Although they are disappearing at an alarming rate, drive-in movie theatres have long been a part of American culture. Their overall atmosphere and vibe have inspired many filmmakers and writers to include them on the silver screen. Check out these 15 movies that feature drive-in theatres and be reminded of days gone by.
1. Twister (1996)
This disaster movie follows a group of storm chasers as they attempt to deploy a new tracking device into a powerful tornado. Among the thrilling chase scenes and breathtaking special effects, the film features a memorable scene where the characters take refuge in a drive-in theater as a twister bears down on them.
2. Grease (1978)
This beloved musical captures the nostalgia of teenage romance in the 1950s. One of its most memorable scenes takes place in a drive-in theater, where the gang gathers to watch a movie and sing along to classic tunes. It's a fun and lively sequence that captures the joy and energy of going to the drive-in with friends.
3. The Outsiders (1983)
Based on the novel by S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders is a coming-of-age drama that follows a group of teenage boys as they navigate the social hierarchy of their small town. The film features a poignant scene set in a drive-in theater, where two characters share a heartfelt conversation about their struggles and dreams. It's a powerful moment that captures the intimacy and vulnerability that drive-ins can bring.
4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a love letter to the film industry of the 1960s. The movie follows the lives of an aging actor and his stunt double as they navigate the changing landscape of Hollywood. The film features several scenes set in drive-in theaters, showcasing the era's popular movies and advertising tactics. It's a fascinating look at a bygone era that still holds a special place in our hearts.
5. Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Back to the Future Part III takes us on a time-traveling adventure to the Wild West. Among the film's many exciting escapades, Marty McFly discovers a drive-in theater and witnesses the earliest known example of 3D cinema. It's a fun and imaginative scene that perfectly captures the spirit of drive-in movie theaters.
6. Drive-In (1976)
Drive-In is a fun movie about a group of teenagers who explore life as a young person in the 1970s, all while at a drive-in in Texas! It was a lesser-known movie when it came out but it's worth a watch!
7. The Monster Squad (1987)
The Monster Squad is a horror-comedy that follows a group of kids as they try to stop a group of classic monsters from taking over their town. Among the film's many nods to classic horror movies is a scene set in a drive-in theater, where the characters witness the monsters on the big screen before facing them in real life. It's a fun and playful tribute to the horror genre.
8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
This horror film is based on the popular book series of the same name and follows a group of teenagers as they try to unravel the mystery behind a cursed book that brings their fears to life. In one particularly spine-chilling scene, the characters visit a drive-in theater and watch in terror as one of the cursed stories comes to life on the screen, haunting them in real life.
9. That Darn Cat (1965)
There is a hilarious scene where a couple is at the drive-in, and the lady doesn't realize the cat is in the back seat, while one guy throws a rock at the lady to get her attention to tell her the cat is there. But unfortunately, things continue to go comically go downhill from here.
10. Cecil B. Demented (2000)
This satirical comedy from director John Waters follows a group of guerrilla filmmakers who kidnap a Hollywood star and force her to act in their underground movie. In a scene set in a drive-in theater, the group stages a chaotic public screening of their film, complete with outrageous stunts and over-the-top violence.
11. The Cider House Rules (1999)
Based on the novel by John Irving, this drama follows a young man who grows up in an orphanage and becomes conflicted about his place in the world and his sense of morality. In a poignant scene set in a drive-in theater, the protagonist confronts the complexities of his personal and professional relationships, as he struggles to come to terms with the choices he has made.
12. Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
This whimsical comedy follows the quirky and eccentric Pee Wee Herman as he embarks on a cross-country journey to find his beloved stolen bike. Along the way, he finds himself in a chaotic chain of events that leads him to a memorable scene set in a drive-in theater. Pee Wee's antics in the theater, including his signature laugh and bizarre dance moves, add to the film's unique charm and humor.
13. Dead End Drive-In (1985)
In this science-fiction horror movie, a guy and his girlfriend get trapped at a drive-in theater that has become a wasteland for the youth of the area where they live and do dangerous things.
14. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
One touching scene from Brokeback Mountain is when Ennis (Heath Ledger) returns from work, he takes his wife (Michelle Williams) on a date to the drive-in. It's not a long scene, but it's a cute one to watch in this very dramatic and sad movie.
15. Midnight Cowboy (1985)
One of the first scenes in the movie is actually set at the Big Tex Drive-In. While most of the movie is set in New York City, while the story is still set in Texas, we get a nice little scene at the movies!
Jaimee Marshall is a writer who hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia but has spent the past few years living abroad in Australia. She considers herself a bit of a movie buff with a knack for horror and clever sci-fi flicks. When she isn't watching or writing about movies, she's probably either posting political memes, cooking vegan food, or being active. She covers entertainment news, and reviews films and television for Wealth of Geeks. You can also catch her deep dives on sociopolitical issues at Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, and Her Campus or watch her appearance on Popcorned Planet, where she discusses heated issues like due process in our current social climate.