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From the Desk of the Unimonster...

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03 April, 2010

Junkyardfilms.com’s Moldy Oldie Movie of the Month!: DRIVE-IN


Year of Release—Film: 1976

Orville Hennigson is a small-town Texan teen. His biggest problem is he's a virgin. This last fact fascinates his sexually curious younger brother, Little Bit, who watches Orville closely to see what he's doing wrong. Orville, however, isn't interested in one-night stands. He wants a meaningful relationship.

Glowie Hudson is a pretty small-town Texan teen girl who is far from being a virgin. She's the 'steady date' of Enoch, the head of a local gang, The Widow-Makers. However, Enoch treats Glowie as his personal property and is constantly threatening her that, should she leave him, he'd make her face look as if it had lost a fight with a chainsaw. With that threat firmly in mind, Glowie sets her sights on Orville and, while at the local skating rink, she tells Orville she'll be at the drive-in later that night...if he wants to hook up. Orville, in his first haze of puppy-love, accidentally hits and rips off Enoch's van door. Enoch's pissed!

Meanwhile, two bumbling crooks, one of them clearly an idiot, firm up their plans to rob the drive-in. While loudly arguing about this, Bill Hill approaches them to buy a hot engagement ring from them. Bill wants to ask his steady girl, Mary Louise, to marry him before he's knocks her up.
Orville, with brother in tow, goes to the drive-in. Glowie, along with two girlfriends, goes to the drive-in. The two bumbling crooks, the dumb one now armed, go to the drive-in. Enoch, finding out from Glowie's mother that Glowie is at the drive-in, rounds up his fellow Widow-Makers and they all go to the drive-in. Bill Hill and Mary Louise go to the drive-in, where Mary tried to explain to Bill why she won't marry him. She wants to go to college. Bill, who's not exactly the brightest bulb, promises her a small house with real grass...not "that Astro-turf stuff.”

Also at the drive-in are a weed-smoking local deputy and his nagging mother, a stressed-out black doctor and his wife, a gate-jumping pastor with a trunk-full of other clergy and a rival gang, the Gear-Grinders, who have a bone to pick with Enoch and his gang. The stage is set!

The Remember the Alamo drive-in is showing DISASTER '76, a rip-off of AIRPLANE before AIRPLANE was even made! DISASTER 76 pays homage to every disaster movie to date including AIRPORT, EARTHQUAKE, TOWERING INFERNO and JAWS. (I'd love to see this movie!)

As Little Bit plays on the swings and peeks into fogged-up car windows, hoping to see some action, Glowie, challenged by her girlfriends, seeks out Orville. However, despite her best efforts to seduce him, Orville remains resolute, explaining to Glowie that he'd sooner go with a girl with braces if only they could have a meaningful relationship first. Miffed at being rejected, Glowie leaves to find her girlfriends, who, because they were bored and drunk, have left to help the football team break spring training.

Little Bit finally peeks through the wrong car window and gets nabbed by the bumbling crooks who fear he's over-heard their plot to rob the drive-in. They decide to use Little Bit as a hostage should something go amiss with the robbery. Little Bit, excited by all the action, eagerly agrees to go along. The crooks don their ski-masks. The heist is on!

Meanwhile, Glowie who is wandering around still looking for her missing friends, is discovered by Enoch, who pulls her into the back of his van and demands to know who she came with and, when Glowie refuses to tell him, he slaps the snot out of her! Glowie finally tells Enoch that she's there with Orville. Enoch, still angered over his missing van door, instructs his gang to torch Orville's car. Glowie grabs Enoch's switchblade and stabs his waterbed, flooding the van and almost drowning Enoch! The other Widow-Makers try to torch Orville's car (with Orville still in it!) but are thwarted by a patrolling police car. A battered Glowie is discovered by Orville who, angered that any man would slap a defenseless girl, goes to even the score with Enoch.

The Widow-Makers, who now know of the rival gang's presence, meet the Gear-Grinders near the concession stand and prepare to do battle. However, they are frightened off by the still patrolling police car. As the movie-in-a-movie nears it's end and the manager counts up the nightly till, the bumbling crooks, with Little Bit in tow, announce that this is a stick-up! However, one of the employees recognizes stupid crook's voice and while stupid crook pauses to ponder what to do next, the lights go out and gun shots are heard. Frightened, the crooks flee, with the patrolling police car, the now totally baked deputy, and his equally stoned mother in hot pursuit. After an extremely hilarious pursuit, the crooks escape with Little Bit and the cash box. However, the experience has encouraged the crook to change their ways and go back to diesel engine school. They give Little Bit the cash drawer and leave. Little Bit reluctantly returns the cash.

Orville finds Enoch and challenges him to a fight. However, Enoch, having rescued his switchblade from the flood, pulls the weapon and Orville is grabbed by the other Widow-Makers. Orville, fueled by his anger, pulls away, beats down Enoch, takes his knife, and snaps it in half as Enoch cowers in fear. The Widow-Makers, disgusted by Enoch's cowardice, abandon him in the dust. Orville and Little Bit join up again and, as the credits roll, so do they. The end.

This is a charming look at a time long past, of the innocence of young love in a more innocent time and gang violence with no actual violence. But, more importantly, it's a very funny comedy with many snappy lines. Examples of this are when Glowie is asked if she needs a ride by an obviously interested man and she snaps back that she'd rather "have a non-specific infection," or when the smarter of the two crooks tells the dumber one "that to be a bigger idiot, you'd have to gain weight!" Much of it's humor is derived from DISASTER 76 showing on the big screen. Fans of country-western music will be pleased with it's sound track featuring Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ronny Millsap. The acting is decent and the convoluted plot isn't as confusing as this review may have made it sound.

Many of the extras used were locals, which gives this a nice homey feeling. Funded in part by the Texas Film Commission, this was a movie about a drive-in made for the drive-in crowd. This movie deserves...nay! Demands an official DVD release! It's just too bad that it can't be seen again as it was intended...at the drive-in!


Enjoy! And you will!

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