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DATELINE: very early 1980’s. The dying days of “grind house” at Commack Drive In:
OOPs, that was for the Commack D.I. ———-THIS is for the RKO!
CLICK for a shot of the dying days of an ad for Commack’s “grind house” features
CLICK ^^^^The Whitman “Grind House” Ad ABOVE:^^^^^^^^
I worked at Pergaments in high school, and the H.A.R.T. bus stop was in front of The Whitman so I remember lots of movies playing there.
AD FROM 1979 when the Whitman, for a few years, was a friggin' “grind house”. Does anyone else remember this?! I saw this double bill, and never laughed so much in a movie theater in my life (in that Plan 9 “so-bad-that-it’s-funny” way). Yeah, this will never happen again…http://bp1.blogger.com/_qleC7xLAvHg/Rnv60oYyNcI/AAAAAAAAAIE/GePm_p4SZnc/s1600-h/WHITMAnTheatre-AA.jpg
I’m pretty good with dates—except for my guess with the opening of the Commack D.I. ____ PHOTOS from my collection: a speaker, yanked from the pole at Commack D.I. in 1981, and a piece of the plastic marquee sign that I saved (part of the “E” in “Drive”!). View link
Oops! it’s up and running now!!
What years did you manage the RKO, L.I.M.? Sounds like “CinemaRadio” era—1982 through 1985? I remember we were at the Nesconsett/Smithtown drive in on the night they were tossing the speakers in a big pile (!) when “CinemaRadio” was just put into action(1982/83?). They told us we could have all we wanted (!), so we threw about a dozen in our trunk. The Nesconsett/Smithtown Drive In often had better double bills than Commack, especially in the late 1970’s, and it was an All-Weather. We watched “Police Academy” in the snow once! At one point the drive in selection of movies was so awful that we realized that we were going to the drive in, just to go to the drive in. LOL. not to actually see a movie. I think me and my friends talked through “Friday the 13th, Part 3” (not in 3-D at the Drive in!, like three times.
In the mid 1970’s (junior high) , a good friend of mine lived in the Fairfield Village apartments that faced the Commack Drive In (screen!). So, being that there were no VCR’S available to us back then, we would time the movie, and watch the “good parts” on the next night. I specifically remember (from my ad posted above) timing the “Airport 1975” cockpit crash scene, to watch over and over. When “Frenzy” (was co-featured with Hitchcock’s last film “Family Plot”) we timed the scene where the woman’s shirt opens up. Also it was great seeing “R” rated movies that we could never get into..“Death Race 2000”, “Flesh Gordon”, “Groove Tube”, “Kentucky Fried Movie” and for some reason, the movie “Mother ,Jugs and Speed” stands out as another. Later on by high school (and with a car), I saw the original “Phantasm” there (summer 1979)..and I think the co-feature was…“Kentucky Fried Movie”! Commack was known for lop-sided double features (see my ads!).
SEE SOME ADS FROM THE 1970’s!
Correction above title: The theater was built in the late 1950’s.
Way demolished! But you can’t demolish the memories, no matter how many Verizon and Cingular stores you build on our graves! I have so many memories from the Commack Drive In. The first movie I ever saw there was “Beneath The Planet of the Apes”…in 1970! What really killed drive ins was when they stopped showing double bills! I remember seeing crap like “Back To The Future”, “Never Say Never Again”, “Gremlins”, “HellRaiser” or “The Twilight Zone Movie”,on SINGLE bills in the mid 1980’s before Commack closed. The concession stand had poorly painted Disney and Warner Brothers characters on the walls, inside (which really gave this the old world Drive In theater flavor!). LOL. One last vestige of hope was when they re-released “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in the early 1980’s and I caught it at the Commack D.I.
SEE A PHOTO !
