Dead-End Drive-In was released in 1986, so from 1988, it’s the near future when the world starts going to hell in a hand-cart, as riots and a further economy crash has meant the end of my favourite decade had led to the governments of the world invoking emergency powers.
In what’s been deemed an ‘Ozploitation flick’, Jimmy (Ned Manning) and Frank (Ollie Hall) are brothers towing trucks which have been caught up in accidents, even though they’ve still got the dead and the maimed inside…. and whoever gets to tow them first, they have to deal with the bodies! As the former later takes his squeeze Carmen (Natalie McCurry) to the local drive-in, an issue with their car leaves them stranded, effectively stuck there like a detention camp.
It all gets a bit ‘lord of the flies’ as they have to live together without tearing each other apart. At times, it’s like it’s set in a sort-of comedy/Mad-Max landscape; and it’s an ’80s movie, so women get to bare their bre -asts as often as Poldark does today!
Every location is a neon overload, and there are proper explosions, not CGI nonsense. And, obviously, health and safety wasn’t paramount in the ’80s, as a dog has a fire-laden weapon thrown at it!
Oh, and how does Thomson (Peter Whitford) work 24/7 in that place? Don’t they have any other staff?
Dead-End Drive-In is fun in places, but rather daft, and overall, it passes a reasonable near-90 minutes, but I doubt it troubled the Oscars at the time.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and the picture’s a little bit soft and hazy at times, but it’s nothing of a problem at Arrow’s end, as it’s all down to the original print. However, it looks a damn site better than a lot of films of the era, and after a while, it’s pin-sharp and problem-free.
The audio is in DTS HD 2.0 (Dolby Stereo) and while the drive-in audio mostly goes no further than cars driving about, it’s the great ’80s tracks which are the most enjoyable aspect of it.
There are a couple of essential extras in the supplementals below:
- The Stuntmen (48:46): Director Brian Trenchard-Smith’s fascinating 1973 TV documentary about many of Australia’s stunt performers, including Bob Woodham and Grant Page (Mad Max). These days, it feels like there’s a lot less of that with CGI explosions and ‘health and safety’ playing a part, but according to IMDB, this film was part of a 1970s cycle of works which were about stunt-work and the stunt profession in movie-making, as described in Danny Peary’s book, Cult Movies 3.
This is definitely a priceless extra to treasure and is split into six chapters.
- Hospitals Don’t Burn Down! (24:10): BTS’ 1978 public information film, given the Ozploitation style, showing why it’s a bad idea to smoke when you’re a patient. However, the hospital DOES burn down, lots of people catch fire, and it’s like another hilarious episode of Casualty! Especially when one nurse has to slap a patient for being hysteriacal.
- Vladimir Cherepanoff Gallery: Just under 20 images and captions from when art director Vladimir Cherepanoff and friends were arrested for having graffiti spray cans in their bags.
- Trailer (1:36): The trailer in 16:9 and with a deep-voiced man
- Reversible sleeve: featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon.
- Audio commentary: From director Brian Trenchard-Smith.
The main menu features a short piece of Machinations‘ My Heart’s On Fire, set to clips from the film. There are a bog-standard 12 chapters to the film, and subtitles are in English.
Running time: 88 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: September 19th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio (Dolby Stereo)
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Techniscope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Producer: Andrew Williams
Screenplay: Peter Smalley (Based on the story by Peter Carey)
Music: Frank Strangio
Jimmy: Ned Manning
Carmen: Natalie McCurry
Thompson: Peter Whitford
Hazza: Wilbur Wilde
Dave: Dave Gibson
Beth: Sandie Lillingston
Frank: Ollie Hall
Fay: Lyn Collingwood
Shirl: Nikki McWaters
Narelle: Melissa Davis
Jill: Margi Di Ferranti
Tracey: Desiree Smith
Mickey: Murray Fahey
Jeff: Jeremy Shadlow
Don: Brett Climo
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.