Neptune City NJ Theater - Grindhouse

posted by thnj on August 29, 2007 at 9:55 am

This Theater seems forgotten as I have trolled the web for info on it. After the movie “Grindhouse” was released I thought I would pay it it’s due.

This was a single screen theater in Neptune City, New Jersey, near the shore and in the midst of typical suburbs. It was across from a small strip mall which included a Two Guys store. I believe it had been there since at least the late 60’s. It may not have been a Grindhouse in it’s beginning but it sure turned into one! The neighborhood was once middle class, but became a place of crime and section 8 housing.

During my ‘time’ the Neptune City Theater was the only grindhouse around – it showed second and third run films and the typical fare dug out of the grindhouse genre closet. Most of these were typical low budget shockers that could only be found in bad drive in’s, 42nd street in New York, or other scattered Grindhouses throught the country. Most of these flicks would never see the light of day at the other 10 + screens around my area.

My first trip was in 1980-81 to see a double feature – “The Hand” and “It’s Alive!”. The action in the theater was more interesting and memorable than the movies were. There was constant talking, yelling and screaming. One guy had to be ushered out of the theater by police after the manager and assistants failed to calm him down (he was obviously ‘on’ something), and even upon leaving he screamed scary sounds much to the audience’s delight. Than there was a group of people who walked in the front emergency exit – right next to the screen – which bathed the theater in bright light, as it was still daytime. They were avoiding paying and were promptly kicked out.

I remember my trip to the bathroom. Inside were toilets filled with urine and beer bottles. Also, there were lots of people in there not using the toilets, not even watcing the movies. They had other ‘business’ to attend to I assume, and they paid no mind to me as I was a skinny, 13 year old white kid from ‘across the tracks’.

This place was a community gathering zone, not just a movie theater, an interesting experience that I’ll never forget as a kid from the typical suburbs.

Over the years they played flicks like “Zombie” and “Penintentiary”. Eventually the neighborhood got worse though – Two Guys closed, and the theater was prone to gang violence – supposedly a kid was stabbed in the head with a pair of scissors one night.
It closed sometime during the mid 80’s and became batting cages for a while, and is now a gym the last time I checked.

I beleive that movie theaters like this are a thing of the past yet are worth remembering.
I’d love to hear from anyone who had been to this place, or has been to a similiar place.

Comments (9)

scottfavareille on August 29, 2007 at 12:43 pm

A number of theaters on Market Street in San Francisco had similar problems. You had homeless using the theaters as flophouses, rats running in the theaters, junkies shooting up, etc.

My most recent experience like this was with the Super Saver 7 in Fremont CA (now an Indian movie house). During its last year or so in business, I recall such things as: fights in the theater, a film showing stopped as theater workers tried to kick out a beligerent man who refused to leave for smoking in the theater, beer bottles being rolled down the isles, and the occasional “patron under the influence of drugs or booze”.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 29, 2007 at 1:56 pm

And on the Deuce, the occasional cry of “Put out that crack torch!”

William on August 29, 2007 at 4:12 pm

In Los Angeles, the three Grindhouses there (Cameo, Arcade, Optic) opened at 9am and ran till around 5am.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 29, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Hey, TAndrew — post a listing for your grindhouse here on CT.

markp on January 23, 2008 at 8:39 pm

As a projectionist of 33 years, I certainly had some interesting times in some fading grindhouses ( and adult movie houses ) during the late 70’s and into the 80’s. The one lone grindhouse I worked in that closed in the mid 80’s opened at 1pm and closed at 1am. The adult theatre I worked at until 1989 opened at 11am and closed at 1am. Those were interesting times to say the least.

trackmac77 on February 16, 2009 at 10:27 pm

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to patronize the Neptune City in all it’s glory during the early to mid-1980’s. Enjoying double and triple bills of films such as Forbidden World, Maniac, Slumber Party Massacre, Xtro, Make Them Die Slowly, They Call Me Bruce, and countlesss forgotten other films of similar ilk. The atmosphere was as much a part of the entertainment as the films themselves. While never witnessing any criminal or even disorderly behavior, the movies shown there were definitely a participatory affair. Talking, or even shouting, at the screen seemed expected, especially when trying discourage any unsuspecting nubile teen in the film from going to find out just what was taking her boyfriend so long…Most nights going to see movies there were a raucous and joyful affair and I do not recall ever leaving there disappointed or feeling like I hadn’t had a good time. Lord, do I miss those time and that place…

JohnRA on December 1, 2010 at 11:28 am

Yes, Neptune City Theater!! I used to go there with my big sister. It was a win-win for us. She’d get to drive mom’s car to go hang out her friends and I’d get to watch some wholly inappropriate movies. I went there from 1979-85. As a 10yr old, being there was an adventure. I grew up during its' decline. By ‘85, there were 'Enter At Your Own Risk’ signs posted in the lobby. I’ll never forget the movies. CHUDS, Used Cars and pretty much every Blaxploitation flick ever. Wow…cheers!

TheLasher on October 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm

“I’d love to hear from anyone who had been to this place, or has been to a similiar place”……….Well, as a matter of fact, I lived 2 blocks behind this theater. On the east side of the Two Guys (across from the theater) was a Carvel Ice Cream store. We used to go to this theater in the 60s. I only remember a few movies I saw. I was very young. I remember watching Babes in Toyland (Christmas time, I suppose) and the thing I remember most was the Pink Panther cartoons before the movies. I was 7 when I moved away in 70. But I remember that place well. So sorry to hear the place went down the toilet after I left. But it’s nice that all the memories I have of that town (and everything in that area of the US) are good ones. Oh, and my momma went up for a visit in the late 80s and took a ton of pictures. Much I didn’t recognise, because I was so young. But you are correct. The theater did become a Batting Cage place.

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