:
eight movies over two nights!

The Riverside traditionally has closed after the Labor Day weekend, but has been remaining open one final weekend over these past seven years to accommodate the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama.  This means that patrons can enjoy all kinds of standard and not-so-standard drive-in food to go along with their classic drive-in entertainment.  In addition to the food, the snack bar continues the retro feel with it's old-school Pepsi machine, vintage pinball machines and nostalgic wall decorations.  As if all that STILL weren't enough, Ron and the fine folks at Creepy Classics and Monster Bash have been setting up shop in the snack bar for most of the run of the show.  They sell thousands of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, as well as t-shirts, posters, toys, models and magazines.  If one was to somehow get bored of watching all the action on the screen, they could go to the snack bar, get a few things to munch on, play a game of pinball and peruse the boxes upon boxes filled with DVDs.  You also get many chances to chat with lots of like-minded fellow drive-in fans from all over the country.

Some of the expected and not-so-expected
menu choices at the Riverside's snack bar

So, how much does all this entertainment cost?  Well, considering all the time, effort and cost of acquiring the eight movies (and all the other stuff projected over the two nights) admission is a pretty paltry price.  It only costs ten dollars per person per night.  That's twenty bucks if you want to attend both nights.  This is the price that was in effect for the first Monster-Rama and George and the Riverside have managed to keep it at that level all along.  Knowing that some people are strapped for cash, the Riverside gives yet another incentive for film buffs to make the trip from all across the country; if you really want to go, but don't think you'll be able to afford the trip because of lodging fees, the Riverside allows people to camp out at the drive-in for just another ten dollars per night.  That price includes breakfast in the morning.  With all that it's kind of hard to think of a reason NOT to go to the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama.

I guess all this brings us to 2013 and the seventh Drive-In Super Monster-Rama.  This year's show has a theme--the Peter Cushing Centenary Celebration.  To celebrate Peter Cushing's 100th birthday the Monster-Rama will feature eight movies that he appears in.  On Friday, September 6th the movies will be:

And the second night, Saturday, September 7th will feature four more:


ASYLUM (1972)


As usual, it's a great line-up of movies.  I have to say that I'm particularly happy to see that "Shock Waves" will be rounding out the show as the last movie.  Not only is it "The Greatest Nazi-Zombie Movie Ever Made" (in my humble opinion), but it's also a film I've loved since it scared the crap out of me when it was shown on Boston-area TV back in the early 1980s.

One of the many trailers shown at the 2011 Monster-Rama was for the film "Madhouse", which will be the first film featured on the second night of this year's show!
Here's some screen shots of that trailer:

It should be a great weekend for fans of Peter Cushing, horror, drive-ins, and movies in general.  There is the real possibility that this could very well be the last Drive-In Super Monster-Rama--not because George and the Riverside don't want to continue to put them on, but because the Riverside is one of the drive-ins that is facing the problem of being forced to make the switchover to digital or shut down when film-based movies will cease to be made available by Hollywood.  They want to make the switchover and have been trying to raise the funds.  But those funds are pretty astronomical for a business model that doesn't exactly rake in the dough even when things are going very well.  They have promised that, if they are able to continue operating, they will retain their film projector so that Drive-In Super Monster-Rama shows can continue to honor the past well into the future.

Here's a video preview of  the 2013 Drive-In Super Monster-Rama



  1. I made it to the April Ghoul o Rama earlier this year, meaning I will not be making it back for this go round.(Too far and too much $$$ to do it twice.) I do hope the Riverside gets their digital projector. Would love to return to this again. Great event, great venue, have a blast!

  2. Time to strap yourself into the time machine for a Magical Mystery Tour back to the glorious days of drive-in horror marathon shows of the 1960's and 1970's. Believe it or not, these type of shows used to be quite commonplace at drive-in theaters throughout the country, when drive-ins were as commonplace as the, well, err, Walmart, Home Depot and other Bland Retail Nothingness sitting on the same sites today. (Too bad we cannot apply the advice of David Byrne and the Talking Heads with the Pizza Huts now covered in a field of daisies). Many of us still remember. And this significant piece of historic, roadside Americana lives on each first weekend of September at the Riverside Drive-in in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania.

  3. Nice summary of the event, and, as always, I CAN'T WAIT to hit the road and head on down to the Riverside!

  4. Nice write up Glen. Have to agree with you on SHOCK WAVES, I've been waiting a couple years for it to show up.

    See you there!

  5. I'm not a big fan of horror flicks, but this drive-in movie fest sounds like a fantastically fun time. And your blog post brought back some great memories of my younger days--especially the intermission ads for the concessions and the cartoons between the movies. And PINBALL! I hope this venue stays in business for many years to come so that future generations can find out what fun is really like. ;-) And I'd like to try a "Haluski?" I thought living in the NY metro area I'd heard of every food out there, but this is a new one on me! Thanks for sharing this entertaining story. Hope you get there and have a BLAST!

  6. Sadly it was time for Evel Knievel pinball to leave us as I just didn't want to put anymore restoration time into it. We had a Night Rider (Trucking) pinball machine in the spring but sold it because it was a low scorer. Our two machines this season were Lost World and Meteor. Next year look for a Silverball Mania machine to take up residence.

  7. We all had a BLAST at Monster-rama this year! Can't wait to see your photojournalistic rendition of what went on at the Riverside this time out.

    LOVED those Evel Knievel and Night Rider pinball machines. Sorry to see them go, but I did have a great time playing several rounds of Meteor this year. Vintage pinball is one of the many things I look forward to at Monster-rama every year!