When I was a kid growing up in South Jersey one of the big things to do on a Friday or Saturday night was to go to the Drive-In theater. This was rare family ritual that turned into a regular event as my friends and I all reached the age where we could drive ourselves. It was not the best place setting to watch a "serious" film, the sound usually sucked, the image quality was usually bad at the beginning of the night, and we'd spend most of our times goofing on friends or trying to romance a date. Dusk to dawn shows of low budget zombie, horror, or kung-fu films were my favorite and have even inspired a few contemporary filmmakers as well. Only the die-hards made it out awake, we used to laugh our butts off watching the drive-in attendants come out and wake up the other cars of sleeping teens. Sadly, there isn't a drive-in left in NJ but I get to get an occasional fix when vacationing in Cape Cod. The Wellfleet Drive-In is where I introduced my kids to the ritual of outdoor cinema.
Recently, I've come up with another way to satisfy my habit. Now that we have a nice new deck on the back of the house, I've been able to rig a temporary outdoor theater of my own. The construction is simple. I hang a white sheet between the posts on my back porch (which forms about 8x5 screen), connect my MacBook Pro to a NEC DLP projector from work and a set of Altec computer speakers. Presto! Instant backyard drive-in. We've done this a few times and it's wonderful enjoying a movie sitting out back on our comfy deck furniture, sipping cold drinks, laughing with the kids. Tonight's triple feature will probably consist of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Nacho Libre, and Across the Universe. Maybe we'll swap that last one for a good Kung Fu movie if the ladies call it an early night. If you have the means, give it a a try. Like dining, watching films alfresco is a whole other experience.