With dreamy and stylish cinematography, Dead End Drive-In survived the test of time. It’s still one of the most unique post-apocalyptic movies of the eighties featuring an engaging story and charming atmosphere. Despite the somewhat silly first fifteen minutes, just stick with this one and it will get progressively better. At least you’ll see some nice car chases and stunts to keep you going. Being an Australian movie set after the economic crash, you can’t help but feel those Mad Max vibes. They were used to set the tone and help with the familiarity while the rest of the movie is an authentic experience. With a runtime of just over eighty minutes, this is a short and sweet ride through the wasteland that never looked more diverse and charming.
Dead End Drive-In looks like someone decided to make an homage to the post-apocalyptic movies of the eighties now with all the wonders of modern technology. Using vibrant and saturated colors, they a created polished and elegant outlook. And I didn’t even mention the clothes and hairstyles. You can definitely sense A Clockwork Orange and The Warriors influences. The sets look imposing, especially the drive-in with over four hundred cars in various conditions. Director Brian Trenchard-Smith, best known for his Ozploitation masterpiece Turkey Shoot, actually went to this same drive-in as a kid. He also discovered Nicole Kidman back in 1983 with a cute teen action movie BMX Bandits.
Welcome to the world of tomorrow! It is not a pretty world, ravaged by crime, economic disasters, and lack of hope. In this bleak world, we meet Jimmy Rossini, also known as Crabs, a young man obsessed with fitness and healthy living. He and his brother have a towing business as cars have become a sought-after commodity. One night Crabs “borrows” his brother’s vintage 1956 Chevy to take his girlfriend to a nearby drive-in theater. This will be the night that will change his life forever.
The thing that blew me away about Dead End Drive-In is the story. It’s a satirical take on society and you can use it to analyze our current world quite nicely. You could say that we’re all living in the world of this movie, trying to get out like Crabs but failing over and over again. The rest of the inhabitants either don’t want or know how to help. You’re left alone in the middle of the craziness slowly going mad and left with two choices. Succumb to conformism or make a desperate attempt to escape into a world ravaged by problems. It’s a shitty choice but I know what I would do. How about you?
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writers: Peter Smalley, Peter Carey
Cast: Ned Manning, Natalie McCurry, Peter Whitford, Jeremy Shadlow, Brett Climo, Wilbur Wilde, Dave Gibson, Sandie Lillingston
Fun Facts: Apparently, to get the part in this picture, actor Ned Manning allegedly told director Brian Trenchard-Smith he was twenty-four years old, but in reality, at the time of casting, was thirty-six years of age.