Also: are we gonna have to wait till the next century to get a Commack Drive-In page on Cinema Treasures . com !? I submitted it to be listed 3 weeks ago or more. Meanwhile; back to the Commack RKO: would love to see a Lobby shot! Also, I remember one night coming out of there and seeing a “coming soon” poster for “Straw Dogs”. The disturbing poster made me think “OK, this movie is NOT for kids”. LOL. I saw “Reanimator” there…and I think “From Beyond” as well. Still not certain, but I think the last movie I saw there was “Spinal Tap” (maybe a midnight showing?). I wish I had saved one of the cobalt blue tiles from when they demolished this place…
The 1980’s ruined MOST things…just look at this site! Drive Ins and Movie Palaces all DIED within the 1980’s…this is no coincidence. But what I miss the most was looking in the paper and seeing some ad for a movie of double-bill that you NEVER heard of (because it was a cheap-o grindhouse type), taking a chance and actually going to see it; and laughing your ass of because it was soooo bad. Also: DOUBLE-FEATURES died in the 1980’s. I loved going to the drive in, and when they would show something like “Halloween”—the second feature was some cheap 8 year old movie you MAY have never seen. I saw the gruesome CLASSIC “grind house” movie “I Drink Your Blood” (1971) in just that way at the Smithtown Drive – In. P.S. Quentin Tarantino should go back and do some research….as his current “GrindHouse” does NOT resemble anything I used to see at REAL drive ins!
No pictures of it? How close to 86th street was this theater?
I saw “Curtains” at the Mayfair in (1985?), and remember when “Americathon” was there in 1979. Did the Mayfair specialize in BOMB movies ? I also saw Grease there in 1978. Hardees was across the way and my favorite haunt, Bargain Books was in the Mayfair shopping center! I loved all the dated (even by 1975 standards) posters in the window (Marvel comic characters, day glo posters, etc)and always got my fix of old back issues of Mad, Creepy, Famous Monsters, etc. It was large with an “adult” section. 441 Bargain Books was in Huntington, and was connected to it somehow. The Huntington branch eventually got overwhelmed by it’s “adult” section by the 1980’s. Does anyone know when the Commack Bargain Books closed ? 1978? 1979?
“Dawn of the Dead” was filmed at the Monroeville Mall—I wonder if this theater was opened long enough to show it!?
what was the XXX Theater that was in Hicksville?
LOL. yeah, I know! Oh, was there a porn theater in Hicksville? I recall driving by it in the very very early 1980’s….
I remember the Kings Plaza movies / mall back in 1970’s when it was a lot better. I though it opened in 1972/73? It was quite the big deal at the time. Mike81869: don’t be surprised if NOBODY has any vintage pictures. Frustrating; I know. There would be no reason to take a picture of a mall movie theater I suppose…
The Commack Drive In (like MOST drive ins) had a picket fence surrounding it —that was perpetually abused by local teens. Friday and Saturday nights there became it’s own little “behind the drive-in” party with local teens all through the 1970’s. (This actually sounds like fun—at this point in time!)….Fairfield Village, a large apartment complex was right there—so lots of foot traffic to the drive in. Now teenagers must loiter (and annoy people) in brightly lit multiplexes. Isn’t that that awful! Back to the Commack RKO: One more memory: they always had LOTS of promotional materials in the lobby (lobby cards, stand up displays, etc.) Even in the 1970’s, theaters were getting skimpy with promotional items (UNLESS it was on 42nd Street where even movies like Legend of the Wolf Woman woud get the royal treatment).
Thanks L.M. ! $3.50 per person in 1957 was a LOT of money for one ticket! I submitted all the info on Commack D.I. already—waiting to here if they will accept it or not as an entry on here. I’m still surprised at how lesser, smaller Long Island theaters got on here and Commack slipped past the radar. Wish I had more pictures, especially of the old marquee from the 1960’s. The 1970’s version was pretty generic—actually, the Commack Drive-In was pretty generic, but I still cherish the memories. One night in high school, me & my girlfrind had no car and no money—so we WALKED into the Commack Drive-In and sat next to the speakers and watched “Meatballs” (1979). This story would have been better—if the MOVIE was something actually worthwhile.
No problem. I’m just sorry that we can’t find any shots of the Route 110 drive in.