Dead-End Drive-In (1985) (Blu-ray film review).

September 19, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘Dead-End Drive-In’ is directed by Brian Trenchard Smith and includes a couple other things he directed in the extras.

1988-89, the world has suffered three major catastrophes and there is a food shortage. Even so, seeing two brothers, Frank ACTOR and Jimmy ‘Crabs’ Rossini (actor Ned Manning) deal for car wrecks directly after accidents and having to ward off a local gang wanting to steal wheels, their clothes look too clean.

Once all that’s established, Jimmy borrows his brother’s car for some rumpty-bumpty at the Star Drive-in with his girl-friend, Carmen-Marie (actress Natalie McCurry), only to have two wheels taken by the local police. The proprietor, Thompson (actor Peter Whitford) is hardly helpful and tells them to come back in the morning. It is then that they discover that they weren’t the only cars with wheels missing. All of them were and they find they have been scammed and trapped with another 162 people by the police and Thompson is only trying to look after them, having been landed with a police problem of what to do with juveniles. One thing that does puzzle me is why didn’t any of them group and put the wheels onto another car and attempt an escape? Despite the electric fence, a lot of them are happy to be imprisoned as they get regular meals and films to watch at night.


The audio commentary is by Brian Trenchard Smith who explains he likes directing ‘What If’ films and saw this one as a means to imprison the modern youth of the mid-80s. The reality cost 2.3 million dollars although he doesn’t say whether it was Australian or American. I’m learning more from it than the regular version. I thought Frank was Jimmy’s stepfather not brother. He also reports that Ned Manning lied about his age and was 35 not 24. Then again, he does look younger, unlike Steve McQueen in ‘The Blob’ (1958).

None the less, he fills you in on a lot of the production values of the time period and how darkness, steam and flame can make a movie. At the time, he recorded this audio, Trenchard Smith had made 33 films and you might have seen some of the others. I didn’t realise he’s directed ‘Man From Hong Kong’ (1975), as I managed to pick up a copy a couple years ago, and still a good Kung Fu flick.

‘The Stuntmen’ is a 45 minute 1978 documentary directed by Brian Trenchard Smith looking at Bob Winward’s team and the stunts they performed. Grant Page later went on to stunt on ‘Max Max’. Stunt displays on TV tend to be a must watch and seeing an Australian version makes this disc unique for me. Watch but don’t try at home.

‘Hospitals Don’t Burn Down’ is a 25minute Australian 1978 docu-drama, also directed by Brian Trenchard Smith, showing that happens when you don’t pay attention to the title, especially if you’re a patient who smokes. Based on the time period, it’s a reminder that all staff need to be have proper fire drill and fire crews to have long enough ladders. I love the twist at the end where the silly idiot who caused the fire still didn’t realise he caused it by lighting up again.

If you like ‘Mad Max’-like films, then this one will surely appeal. If you haven’t, somehow I haven’t, then it’s still an interesting film although I agree with Trenchard Smith that he should have done more with the sub-text but we can all learn lessons afterwards.

GF Willmetts

September 2016

(region B: pub: Arrow Video. 1 blu-ray disc 88 minute film with extras. Price: £15.99 (UK). ASIN: B01GVAMVWW)

DVD version price: £12.99 (UK))

cast: Ned Manning, Natalie McCurry and Peter Whitford

subtitles: English.

check out website: www.arrowfilms.co.uk

Category: Films, Horror, Scifi

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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