Jun 27, 2021

Drive-In Apocalypse

Exhumed FilmsDrive-In Apocalypse
Mahoning Drive-In - Lehighton, PA
In a matter of seven weeks, I went from barely knowing about the Mahoning Drive-In to it becoming one of my favorite places in the world.  Last night was Night Two of the Drive-In Apocalypse weekend, hosted by a group of very cool folks out of Philly called Exhumed Films.  They were showing three classic apocalypse-themed horror flicks on the original 35mm film.

As always, they had something fun at the concession stand that was themed after one of the movies.  This time, it was the Death Float 2000 - a root beer float made with either chocolate or vanilla ice cream served inside a Mahoning Drive-In plastic mug.  Very refreshing for a hot summer night at the drive-in.

While I was picking up my root beer float, I stopped into the projection room.  The folks who run this place are super cool and let people stop in for a look at the film and the equipment.  I don't want to get in the way, so I only stayed for a minute or two, but they were kind enough to let me take a few pictures.  This is part of the film reel for Death Race 2000.  They showed a print that had Swedish subtitles because it had a lot better color than the one without the subs.

Before each movie, they showed vintage trailers from other dystopian apocalyptic movies, including Rollerball, Deathsport, The Warrior And The Sorceress, Twilight Of The Cockroaches, The Dungeonmaster, Heavy Metal and Parasite, among others.  They also had vintage intermission countdown reels from the 50's and 60's between the movies.  It was incredible.  The effort and care that they put into creating the perfect drive-in atmosphere really is amazing.

The first movie of the night was the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger dystopian action classic - The Running Man.  I've read the Stephen King novel before, but this was my first time seeing the movie.  To say that it's based on the book is a bit of a stretch.  The movie has almost nothing to do with the book at all, but this is one of those times where it works perfectly.  I like the book, but I think the movie is even better.  It's over-the-top in all the right ways and chock full of horribly awesome puns at the end of every death scene.  It has Richard Dawson from Family Feud dropping f-bombs.  It has Professor Toru Tanaka and Jesse "The Body" Ventura from the WWF, both of whom have facial expressions that are pure gold for every second that they're on the screen.  It also includes characters played by Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa.  I'm not sure how this slipped under my radar for all these years, but getting to see it for the very first time at the drive-in was amazing!

My friend Liz introduced me to Death Race 2000 in the late 90's.  It was one of her all-time favorites, so we rented it one night and I was immediately hooked.  I know I keep saying this, but I never in a million years imagined that I'd get to see it at the drive-in, but I'm so glad that I did.  If you've never seen it before, do yourself a favor - skip the remakes and go for the original.  It's a surreal, almost comic book style world featuring a young, pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone as "Machine Gun" Joe Viterbo and David Carradine as the two-time Death Race winner, Frankenstein.

The last movie of the night is a movie I bought on VHS many years ago purely by accident - 1990: The Bronx Warriors.

I'm pretty sure I found my copy of 1990: The Bronx Warriors at the Hometown Farmers Market.  I was a big fan of Escape From New York, and there was a movie with a similar premise that I rented and enjoyed sometime in the late 90's called Escape From The Bronx.  When I saw 1990: The Bronx Warriors, I mistook it for the movie that I had once seen and was surprised when I popped it in the VCR and learned Escape From The Bronx is actually the sequel to this film.

1990: The Bronx Warriors is a great Italian dystopian sci-fi/action flick from 1982.  It's kind of a hybrid of the concepts behind Escape From New York and The Warriors, and includes a role played by former Oakland Raiders defensive back Fred Williamson, who I know best as Frost in From Dusk Till Dawn.

It was another incredible night in an incredible place.  I'll be back on Tuesday to see one of my top five favorite movies of all time - Terminator 2: Judgment Day.