DRIVE-IN DISCS COLLECTION
Review by Michael Jacobson
& Directors: Various
Audio: “Distorto” 5.1, Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Elite Entertainment
Features: See Review
Release Date: August 19, 2003
all go to the lobby,
Let’s all go to the lobby,
Let’s all go to the lobby,
To get ourselves a treat!”
the drive-in? I do.
Those gigantic screens, the rows and rows of cars, those little crappy
speakers hanging on your car window, the hundred-plus yard hike to the snack
bar, the teens making out in the front seat…actually, that latter wasn’t me.
I was the six year old kid hunched impatiently in the back while his
parents enjoyed some lame-o flick like Ode to Billy Joe.
a movie experience that’s almost vanished from the landscape.
Sure, some drive-ins still exist, but not the way we remember them.
Advanced technologies in digital surround sound make those little mono
speakers even more pitiful than ever, and people just don’t seem to want to
sit around in their cars as much anymore.
and fitting, however, that Elite Entertainment would utilize those same
advancements in sound in order to preserve the classic drive-in experience!
Their three disc set Drive-In Discs Collection (the three discs
are also available separately) utilizes 5.1 capabilities not to remaster the
sounds of the movies, but to put you back behind the wheel as you sit parked in
front of the screen with the sounds of fun and activity all around.
It’s called “Distorto” – the latest in low-fidelity technology.
More on that further down.
discs are packaged for maximum fun. Each
contains a double feature of B movie schlock from 1958-1960.
But the movies themselves aren’t the attraction.
The overall experience is where you get your entertainment dollar’s
addition to the bustling sounds, each disc is presented as a full drive-in
experience. From the Star Spangled
Banner to the classic ads for popcorn, sodas and hot dogs, everything you
remember about the good old movie-going days is here. There’s plenty of goodies, including hilarious coming
attractions (my favorite is for an early Roger Corman flick Creature From
Beneath The Sea), cartoon shorts from Popeye, Gumby and Betty Boop,
countdown clocks, helpful bits of information (like not to drive off with the
speaker still hanging on your window) and more.
My favorite was a public service announcements warning against cable
television: write your Congressman
and urge him to save free TV! What
movies are all perfectly cultivated for drive-in double bills; each runs from 61
to 78 minutes in length, each is black and white, and all are appropriately low
budgeted and frequently howlingly bad! Disc
One pairs up The Giant Leeches with The Screaming Skull, while
Disc Two features The Wasp Woman (the biggest chuckle for my money) and The
Giant Gila Monster, and Disc Three rounds out with I Bury the Living and
the films by themselves, and you’ve got nothing much to get excited about.
But insert them into a fully packaged and cleverly cultivated
presentation of nostalgic drive-in fun, and you’ve got a great time.
These are the perfect discs to watch with a crowd, provided you have that
popcorn popping and those ice cold colas fizzing.
Any one of these discs would make for the perfect accompaniment to your
Halloween party, too!
commend Elite for their commitment to fun on DVD. The Drive-In Discs Collection is a work of pure
genius…or maybe madness, but who’s speculating?
the age of the pictures and that these aren’t the kind of films that are going
to merit restoration, Elite still did a fine job with their anamorphic
transfers. Some movies look better
than others; I thought the final disc with The Hand and I Bury the
Living to be the best of the bunch. Sure,
I could point out a bit of dirt here, a scratch there, but come on…it’s all
part of the vintage styled fun.
I first read about “Distorto”, I thought it was an amusing idea for a
gimmick, but it would get old quickly. I
was wrong. This clever use of 5.1
audio to bring the drive-in experience to life is not only a fun listen, but
preferable to the simple mono movie audio (also included, for purists).
Face it, there’s not a lot lost by simply channeling the film’s
soundtracks to the front left speaker…the sound is still clean and clear.
The ambient noises, from the car engines to the footsteps to the
occasional bits of dialogue make for a true to life experience.
There’s even a brief summer rain shower on Disc Three!
The sounds are up during the commercials and intermission bits, but down
for the movies, so you don’t have to worry about your film experience getting
cartoons, coming attractions, and drive-in interstitials seem kind of like
features to me, even though they’re incorporated into the programming.
We won’t offer a rating in this category…judge for yourselves if you
think they constitute bonuses.