Fantastic Fest – Day Six

I started the day off with The Conspiracy. From the Fantastic Fest site: Two young documentary filmmakers are drawn into a shadowy world of secret societies when the subject of their film simply disappears. Have his investigations led to his demise?

I really liked this film. It was a suspenseful, minimalist little thriller. It was filmed in doc-style, but not found footage. Not exclusively, anyway.  The premise is that our story evolved from documentary on conspiracy theorists, so we see mixture of footage. Video and audio interviews with the subject, doc footage of filmmakers discussing subject, verite footage as filmmakers start putting pieces together,and finally, hidden, shaky-cam footage are all interwoven to tell the story. Additionally, the story is compelling and interesting because it is well-researched. Not based on true events (and never trying to convince you of that fact) it takes established conspiracy theories and uses them as a jumping off point to develop this fictional story. This film was a really fun ride – be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Second up was Berberian Sound Studio. From Fantastic Fest: Strange things occur after a British audio technician is summoned to Italy to work on a gory giallo film.

I am not really sure how to classify this one. First off, I am not the biggest giallo fan. But I really loved this film. Maybe because it is not straight giallo. It certainly takes cues and elements from the genre, but it doesn’t throw its full weight behind it. It has a more modern style, and some distinctly Lynchian qualities with some of the visuals, as well as the use of sound.

Let’s talk about that first: this film utilizes a really incredible use of sound. With a film about a sound mixer, you would certainly hope so, and I wasn’t disappointed. Most of the film, in fact, centers around Toby Jones’ Gilderoy creating and mixing sound for the film. Instead of the standard art house flick that focuses heavily on striking images to tell its story, this one is infused with audio elements instead. It has a really haunting and hypnotic quality. You never actually get to see the giallo film being worked on (aside from an AWESOME opening title sequence), but you get so much through the soundtrack that you fill in all the blanks and feel like you can see the images being depicted anyway.

It seems that the reaction to this one has been sharply divided. Many people complained that film didn’t really reach a conclusion, which I can certainly understand, but that didn’t really bother me. I enjoyed every second of it, so even though it wasn’t really building toward anything terribly revealing, I found it immensely satisfying. For me, the payoff wasn’t in the climax of the film, but in the journey through it. Watching Gilderoy, constantly at odds with everything around him, slowly losing himself in this strange new world. Again, it’s probably not going to be for everyone, but I strongly encourage you to give it a shot and see what you think.

I capped the evening off with Vanishing Waves. From Fantastic Fest: A scientist with a neurological research team volunteers to experiment with a new technology which will allow him to access the thoughts of a coma victim.

This film is like The Cell, but Lithuanian, and with a much smaller budget. I had mixed feelings. While I enjoyed aspects of it, it never really came together the way I wanted it to. Its pacing was its biggest problem. It jumps in too fast; I wish it had spent a little more time building in the beginning to make protagonist’s motives more believable and to establish him as a good guy. I found it difficulty to relate to him. The film was beautifully shot, but simple. Director Kristina Buozyte makes good use of the dream-like nature of the story with the wandering cinematography, but sometimes, that element was overplayed. In the end, I don’t really regret the time spent watching it, but I don’t heartily recommend it either.

Day Seven coming soon, and it includes awesomeness from Norway!

Fantastic Fest – Day Five

More from Fantastic Fest!

Day Five started with Memory of the Dead. From the Fantastic Fest site: Alicia undertakes a bizarre cult ritual to restore her deceased husband to life – a ritual that will see her home and friends visited by the spirits of the dead.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. The premise was interesting, promising a creepy haunting flick, but it just didn’t deliver. It wasn’t terribly inspired, and it took way too long. It had some creepy moments, but everything I enjoyed about it came in the first act. This is the kind of movie you come across on TV late at night , and are happy enough to watch, since everything else sucks, but you don’t enjoy of outside of being saved from infomercials and wouldn’t seek it out on your own.

