Tag Archives: Ski-Hi Drive-in

iPhoneography: More on the Ski-Hi Drive-In

ski hi tower concession april 2013

About a year ago I wrote about and posted some pictures of the Ski-Hi Drive-In, my community’s shuttered but last remaining drive-in theater – remaining, at least, in the sense of the shell of the screen tower and dilapidated concession stand/projection booth remain in place, where two highways meet north of Muncie.

Since that time I’ve talked to the owner of the property for an upcoming story for publication in my real job. He encouraged me to go onto the property and take pictures, so I thought I would share some here.

ski hi screen tower april 2013

The back of the screen tower, which greeted patrons – and now looms over passersby – is in pretty rough shape. The owner told me there was an apartment at the base of the tower that someone once lived in.

ski hi screen april 2013

It’s not that hard to imagine – and, for me, remember – movies playing out on the big screen framed by the Hoosier night sky.

ski hi longshot screen april 2013

You can still make out the earthen ridges made to elevate the front ends of patron’s cars, trucks and vans.

ski hi concession side april 2013

The concession stand exterior, with the expected graffiti.

ski hi broken door april 2013

The door broken in the past few years by intruders.

ski hi concession april 2013

The concession stand is still recognizable, but has put up with a lot of abuse from vandals, the elements and years of neglect.

I’ll update you when I know something about the fate of this once-grand old drive-in movie theater.

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Better days: Muncie’s Ski-Hi Drive-In

From the early 1950s — one source says 1952 — until just the past few years, the Ski-Hi Drive-In just north of Muncie, Indiana, entertained a couple of generations of moviegoers.

Beginning in the 1980s, drive-in movie theaters — which had always provided an alternative for moviegoers looking for exploitation movies, the offbeat and the inexpensive — faced a threat that couldn’t have been imagined just a few years earlier: Home video.

Movie fans could watch the odd Roger Corman movie from the comfort of their home. Within a few years, drive-in theaters were being razed, their real estate developed for some other use, or — even worse, in some ways — they were abandoned to fall to pieces.

The Muncie Drive-In was lost a number of years ago. All that remains now is the barely recognizable sign, now advertising another business, on Ind. 32 on the city’s west side.

The Ski-Hi Drive-In, at Ind. 3 and Ind. 28 north of the city, is still recognizable for what it was. The photos on this blog were taken by me this Memorial Day weekend.

Unfortunately, while the Ski-Hi is recognizable, it’s a shell of its former self. The screen tower has gaping holes. The area where cars and speaker poles once dotted the landscape is covered with high weeds. I can’t say what shape the concession stand is in; I didn’t venture into the property.

Various revitalization attempts have been mounted over the years and I’ve heard another is underway. With any luck, this one will succeed.

‘Shocking’ drive-in movie ads!

There’s something about this weather that reminds me of going to drive-in movies.

Around here, we had two — the Muncie Drive-In and the Ski-Hi Drive-In — in or near the city and another — the Blackford County Drive-In — just to the north. The latter wasn’t the type of drive-in your parents took you to, however. The Blackford showed “adult” movies — porn, in other words.

As for the Muncie and the Ski-Hi, I spent many, many hours there as a kid and young adult.

One of my earliest drive-in moviegoing memories was of seeing the 1967 flick “Born Losers” at one of Muncie’s two drive-ins. “Born Losers” was a low-budget action movie that introduced the cult character of Billy Jack (played by Tom Laughlin), a returning Vietnam vet who takes on a motorcycle gang. The movie actually inspired sequels.

I remember seeing it with my parents and paternal grandmother. Why my parents decided to take me or my grandmother to a (in my memory) sleazy, bloody action movie I can’t imagine.

I just remember my grandmother nearly fainting into her concession-stand pizza after the bad guys push a young man’s face into the windshield of a car, resulting in a bloody, slobbery mess. Onscreen, I mean.

From time to time in this spot I’ll share some memories and some great old drive-in movie ads.

How about this one for a re-release of “The Mask” Not the Jim Carrey comedy but a bizarre 1961 horror movie about an ancient mask that has the power to drive people crazy. Some remember “The Mask” from the early 1980s, when it was re-released at the height of the 3-D revival.

This “midnight shock-a-thon” ad features not only “The Mask” but “The Bat,” probably a 1959 Vincent Price thriller and “Town Without Pity,” a 1961 Kirk Douglas movie that is sold, as you can tell from the ad, in the sleaziest way possible:

“The story of what four men did to a girl .. and what the town did to them!”

This ad has some exploitation/drive-in advertising gems, including “A free comb to all after your hair-raising experience!” I can hear it now: “Mom, Dad, can we go to the drive-in tonight? They’re giving away free combs!”

Lastly, how about the exploitation double-feature classic “I Drink Your Blood” and “I Eat Your Skin.” The former is a 1970 movie about Satanists terrorizing a town. The latter originally came out in 1964 and was about zombies. The combination of titles was drive-in movie gold.

The canny drive-in operator offered a free buffet of “skin chips and dip” and “flesh fries” and provided free Tums.

Who wouldn’t turn out for this drive-in combo?