DVD Patrol: Our Best Summer Movie Experiences

By: Todd Campbell

DVD Patrol: Our Best Summer Movie Experiences

Everyone has had different experiences when it comes to seeing their favorite movies. In the summertime, it can range from seeing only one movie that may have had an impression on you to seeing a whole lot of movies. I put my team to the test on this one and they’ve all managed to come up with some pretty good ones (or not so good ones). Read what each of them has gone through in their lives and you’ll see what I mean.


I oscillated between my favorite summer movie memory – “The Empire Strikes Back” – and the one that ultimately had the most impact – “Jaws.” Given this week’s balmy temperatures, I’ll go with the one that kept me out of that cool village pool down in Oxford all summer. It was the summer of 1975, and I was but 7 years old. Seven! I’m going to forgive my late parents’ lack of judgement in letting me go see this decidedly un-kid-friendly film (they probably weren’t much ones to read movie reviews back in the day) and lay the blame solely on my older sister, whom we were visiting that summer in sunny Utah. She always had a penchant for scaring me (and her own kids) gleefully, so I’m thinking she knew what I was in for. And she also knew, of course, that she had a pool in her backyard – one which I looked forward to swimming in every summer. So much for that fun little vacation. At a mere 7 years old, I was terrified from beginning to end in “Jaws.” Even now, John William’s menacing refrain gives me goose bumps. And to this day, I jump at the scene where poor Ben Gardner’s severed head pops out his wrecked boat in the underwater diving scene. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” is still one of the best movie quotes ever, and “Jaws” stands the test of time (like many of director Steven Spielberg’s works) as a movie that holds up today, after multiple viewings. We won’t talk about “Jaws 3D.” If you’re looking for a classic summer flick, or a way to ensure your kids will go nowhere near a body of water – you can’t go wrong with “Jaws.” Seven!


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When it comes to summer movies and the big budget blockbusters, I’ve never really fallen into the hype of Hollywood promotions, which I believe to have really worked in my favor as it’s helped me to dodge movie theaters to see some of the most diasterous films ever. Most times, it seems that summer movies are more a let down than they are anything worthy of creating a positive memorable experience. For me, that’s why the most memorable summertime movies are always the worst ones that involve the worst films – the movies that many have seen but few would admit to; movies like “Waterworld,” “Jurassic Park 3” and “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”

For the last decade or so, most big-budget summer blockbusters have been one of three genres: Computer animated; superhero; or sequels. Then, there’s the devastating product of all three – the enhanced CGI superhero movie sequel. Case in point: “Spider Man 3,” which graced the public with new standards of a bad superhero flick in the summer of 2007.

But with so many summertime disasters to choose from, what’s the worst of the worst that’s left the most enduring impression? I cast my vote for “Batman and Robin,” which nearly brought the Batman franchise to its knees in 1997. From the flashy costumes, to the graceful and acrobatic fight scenes, to the terrible one-liner puns of Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the movie is undoubtedly one to remember, raising the bar to a new level of stupid for summertime blockbusters.

Unfortunately, 2012 certainly isn’t giving us anything to look forward to in terms of a good memorable movie either, but I think we can expect some of the greatest flops that we’ve seen in a few years. We’ve already seen some pretty memorable let downs (“Dark Shadows,” “Rock of Ages,” “The Three Stooges” “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”) and with the exception of “Dark Knight Rises,” it seems that the rest of the summer’s going to be a memorable bust too.


It’s been 35 years since George Lucas released the epic space opera that is “Star Wars,” and 32 since I first viewed what has long been one of my favorite films.

Yes, believe it or not, I was all of three years old when I got my first taste of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia and – most unforgettably – Darth Vader, evil Lord of the Sith.

Even better, however, is where I first experienced Lucas’ “Star Wars.” The now-forgotten Norwich Drive-In.

Didn’t know we had one of those here in Norwich? We did, even if it was a long time ago in a ... err ... galaxy far, far away.