Second up was My Amityville Horror, one of my most anticipated flicks of the festival, and one of my favorites. I enjoyed it so much, that it gets its own write-up.

Next came Unit 7. From the Fantastic Fest site: Alberto Rodriguez’s UNIT 7 is gritty realistic thriller about a crew of narcotics officers in Seville, Spain who go rogue during a citywide crackdown in the years preceding Expo ’92.

I found this to be a solid cop drama with some great work out of it cast. The enjoyment in watching this film is two-fold: seeing the unorthodox (and illegal) methods that they used to police the drug trade, and watching the characters react to the consequences of these actions. Seeing them learn that, despite the best of intentions, there are prices to be paid for going outside the law to do their jobs.

The evening closed with Taped. From Fantastic Fest: A trip meant to save their marriage turns into a nightmare when Johan and Saar accidentally videotape a police shooting in the streets of Argentina.

I enjoyed this one. It is a solid thriller, based on a simple, yet believable premise. It is particularly interesting because found footage seems like the obvious filming style to use for such a story. And it does start out that way, with this couple on their second honeymoon taking vacation video for their daughter. After the first 10 minutes or so, it shifts back to traditional narrative style. Their camera comes out a couple more times, but never for long. I liked that director Van Rooijen opted not to go with the obvious choice. It is also a great, fast-paced thriller. And very believable. Watching it, it is easy to imagine accidentally getting stuck in this situation abroad and not having a whole lot of options. Fantastic Fest staff mentioned that it has already.been optioned for an American remake, so I guess you can look forward to that, if you don’t cross paths with the original any time soon.

That’s it for Day Five – keep any eye out for Day Six, coming soon.

Fantastic Fest Review: My Amityville Horror

Everyone is at least a little familiar with the Amityville Horror case. You’ve probably seen at least one of the movies, read the book, or are at least a little familiar with the ultimate (and supposedly true) haunted house story from the way it has permeated pop culture.

Quick recap: In late 1975, George and Kathleen Lutz moved in a home in Amityville, New York with their three children. They moved out 28 days later, fleeing across the country, and leaving all of their possessions behind. When they went public with the full story, they claimed that the house had been possessed and that a series of strange and increasingly dangerous events had taken place during their time in the house, including, but certainly not limited to numerous cold spots, strange figures being seen in the windows, the sudden appearance of masses of flies, and dramatic personality changes among the family members.

The first film from director Eric Walter, this documentary marks the first time that the eldest child, Danny Lutz, has come forward to speak about his experiences.

The doc consists of interviews with Danny, interviews with a reporter who interviewed the family at the time of the events, conversations with Lorraine Warren, noted demonologist who investigated the case, as well as interviews with several other mediums and reporters who were involved not only in the case, but also in the media blitz that followed it going public.

Most interesting (and important), is the time spent with Danny, as he recalls his experiences and how he reacted (and continues to react) to them. He’s not here to tell you that everything depicted in the film is true; instead, he is here to explain what he remembers from living in that house, which is something that he never had the opportunity to do at the time (something that he regrets).

The heart of this documentary is the fact that, regardless of what you, as the audience, believe about this story, Danny has been affected by these events for almost 40 years. Whatever happened in that house has had a lasting impact on him. You have the opportunity to hear that first-hand, which is what gives this film much of its soul.

It is a fascinating story, and a really well-made documentary – particularly from a first-time filmmaker. Walter does an excellent job of balancing all of the elements at play. He gives Danny the opportunity to tell his story, while also allowing the other interviewees, as well as experts in psychology, to offer alternative explanations for what may have been going on, all while maintaining an unbiased perspective. This isn’t set up as a thrill-seeking publicity piece or a freak show. It is thoughtfully structured, and very balanced, offering a very even-handed approach to the material.

