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2013 RONDO AWARD
A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to celebrate the almost-forgotten world of the Drive-In theaters, and their all-night movie marathons. This was something that was very common years ago, when the whole family would pile in the car to the local drive-in and catch a couple of movies, or stay the whole night for those 'from dusk to dawn' shows.
Growing up, while I did have my share of drive-in memories, I never had the chance to get to one of the all-night marathons. So when Mike Kerz from the Flashback Weekend shows let us know that he was working on an all-night movie marathon, we were all excited. And then when we found out it was going to be at an actual drive-in theater, that made it even better. And then when we found out that it was going to be at the Hi-Lite Drive-In Theater, located in our home town, it couldn't have gotten any better. This was the same Drive-In that I got to see EVIL DEAD 2 on it's original release. And now that my son has become a huge fan of that series, what better way to celebrate than to be able to watch it again with him.
The lineup was going to be LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, EVIL DEAD 2, Lucio Fulci's THE BEYOND, DEAD AND BREAKFAST, and PIECES. While we're not the biggest fans of LAST HOUSE, I couldn't think of a better place to watch that than at a drive-in theater. There didn't seemed to be that many dealers (which was fine with us, since we were one of them), but it didn't seemed to bother most of the fans that showed up for the festivities. We were located inside the building where the concessions stand was, so we got to smell the popcorn and food all night. Not a bad thing, huh?
Inside with us were David Hess, star of LAST HOUSE, greeting his fans. Ari Lehman, the Jason from the first FRIDAY THE 13th was also there, performing with his band. Since we were busy with our table, we weren't able to catch him playing. Same goes with the Fitzgerald's Realm of Magic show. But from we heard, both were interesting.
And then there was Tom Sullivan, EVIL DEAD main (and only) makeup man. Tom was there with some of his props from the movie, as well as some of his great artwork. The reason for this special mention of him is because my 13-year old son Nick, who came with me to the show, spent more time over at Tom's table than he did helping me at mine. He has been a big fan of EVIL DEAD 2 and ARMY OF DARKNESS, but had only since the first 1/2 of the original EVIL DEAD, since it's a little intense for him. But since they were screening the original inside the concessions building on one of walls with a DVD projection, he was able to watch the whole movie, in a more friendlier atmosphere. So after watching the movie, Nick was at Tom's table, asking him all sorts of questions about the making of the film. And of course, Tom was more than happy to fill the young mind with stories of low budget filmmaking and that the real horrors are behind the cameras. At one point, when I went over there to tell him to leave Tom alone for a little bit, as I walked up behind the small crowd there, I heard one other older fans that was standing there ask my son, "How do know so much about these movies?!?!". In which my son replied, "My dad." I must tell you, that while most parents have defining 'parent moments', like seeing them learning to walk, riding a bike, scoring the winning run in a baseball game, at that point, I couldn't have been more proud.
We did have a little bit of rain when the show opened up....well, more like a whole lotta rain for a short time. But once that was gone, the rest of the day was great. Once the movies started, it had cooled off enough to really enjoy the movies. So it did seem that everyone there did have a great time. I know when we were pulling out of there in the wee hours of the morning, as the rising sun was rearing it's ugly face, there were quite a few cars in the lot along with us.
So we would like to give our host, Mike Kerz and the Flashback gang a huge thanks for giving us one last chance to experience something from our childhoods. If it wasn't for Mike's huge love of horror movies, this would have never had happened. So thanks, Mike. You made my night, as well as my son's.
Unfortunately, this may have been the last year for this particular drive-in theater, since there have been rumors of it being sold off for the property, so more condos can be put in. Yea, we need more of those. Which is a real shame, since this particular drive-in has been running for well over 50 years. It's a damn shame that this is probably the last one in this area. But at least my son Nick got to experience one of these all-night horror marathons before they do become a thing of the past. Who knows, maybe someone will buy it and keep it running. We can all hope.