Dead-End Drive-In (1986)

All hail Brian Trenchard-Smith! Where most films today bore your eyes out, his Australian-born breed of mayhem has been etched in my memory for years. Who else could create such a wildly disparate catalog of film, including The Man from Hong KongStunt RockBMX BanditsTurkey ShootNight of the Demons 2 and so many more.

Only he could make this high concept — in which a dystopian punk rock future relegates its teenage ne’er do wells to a drive-in prison — work.

In this apocalypse, the economy has collapsed due to the manufacturing industry collapsing and cars have become so rare that their parts are a constant commodity battled over between gangs and salvage companies. That’s where the drive-ins come in — they’re concentration camps for kids that can’t find work or are part of those gangs.

The prisoners soon find no reason to escape, as they’re permitting access to drugs, alcohol, junk food, exploitation films and new wave music. The inside of these prisons are preferable to the outside and therefore, no one ever wants to leave.

Our hero, Jimmy is known as “Crabs” and has been lured to the Star Drive-In as a date night with his girl Carmen. As soon as they start to make out, the wheels of his car are stolen by the police, which means that they’re now part of the population of the doomed.

Soon, Crabs is trying to escape as well as coming into conflict with the racist gangs that run the drive-in. Yet Carmen goes the other direction, embracing the junk food that her health-obsessed boyfriend dislikes and falling in with the drugs and anti-Asian racist mentality of the gangs.

Finally, Crabs makes one last attempt at escape, jumping a tow truck out of the drive-in. This final stunt, performed by The Road Warrior Guy Norris, cost the majority of the film’s budget and was the most expensive stunt filmed in Australia by that point, setting a world record for a truck jump at 49.378 meters or 162 feet.

This movie has always been a favorite thanks to its eighties’ neon magic. I have to confess, spending the rest of my life eating junk food, doing drugs and watching Trenchard-Smith’s movies at a drive-in doesn’t sound like all that apocalyptic of a future.

You can watch this for free on Tubi or get the blu ray from Arrow Video. If you’re interested in more Ozploitation, may I recommend Severin’s Ozploitation Trailer Explosion and the documentary Not Quite Hollywood, which you can get from Diabolik DVD.

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