You may walk away with a different opinion of the events. You may have your opinion confirmed. Ultimately, that takes a backseat to the connection that you feel you have made with Daniel Lutz through hearing about his experiences and the aftermath first hand. This is an incredibly interesting and heart-felt film, and you should absolutely check it out when you have the opportunity.

Fantastic Fest: Day Four

DAY FOUR!!!!!!

I opened the day with Hail, which, frankly, was a rough way to start. From Fantastic Fest: Real life ex-con Daniel P. Jones stars in this haunting and unflinchingly realistic film crafted from pieces of his own memories and experiences.

Honestly, I didn’t care for this film. It was slow, it was overly saturated with abstract images, I didn’t enjoy the cinematography, and it had a pretentious quality to it. I applaud experimentation in film, but this seemed to be obsessed with it – to the degree that it sacrificed other important elements. Character development, plot points and pacing seemed to take a backseat to the avant-garde nature that the director seemed to be determined to dump on the audience, making it difficult to connect with the piece.  It was really a disappointing experience, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

What I do recommed the shit out of is I Declare War. From the Fantastic Fest site: A group of exceptionally creative teens gets sucked into their own private Lord of the Flies scenario when an after-school game of “war” turns into a test of loyalty, strategy and friendship.

This has been one of my favorites of the festival. It has a great premise, wonderful script, and awesome performances by a talented group of young actors.

I Declare War works so well because it is so multi-faceted. On the one hand, though it is the story of kids playing a game, it mirrors many world problems and bigger questions that we face today. Is it more important to win, or to win with honor? Will we allow our petty bullshit to drag us down and change who we are? Do you really know your friends or allies? At the same time, it is a coming of age story our characters start to learn who they really are and who they want to surround themselves with. They have reached the point where friendship isn’t as simple or clearly-defined as it used to be, and they need to take some ownership of their decisions.

Director Rob Wilson and Producer Lewin Webb were on-hand for a Q&A after the screening, and they indicated that it was their goal here to make a live-action film that could be equally enjoyed by both adults and kids. Something that could be enjoyed by parents right alongside their kids. The kind of movie we grew up with, but just don’t have anymore – films like The Goonies, E.T., and Stand By Me. Films that challenge all members of the audience, but don’t talk down to anyone. Mission accomplished, guys.

I really hope this film sees American distribution. It really is incredible and charming, and something a  lot of people would really enjoy. I look forward to having the opportunity to see it again.

Third up was Bring me the Head of Machine Gun Woman. From Fantastic Fest: Timid, video game-loving DJ Santiago seemingly digs his own grave when he agrees to bring a violent criminal kingpin the head of Machine Gun Woman.

This was a faux-grindhouse flick, dripping badassery and toting a ’70s-tastic score. It is also modeled after Grand Theft Auto. Not bad, right? The plot is made up of game-style mission chapters, complete with titles in the GTA font. It was fun, but the game connection got a little cold after awhile. It was thick enough to be constantly present, but didn’t really add anything after the first few minutes, and it wasn’t strong enough to continue adding to the flick as we proceeded through the story.

This film owes a lot to Quentin Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez, which certainly isn’t a bad thing (it’s awesome, in fact), but I felt like the filmmaker wasn’t bringing enough of his own style to it. I haven’t seen his earlier work though, so I imagine that the faux 70’s style might have been used more effectively in his first couple of features. I had enough fun in Bring Me the Head of Machine Gun Woman to add them to my list of stuff to check out.

The final film of the night was the documentary The American Scream. From Fantastic Fest: In a small Massachusetts community, three Halloween-obsessed households transform into neighbor-terrifying supernatural wonderlands in this surprisingly touching documentary from the director of BEST WORST MOVIE.

I LOVED this film. So much, in fact, that I gave it its very own write-up.

That’s it for Day Four. More to come soon!

Fantastic Fest Review: The American Scream

I loved this flick so damn much that it gets its very own write-up. The American Scream is the second documentary from Best Worst Movie director and Troll 2 star Michael Paul Stephenson. And it is crazy-charming. This film follows three families in Fairhaven, Massachusetts who take Halloween to a whole new level.

