SKOWHEGAN — What do you get when you combine campy comedy, cult comics and nostalgia?

You get the movie “Tank Girl” at the Skowhegan Drive-in Theater Thursday as part of the 14th annual Maine International Film Festival.

The 1995 action comedy, based on a British cult comic strip, has the tank-riding anti-heroine fighting a mega-corporation that controls the world’s water supply, according to promotional information on the movie. It’s 2033 and justice rides a tank and wears lip gloss.

The movie stars Lori Petty, Ice-T and Naomi Watts and features actor Malcolm McDowell as the campy villain, Kesslee. McDowell is the recipient of this year’s Mid-Life Achievement Award at the film festival.

One of only six drive-in movie theaters left in Maine, the Skowhegan Drive-in looks pretty much like it did when it opened for business in the summer of 1954 — a 50-by-80-foot movie screen, parking slots for 350 cars and a concession for hot dogs, popcorn and soda pop, says long-time theater manager Doug Corson.

Corson, a retired French language teacher and Bowdoin College graduate, said he has worked at the Skowhegan Drive-in in one capacity or another since he graduated from Skowhegan High School in 1956. He has been manager for the past 30 years.

“I think, for a lot of us who grew up with drive-ins, there’s a great deal of nostalgia,” Corson said. “Once in a while somebody will come in and say they hadn’t been for 20 or 30 years and they can remember when, so I think nostalgia is a factor.

“Young families are aware that the drive-in may be a vanishing breed and so a lot of them do like to come while they can and enjoy it while they can.”

The drive-in was built by Lockwood & Gordon Co. of Boston, which also built the original Strand Theater in Skowhegan. The drive-in is owned by Encor Corp. of Needham, Mass.

This is the third year that the festival has used the drive-in as a festival site for a showing, and for good reason, said festival programmer Ken Eisen.

“We’re really excited about doing it and I think more and more people are getting into the spirit of it each time,” Eisen said. “I think we’ve got the perfect movie this year.”

Eisen said a drive-in movie theater was appealing because it is an unexpected venue for a film festival.

“There’s this idea that film festivals are hoity-toity in some way, which is something we are at odds to get rid of in general,” he said. “Increasingly there are less drive-ins out there in the world, so it’s almost like a living museum in some ways and we’re very fortunate to have Skowhegan there and I think there are certain films that just lend themselves to that screening condition.

“I think ‘Tank Girl’ will be fun, but you have to be in the right mood, and I think the drive-in will help with that,” Eisen said. “It’s a fun, futurist romp that also plays with gender roles, among other things.”

Showtime is 8:30 p.m. at the drive-in on Waterville Road, U.S. Route 201, south of downtown Skowhegan. Tickets are $6.

The 14th annual Maine International Film Festival began Friday and runs through July 24 at Railroad Square Cinema and Colby College in Waterville. The 10-day festival features nearly 100 films.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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