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Dead End Drive-In

Dead End Drive-In (1986) Movie Poster
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  •  Australia  •    •  88m  •    •  Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith.  •  Starring: Ned Manning, Natalie McCurry, Peter Whitford, Wilbur Wilde, Dave Gibson, Sandie Lillingston, Ollie Hall, Lyn Collingwood, Nikki McWaters, Melissa Davis, Margi Di Ferranti, Desirée Smith, Murray Fahey.  •  Music by: Frank Strangio.
    In the near future, drive-in theatres are turned into concentration camps for the undesirable and unemployed. The prisoners don't really care to escape because they are fed and they have a place to live which is, in most cases, probably better than the outside. Crabs and his girlfriend Carmen are put into the camp and all Crabs wants to do is escape.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 0:54
 
 
 1:39
 

Review:

Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Image from: Dead End Drive-In (1986)
Talk about a strange movie. This one has developed a bit of a cult following and it's easy to see why. The entire world depicted here is unusual, filled with violence and hot items from the time it was released (1986) like punk music and dress. All of that being said whether you enjoy this movie will all depend on your point of view.

The year is 1990 (keep in mind when this was released) and the world is in terrible shape. Violence is the theme of the day, gangs roam the streets with little fear of repercussion and cars are a commodity. In this mix is Crabs (Ned Manning), a young man trying to live the right way and working hard. One night he borrows his brother's car and takes his best girl Carmen (Natalie McCurry) for a night at the drive-in.

Things seem to be going smoothly, the couple find themselves going at it only to later realize that the tires from the car have been stolen. Crabs reports this to the manager only to discover that the drive-in is not what it once was and that it was the police that stole his tires. All of them have been converted into concentration camps for the low lifes and criminals of the time. Stuck in this place with no means to leave Crabs and Carmen must learn the rules to survive.

With easy access provided to drugs, food and entertainment inside this locale it seems that most inside would rather stay than face the problems the outside world now presents. The "guests" at this drive-in have made themselves at home here. They've constructed their own small buildings to live in and have formed their own hierarchy to deal with things.

Crabs continues to seek a way out, trying to climb the fence that surrounds the drive-in only to discover it's been electrified. He eventually finds tires for his car only to discover all his gas has been drained. He gets gas only to find engine parts missing. He begins to suspect that the owner, who is paid a stipend for each person who stays there, is behind it all. One way or another Crabs and Carmen must find a way to escape and return to the real world.

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith has said that the film was "an allegory for the junk values of the eighties" and it shows. The placated masses living in the drive-in are content as long as they have entertainment and food provided for them, never working or dealing with anything of any substance. Drugs and movies rule the day here. It speaks volumes about the kids of the time and the whole me generation as they were called.

The reality of this film is that it was a low budget pictures that made the best use of their limited funds. The end result is funny at moments, has enough thrills to maintain interest and a story that seems odd but interesting. The acting is better than one would expect from something like this. Production values seem low as far as sets go but that works in its favor since this is an apocalyptic world we're talking about here. Trenchard-Smith has a firm hand on the directing of the film, a true feat since he was brought in after the initial director left.

Fans of the film discovered this not in theaters or in drive-ins across the world. It gathered its following though video with the initial release on VHS. Copies were shared, discussed and loved by fans of the film for years. An initial release on DVD came out and the love for the film continued. But now that affection can grow larger still as Arrow Video has released the ultimate version of the film that should make fans of Brian Trenchard-Smith happy as well.

Not only has Arrow, as they are prone to do, released the film in pristine shape with a 2k transfer from original materials, they've included some quality extras as well. Included are an audio commentary track with Trenchard-Smith, "The Stuntman" a classic television documentary about stuntman Grant Page and other Australian stunt performers directed by Trenchard-Smith, "Hospitals Don't Burn Down"a 1978 public information film made by Trenchard-Smith, the theatrical trailer and if you pick up a first pressing edition a collectors booklet.

It's easy to see why Arrow Video is becoming a fan favorite for collectors of what many consider less than mainstream films. They treat each item as if it were a rare gem and in truth they are. Not many would consider a film like this should receive the special treatment that they've given it.


Review by Mark Turner from the Internet Movie Database.