On Labor Day weekend every year in Atlanta Georgia one of America’s last standing Drive-In theaters holds a festival featuring incredible bands from across the country during the day and a cavalcade of classic Drive-In trash once the sun goes down. In the past the Drive Invasion has lasted anywhere from two to three days. However, this year only lasted one glorious day. And what a day it was.
My lovely lady, Jessica, and I got up with the sun and headed to the Starlight 6 Drive-In Theater for 24 Hours worth of great bands and trashy movies. We arrived as the gates were opening and it paid off in spades as we got an excellent spot in front of the screen at the Starlight 6 Drive-In Theater. About 100 acres of beautiful sprawling black top sizzling in the warm summer sun. Jess and I were sure to get there as the gates opened to secure such a great spot. Fourth row back on the hill so no one was in our way.
As people began filing in, pitching the awnings and the PBR began to flow across this Trash Cinema Mecca, Jess and I took a nice long, sweaty stroll around taking in the sights of Rebel Flag Bullet trailers, rockabilly girls (my new thing) , artwork honoring the greatest Drive-In trash classics to ever grace the screen, and the awe inspiring Dixie Fried Car Show.
The band mix was an eclectic one to say the very least. Gargantua was the first band I went up to rock out to. Never heard of them before but I am an instant fan. Tose guys represented the only taste of pure metal at the Drive Invasion. Afterwards I took in tThe Vendettas, The Woggles (another new favorite and localAtlanta band), Deadbolt, Detroit Cobras, and after the sun finally went down Los Straightjackets took the stage and started off the 5 Deep drive-in movie marathon with some excellent original surf rock and a beautiful rendition on the theme from The Munsters.
But who stole the show? Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and the Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson. The woman is 71 years old, had just flown to Atlanta from a performance in Toronto Canada the night before and put on a set that lasted about an hour and a half.
Talking to the audience, telling stories, and playing the acoustic guitar the entire time. They kept trying to get her off the stage but she kept playing and the audience just ate it up. She sounded clear as a bell and, for me, may have been the highlight of the entire Drive Invasion.
And then the movies began. Jess and I had made sure to load up on essential Drive-In snacks (Giant Coke, Tub-O-Popcorn, cheeseburger, nachos with extra cheese, etc.) before the first film began, The Blues Brothers. This flick was a huge success. People were laughing their asses off and even some guys were inspired put on their gorilla masks and run naked up and down the Drive-In parking lot screaming their heads off. At least I think they were men…
Anyhoo, the Drive-In seemed in high spirits and ready to rock but then…a crucial misstep. El Topo. Don;t get me wrong, I like El Topo, it’s quite an interesting film. But a Drive-In flick? A fun, raunchy, weird, funny, Drive-In flick? No way, Jose. This is strictly art house material. The gang of conservatives next to me began slurring Obama ( claiming he was responsible for the movie? Or that only liberals like El Topo? Your guess is as good as mine) and began freaking out at the image of a naked, prepubescent child claiming that the film was for pedophiles. Some people are just…uh, what’s the word? Oh yeah! Idiots. But really, this film had no business on the line up really. It scared the hell out of people…no one expected an pretentious art film from Spain to be a part of the festivities.
Needless to say a good majority of the crowd packed their shit up and skipped the rest of the marathon. The film that followed didn’t help boost spirits much either even though, again, it’s a personal favorite of mine. That’s right, Zardoz, the John Boorman sci-fi epic about a giant floating head, a post apocalyptic world, and a race of hairy mustachioed men in red diaper outfits led by Sean Connery. It’s not a thrill a minute movie and is actually filled with some deep, ponderous human questions. Again, where is Humanoids from the Deep? Coffy? Re-Animator? I dunno, it was another film that drove people away.
Once the Drive-In had all but emptied they pulled out their wild card. Shanty Trap. One of the funniest slices of total and utter trash cinema I have ever witnessed. It’s basically To Kill a
Mockingbird with a whole lot of tits, PBR, biker gangs, lecherous revivalists, incest , murder, explosions, and a ten minute dance scene that is so funny and awkward you’ll be laughing long after it’s moved on to the next scene. I’ve also been told that this film was taken to the supreme court as an example of indecency in cinema. Luckily, in a rare stroke of brilliance, the supreme court said “If you don’t like it you don’t have to look.” and the whole thing was thrown out. I cannot recommend this weird-o movie enough. I know it is available through Something Weird and I recommend you try and track down a copy. SHANTY TRAMP is what the Drive-In’s all about.
Last, but not least, was the American International classic Frogs starring the coolest badass around, Sam Elliott. It’s a goofy nature revenge film I remember seeing when i was 5 or 6 on TBS or something. It’s a fun, trashy animal uprising movie. If you’re interested in checking out I know it’s gotta be on Netflix and I remember it floating and some 5 dollar bins a while ago.
The sun came up during the conclusion of Frogs and by that point many people had either gone home or were passed out on the soon to be blisteringly hot asphalt. We had a great time, ate some excellent BBQ, nauseatingly scrumptious Drive-In cuisine, saw some killer bands and watched some damn cool movies.
All in all it was an amazing trip. One we will be certain to make in 2010. And next time you all need to come with us.
-The Primal Root