james brolin

Queen of Schlock! The Car

When I was a kid, I loved going to the drive-in movies. On hot summer nights, my parents would pile the four of us kids into the back of the old, white Pontiac station wagon and head off to Owen Sound’s Twin Drive-In Theatre (sadly, it’s no longer there). Mom would always have plenty of snacks for us, even though we would always beg to go to the snack bar. There would be a variety of Pop Shoppe soft drinks, salt and vinegar or plain potato chips, Whoppers, and sandwiches. To be honest, though tempted by the overcooked hot dogs and dry popcorn of the concession stand, we always fared better.

No matter how hot it was, we would always don our pyjamas before leaving for the twenty minute drive. Our parents would try to pick a double bill that had a kid friendly or as close to…. movie as a first feature, since most of the time we’d be sound asleep before intermission. That didn’t always work out as planned for them.

By the way, I wrote another blog about the Owen Sound Twin Drive-In Theatre a couple of years ago when I heard it was being torn down. https://lizzieviolet.com/category/owen-sound-twin-drive-in-theatre/

Now back to the story… I would have been ten years old when this happened and at this point, was generally immune to horror movies, since I had watched quite a few with my Dad already. Oh, the 1970s… such an innocent time. So… I’m not really sure why this movie bothered me as much as it did, however, The Car (1977) scared the crap out of me!!!

I’m sure by this point of the evening my parents figured the four of us were sound asleep. Little did they know, their eldest was wide awake and taking in every little bit of the movie, including the scenes where the car runs people over and the terrifying first person or maybe it was first demon view coming from inside the car. There was a point that I had to go to the washroom and was pleading with my Mom to take me. I was too afraid to go on my own. I mean, come on! We were in a drive-in theatre filled with cars! Normally, we would go on our own, again… the 1970s… Finally, my Mom relented and took me. She wasn’t pleased that she was missing all of the on-screen carnage. For quite a while after that evening, I would be occasionally startled by passing cars, especially while cycling. (You will understand when you see the opening scene) Eventually, I got over it.

Now, a little bit about the movie.

The Car is a 1977 American horror film directed by Elliot Silverstein and written by Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack, and Lane Slate. The film stars James Brolin, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley, and Ronny Cox, along with real-life sisters Kim and Kyle Richards (as Brolin’s daughters). It tells the story of an unmanned, self-driving mysterious car that goes on a murderous rampage, terrorizing the residents of a small town.

The film was produced and distributed by Universal Studios and was influenced by numerous “road movies” of the 1970s including Steven Spielberg‘s thriller Duel (1971) and Roger Corman‘s Death Race 2000 (1975). {source Wikipedia}

One other movie freaked me out and that was The Amityville Horror (1979), but, all that did was help me become obsessed with haunted houses and thunderstorms. Now that I’ve come to think about it, both movies starred James Brolin. Maybe, I was scared of James Brolin? Movies like The Duel (1971 – which I saw years later) Christine (1983) or Maximum Overdrive (1986) didn’t bother me, so why did this movie? I’ve been rewatching trailers and I still feel tense. Just look at the one below.

I’ve been rewatching movies that freaked me out as a kid and in most cases, they are now laughable… except for clowns… I won’t be rewatching movies with clowns, this one though, chills! We finally rewatched The Car and after viewing it for the second time in my life, I understand why it freaked me out. This movie gets right to it in the opening scene and I mean right to it! When we were kids we cycled EVERYWHERE and that was why the first scene got to me. Also, cars are everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere, there is bound to be a car. There is literally no escape from them in the real world or in this movie! There are even children being terrorized , which was another thing that upset me. One of the kids was my age (at the time). I really, really want you to watch this movie!

If you are interested in watching other movies about murderous cars, check out this article. https://www.treehugger.com/horror-films-featuring-villainous-motor-vehicles-4863697

Each month I run a b-movie night called Killer B Cinema. Join Lizzie Violet & Zoltan Du Lac for a monthly evening of b-moves from the 1950s to 1990s! There will also be trivia with prizes & much more! Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Owen Sound Twin Drive-in Theatre

I just found out that the Twin Drive-in Theatre, just outside of Owen Sound, is being torn down. My heart sunk a little when I saw these words, that was immediately followed by a torrent of childhood memories. Good memories. Flushed with nostalgia, I began to reminisce about hot summer nights, curled up in the back seat of the white, Pontiac station wagon, dressed in our PJs. Anticipating dusk so the movie would begin.


In the summer and even early fall, we spent many Saturday nights at the Owen Sound Twin Drive-in Theatre. With no air conditioning at home, it was an escape from the stifling heat of the century-old, badly insulated Victorian house we lived in.  My Dad would pack up the Igloo cooler with bottles of Pop Shoppe cream soda and root beer and it would be one of the few occasions our Mom would allow us to have junk food. We grew up in a household free of it. Fresh popcorn, sugar controlled Freshie and homemade cookies were her snacks of choice for us. Occasionally, our parents would let us buy something from the concession stand.


Before heading out for our night of movie entertainment; we were put into our pajama’s, our parents knowing we would never make it through the second movie. We tried, oh trust me, we tried.

My Dad would always try to get us there early, like many others, he wanted a prime spot.  This would mean waiting extra time for dusk and time to play in the rusting structures of the play area. How we didn’t end up with lead poison or lockjaw still confounds me. Running wild with hoards of other children, our parents hoped we’d exhaust ourselves so they’d be allowed enough peace and quiet to hear the voices through the vintage speaker mounted on the driver’s side window.


Since 1950 and when the Owen Sound Twin Drive-in Theatre first opened up, the long line-up of cars would cruise in, set-up the speaker in their window and then make their way to the concession stand. That drive-in saw many cars filled with young lovers, families with kids in PJs, teenagers excited that they could test their new driver’s license and freedom and older couples enjoying a date night. When I think of drive-in theatres, I often imagine the voice of Wolfman Jack drifting from the radio, in sync with the crunching sounds of popcorn and the release of metal pop bottle lids.  We usually parked close to the concession stand, allowing our car to be filled with the smells of food cooking and the sounds of beverages being poured into wax-lined paper cups.

One memory that has always stuck with me is that of being scared shitless to go to the bathroom that was attached to the concession stand. It was mere feet away. One of the movies from a double feature that particular evening was The Car. In this movie, the car was possessed and was running people down and starred the very handsome James Brolin. I was so scared of this evil vehicle that I was convinced that it was in the drive-in. I remember begging my mother to take me to the washroom. She was frustrated by this since I’ve never been scared to go on my own before that night. Oh, the 1970s. A time when you’d let your young child wander off to a public washroom all on their own.

It’s sad that drive-in’s and bowling alleys are dying away. They both have filled my heart with so many wonderful memories and I often wonder what could be done to keep them open and popular for today’s society. Would adding fun extras such as live music, trivia contests or some other events to entertain the masses, while they wait for the sun to go down, be enough?  I’m afraid it won’t be. Let’s hold onto those wonderful memories and continue to tell others our stories of hot, humid summer nights at a double feature at your local drive-theatre.
Please share your stories in the comments below.