Tuesday, July 9, 2024


 by JB

Quick question: Do you have a spare 12 hours to spend peering into my subconscious?

The fine folks at The American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) and Something Weird have not disappointed us with their latest joint release, Hey Folks! It’s the Intermission Time Video Party, which dropped from the sky about a month ago for inveterate, dyed-in-the-wool, drive-in movie lovers. It’s a jam-packed two-disc set, the contents of which 1) I cannot say enough positive things about and 2) perfectly describe my subconscious mind to any therapist who might just be in the neighborhood and may want to help me.

Back in the day, Something Weird Video released a total of six VHS tapes of drive-in ephemera (intermission snack-bar count-downs, food promotions, public service announcements, and a metric ton of Coca-Cola commercials) titled Hey Folks! It’s Intermission Time! These tapes sold like hotcakes to home video afficionados hoping to recreate that frisson of excitement unique to the drive-in. I owned all six.
The new Blu-ray features a kind of “party mix,” courtesy of the folks at AGFA, combining clips from all six volumes in funny and surprising ways—the clips seem both to bounce off and talk to each other. It’s a trip! This 70-minute program also offers an optional commentary track from AGFA’s Bret Berg and Joseph A. Ziemba. It's delightful.

This crazy mishmash alone might have qualified this Blu-ray as a “must buy"... however, in their divine beneficence, the producers have also included ALL SIX ORIGINAL FULL-LENGTH COMPILATIONS. That’s right: the new release includes all six original volumes of Hey Folks! It’s Intermission Time, direct from the Something Weird S-VHS masters. It’s an embarrassment of riches! Viewers got a heaping serving (almost 11 hours) of classic American nonsense and ephemera. Watching all of these “tapes” over the course of three days was the closest I have ever come to an authentic psychedelic experience. It was my happening, and it freaked me out! In a good way.

You dig?
SEE: Endless commercials for hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, BBQ beef sandwiches, egg rolls, popcorn, ice cream, popsicles, coffee, and cold drinks that all somehow MAKE THE FOOD LOOK DISGUSTING AND WELL-NIGH INEDIBLE!

SEE: Crazy, psychedelic animations from the early 1970s that look like a cross between Peter Max and Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam. These animations will INVARIABLY TRY TO SELL YOU 7-UP!
SEE: So many advertisements for James River/Smithfield barbecue sandwiches that you develop an insane hankering for barbecue while tumbling down a Google-machine rabbit hole, researching the history of Smithfield BBQ and wondering WHAT DO THEY MEAN, SPECIFICALLY, BY "MEAT"?

SEE: Dracula attempting to sell you POPCORN!

SEE: The very same promo that plays on the drive-in movie screen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Because SPACE ALIENS LOVE SNACKS!

SEE: An endless barrage of PSA’s exhorting you to worship at the church of YOUR CHOICE!
SEE: An endless barrage of PSA’s exhorting you to “FIGHT PAY TV!”

SEE: An endless barrage of PSA’s exhorting you to “Fight Daylight Savings Time!”
(Because it makes sundown an hour later in the summer, drive-in theaters HATE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME.)

SEE: Theaters in the Midwest extolling the virtues of the “Bernz-O-Matic In-Car Heater,” a dangerous-looking device you were supposed to hang from your windshield to heat your car in the dead of winter. If this weird, space-heater-like contraption is really so safe, then why the hell does it HAVE THE WORD “BERNZ” IN ITS NAME?

SEE: This author endlessly binging these aged promos, only wishing that his easy chair came with a steering wheel and a rear-view mirror to make the drive-in theater simulation COMPLETE!
SEE: Endless promos for rain shields, bug repellents, “whole-carload-gets-in-for-one-low-price” nights, and exhortations to WORSHIP SATAN!

SEE: Me just MAKING UP that last one!

NOTE TO THE FRUGAL: Obviously I love this disc and I feel it more than justifies its $25 price tag. If you disagree, type “Drive-In Intermission” into the YouTube machine. You'll find hundreds (if not thousands) of videos with similar content offered in bite-size pieces, just like the M&M Candies that we all love to eat AT THE DRIVE-IN.

Vroom! Vroom! Honk! Honk!

“Hey! Move yer car!”

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