The Mahoning Needs Your Help

My fiance and I discovered the Mahoning Drive-in in Lehighton, PA about three years ago during their Universal Monster Mash weekend. We immediately fell in love with the place, including the beautiful farmland surrounding the venue to the fact they’re the only drive-in that plays 35 mm film. Since 2020, the Mahoning has recieved national press, including this article in the NYT from last week. It’s a positive story about how the Mahoning has survived and even thrived during the pandemic, as people seek safe forms of entertainment. Beyond that, though, the Mahoning has fostered a unique community at a time when people really need it. Movie lovers travel from well beyond NEPA to visit this place, and it’s been an economic boon to the greater areas of Jim Thorpe and Lehighton This weekend’s event, for instance, Joe Bob’s Jamboree, crashed the ticket site a few months ago. That’s how popular this drive-in and its events have become. The Mahoning is the type of place where you befriend people in the car next to you, and how often does something like that happen anymore?

Now, however, the 72-year-old drive-in is in danger of closing because a company wants to build a solar farm on the property. However, the staff (larely volunteer) has vowed to fight and needs help. This video explains what you can do:

Save The Mahoning Drive-In Theater on Vimeo

Further, if you’ve been to the drive-in, or if you just want to preserve this historic landmark, you can share your support on social media and use the hashtags #SavetheMahoning, #GreenSkiesCleanEnergy, and #CFdevelopmentPenn. You can also access the company’s website here and leave a comment. Perhaps most importantly, if you’re local, consider joining the rally on August 3 at 7 pm that Virgil mentions in the video. This will determine whether or not the township will allow the company to proceed with the solar farm and grant the accomodations they need.

I’m all for green energy, and we desperately need to address the climate crisis, but as a resident of PA, I know there is plenty of land available in our state that can fit a solar farm without tearing down this drive-in.

Damn the man, save the empire!

Celebrating the Success of The Wretched and an Interview with Its Directors for HorrOrigins

With theaters still closed due to COVID-19, film distributors have had to find creative ways to get their films shown. IFC Midnight took a risk by releasing some of their newer titles at drive-ins, including The Wretched, a witch creature feature written and directed by brothers Drew and Brett Pierce. The result of IFC’s move is the fact that a small indie horror film is now the #1 film in the country.

I interviewed the Pierce brothers for HorrOrigins. We talked about their dad’s work on The Evil Dead, their love of independent and genre cinema, and the success of their film. The story of their success is also the story of the film industry right now. With theaters closed, distributors, especially smaller ones, need to find a way to reach audiences. Now, IFC Midnight is releasing more of their films at drive-ins. Does this mean the pandemic will cause a revival of the drive-in? That remains to be seen. Theaters will reopen, maybe as soon as mid-late summer, but who knows if they’ll sell many tickets. Drive-ins offer a safe alternative. For now, at least, The Wretched is the story of a small indie film succeeding in incredibly tough circumstances. That’s a story worth celebrating.