Drive-In Movies | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Drive-In Movies

Imagine rolling the windows down on a Summer night. You're surrounded by parked cars all pointing to a silver screen under starlight. Let Mechanics' usher you into a Summer mood with these drive-in movie recommendations.

Steven recommends:

The Val Lewton horror collection - Val Lewton created low-budget "B-movies" right when the popularity of the drive-in movie theaters exploded after WWII. This compilation includes his best known "classsics."

The Bad Seed - Instead of an ugly monster, we see a pretty little girl with no limits on what she will do to get her way. The original ending (in the novel and the play) had her get away with murder, but the movie industry's "Hayes code" would not allow that. Nonetheless, this proved one of the most popular movies of 1956 and has had a cult following ever since.

Wolfen - Cheesy plot, clueless behavior by the victims, inexplicably never before seen super-wolf. Yes, nothing even remotely believable whatsoever and it doesn’t make sense either. Perfect. 

Carnival of Souls - A singular, unique, low-budget horror movie. Herk Harvey's one-hit wonder made with almost no money, no famous actors (mostly the producer/director's friends) relies on narrative, lighting, make-up and mood instead of special effects to create a very effective scary movie. Everything a drive-in movie should be.

Deb remembers "in high school, I worked in the snack bar at Alameda Island Auto Movie when it was the Penny Market,"

Taryn shares "my first drive-in movie was Excalibur – I watched bits and pieces from the rear of my parents VW Bug and wad totally scandalized by the love scene between Gwenivere and Lancelot on a grassy hill. This was at the Bayfair Mall drive-in in San Leandro. Later in my teens I would drive my VW Wagon full of kids to Union City to see greats such as Show Girls and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. A good drive-in movie is interruptible with a light plot."

Lisa recalls "Two movies I saw at the drive-in on Cape Cod on vacation (were) Batman, and The Terminator."

Myles says "I can't remember what movies I watched at the Sunset Drive-In in San Luis Obispo, but they had an incredible swap meet every Sunday. In college, I stayed out of trouble on Saturday nights because I couldn’t stand to miss the 6 a.m. deals. The drive-in style movie I recommend is the 90s suspense film Twister."

Marisela recommends: Grease, American Graffiti, The Majestic, and Ed Wood.

Veronica also recommends Grease, along with North by Northwest, The Outsiders, My Fair Lady, The Exorcist and The Shining.

Posted on Jul. 9, 2019 by Myles Cooper