Home » Entertainment » The Drive-In Theatre – A step back in time

The Drive-In Theatre – A step back in time

I’m Jack


"My mission is to find the body that Mother Nature Intended, not what McNature provided"

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March 2010
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Last night I went to the Yatala Twin Drive-in theatre with my wife.

The Yatala Twin Drive-In

We have been to the drive-in only a couple of times during the 13 years we have been married but usually we have had a baby or a toddler with us as that was the easiest way to go and see a movie if you didn’t have a babysitter readily available.  The experience was usually stressful because Lisa had to breastfeed or the toddler has gotten bored quickly while watching Finding Nemo on the laptop in the back seat.  And because it was generally stressful you never really got to sit back and enjoy the experience.

Last night was different.  We had no kids this time.  I asked my wife if this was the first time we had been to the drive-in without the kids and she confirmed my suspicion.

We had a great night and it was a step back in time to my youth when there were a few more drive-ins around.  Nothing had changed.  The memories started flooding back as soon as we turned into the lot.  Lining up behind the other cars with headlights off, inching forward as a keen eye was cast over each car by the attendants hopeful of catching some kids hiding in the back seat with a blanket over them so they didn’t have to pay.  We payed 15 bucks each for the double feature of The Green Zone and Shutter Island.  Bargain!

We drove up and down each line of speakers looking for the optimum spot to park.  We found it and wedged ourselves between a couple of panel vans which I suspected would be steaming up before too long.   After manoeuvring the car into place, I tuned the radio to 99.9FM which is field 1 frequency.  We could have used the speaker box but that would have been too retro when you can have stereo sound instead of a crackly mono speaker.

Perfect.  We’ve arrived and parked about 15 minutes before show time.  Time to go and get something to eat from the snack bar.  Walking along the bitumen you can hear the crunching of loose gravel under your feet.  The snack bar is packed with movie goers keen to stock up on popcorn and chips and ice cream.  Nothing healthy of course so we choose the lesser of all evils!  The ambience is great.  There is rock and roll music being played.  A statue of Elvis and one of James Dean adorn the waiting area.  If you want to sit down and eat you can at the 50’s style booths.  If you intend on eating in the car and getting take away there are two seats you can sit on, fashioned to look like you are sitting in the trunk of a Cadillac.

There are kids everywhere.  Some wearing pyjamas because their parents know they will be well asleep by the time they get home.  Some littlies with big, wide eyes excited by their night ahead are running around in anticipation.  Other kids are setting up in the back of station wagons and SUV’s ready for the movies to start.  There is excitement in the air.

Back in the car now, eating my hotdog, Lisa eating her chicken burger, then the first and only preview comes on and then the first movie starts.  Straight into it without the usual 20 mins of ads and previews which we are all accustomed to seeing at the multiplexes.  Occasionally during the movie, some jerk puts his headlights on which diminishes the screen a touch and you laugh and remember how you use to do that when you were 12 too and you were allowed to sit behind the steering wheel!!

Movie’s over!  During the credits, it’s back to the snack bar for an ice-cream and perhaps a toilet break.  The line up for the chicks is long and I’m thankful I’m a bloke! So with Choc Top in hand it is back to the car! Once there, I consider going down to the swing set and playground just off to the left of the big screen but with a light sprinkle of rain I feel hitting my arms and head it is best to jump back into the dry, comfy surroundings of my car. The kids down there are having a ball anyway.  The Choc Top is delicious and it is gone before the next movie starts.  Lisa decides to wait to eat hers and puts it in the esky which is currently holding my Pepsi- Max soft drinks.

Another preview and then we are on a boat with Leonardo Di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo in 1950’s America.  An apt time period considering the venue we are at.

The rain is intermittent throughout and every now and then I use the windscreen wipers to remove the excess water.  Surprisingly, the outside rain is adding to the moment especially when it is raining in some scenes in the movie too.  Now this is real 3D cinema!  You can feel a few splatters of rain on your arms from the small opening of the cars windows to let the air circulate and so you don’t steam up.

We drove 78km each way to go to the Drive-In, but what we got was much more than 2 movies.  We stepped back in time for a few hours and remembered what it was like when we were kids going to the movies with our mates.  My first ever Drive-In movie that I can remember seeing was Star Wars in 1977.  I was 5 and loved it.  The next movie I remember seeing at the Drive-In was E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.  I remember this because I was 10 and my mum sent me to this movie with my sister, Joanne and her then boyfriend.  I had to sit in the front seat of his panel van in between them.  I’m sure they were both very annoyed but my mum’s plan worked!

If you haven’t been to the Drive-In for awhile, I urge you to check it out and support a dying business.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good!  Let’s help them stay in business.  You don’t have to see every movie at the Drive-In but if you see one movie a year then you are doing your part to save them.

By the way, the panel vans didn’t steam up.  Both movies were too good!

Do you remember going to the Drive-In when you were kids?  Do you remember your first Drive-In movie?  Have you been to your local Drive-In lately?  What did you see?  Was it how you remembered it being?

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5 Comments

  1. Amina says:

    I have vivid memories of seeing Forest Gump and also Jurassic Park at the Keperra Drive-In. Fantastic family fun!

    • jackmcclane says:

      Nice. What was the last movie you saw?

      • Amina says:

        Ah I haven’t seen a movie since the MJ one was released! So many left to catch up on!!! Really want to see The Blind Side… And Alice. And stacks of others. Ha!

  2. jackmcclane says:

    Yeah but what was the last movie you saw at the drive-in?

  3. Linda Tobin says:

    I’m nearly 50 so I well remember several drive-in movie outings as a kid growing up in Brisbane, yes, in my pjs, (what fun, if we got bored we went and played in the playground – at NIGHT TIME! – with heaps of other kids). Uptown Saturday Night was one we saw – Dad won a family pass through The Telegraph newspaper, I think Sidney Poitier was in that one. As a teenager/young adult I went many times to the drive-in, there was Keperra; Skyline I think in Coopers Plains; and one out Cannon Hill way as well. There are SO many movies I saw at the drive-ins but I do particularly remember seeing The Color Purple. Probably the last time I went was around 1990? I plan to take my family to Yatala so the kids can experience it at least once.

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