Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
Any time the discussion of "favorite horror movie of all time" comes up, a few films immediately spring to mind. There's the 1987 John Carpenter classic Prince Of Darkness, which was the only movie that ever truly scared me when I was a kid. Then there's Larry Cohen's 1985 masterpiece, The Stuff. Halloween is definitely in my personal top ten list, as is Night Of The Comet, The Thing, Dawn Of The Dead, and 28 Days Later. However, the horror movie that I enjoy the most from start to finish... the one that hits my perfect combination of comedy, gore, sexuality, punk rock, and nostalgia, has got to be the 1985 film that introduced 2-4-5 Trioxin to the horror community: Return Of The Living Dead.
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This has been one hell of a Tunnel Vision Tuesday season at the Mahoning. Honestly, looking back at the movies that we've gotten to see at the drive-in this year, I think Tuesday nights might have been my favorite nights on the lot this season. It's not overly busy (although I was told that they did have over 100 pre-sales for tonight), and the lineup has been an incredible mix of horror, comedy, and action classics.
One of the best things about going to the drive-in in October is the earlier start times. Sure, you lose out on a few hours of being able to relax in the warm sun listening to good music and hanging out with friends, but you can go out on a weekday and know that the credits are going to roll at around quarter after 9 so you can get a good night's sleep.
This time of year has been challenging for me because it puts two of my passions in this life in direct opposition... or at least it has for the past two years since the Phillies have gotten back to the post-season. The first trailer hit the screen at 7:30 pm with Return Of The Living Dead starting about ten minutes later, and the first pitch of Game 2 of the NLCS between the Phillies and Diamondbacks was at 8:07 pm. I told myself that I'd only check the phone a few times to keep up with the score. The first time I checked, the Phillies were up 1-0. The second time, they were up 2-0. At that point, I figured I was good to keep the phone in my pocket and wait until after the movie was over. The score was still 2-0 when the credits hit the screen, and I got to listen to WIP on the drive home, and I caught the last three and a half innings on television of what became a dominant 10-0 shutout... so all is great with the world tonight.
It's going to be a bit more challenging if the Phillies win two more and make it to the World Series. Game 1 and 2 are going head-to-head with Universal Monster Mash on the final Friday and Saturday night of the 2023 season at the Mahoning. I have YouTube TV for the month and it has a DVR function, so I think I'm going to turn my phone off completely during the movies and stay off the computer until after I've gotten home from the drive-in and could watch the game. Thankfully, there is no game scheduled for Sunday night, which is the last night of the 2023 season at the Mahoning, so I'll be able to relax and enjoy Tim Cappello playing saxophone by the fire without missing any of the World Series.
See, this is what happens during the month of October when the Phillies reach the post-season. My brain turns into a month long tug-of-war between horror movies and baseball... so for right now, back to the horror movies.
Return Of The Living Dead is a movie that I was exposed to in stages. The first time I became aware of it was from a horror special that aired on television when I was a kid. I wish I could remember what it was called. The only thing I know for sure is that it showed some behind-the-scenes footage of Return Of The Living Dead: Part II, and one of the people on the special effects crew talked about how he wanted to create the zombies in such a way that you got a feel for the era that they lived in. The only other things I remember about this show was that it talked about a guy who ran a small horror museum, and that he'd save a napkin if it was used by Boris Karloff, and it included clips from Return Of The Living Dead, Child's Play, and Ghostbusters. I wish I could remember what that was called so that I could hunt down a copy of it, because it was one of the things from my childhood that made me a fan of horror movies.
My first time seeing Return Of The Living Dead (other than just clips from the movie) was when it was shown on television sometime in the late 80's or the very early 90's. I'm not sure if it was WPIX or USA or some other channel, but I know it wasn't a pay channel because I had no idea that Linnea Quigley danced naked in the cemetery. I didn't discover that until I rented the VHS when I was a teenager, and let's just say that it made a big impression on me. I've watched this movie many times in the years that followed, especially this time of year, but I've never gotten to see it on the big screen before tonight, and it was absolutely incredible! This is one of those movies that I will go out to the Mahoning to see every time that they put it on the calendar, and I'll never get tired of seeing it.