Drive-Invasion celebrates pop culture at new location

When Drive-Invasion, Atlanta’s annual outdoor B-movie/rock ’n’ roll hootenanny, appeared to be fading away like vintage film stock, James Bickert simply wasn’t having it.

Bickert, a local filmmaker who has attended each Drive-Invasion since its 1999 inception, was figuratively crying in his popcorn after hearing that the Starlight Drive-In Theatre no longer would play host to the event. Since the Starlight now uses studio-owned digital projection systems, it put the kibosh on Drive Invasion.

So Bickert did what any self-respecting cult film aficionado would do: He took the reins.

With Bickert at the helm, Drive-Invasion is moving to its new digs, the Green Lot at Turner Field. Like an atomically enhanced creature from a ’50s monster movie, Drive-Invasion also will take up four times the space of its previous home. And, in an attempt to step out of DragonCon’s looming pop culture shadow, it jumps from its typical Labor Day weekend spot to Sept. 6.

“I thought the best idea would be to bring Drive-Invasion into the mainstream and expose more people to what a great event it is,” Bickert said. “So we’ve broadened it, made it more family friendly, and added a lot of bells and whistles that weren’t available before. I really believe a lot of people would get into fringe pop culture events if they were just exposed to them.”

Attack of the killer B’s

At its core, Drive-Invasion remains a celluloid celebration, and this year it reaches the beach. “The Horror of Party Beach,” “Mad Doctor of Blood Island” and Steven Spielberg’s eco-horror classic “Jaws” create a big-screen trifecta. In the tradition of old-school cinema ballyhoo, the first 1,000 guests will score a collectible test tube filled with faux green blood. At the beginning of “Mad Doctor of Blood Island,” test tube recipients will be encouraged to recite the “sacred oath” in unison, Bickert said.

Let there be rock

This year’s event will feature a greatest hits band lineup of festival favorites. Drive-Invasion’s dirty dozen includes time-honored veterans such as Gargantua and the Penetrators and fresher faces like Andrew & the Disapyramids and acclaimed headliner the Biters. Bigfoot, Mystery Men?, Ghost Riders Car Club, the Brimstones, Rocket 350, Jimmy & the Teasers, Cletis & His City Cousins, and Dusty Booze & the Baby Haters make up the rest of the roster.

Food, glorious food

Jim Stacy’s Food Truck Midway, a new addition to Drive-Invasion, will find the local TV personality and co-owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods in Avondale Estates curating a caravan of mobile eateries. King of Pops, Pigmata, the Blaxican and others will share lot space with Stacy’s own noshery on wheels.

Bring your own

In true Drive-Invasion tradition, tailgaters are welcome. Coolers are fair game, but guests are asked to leave glass containers at home. A special 1,000-foot path will be dedicated to those using grills, with safe space to dispose of hot coals.

Artist market

This year’s artist market will blossom from the typical 15 to more than 50 participants. Bickert said artists with a penchant for pop culture make up a majority of the booths. Guests can put their monstrous mitts around horror and sci-fi T-shirts, original artwork, jewelry and more.

The spirit of the late Scott Rogers, creator of Drive-Invasion, is kept intact with limited-edition posters created especially for the event. Rogers designed original poster art for each Drive-Invasion, and this year’s featured artist, R. Land, continues the tradition alongside a group of others, including acclaimed poster artist Graham Humphreys.

Kids zone

Realizing that some of the original festivalgoers now have broods of their own, Bickert and company decided to make Drive-Invasion more accessible to budding B-movie fanatics. The kids zone will keep with the beach theme, complete with its own inflatable tiki island. Local special effects artist Shane Morton will give young ones on-the-house monster makeovers. There also will be interactive games, contests and special appearances by the Atlanta Hawks and Braves mascots.

Tricking out the car show

Garage71 and Grease Inc. will wrangle a larger version of the Silverscreen and Gasoline Car and Bike Show. A fleet of pre-1971 cars, hot rods, customs and motorcycles will go headlight-to-headlight for trophies and bragging rights. Bryan Fuller of “Cafe Racer TV” will bring some of his own custom cars and will sign autographs.

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