So on Friday night, the Mrs. and I got to catch a double feature of Wedding Crashers and The 40-Year-Old Virgin at our local kick-ass drive-in theater, the Parma Motor-Vu. The Motor-Vu was recently featured in an Entertainment Weekly article on the country's best drive-ins. Situated between some onion fields, the Motor-Vu has been showing movies to customers in their cars for more than 50 years. Not only is it beautiful setting for a drive-in (nothing but farm scenery all around it), but it also serves up a pretty good hot dog to those of us who are brave enough to stay for the double feature.
Pairing 'Wedding Crashers' and 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin" seemed like the perfect double feature for me, both movies were mildly disappointing (each losing most of their steam for the final reel). But I still had a great time, simply because there are precious few opportunities to see double features. So I'm turning this column into an If I Ran the Zoo fantasy of sorts, except substitute drive-in for zoo. Here are some of the double features that would run at Frank Burton's Drive-In:
The Night of the Hunter/Cape Fear
This would be a dream double feature for me. In The Night of the Hunter, one of my all-time favorite movies, you have Robert Mitchum playing one of the truly most terrifying characters of all-time. In Cape Fear, Mitchum plays a similarly evil and horrifying character. In both movies, Mitchum plays crazed men bent on getting what they want. But both characters still manage to be appealing to most people, which is why they are so damn evil: they are able to come off as good people, except to those who know what they want. Mitchum is maybe the only actor who could accurately portray these complex madmen, and his sly smile and stern eyes are on display in spades in these two movies, which are best seen in succession.
As far as sequels go, Halloween II is pretty average, but its entertainment value goes through the roof when viewed right after Halloween, since it picks up just minutes after the original movie ends. It's rare to have a sequel literally continue what was happening in the original movie, but that's the case here and this would obviously make a great double feature to show on Halloween. The famous ending of 'Halloween' has Dr. Sam Loomis shooting his deranged former patient Michael Meyers and watching him fall off the balcony. But much to their dismay, and the audience's fright, when the characters look down from the balcony, Michael is nowhere to be found. The sequel picks up right at that moment and depicts the following chase to corral Michael.
A Boy and His Dog/The Road Warrior
Two fantastic post-apocalyptic flicks featuring the friendship between a man and his dog. The aptly titled A Boy and His Dog gives us a too young Don Johnson and his psychic dog Blood, who helps his master find what every guy in the future wants: sex. The budget is microscopic, the action bland and the movie maybe too short, but the exchanges between man and dog are hilarious, especially the ending. Director George Miller claims that 'Dog' was not an inspiration for The Road Warrior, but the similarities are there: A lonely drifter in a post-apocalyptic future, searching with his dog for the one thing he needs: gasoline. Dog (that's his name) doesn't talk in this one, but really neither does Gibson. This would make a great late-summer sci-fi double feature.
One Crazy Summer/Better Off Dead
This is a pretty obvious choice for me, as both of these are of the John Cusack Screwball 80s Comedy genre, and are very similar. One Crazy Summer gives us a loser Cusack who has some cooky friends trying to protect the world from corporate greed by beating some stuffy jocks at a yacht races. It features one of the best 80s Let's-Make-It-Work! montages as the gang restores an old junker boat. It also has Jeremy Piven, Joe Flaherty, Curtis Armstrong and even Bobcat Goldthwait for good measure. Better Off Dead has a loser Cusack who has a cooky family and will try to win a girl's heart by beating a stuffy jock in a skiing race. This one also has Armstrong, playing pretty much the same character. These would go great together just to show how similar so many 80s comedies were, and why we loved them for that reason.