Friday, November 13, 2009

Dead End Drive In (1986)

Dead End Drive In is the 80s. Aussie style. Which is to say its got the neon, the synthesized music, but also the punks with mohawks, bleached hair, and souped up cars. I imagine this is supposed to take place in the same world as Mad Max, only in the city (Sydney). Also, the world didn't crumble necessarily as a result of nuclear holocaust. Mainly, it was just the apathetic youth and their gang mongering. We got economies failing, riots breaking out, wholesale slaughter, gangs roaming the streets, rampant racism, and in Cape Town there was even something called "The Great White Massacre". Hundreds of thousands killed in that one. Great white sharks mutated, grew legs, and took to the streets. I assume. Anyway, back in Australia we've also got car crashes. Lots and lots of car crashes.

So, you can imagine that while most industries are failing at least the tow truck industry is booming. These guys are the bad asses of the post apocalyptic 1990s (yeah, the movie may have dated itself a little). Frank (Ollie Hall) is the poster boy for bad ass tow truck drivers. His younger brother Crabs (Ned Manning)? Not as much. Crabs (so named because he "thought (he) had it once") is small, but he tries hard. The life of a tow trucker is dangerous, but he wants in. Frank isn't so sure. His mother says he can eat all the shit he wants, work out as hard as he can but he'll always be small. Frank reluctantly takes him along one night. They come upon an accident. The cops are useless. People are dead or dying. Another tow truck arrives simultaneously. Frank lays claim to all three cars. So does the other guy. Frank's bigger. They strip the cars while fending off roving gangs. Just another night.

I liked the introduction to this world. I like that a guy with blue collar skills is king. And, like most kings, Frank's got his treasure; a gorgeous red 57 Chevy. He won't mind if Crabs takes it out for a spin, maybe pick up Carmen (his girl) and hit the drive in for a night of Ozzploitation films? He'll have the car back before Frank even knows it's gone. Well, like most futuristic worlds this one's got some unusual rules. Like, it's illegal to walk on an "S" road which sucks for Crabs after his tires are stolen while making love to Carmen in the back seat. So, he and Carmen are stuck there. Just like all the other teenagers wandering around the place. I guess they didn't notice all the broken down cars when they pulled in? Or, the electrified fence, or the locking gates? Man, this place is like a serious dead end or something.

Crabs isn't like most post apocalyptic 90s Aussie teens though. He's not content to live a life of movies, junk food, and raucous parties (filled with sex, drugs, booze, etc). He wants out. Carmen's more typical. She befriends some girls and before you know it they're doing each other's hair. Punk style. Crabs befriends the manager of the establishment (the only adult on site). He wants new tires, a phone, anything. Frank's gonna be pissed! Crabs settles for a fosters and some talks. There's gotta be more to life than this.

I had a lot of fun watching this picture. I mean, imagine a concentration camp for teenagers? We got lots of great 80s sounding music. A few explosions, a car chase, a couple fights. I expected these kids to form gangs and battle it out, but that never really happened. The only conflict, in this regard, was that Crabs wanted out and the other teens want to stay. The atmosphere is intensely 80s and helped by the fact that the whole thing is set in a drive in. I recognized a couple of the movies shown; Brian Trenchard Smith's great Turkey Shoot and The Man From Hong Kong. Trenchard Smith directed this picture as well. Also, the one where the leprechaun goes into space. Stick to the Aussie shit, man. This one would have been fun with a few friends and a few beers. I made due without any of those things.

1 comment:

berk said...

I watched this movie a few days ago, and liked it. Then I searched the web if I could find some more information about it, and encountered your review. I must admit that yours is the best review about this forgotten gem. Keep up the the good work. Your reviews are really great.