Thursday, December 17, 2009

Burbank? Saturn? No, it's the DeWitt Drive-In



Above and below are the covers for the first two DVDs in a certain company's "Saturn Drive-In" series. We'd rather not mention the name of this company, because we don't want to seem like we're supporting them or endorsing their products. When they apologize to our friends and do the right thing regarding THE NAME OF THE GAME IS KILL, they'll get back in our good graces. Until then, they can suck the Temple floors dry.


Anyway, you'll notice that the covers for these "Saturn Drive-In" discs look very similar to the "Burbank Drive-In" double feature disc the same company put out last year, featuring BETWEEN THE COVERS and SWINGING WIVES, two imported softcore sex films released in the U.S. by Raphael Nussbaum's Burbank International Pictures (originally International Producers Distributors). Also, please note that "Erie Boulevard East" is the supposed address for both the Saturn and Burbank Drive-In theatres.


When a section of the Erie Canal stretching from Dewitt, NY to downtown Syracuse was filled in sometime in the early 1900s, the result was Erie Boulevard. A stone's throw from the Eastwood section of Syracuse -- birthplace of Temple of Schlock -- Erie Boulevard East was the home of the DeWitt Drive-In theatre from its grand opening on July 8th 1950 (for a double bill of SUDAN and ARABIAN NIGHTS) until it ran its final double bill on September 22nd 1984 (THE JIGSAW MAN and THE LAST CHASE) and was torn down the following year to make way for a strip mall. The DeWitt Drive-In had a 950-car capacity and a screen that was the equivalent of an 8-story building. The concession stand not only boasted 125 feet of counterspace, but also a nursery room that was wired for sound and had a large picture window that faced the screen, so parents could change diapers or nurse their children and not miss the movie. I loved the DeWitt Drive-In, and was devastated when it met the wrecking ball after a terrific season in which it booked such exciting double bills as HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY w/ HORROR PLANET, DEATHSTALKER w/ THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, SLEEPAWAY CAMP w/ 1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS, EXTERMINATOR 2 w/ THE YOUNG WARRIORS, a re-release of the ancient POOR WHITE TRASH co-billed with an old Sybil Danning import called RESORT GIRLS, and a Labor Day dusk-to-dawn show featuring CATHY'S CURSE, SWINGIN' SWAPPERS and SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS.


In memory of our favorite drive-in, which has been renamed twice in the past year (despite the fact that it was wiped off the map a quarter of a century ago) and is now being used to sell substandard DVDs from a company we again refuse to identify by name, below is a list of every July 8th program that ran at the mighty DeWitt Drive-In, from 1950 to 1984.


1950 -- SUDAN / ARABIAN KNIGHTS
1951 -- ON THE RIVIERA / SAND
1952 -- THE MOB / LADY FROM TEXAS
1953 -- SCARED STIFF / WARPATH
1954 -- CARNIVAL STORY / SECOND CHANCE
1955 -- THE RACER / LONG JOHN SILVER
1956 -- MY SISTER, EILEEN / THE BLACK KNIGHT
1957 -- SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS / WAR DRUMS
1958 -- THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV / THE HIGH COST OF LIVING
1959 -- THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
1960 -- Cartoons / THE UNFORGIVEN / PORK CHOP HILL / ALLIGATOR PEOPLE
1961 -- FIVE BOLD WOMEN / ANGEL BABY / 4 SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE
1962 -- EL CID
1963 -- SPENCER'S MOUNTAIN / SON OF SAMSON
1964 -- FABULOUS MEXICO / THE CARPETBAGGERS / BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S
1965 -- WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT? / YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE
1966 -- 3 ON A COUCH / LORD JIM
1967 -- YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE / CHUCKA
1968 -- THE GREEN BERETS / ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO
1969 -- MACKENNA'S GOLD / THE WRECKING CREW
1970 -- BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES / THE BOSTON STRANGLER
1971 -- WILLARD / TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN
1972 -- THE DOBERMAN GANG / LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH
1973 -- LIVE AND LET DIE / THE MECHANIC
1974 -- THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT / THE OUTFIT
1975 -- BAMBI / SUPERDAD
1976 -- A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS / THE BORN LOSERS
1977 -- THE BOATNIKS / THE GNOME-MOBILE
1978 -- THE JUNGLE BOOK / THE SIGN OF ZORRO / NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN
1979 -- THE DEER HUNTER / THE BRINK'S JOB
1980 -- BLOODEATERS / HORROR HOSPITAL / NIGHT OF THE DEMON
1981 -- S.O.B. / AIRPLANE
1982 -- TRON / BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS
1983 -- FLASHDANCE / AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN
1984 -- THE CANNONBALL RUN II / FIREFOX


2 comments:

Kung Fu Manchu said...

Sounds like it was a great place. We still have a drive-in here in Elmira, NY. They only play current films in the summer though, no trash or classics. :(

Richard said...

We're extremely lucky to still have 3 drive-ins here in Dayton, OH. And like the previous post, they only play current films. However, for the last weekend season, one of them broke tradition & had a "retro" night with John Carpenter's "Vampires" & "Killer Klowns from Outer Space." They even showed old move trailers like "Hollywood High."