Dead End Drive-In (1986)

R   |    |  Action, Drama, Horror

Dead End Drive-In (1986) Poster

In the future, a health nut and his tag-along girlfriend become trapped in a drive-in theater that has become a concentration camp for outcast youths, who are placated with new wave music, junk food, drugs, exploitation movies, and racism.


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29 August 2016 | gavin6942
| This is Ozploitation
In the near future, a teenage couple is trapped in a drive-in theater which has become a concentration camp for social outcasts. The inmates are treated to drugs, exploitation films, junk food, and new wave music.

Right off the bat, I have to say this is not a film for everyone. I am not even sure if it's a film for me. I have never quite understood the appeal of so-called Ozploitation, and I am not even a big fan of "Mad Max", which is easily the giant of the subgenre.That might be blasphemy, but it's true. So if I say I liked or disliked something, I won't be surprised if the die-hard cult fans disagree. (Perhaps all horror /cult fans have their weak spots. Some fans dislike slashers, but I adore them.)

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith has said, "The Drive-In is, of course, an allegory for the junk values of the eighties, which our hero sees as a prison." I am not sure how clear this is. The concept is clever, but flawed. Why do so many of the characters -- even our two leads -- accept this fate so easily? Our hero rebels, but not by much... it takes him days or weeks to even consider busting out. And his date seems to fall in line within minutes, never even questioning it. Huh?

The racial element is especially strange, as it is picked up but never pursued. The film's release on blu-ray may be appropriate for 2016, what with the racial aspects of Brexit in the UK and Donald Trump in the US. Immigration is a hot topic. But again, the film does not really explore this theme. Where does the truck load of Asian prisoners come from? Why is there racism in the camp? Is this maybe something Australians will understand that is over my head?

Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict wrote that the film's themes are "cliché and lame" and the film tries too hard without going far enough. I think Gibron and I are on the same page. For me, the social commentary was weak and could have been pushed. And it wouldn't hurt if the action was picked up. We don't get much of that until late in the film, meaning much of the story is a man wandering around a parking lot looking for spare tires.

For fans of the film (and there are many), Arrow does what Arrow does best and packs on some great extras. We have a brand new 2K restoration from original film materials (which looks pretty good despite the low quality it likely started as). There is an audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith ported fro man earlier release. And some new goodies: "The Stuntmen", Trenchard Smith's classic television documentary on Grant Page and other Australian stunt performers. And "Hospitals Don't Burn Down", his 1978 public information film told in pure Ozploitation fashion.

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