Known in certain circles as “Home Haunters,” these families (and enthusiasts like them) go the extra mile every October 31st to transform their homes into haunted house attractions for the community. Mazes are built in their backyards, windows are covered over, every spooky figure imaginable is placed on their lawn, friends are costumed and tasked with jumping out of shadows and scaring the shit out of guests and all the stops are pulled out for revelers every year. These people have achieved a level of community fame and appreciation in Fairhaven, and hundreds turn up every year to get scared.

This film literally had me squealing with glee. Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year (as it has been for many of you, I am certain), and watching how into it the subjects get really really takes me back and makes me feel like a kid again. There is no way you can watch this and not be made happy – if you can, your heart is dead.

The subjects were all amazing. The film offered a real slice-of-life effect as a window is opened into their lives during their favorite time of year, and you get to see their inner workings as they pull together to create magic. The family dynamic within each group is really awesome. Everyone gets into the spirit in their own way, and everyone plays their part. And each haunt is strikingly different from the others – each one carries their creators’ fingerprints and takes on a life of its own.

This is my favorite kind of documentary – one that takes a seemingly minor, inconsequential subject and invites you into a strange little world that makes you incredibly happy. Did I learn about a war-town nation? A third-world country? Was the lid blown off a government conspiracy? Am I more socially aware now? Not really, no. I watched a group of real, normal, everyday people take some time to indulge in a personal joy that is shared by many, and in the process, bring a bit of magic to those around them. Including me. And that is awesome.

The American Scream was conceived in part by the Chiller network, who will be broadcasting it on October 28th, so if you have access to the network, you MUST check it out. It will make you crazy-happy, and kick your Halloween off the right way.

Minor spoiler here, but totally a worthy one: One of the families who participated in the doc has decided to take their haunting pro this year. Instead of operating in their backyard for their neighbors, they are opening a huge, for reals haunted house in Taunton, Massachusettes. Ghoulie Manor will open its doors on September 28th, and will scare the masses through the 31st. If you find yourself nearby, pay them a visit!

Fantastic Fest: Days Two and Three

Double post! Days 2 and 3!

The first flick of the Day 2 was The King of Pigs. From the Fantastic Fest site: THE KING OF PIGS is an emotionally punishing animated indie film about a group of friends whose brutal childhoods continue to haunt them as adults.

This is an animated drama melodrama from Korea. Super depresso. Not go-home-and-start-playing- Harry-Nilsson-in-the-bathroom-sad, but you definitely don’t feel good about life when this one is over. It follows a tormenting, destructive period in the lives of three school friends. It also expresses the frustration felt by young people trapped a harsh class system. Ruled by it, and unable to escape it, the system informs and is responsible for most of the difficulties our characters find themselves in. The film is well-animated, but story drags a bit. Definitely an interesting piece, though definitely not my favorite.

The second film of the day was Combat Girls. From Fantastic Fest: The debut feature from director-writer David Wnendt—is a bleak tale of two girls who, for very different reasons, get swept up in the resurgent Neo-Nazi movement in Germany.

It is a really solid piece, though again, not terribly uplifting.  It offers interesting insight into racial unrest that still exists under the rug in Germany today, and contains really great, nuanced performances from the cast. This film is another solid entry into skinhead drama folder. This story has been told many times, and often well. American History X, and This is England are other stellar examples. But even though I have seen this story before, when done as well as this (and the entries listed above) it is still very moving and affecting.

After an afternoon of being completely bummed out, it was time for some fun. Bring on Dead Sushi! From the Fantastic Fest site: Japanese splatter action comedy is on the menu when director Noboru Iguchi and karate girl Rina Takeda join forces to take on flying killer sushi monsters in DEAD SUSHI!

