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Summertime & Horror Movies & The Drive In

The older I get, the less I look forward to summer. Yes, it's gorgeous and green and sunny and all, but long gone are the days when summertime meant vacation for me, and few words more accurately describe summer weather in the Lower Mississippi Delta Region than “oppressive.” But there’s one summertime activity that never ceases to bring me joy: the drive in. It may seem odd, but this is even truer when horror titles grace the marquee. More on that later. 



That photo ☝️ transports me to summer 2019 — the summer I moved back to southeast Missouri from southern California — every time I see it. It was taken in Van Buren, Missouri. I feel humidity and mosquito bites when I look at it. I hear bugs. I smell buttered popcorn and cannabis and freshly cut grass. 


My mom and I were recovering from unexpected illnesses when the photo was taken; her illness was the fault of a tick bite, my illness was caused by dysphagia and severe inflammation and probably chronic stress. I’m uninsured and living in a camper; my sister’s just been diagnosed with a brain tumor — but for the next few hours, I won’t dwell on any of that. 


“It’s an emotional palette cleanser,” is what my sister likes to say about watching horror movies, and I agree. Last summer, I told a friend: “When I’m upset and feel like abusing substances, I watch horror movies instead.” More than any other film genre, horror captures my full attention. When I’m watching a good horror movie, I’m not thinking about anything else. I slept with a lamp on every night for a month after watching It and It Chapter Two at the drive in, and I’d do it all over again.



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