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"Piranha 3D" by Mike Smith
Will's 2009 South Florida Adventure: Part Two by William Moriaty
The Lost Drive-In: Demented Double Features by ED Tucker
|THE ASIAN APERTURE|
Zeiram 2 by Jason Fetters
Dad .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith
Welcome to the inaugural installment of The Lost Drive-In. I was fortunate enough to grow up about two miles from a drive-in movie theater so my family spent a lot of time of there over the years. My home town of Ocala, Florida had two drive-in theaters throughout most of my youth. The first was rather appropriately name the Ocala Drive-In, this was the one I lived close to, and the second was the Skylark which was more centrally located in town. The Ocala, which was right on the edge of the city on highway 301 and still stands, albeit closed, to this day, specialized in second run mainstream films while the Skylark always seemed to get the low budget horror and exploitation flicks. I was thoroughly convinced that as soon as I was old enough to drive I would have my mail forwarded to the Skylark and live on the lot! Unfortunately, it was closed down a few months before my sixteenth birthday to make way for another shopping center! While hard top theaters will not be ignored in these columns, it is to the Skylark and the Ocala theaters that I dedicate The Lost Drive-In.
The double feature concept has been around almost as long as their have been motion pictures (at least as long as their have been TWO motion pictures). The idea of giving patrons more bang for their buck was a sound one, especially if one of the features was an older one they probably wouldn’t pay to see by itself anyway or had possibly already seen. While indoor theaters used this technique frequently up until the 1970’s, for drive-ins, it was practically a requirement to have at least two features on a bill. This often lead to inspired couplings like a sequel with the original film that inspired it or a pair of giant monster movies. At other times though, an appropriate companion feature either was not available or could not be acquired for a reasonable price. This lead to some of the oddball pairings we will discuss this week.
First up is this kooky little combination from 1971 of mad women and motorcycles! Who Slew Auntie Roo? is a gothic melodrama starring Shelly Winters, who puts the bat in bat shit crazy. Shelly starred in a number of films as a psycho spinster before redeeming her career in The Poseidon Adventure. Here she plays a nutty old lady who kidnaps an orphan brother and sister because the girl reminds her of her own daughter who perished mysteriously at a young age. The brother, played by Mark Lester of Oliver, has read one too many fairy tales and knows exactly how to handle a wicked old witch like Ms. Winters! On the lower half of the bill is Chrome and Hot Leather, a forgettable motorcycle movie that couldn’t be much more different from Auntie Roo. This tale of a Green Beret defending a small town from a motorcycle gang was already old hat when this film came along but it is notable for featuring Bobby “Boris” Pickett of Monster Mash fame and a young Cheryl Ladd.
Al Adamson directed some pretty weird films during his amazing career and most of them, like Horror of the Blood Monsters here, were in the horror or science fiction vein. Blood Monsters, better known as Vampire Men of the Lost Planet on television, started life as a black and white Philippino movie about tribes of cave people battling each other and some strange monsters. Al and Sam Sherman bought this film and tinted the monochrome footage various colors in a process they had the audacity to call Spectrum X! They shot some wrap around scenes with John Carradine and some of their regular acting troupe to fool audiences into thinking this was an entirely color film. The resulting film supposedly tells the story of a plague of vampirism striking Earth that is linked back to an unexplored planet and the expedition that is sent to investigate. While you might think from this advertisement that Five Bloody Graves is also some type of vampire film, it is actually nothing more than a particularly violent western! While there are no blood suckers in sight in this horse drama, we do get John Carradine again as an alcoholic preacher so at least that was a slight connection.
Speaking of Al Adamson and blood, some distributor got the bright idea to tack his Blood of Dracula’s Castle (again featuring John Carradine) on to a double feature with a film about back woods blood suckers. The wonderfully titled Invasion of the Blood Farmers is the story of a blood drinking redneck cult trying to bring their long dormant queen back to life. While it may lack production values, plot development, and acting prowess, Farmers does rate high on the goofy meter. Blood of Dracula’s Castle was already three years old when it was matched up on this double bill in 1972 but it is still the superior picture which you don’t get to brag about very often!