The latest film from Robogeisha writer/director Norbru Iguichi, Dead Sushi is just as batshit and just as fun. 90 minutes of crazy slapstick, gallows humor and of course, killer sushi from beyond the grave. Iguichi always casts actors who can handle his brand of physical comedy well, and those talents were well-utilized here. The sushi monsters are all puppets, with some CGI enhancements here and there. I loved the fact that they all made the same puppet noises that you heard in the 80s. Think Puppet Master and Dolls. That is what zombie sushi sounds like. It’s awesome. It made me all giddy. Fantastic Fest staff announced that this film had obtained American distribution earlier in the day, so look for it on DVD (and possibly in a small theatrical run) toward the end of the year.

All in all, not a bad day. On to Day 3!

It started with Cold Steel. From Fantastic Fest: After 17 years spent directing television series in North America, director David Wu (a longtime collaborator of John Woo) returns to his native China to deliver the heart-pounding World War II epic COLD STEEL.

This film centers on a young soldier drafted into the Chinese military as a sniper to fight the Japanese. Amid the harshness of war, he falls in love with the proprietor of a local tea shop.

There are very politically charged elements at work here, but while Wu certainly doesn’t skimp on the action, he opts to let the story play out largely through the romance angle. It is a good film – well-acted and directed – but it just didn’t strike me. I am not huge into the wartime love story, and this was a key component here. Definitely recommend if that is up your ally though. If that is your bag, this will be a welcome addition to your collection.

Second film of the day was No Rest for the Wicked. From the Fantastic Fest site: A dirty cop who tries to cover up a crime stumbles upon a massive criminal conspiracy. NO REST FOR THE WICKED swept the Spanish Goya awards this year with an electrifying performance by lead actor José Coronado.A dirty cop who tries to cover up a crime stumbles upon a massive criminal conspiracy. NO REST FOR THE WICKED swept the Spanish Goya awards this year with an electrifying performance by lead actor José Coronado.

This is a slow burn crime drama heavy on the procedural aspect, which really strengthens the tension payoff when the shit hits the fan in the final act. Very strong acting – particularly out of José Coronado in the lead role. His character was fascinatingly unbalanced. Never over the top or cartoony, but you are never sure exactly what he was going to do next. The script offered an interesting story, though a bit complex and difficult to follow in a couple of spots. It’s definitely worth the time to get through it though.

My last film was The Exorcist in the 21st Century. From Fantastic Fest: Norwegian documentarian Fredrik Horn Akselsen examines the work of Father Jose Antonio Fortea – an actual, Vatican-approved exorcist – in this balanced look at a largely hidden world within the Catholic church.

This is an interesting documentary. It steers away from the cheesy, hokey crap that you have typically seen on the History Channel and attempts (quite effectively, for the most part), to offer an unbiased examination of the ritual of Exorcism and its place within both the Catholic Church and modern society. It does contain footage of a supposedly-possessed woman, but the filmmakers are careful to present it in a straightforward manner, without dramatizing it or downplaying it. The goal was not to endorse or disprove the concept – rather to present it to the audience, along with interviews from several different priests, historians and doctors, and to let you make your own assessments. I would have liked to have seen it run a little longer and contained a bit more information from some of their interviews, but it is still interesting, and consumable by anyone, regardless of their beliefs.

Also, the documentarians are awesome. Producer Christian Falch revealed during the Q&A that the doc had been conceived as he was traveling in Spain and was hired to be Father Fortea’s bodyguard during several exorcisms (as a means of protecting the priest from the supposedly-possessed person). He and director Fredrik Horn Akselsen then went on to say that it was a very interesting subject for them, having grown up in the very secular Norway, where knowledge of Catholic rites and exorcisms are not at all commonplace.

That’s all for now. Day 4 was pretty awesome, so keep an eye out for the next post in the next couple of days!

