Water-spewing monsters upstage Frankenstein in Lewes

The screen went blank after the irrigation monsters started chasing the Frankenstein crowd. BY DENNIS FORNEY
July 22, 2011

Gene Wilder's Young Frankenstein character was locked in a dark cell with his seven-foot tall monster.  He expected to use love to sooth the murderous attitude of his evil creation.  Wild-eyed with fear, Wilder backed up as the monster rose from his bunk and began tottering toward him.  And then, the worst imaginable and the least expected happened.

Up from the thick lawn of the Village Green in the Canalfront Park jumped sinister black irrigation heads, cannonading stiff steams of water in every direction, sending the 100 or more theater goers into screaming and scurrying, bringing Young Frankenstein to a sudden halt just as it appeared the monster would rip off the head of the young doctor.

Families hurried to gather up their blankets and pillows and children from the lawn as the irrigation system brought down a heavy soaking of rain.  People laughed at the improbable situation as they folded chairs.  Film society crew rushed to protect the video and audio system from the watery assault as the screen went blank.

"This certainly didn't happen last time we showed a movie here," said Mariah Calagione with a wet smile. She heads up the film series for the Friends of the Canalfront Park in cooperation with Rehoboth Film Society.  Fortunately, at 10:05 p.m. when the unintended entertainment began, the movie was near its end and the warm evening - at the end of a 98-degree day - agreed well with the shower.  A number of the children on hand for the outdoor showing made lemons out of lemonade.  They began running through the spraying water, taking delight in the surprise. No doubt the outdoor showing of Young Frankenstein will go down as one of the most memorable film experiences ever for all those in attendance.

In August, the outdoor film series will bring Secretariat to the Village Green.  No doubt the irrigation schedule will  be adjusted by then to make sure the final racing scenes don't include a muddy track.

Lewes has a history of historic movie moments. In the early 1980s, fire struck and destroyed the old Lewes Theater on Savannah Road, across from the fire department.  And what movie was advertised on the big white and black marquee at the time of the fire?  Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke.

Fact, truly, is stranger than fiction.