Dead End Drive-In (1986)

R   |    |  Action, Drama, Horror

Dead End Drive-In (1986) Poster

In the near future, a teenage couple are 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.



  • Dead End Drive-In (1986)
  • Ned Manning and Natalie McCurry in Dead End Drive-In (1986)
  • Natalie McCurry in Dead End Drive-In (1986)
  • Dead End Drive-In (1986)
  • Natalie McCurry in Dead End Drive-In (1986)
  • Ned Manning in Dead End Drive-In (1986)

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27 August 2010 | MurderSlimPress
Trenchard-Smith's Best Movie
The opening of 'Dead-End Drive In' quickly sets out its world. There's been a series of disasters that have led to society struggling to survive. A food crisis, a financial crisis, and then an unemployment crisis. And Australia is suffering with the rest of them. Gangs of punks are fighting authority and crashing cars. As an Aussie movie, there's shades of 'Mad Max' to this, but it's given a more populated feel. Instead of empty streets, there's a bunch of people in 'Dead-End Drive In'. Despite the lack of budget for the movie, Brian Trenchard-Smith gives a real sense of lots of people suffering from the consequences of economic failure.

The movie follows Crabs and his girlfriend Carmen, who end up stranded in an almost post-apocalyptic drive-in cinema after their tires are stolen by the police. The drive-in cinema has nearly 200 people in a similar situation, lighting fires and glaring at each other. The stranded are given food vouchers to eat takeaway from the on-site greasy restaurant.

Crabs is a very engaging character. He wants to become a tough guy, but no matter how much he works out, runs and eats, Crabs is still regarded as a "scrawny b*****d". Yet, as soon as he's stranded in the drive-in, he wants to get away. He wants this so badly, he irritates his girlfriend and also incurs the wrath of people spray painting "Crabs can't get it up" on his car. Carmen, incidentally, is so attractive I spent the movie slightly slack jawed.

For a supposedly trashy movie, it's actually very cleverly done. The car crashes are spectacularly choreographed. Don't expect a special-effects laden movie - it's not that - but when effects are used they're used well. Sparks fly up as cars speed through large fires. Bullets ping off the walls and cars with some canny squib effects.

Above all, there are some great undercurrents to the movie. The way the drive-in deals with the unemployed seems to ring very true with the concept of ghettos. The controller of the drive-in cinema even provides them with drugs. Crabs becomes even more likable because - like us - he sees the drive-in as a huge prison infested with unfair racial divisions.

'Dead-End Drive In' is, naturally, a little rough around the edges. But by limiting the movie to the confines of a drive-in cinema, it creates a well realised world. It's also great to see everyone throwing their all into a movie. Maybe by focusing more on characters and a basic story of "me versus them" it simply doesn't overstretch. It's an enjoyable - and sometimes thought provoking - way to spend 92 minutes of your life.

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