Fantastic Fest – Day One

For the first time in the history of my life, I have made a pilgrimage to Austin to attend Fantastic Fest. I have been dreaming of this day for years, and now, I am finally here. The Mecca of film nerdery. I am kickin’ it at the Alamo Drafthouse, watching all manner of genre films and filling geeky little heart with joy. I will be doing a series of posts over the coming week, but since I have next to no time before/after the screenings, they will be sporadic, and they will not be pretty. I hope they will still be enjoyable though.

First up last night was Frankenweenie. From Fantastic Fest: Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

I was really really hesitant about this film when it was first announced. I am a huge fan of the original short (if you haven’t seen it yet, you simply must – it is classic). The Disney Channel used to play it every Halloween when I was a kid, and it was a beloved tradition in my house. I did not want to see it screwed up. Particularly since Tim Burton hasn’t exactly had the best track record lately. I have been increasingly frustrated with his recent films. There is no love there anymore. He has completely bought into his own image. Zany setting, off-beat art direction, Johnny Depp in an uninspired quirky role, and enough potential to sell a ton of crap at Hot Topic.

I was very pleasantly surprised. Frankenweenie is heart warming, sweet and funny. Not sure if real Tim Burton that we all fell in love with is back, but this is as close as we have come in decade, and I am happy to have it. The animation, 3D work and art direction all spectacular. And the cast is great. It is good to see Burton’s old regulars (Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder and Martin Landau), rather than yet another film with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Cater. Martin Short supplied the voice of the town mayor (among others), but I like to believe that, were he still alive, we would have gotten to hear Glenn Shaddix in the role. That thought makes me very happy. Frankenweenie hits theaters on October 5th, and I really recommend taking the time.

My second film was Antiviral. From the Fantastic Fest site:  Syd March makes people sick, infecting them with viruses harvested to order from celebrities, but gets more than he bargained for when his most famous source dies from a virus Syd has just infected himself with.

This film offered an interesting concept, which I mostly enjoyed. It offered a thoughtful meditation (though, was occasionally expressed a little to literally) of our society’s obsession with and cult surrounding fame and celebrity. It was well-acted, particularly by lead Caleb Landry), and exhibited beautiful cinematography – both stark and vibrantly colored. The pacing rather slow, particularly through second act, but given the nature of the film, I can’t really call that a flaw, though I did find myself getting restless a couple of times. The film carried a very sickly vibe to it, which really brought you in to setting and the story.

Antiviral was written and directed by Branden Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg. I am not sure how I feel about his first feature being body horror. While a decent effort, seemed a tad on the nose at times, given father’s record. It will be interesting to see which direction he goes next.

Finally, American Mary. From Fantastic Fest: Disillusioned with her chosen profession and perpetually broke, medical student Mary Mason finds herself drawn into a shady world of underground surgery and body modification.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the use of body mod in this flick. Maybe it’s just me and my college goth years, but I don’t find modification to be all that shocking, and the mods presented in this film really stayed close to the safe side of the fence.

Though the concept was rather trite and uninspired, it couldn’t stop Katharine Isabelle from turning in fantastic performance as Mary. Part heroine, part victim (though certainly not the helpless kind), part predator, she carries the role incredibly well and gives the audience a strong character to connect with. She is instrumental in grounding the film and keeping you interested when the script hits its inevitable bumps. I (like many of you) have enjoyed Isabelle’s work since Ginger Snaps, but she is rarely given a role as complex as this one, which she absolutely owns. I recommend this flick on her performance alone.

That’s it for round one – I am having a blast so far, and am looking forward to a week of wicked-awesome movies!

Horrorella Goes to the Drive-In

The drive-in theater is 100% pure Americana. I don’t typically go in for that kind of crap, but for whatever reason, the drive-in has my heart. It’s a small window into the past that we can experience for a couple of hours. I’m not sure why exactly it gets me. We never spent time at a drive-in when I was a kid, so it’s not bringing me happy memories of my childhood like it does for some people. But whatever the reason, I freaking love it.

