Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Drive-In Discs Collection (Elite Entertainment, 2003)

The Drive-In Discs Collection (Elite Entertainment, 2003) is a nifty 3-DVD box set that tries to simulate the 1950s or 60s drive-in movie experience in your home.

Each disc contains a double-feature of vintage schlock, bumpered by concession stand ads, an intermission, a pair of short-subject cartoons, and film trailers.

The best gimmick of this set is an alternate DISTORTO audio track. This track layers ambient sound effects over the regular movie soundtrack... crickets chirping, cars parking and doors opening and closing, and audience laughter, screams, and other reactions. (You'll even here conversational snippets, like someone asking if anyone wants anything from the snack bar, etc.)

I think the DISTORTO track works better in theory than in practice. When it sticks to the sounds effects, it really gives the sensation of being at a drive-in theater. But some of the "audience members" get a bit chatty at times, in some cases even offering up their own, um, "witty" commentary to what's occurring on-screen, and the result is more annoying than entertaining. Still, I applaud the effort, and find I usually end up switching back and forth between DISTORTO and the regular audio track throughout the program.

To give you an idea of what you're in for, here's a run-down of the contents of the disc one double-feature: Attack of the Giant Leeches / The Screaming Skull.
The title menu screen, followed by a barely animated ticket-taker tearing your ticket:
First, the National Anthem, complete with sing-a-long lyrics:

I really like this next one. This no-nonsense spokesman sternly warns that noise and outbursts will not be tolerated, and those asked to leave the theater today will not be admitted in the future. AWESOME! Put this guy on a postage stamp.

Next is an ad for "PIC", a mosquito-repelling candle of sorts, perfect to keep pests away at the drive-in or at the backyard barbecue:

Next we have your basic all-purpose refreshment stand ad. Hot dogs, pizza, hot and cold beverages, chicken wings(?)..they've got it all:

Another great one... this ad warns against "public displays of affection." Because one thing that isn't for sale at the refreshment stand is dignity.

A trailer for The Wasp Woman (now showing on Disc 2 of this very set!)

And now a cartoon (Betty Boop):

Better get those PIC candles lit...the first show is starting! "Attack of the Giant Leeches" (1960):

Now is a good time to point out that the quality of the transfers of the actual films is awful! They look like 4th generation VHS. Feel free to rationalize this as being an accurate recreation of the beat-up prints that got projected at the actual drive-in, if that makes it tolerable.

After the end credits of "Attack of the Giant Leeches" roll, we go right into the classic "Let's All Go To The Lobby" concession stand ad:

Followed by a "Tex Rides Again" intermission spot:

Then a cartoon hot-dog that wants you to eat him!

And the hotdog's green doppelganger, Chilly Dilly, the pickle:

Next, a trailer for The Giant Gila Monster (also appearing in its entirety on Disc 2 of this set):

A second short-subject (Popeye):

Hope you got your Chilly Dilly, because the B-picture is starting..."The Screaming Skull" (1950):

This static graphic appears after the end credits of "Screaming Skull" roll:

The Drive-In Discs Collection is out of print as of this writing, but used copies can be found at reasonable prices.

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