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Australia 1986
Directed by
Brian Trenchard-Smith
88 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Dead End Drive-In

There are some commendable Aussie sci-fi/horror car movies, The Cars That Ate Paris and Mad Max being notable examples but Dead End Drive-In is not one of them. Based on a Peter Carey's short story, Crabs, the script, if you could call it that, involves the exploits of "Crabs" (Ned Manning) a weedy youth who borrows his older brother's ‘56 Chevy to take his date (Natalie McCurry) to the drive-in. Set in the very near future (1988 to be exact), society has degenerated into a landscape of car wrecks and young designer punk scavengers. It turns out that the drive-in is some kind of no-exit compound where “The Government” sequesters the fashion tragic ne’er-do-well kids. The rest of the film charts Crabs’ attempts to escape and return his brother’s car.

The 80s were the decade of the exploitation film and Trenchard-Smith was one of the mainstays of the local industry (his 1981 film Turkey Shoot, is one of the films playing on the drive-in’s screen). In their day addressed to a low-end youth market for whom the drive-in would have been their Saturday night mecca, the films now have considerable appeal to those with an appetite for trash cinema. If you are not one of them, Dead End Drive-In will offer nothing. The film did not do well commercially on release and it is not hard to see why. Peter Smalley’s script is mechanical and the woodenly self-conscious acting only makes it worse, whilst the antics of the punks, set to the invariably tacky synthesized pop soundtrack, are generic stuff seen in innumerable other similar films. Only the car-demolishing stunts at the film’s end are of real distinction but by this time all but the sad and desperate will have lost interest.

DVD Extras: Brand new 16:9 transfer. Audio Commentary by Brian Trenchard-Smith




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