Mention the word “Drive-In” to someone over the age of 30 and you’ll most likely see a wistful, nostalgic look on their face. I grew up going to them, as did many of my friends. I wasn’t old enough to truly appreciate the experience, as I remember being annoyed that the picture on the screen was yet another Bond movie. I was a kid. James Bond didn’t interest me that much. I might have to talk to my parents and find out what other movies we saw at the drive-in. Animal House comes to mind, but I could be wrong. Darn this rusty, muddled memory of mine! Oh, that *was* 30 years ago... Ahem.
Presently, I’d love to hit these venues every weekend. There’s just nothing like it. Over the past few summers, I’ve spent a few weekends at the Midway Drive-In. I don’t get out there often because it’s quite a drive from the city, no car ownership, and the movies run so late that it’s 8am by the time you get back home. No, it’s not easy to leave early because these are fantastic horror movies under the stars from dusk ’til dawn! Can’t and won’t betray horror cinema! It’s a blast and a tradition that would break endless hearts if the place were to ever close its doors. As you can see by the top feature photo, their newly renovated concessions area is top-notch. I like to just hang out inside and chat with the owners, Mike and Mia Kerz. They’re extremely nice people who are huge fans of horror movies, proof being the fact that they own and manage Flashback Weekend Horror Con! They went out of their way to make sure this drive-in continues as a main attraction, and it’s had successful events with genre celebrity guests. Last year, I saw Chillerama with directors Tim Sullivan, Adam Rifkin, and star Anton Troy in person, as well as a 35mm print of 2,001 Maniacs, The Howling, and Blood Diner. Did I mention the screen is 90 feet across?!?
Here’s the problem. We need to save it.
Similar to many movie theaters as of late, drive-ins are also just as sorely affected by the movie industry’s switch to digital projection. It’s gotten to the point where 2012 may be the last year they can run 35mm prints of first-run films. Unfortunately, the conversion is not a choice, but a mandated requirement. How much? Oh, just a little pocket change in the amount of $125,000!!
There is a Kickstarter page for Saving the Midway Drive-In, which you may access HERE. Despite the high cost needed, they are only asking for $40,000.
Come out and support the Midway on Saturday, August 25th! Planet of the Apes (1968) screens around 8:15pm and Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) will follow. Adults $7.50. Children ages 3-11 get in for $4, and kids 2 years or younger get in FREE!
I leave you with a photo that I’m very proud of capturing. The Midway is between Sterling and Dixon, Illinois. Every time I’ve gone, we’ve come across this amazing street sign. What other drive-ins do you know that you can get to only once you pass Bloody Gulch Road?? Obviously, the Midway must stay, for street cred’s sake alone! Hey, did I mention they have bat houses there?