Dead End Drive-In/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Dead End Drive-In

Dead End Drive-In is a later work of Brian Trenchard-Smith. Despite an already very impressive oeuvre, you might say that Trenchard-Smith was building up to this film. The Man From Hong Kong sits up there with Enter The Dragon in terms of quality. BMX Bandits is the quintessential children's film, known to every Australian who grew up in the eighties and nineties. Turkey Shoot is one of the most impressive action works to come out of Australia, unrestrained by a minuscule budget. Dead End Drive-In offers a different view of Australia's future to George Miller's famed Mad Max trilogy, but it deserves just as much recognition.

The story concerns "Crabs", a young fitness-obsessed man who looks up to his big brother Frank, a bulky tow truck driver. Being a tow truck driver ain't all that easy in this run-down society. Drivers are given the call and then have to race as fast as they can to the scene of the accident in an effort to get there before some other ambitious tow truck driver (of which there are many). Crabs gets a glimpse of the life when he catches a ride with his brother that ends as a towing job. Totaled cars; beaten-up bloody corpses; gangs of "car-boys" rolling onto the scene to vandalize and procure car parts while crooked cops refuse to do anything. It's in amidst this situation that Crabs convinces his brother to loan him his shiny '56 Chevy for a date with his girlfriend Carmen.


Pulling in to the Drive-in, they take down the seats and make love in the back, Trenchard-Smith's own Turkey Shoot playing on the cinema screen. They're interrupted, though, by a violent movement and a thud sound. It was his wheels being stolen. Some inspection reveals the culprits to be the police. And this is where things start to change for the worse. Upon informing the Drive-in attendant about their stolen wheels, he proves unhelpful and urges them to wait until morning to resolve the issue. No transport comes here and walking is forbidden on the highway. But in the morning, they are still no closer to being let free.

When they are issued meal tickets and advised that they will be allocated a salary to survive, they realise that they are trapped here and the government intends for them to stay here indefinitely, along with 190 other of society's delinquents. Weed, birth control pills, tampons, food, all can be bought. It doesn't take long before Carmen is brainwashed into believing this is where she will stay forever. But Crabs is having none of it. This makeshift society is nothing compared to the free world and it's only getting worse with the introduction of Asian immigrants and, subsequently, racial tension. Crabs makes plans to escape. He gathers fuel, new wheels, all leading up to his triumphant breakout.

Dead End Drive-In is an exciting film with the budget and the expertise to support it's ambitious set-pieces. Filled with sweeping crane shots, plenty of cars, plenty of fights and a catchy 80s soundtrack, Dead End Drive-In is a good way to spend a brisk ninety minutes.

Reviewed by Angel


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