The first drive-in I went to was the Harvest Moon in Gibson City, IL  when I was 25 (see? not exactly childhood memories). I had never been, but I heard that Grindhouse was playing there. So my boyfriend and I were all “Fuck yeah – we’re seeing Grindhouse at the drive-in! What could be more perfect?” (this was our fourth viewing of that flick, by the way). So we gathered some friends together and made our first trip the following evening. And my world changed. This place was awesome. Two screens, a small playground for the kids, the awesome burger barn (which consisted of a small metal shack with a few gas patio grills inside it), and snacks, snacks, snacks. And everything was cheap. Every trip, we wound up spending as much as we did at the multiplex concession stand, but walking away with WAY more stuff. Burgers, popcorn, elephant ears, soda, and hot chocolate – it was snackage paradise. The Harvest Moon was a major destination for the remainder of the summer. We would take up 3 car slots, with two cars in the outer spaces, and the group of us in the center, in lawn chairs, listening to the movie in stereo. It was awesome. Later that summer, we moved to Seattle and left the Harvest Moon behind, but the memories stayed strong.*

Earlier this year, the drive-in movie theater turned 79 years old. It reminded me of all the fun times I had experienced just a few years ago, and led me to track down a documentary that I had been wanting to see, but for whatever reason had put off purchasing: Drive-in Movie Memories.

This doc was directed by Kurt Keune, who also directed the 2008 documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father. Drive-in Movie Memories isn’t as refined, but it won’t rip your heart out and leave you a broken mess on your couch for three days, which is nice. This one is a bit more on the feel-good side.

Expanding on a book written by contributors Don and Susan Sanders, this film is a 90 minute history of the creation, popularity, innovations and slow decline of the classic drive-in theater. It covers the various construction techniques, technological developments, effects on cinema and distribution, and cultural importance of an American Original. It’s a great look back at an era that had a profound impact on American and film culture. From family outings of the ‘50s to the exploitation flicks of the ‘70s. My only complaint is that it is too short. It’s covering so much ground that it doesn’t really have the opportunity to go terribly in-depth into any one topic.

But my nostalgia trip wasn’t done there. I was on a mission. It was time to find another drive-in. So I did a search and realized that Washington State has several functioning drive-ins, and that a couple were close to Seattle (awesome).

Pilgrimage time. My fave thus far has been the Wheel-In Motor Movie Theater in Port Townsend, Washington. Take a look. Fucking awesome, right? If Twin Peaks had a drive-in, this would be it. Check out the aerial view. Wicked, right? Drive-in right in the middle of the spook-ass woods. We were watching Ted and bats were flying in front of the screen. It was so fucking awesome!

Concession stand was great (they even had cheeseburgers!), and the staff was fantastic. Everyone there seemed to be having a blast. This venue even had working old-school speaker boxes. Nowadays, the speaker equipment has typically been removed, with only the poles left behind, and the sound is broadcast via radio. This place offered both options. We opted for radio because it sounded better, but I was more than happy to play with the speaker system until the movie started.

The Wheel-In has been family-owned and run since it first opened in 1952. It’s been around longer than my parents. In a time that sees so many of these places being run over by multiplexes, digital presentation, and fewer people going out to the movies (not to mention being bulldozed to build strip malls), this is just so freaking awesome. A labor of love through generations that hasn’t changed hands, closed, or been sold off.

So much fun. There is something so cool about revisiting the drive-in. Sure, the presentation isn’t great, but that’s kind of the fun of it. A throw-back to an older time, and the opportunity to experience a movie in a completely different way. If you have a drive-in theater nearby, stop in before the season is over. These places are special, and need your patronage. Buy some popcorn, snuggle in, and experience the magic.

*NOTE: A lot of these places are currently raising funds to convert to digital projectors and keep the theaters open, including the Harvest Moon. If your favorite drive-in is currently raising money, chip in if you can, to keep these places alive.