One of my clearest memories from childhood is seeing the 1978 disaster "epic" Avalanche - starring Mia Farrow and Rock Hudson! - with my family, and roaring at the ridiculous dialogue (even though, at age 10, I barely understood why it was ridiculous) and effects (which even a 10-year-old knew were shoddy). To this very day, I'll exit some piece of crap at the cineplex and think, "Well ... at least it wasn't Avalanche-awful ... ," and terrible though it was, the movie - or rather, my family's reaction to the movie - remains one of my absolute favorite film-going experiences.
Saw it at the drive-in.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying: Take your kids to a drive-in. Or if you don't have kids: Get yourself to a drive-in.
You may be saying, "But the Quad Cities doesn't have a drive-in!" You'd be right. We do, however, have four drive-ins within reasonable driving distance: the Blue Moonlight Drive-in in Galesburg, Illinois; the Grand View Drive-in in Grandview, Iowa; the Autovue Drive-in Theatre in Galva, Illinois; and the 61 Drive-in Theatre in Maquoketa, Iowa. (All of which, it should be noted, are open through October, so there's still plenty of time to visit one.)
And for the two or three area drive-in fans not yet aware, the Quad Cities are scheduled to unveil their first outdoor theatre in more than two decades with the Reel to Reel Drive-in, set to open in spring 2009.
What follows is a look - albeit an incomplete look - at where drive-ins have been, where they are, and where (fingers crossed) they're going. But the best way to appreciate the experience, of course, is to visit one yourselves. Great movie, good movie, or Avalanche-awful movie, I have yet to meet someone who doesn't have happy outdoor-theatre memories.
"Inside, Under the Stars" - The Drive-in Returns to Davenport
"Four or Five Hours of Fun" - The Rise and Fall of Drive-ins