The Norwich Drive-In (like the old Roller Bleu), has been gone for decades, yet when it was still up and running, it was a favorite stop for my folks and I. And I can still remember many star-filled, summer evenings spent there. It’s where I saw – not only “Star Wars” – but other classics such as Joe Dante’s “Gremlins” (I’m fairly sure) and my first viewing of “The Wizard of Oz,” among others.

What can I say, there’s nothing like the drive-in. Back then, of course, that meant double features, complete with that tinny-sounding speaker you attached to the door of your car. Compared to today’s 3-D extravaganzas, Blu Ray players and high-definition sound, it may seem like a waste of money. It was all about the experience, however, and what an experience it was. “Star Wars” is what sticks out the most, though. In fact, I can just hear C-3PO now ... “ I’ve just about had enough of you. Go that way. You’ll be malfunctioning within a day, you near-sighted scrap pile. And don’t let me catch you following me begging for help because you won’t get it.”


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My favorite summer movie experience wasn’t so much one particular experience but an entire summer of great movies with a few good friends.

The summer was 2010 and we decided we wanted to see as many movies as possible at the midnight release.

Our first was “Iron Man 2,” which all four of us had seen in the theatre just a few years before.

One of our friends in particular who loved the first movie, can speak fluent Russian (there’s a Russian super-villain) and gets way too excited about summer blockbusters as it is, was practically bouncing the whole way there.

Did I say practically bouncing? I meant literally.

To make the experience truly great, this friend printed off an Iron Man arc reactor heart and taped it on his chest.

His reasoning was that many people cosplay to their favorite movies such as “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars,” why couldn’t he?

His gag was so popular among the group that he continued the tradition throughout the summer whenever we would see a new movie.

The next movie to get the whole gang together for a midnight showing was “The A-Team.” I should mention that our group consists of movie lovers from Syracuse, Norwich and Binghamton so it can be tough to work everything out.

“The A-Team” didn’t disappoint and neither did our friend’s printer as he appeared sporting Mr. T’s face attached to his chest. Not so much cosplay, still quite amusing.

Finally we made it to “The Expendables” for a midnight showing at a drive-in. It’s always fun to switch up the experience and personally I prefer a drive-in to 3-D any day.

Our friend forgot a shirt logo on this occasion, but halfway through the movie he made his own sans printer that simple read:

“Insert knife here.”


One of my favorite summer movie experiences has got to be the Summer of 1989 when “Batman” starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Jack Nicholson as the Joker was coming out. I took a an experience and turned into a four-month movie viewing experience that I’ll always remember.

One of my best friends Jason and I went to Syracuse on a Friday midnight showing to see the movie. We had gotten out tickets ahead of time so we wouldn’t have a problem getting in. We decided to go off for a few hours but nothing could’ve prepared us for what awaited us when we returned. There was a line around the building to get in, but what a lot of the people had failed to do was get their tickets ahead of time. The theater was already sold out and there were people in line who didn’t have theirs. Luckily, Jason and I did. The next two and a half hours were just an event to watch. Not only was the movie incredible, but seeing and hearing everyone’s reactions seeing Keaton as Batman, Nicholson as the Joker, the action scenes and also the introductions of the Batmobile and Batwing were great to see.

Friday evening I went back to see it again. Seeing everyone’s reactions was terrific. A week later, I was taking my first summer job away from home in the Lake Placid area at Santa’s Workshop. I had gotten there Friday night and the folks I staying with decided to treat me and took me to see it again. I can’t pass up a free movie and this made number #3. I told them that it was OK with me. Everyone who knows me that I’ve loved comic books all my life.

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In December, I was heading for Ithaca for a comic book convention with my Pal Jason and we spotted a little out of the way theater that was showing “Batman.” We decided to go and catch it, which made #4 for me. A week later, “Batman” came out on VHS or videotape for those who remember what those are. Aren’t memories fun?

Movies all have special experiences for all of us. Don’t worry, Patrollers! Next month, I have a brand new teamup that will surprise my team and they don’t what it is yet. Anticipation is fun! We come back next week with more DVDs and a possible review just for you, we hope. The Toddster will return.


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