Over the last weekend in August, we made our annual trip down to the Skyline Drive-In, located in Shelbyville, Indiana, which is just about 30 minutes south of Indianapolis, for the 6th Annual Super Monster Movie Fest. This is our fourth year going down there for this. We were at the very first one in 2012, but missed the next two. But starting in 2015, we’ve made it every year since and hope to continue that tradition. In fact, another tradition might have started this year. Usually, it is my wife Dawn and/or my son Nick making the trip out with me. Last year, Dawn couldn’t make it, so it was just me and Nick, which we decided to forgo the hotel room and just sleep in the van. Since it only got down to a tepid 70 degrees at night, I wouldn’t recommend that. The van smelled like a gym locker for about a week afterwards. But this time, not only was Dawn coming with, but Nick decided that he was going to get a group of his friends and drive down on their own. So I guess I really planted the love of the drive-in in him. Makes a father proud.
I had taken the Friday off from work so we could sleep in a bit and not be in so much of a rush to get down there before the first movie started. The films started at 9pm but we wanted to make sure we got there early enough to get a good spot. Plus, we were going to be meeting up with some of our Indianapolis friends, which makes the night even more special. Even though we hit a little bit of traffic, our trip was pretty quick and uneventful, making it to the drive-in a little after 6pm. Nick and his buddies had gotten there a short time before us. So after we got our chairs out and situated, we had to get some food since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
The Skyline has always had some great food and quite a wide variety of tasty treats too. Since they are open from Friday night until Sunday morning, even selling special breakfast items like biscuits and gravy, you really can’t go hungry at this place. We had recently found out that they have a ‘special menu’, which I have to say right now is pretty damn dangerous. Right off the bat, I had to try one of these delicacies…the Pretzeloin! This is a giant tenderloin sandwich, but instead of a bun, they put it between two giant soft pretzels. And folks…that damn near killed me. Maybe because I hadn’t eaten all day, or maybe because of all the bread from the pretzels, but that knocked me on my ass for a bit. Maybe that was a good thing.
I love the fact that the Skyline really shows the love for horror fans here. On one side of the concessions building, there is a huge mural of the famous monsters. Very cool. Horror host Sammy Terry was there doing a little appearance before the films, getting the crowd ready for a night of thrills and chills.
By that time, our buddies Ken Johnson and Neil Wright show up, along with Justin Allison and his family. Hanging out with friends at this place makes the event even more special. We had plenty of time to talk about movies and such, which made the time just fly by. We also noticed that the lot was filling up quite a bit. There were a lot of people camping out there which really put a smile on my face. Before too long, the films were starting.
The theme for this year’s marathon was Monsters from Beyond, and they had quite the lineup, as usual. The first title was the 1951 classic The Thing from Another World. This was my first time seeing it on the big screen and it is really hard to describe seeing this iconic feature in this way. From the dialog to the effects, it can still put a thrill into movie fans, young and old.
The next feature was a recent add-on, which was very cool. It was the 2005 indie film The Call of Cthulhu. Made like a silent film, with old-style effects, it is a lot of fun to watch. Needless to say, anytime you can see some Lovecraft, that is a special time indeed!
By that time, we did notice that the temperature was dropping. We knew it was supposed to be getting down into the ’50s so we can prepared with hoodies and blankets. Well…at least Dawn and I did. Apparently Nick and his friends didn’t so they were all freezing by that time. Lucky for them, we brought a few extra blankets. Hehehe…this wasn’t our first rodeo.
The next feature was Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964). Now any time, and I do mean ANY time, you have the opportunity to see a Kaiju on the big screen, you have to take advantage of it. There is really something amazing about watching Godzilla kick some monster butt at the drive-in. Really does make you feel like a kid again.
Now the next movie was Phantasm (1979), which I have seen more than a few times, even a couple of times at the drive-in. So I decided to climb in the back of the van and take a little nap so I could be awake for the next movie, Demons (1985). It really shows you how tired you can be when you don’t even realize that you’ve fallen asleep. Just that you lay down and then what seems like seconds later, someone is poking you telling you the movie is over and Demons is up next.
Demons is another flick that I have seen more than a few times, both on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, and even in theaters. But never at the drive-in. At least I don’t believe so. This is another one that is always fun, no matter how many times you see it. But seeing it with a big crowd makes it even better. Hearing the cheers and laughter pretty much anytime Tony the Pimp would make a wisecrack always put a smile on my face.
