Dead End Drive-In

Year: 1986
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writers: Peter Carey and Peter Smalley
Music: Frank Strangio
Starring: Ned Manning, Natalie McCurry and Peter Whitford

Dead End Drive-In is a peculiar treat, the film has elements of Mad Max and Lord of the Flies with a pinch of Radioactive Dreams all in the mix. The horror comes not from ghouls or demons this time but society itself.

Image courtesy of IMP Awards

Set in a near future (1990) where the economy has collapsed, crime has become rampant and completely out of control. Vehicles are now the ultimate commodity so much so that when there are traffic accidents, tow truck drivers not only fend off bandits in the cities with a good smack up the side of the head with a heavy wrench while working but pay off the Police in the hopes to receive protection as they do said work. Society still functions…sort of…and teenagers are still teenagers but now when they are out on the town they have to worry about getting hit with a Moltov cocktail or run down by hopped up street gang members.

Our hero of the film is Jimmy (Manning) who in an attempt to impress his girlfriend, Carmen (McCurry), ‘borrows’ his brother Frank’s completely restored ’57 Chevy to go to the Star Drive-In. The couple are given an option when they arrive of paying $10 for adults or $3.50 for those that are unemployed, to save money Jimmy declares they are unemployed. The manager of the Star, Thompson (Whitford), seems dubious but let’s them in for the discounted price. The lot is packed with all manner of vehicles and some of them look like there is just no way they could be functioning, possibly this is something that Jimmy should have picked up on while driving through the parked cars for a secluded spot. Carmen and Jimmy while having some alone time do not realize until too late that the back tires of the Chevy are being stolen. Jimmy is shocked to see that the culprits are none other than Police officers who roll the tires into the back of their armored vehicle. Jimmy and Carmen are about to learn they have driven into a societal nightmare and there may be no way to go back.

[Via] The Faster Blade

Dead End Drive-In has some faults, those being the over the top acting of some of the lesser characters and a weird switch of a ‘social message’ about halfway through the film concerning new arrivals to the Drive-In. But the film is perfect for a late night viewing and the main cast pull it off with Manning and Whitford being the standout actors. Dead End Drive-In gets three and a half pumpkins out of five!
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Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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3 thoughts on “Dead End Drive-In

  1. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Dead-End Drive-In was one of those nifty B-movie discoveries when VHS titles were in rotation from the video stores.

    Haven’t seen it in years.
    But I loves me a drive-in movie movie.

  2. It’s a fun movie, make no mistake about it. I’d love to hear what you guys think about it after watching seeing it.

    Atari, I’m shocked that this film somehow didn’t make it into my local video store back in the day. Until Netflix I truly had never heard of it.

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