I tend to have a problem sleeping once the sun comes out, so it was around 8am when I woke up. Not only was the sun out, but it seemed to be beating down on the van, raising the internal temperature like an oven, even this early. The first thing I noticed when I opened my eyes was the heat. We had left the windows cracked open a bit so it wouldn’t be stuffy in the van, but it was just hot and we felt like we were baking. As we started to get up, I realized that maybe staying in the van wasn’t the best of ideas. Although, I did discover that I wasn’t as old as I thought I was, being able to change my clothes in the back of the van! At my age, it is those kind of achievements you have to celebrate!
Once we were up, dressed and moving about, and immediately started to put some thought into breakfast. The concession stand was still open and were serving breakfast items like breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, etc. But we were surprised to discover that the Tamale Place in Indianapolis opens at 6:30 in the morning, meaning that we can have them for breakfast! And so we were off.
Once again, the gods of weather felt like dumping on Indianapolis again and the rain came down in buckets. But that didn’t stop us from having some amazing (as usual) tamales from this incredible restaurant that we discovered a few years ago on Food Network. And they haven’t lost their touch over the years either. The tamales are huge and are just delicious. I ordered three of the poblano & cheese. I only got through two and a half of them before tapping out. Of course, Nick was there to finish mine, after killing the three that he ordered.
After a few hours of hitting some used book stores, we stopped for a late lunch at the best pizza place in the world…Jockamos. Followers of this site and my convention reports have heard tales of this amazing place that our good friend Ken Johnson introduced us to years ago and we make it a point to go there each and every time we are in the area. And it didn’t disappoint either. Once we staggered out of there, we made our way back to the Skyline for another night of killer flicks.
Getting there a little earlier than the day before, we were able to get a great spot in the middle. But one thing we noticed by then was the sun was blazing in the sky. It was nearing 90 degrees with a 90 percent humidity. It was still ungodly hot even in the shade. But heat be damned, we were standing under the tent there with some fellow film fan friends and chatting about movies. The Skyline was holding a little trivia contest that we figured we’d just watch instead of participating. They were reading questions from the book The Horror Film Quiz Book by Chris Cowlin and Mark Goddard. As uncomfortable it was standing there sweating, I have to give kudos to the Skyline for going that little extra mile and making this more on an event, instead of just being there to watch movies. They had plenty of prizes for the trivia winners as well. Stellar job, guys!
Nick had gone back to the van to cool down, since it was just too hot for him. As I stood there during the trivia questions, feeling sweat sliding down my back, I realized how great of an idea it was. Since we had a couple more hours before show time, I thought it might be a good idea to see if I can take a little nap before then. While it wasn’t that cool in the van, it was considerably better than outside. I think I ended up passing out for about ninety minutes, which really did take the edge off. I wanted to make sure I could stay away for tonight’s features, especially the last two!
First up was Steven Spielberg’s….err…I mean Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist. I have to say, I just love this movie. Maybe it was the age I was when I saw in upon its original release, but it really struck a chord with me. Just like she says in the movie, “It knows what scares you,” they really hit all the marks on creeping out the audiences back then and I still think they work today. It is also one of those rare titles that blends horror and comedy together perfectly. Plus, I think it also works on a very emotional level because this close family unit, as well as the great performances given here, especially by Jo Beth Williams.
Our second for the night was another Vincent Price feature, the 1953 remake of House of Wax. Shame that it wasn’t shown in 3D, but no worries, it was still a lot of fun and the print just looked gorgeous! Price gives us such an enjoyable performance, never winking to the audience, but playing it completely straight and serious. Still holds up.
The next movie was The Evil Dead, another title I had gotten to see on the original release, and I still think it still packs a wicked punch even today. The effects done by Tom Sullivan were ground breaking back then and still thrill the audiences today. Getting to see it on the big screen again brought back a lot of memories. Though…I might have drifted off just a bit near the end….
But I was wide awake (thanks to some coffee) for the next feature, Old Dark House, starring Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, Ernest Thesiger, Gloria Swanson, and directed by James Whale. There is a reason this is called a classic and really did define what an “old dark house” movie was supposed to be. Nice to see that it can still entertain audiences today, young and old. So cool to see an old film like this presented the way it should be….on a huge movie screen!
During the last break, I decided that I couldn’t hold out any longer and needed to see how good the biscuits and gravy were. I mean, it’s at a drive-in…it’s 4am….they have to be epic, right? You know what? They were. At least at the time they were. I was rethinking this decision a little later.
The last feature of the night was Jack Clayton’s version of the Henry James novel Turn of the Screw, here simply entitled The Innocents. Starring Deborah Kerr, this is one of my favorite films. Not only does the incredible look of the black and white cinematography just stunning, the performances are powerful, heartbreaking, and leaves you emotionally spent by the time it is over. Even the two young kids, played by Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin, give performances way beyond their years, especially Stephens. The ending is so powerful and intense, each time I watch it, it leaves me with a hole in my soul. I love the fact that what we are seeing is left totally up to us as to what really happens. Kudos to the filmmakers for not feeling the need to explain everything. If you haven’t seen this one, please seek it out.
By the time our last feature ended, it was about 6am. The sun would be coming up in the next half hour and I briefly thought about waiting for it, so I could get a nice photo of it coming up over the drive-in. Then my brain quickly reminded me that I needed to get to sleep before the sun came up, or I might not be able to otherwise. Another issue is that I barely cooled down during the night. It was around 70 degrees, but still humid and damp. But we climbed into the van anyway and quickly fell asleep….for about 3 hours again.
Nick and I were both up again around 9am. My stomach was quick to point out that maybe eating those biscuits and gravy at 4am might not have been the best decision I’ve made. But then again, when are any decisions made at 4am very good? Nick didn’t seem to have any trouble and was quickly eating Jockamos’ left-overs. While still tired, it was so hot and sweaty in the van, all we wanted to do was be on the road so we could have the AC on. So we packed up our chairs back in the van, said goodbye to this magical place, and hit the road. Of course….we couldn’t leave Indy without hitting one more of our favorite food places. Thai Taste was a restaurant that we accidently stumbled upon a few years ago and quickly fell in love with it. A small place, but incredible food.
And now, with our stomachs full, with 9 features under our belt, and with some incredible memories, we said goodbye to Indianapolis and Shelbyville and headed north to home. As I asked that question in the beginning of this little story, just why would I drive all this way to watch some movies at a drive-in…well, if you can’t figure that out now, with everything that I just went through, then I can’t help you. And I honestly feel sorry for you. But I know that I’ll be counting the days until next year when we come down here to do it all over again. What could be better than spending time with a bunch of great friends, good food, stimulating conversations, and seeing some awesome movies on at the Drive-in. Isn’t that what this whole life thing is all about…creating great experiences? I know I did just that over these last two days.
Thanks again to the Skyline Drive-In and their staff for continuing to put on these kind of events. It was great seeing and hanging out with our friends and fellow film fiends like Ken Johnson, Justin Allison, Neil Wright, Justin Lafleur & Daniel Roebuck, James Turner, and Chris and Lori Kuchta. And of course, my co-pilot and fellow food destroyer, my son Nick. You guys help make this weekend even better! See you next year!
Long Live the Drive-In!