Now, normally they show 5 features at these events, but for some reason, they were only going to show 4 and then show a bunch of trailers. Since it was about 4 or 5am, we decided to call it a night and head over to the hotel to get a few hours of sleep. Little did I know that they actually screened Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster after we left. Pretty bummed about that since I would have loved to have seen that on the big screen. Oh well. Off to the hotel, where after getting into our room, which took a little effort due to some confusion with the hotel and finding a room where the locked worked, we were in our beds and quickly passed out.
Now one of the bonus parts of coming to this particular drive-in, is that during the day, we cruise around Indianapolis, hitting bookstores, and more importantly, hitting Jockamos Pizza. Years ago while at a HorrorHound Weekend, a bunch of us were going for some food after the show one Saturday. Ken Johnson was with us and recommended this local pizza place. Of course, he had never been there actually, but had heard how good it was. Lucky for him, it wasn’t just good, it was amazing. So each and every time we are in this area, we make it a point to stop here. It really is incredible pizza. So our plan was to meet up with Ken and Neil, plus Nick and his friends around 4pm, then make our way back to the drive-in. Walking into Jockamos and seeing this huge mural on the wall just made me feel like home even more. Pretty damn cool. So after eating way too much pizza, even trying a couple of new ones for us, we were off for more cinematic fun!
The first two features on Saturday had a special place in my heart, for the first time I had seen these as a kid, both on TV, there were parts that scared the hell out of me. Sure, looking back on them now, kind of hard to see why, but those were different times, and I was a much younger movie fan. First up was The Blob (1958). And yes, I was making the popping noises with my finger and mouth during the opening song. I mean, how can you not, right? As a kid, when trying to watch this on TV, I kept turning it off every time the title terror showed up. Too scared. A few minutes later, I would turn it back on for a few minutes more, until the blob showed up again and off went the TV. So it was a few more years until it came back on and I could actually sit down and get through the whole thing. Not sure what it was about it that scared me so much, but I think it was the whole thing about being eaten alive. Pretty sure that’s why Jaws scared me so much.
The next feature was another original classic, War of the Worlds (1953). While I didn’t mind the remake, this one holds a special place in my heart. The look and sound the invaders space ships is just awesome. Such a unique look to them but highly memorable. A great story, good characters, and some amazing special effects for that time. Never get tired of seeing this. The first time I watched this, the part that gave me nightmares was really our first quick glimpse of the creature darting behind a tree or bushes. You just get to see if for a quick second, but that’s all that I needed to give me the chills. That quick second gave me more issues than the part a few minutes later when you see the creature close up. Again, not sure why, but it did. And I treasure that memory.
Before we got to the next feature, I had to partake in another item from the special menu. This one was called Dog-Eat-Dog, which consisted of a hot dog inside of a giant jalapeno hot dog, which is then topped with cheese, bacon, onion, and jalapenos. Uh…yes, please! Now, as good as it was, it is pretty much impossible to eat without a knife and fork. Granted, I didn’t use them, but I should of. Very good, but very, very messy.
After I cleaned myself up, we get to the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. While it is a remake, it is a damn good one. Perfectly well cast and acted, with a very potent message that is powerful then, as it was when the original came out in 1956, as it is even today. Such a powerful ending sequence too. Very hard to forget.
The last feature of the night was John Carpenter’s The Thing. Not only had seen this at the drive-in before, but that is where I seen it when it first came out back in 1982. Double featured up with Enter the Ninja, the drive-in was the only theater in town where it was playing. And I’ll never forget it either. Great time then, as well as watching it now, 35 years later. This one never, never, NEVER, loses its charm, terror, or power. A perfect 5-star movie if there ever was one. Amazing cast, a story filled with terror, dread, paranoia and tension, and some special effects that are still hard to top all these years later. Just exceptional.
And then….sad to say…it was over. Time to head back to the hotel to get some sleep before our drive back home, and back to reality. These events are so much fun. It really is about the 3 F’s that make these evens so special: the films, the food, and the friends. All of those combined make such great memories that it is worth the time driving 3 1/2 hours down to Shelbyville, the money for the hotel, and lord only knows how much we spent at the concessions over the two nights. But I do know that next year, we will be back once again, looking forward to another special time. Until next time….see you at the drive-in!