Dead End Drive-In – Review (Arrow Video Blu-ray)

Dead End Drive-In is another flick in a long line of random horror/action films from the 80s that I haven’t seen. It seems there is a good amount out there to be enjoyed and Arrow Video is bringing them out on Blu-ray for just that purpose alone. Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith (Night of the Demons 2) and known as an Ozploitation flick, much in the same line as Mad Max, Dead End Drive-In came out in 1986 . It delivers a message on the downfall society and the feuding between the Haves and the Have-nots. However, the message becomes muddled during the 88-minute runtime, as events plod along at a slow pace, not providing enough oomph to keep most viewers invested for the long haul. Nevertheless, it isn’t all bad, as Dead End Drive-In has a lasting appearance and a rocking soundtrack that is to die for.


RUN-TIME: 88 min
RELEASE DATE: Sept 20, 2016


dead-end-drive-in-01THE PRICE OF ADMISSION IS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. One of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite directors, Brian Trenchard-Smith was a key figure in the Ozploitation movement, responsible for The Man from Hong Kong, Stunt Rock, Turkey Shoot, BMX Bandits… and dystopian cult classic Dead-End Drive In! Set in a near-future where the economy has crumbled and violent gangs play havoc in the streets, the powers-that-be have decided to lure the delinquent youth into drive-in cinemas and keep them there. No longer just a place to watch trashy movies and make out, these outdoor picture shows have become concentration camps for the unruly and unwanted. With its day-glo colour scheme, new wave soundtrack and extraordinary stunt work, Dead-End Drive-In is in the tradition of Ozploitation milestones Mad Max and The Cars That Ate Paris only very, very eighties.


In a near dystopian future, society has crumbled and bands of roaming teens are wrecking havoc on the streets. Destruction of property is abundant and the unemployment rate is through the roof. What can the government do to quell the future uprising of rowdy teens? Well, giving them exactly what they want, of course. Give them drugs, exploitation films, booze and a place to hang out forever. The best place to hang out is the Star Drive-in. A place you can enter, but never leave.

Unfortunately for Crabs (Ned Manning), he decides to hit the drive-in and ends up taking permanent residence in this hell-hole. However, he isn’t just going to take it lying down and starts planning on how to get out. He believes there is a life outside of mayhem and drugs, even if everyone else around him thinks otherwise.

dead-end-drive-in-02Dead End Drive-In has a solid message when it comes to segregation, differing social classes and delinquents run amok. However, the film falters when it comes to delivering fully on all these messages.The film follows Crabs in his quest to get out of the drive-in, but it is the other events that are more interesting but never explored. The drive-in is rampant with racism and violence, but when the time comes for the differing groups to clash, the movie shifts back to Crabs and his escape plans. If the film didn’t include these other interesting ideas and just kept its focus on Crabs, the runtime of the flick would have gone from 88-minutes to a measly 30-minutes. That goes to show you that the film tends to pad out its runtime with interesting, albeit squandered ideas.

Thankfully, the stuff that does work, works damn well. The look of the film is pure eye candy for fans of 80s punk rock. The vibrant colours of graffiti, wacky costumes and spiky hairdos are drop dead gorgeous, especially on Arrow Video’s Blu-ray transfer. The biggest highlight of the movie is the amazing soundtrack. A mix of 80s music and rocking instrumental music, Dead End Drive-In’s biggest plus is the ear pleasing music. I wish Arrow Video would have included the soundtrack with it. That would have made the already nice Blu-ray a surefire purchase.



I’ve already mentioned that the Blu-ray transfer for Dead End Drive-In is wonderful and it really is. The inherent grain with film remains intact and the grittiness of the punk rock future is a beaut. The audio is also pumping out that amazing soundtrack with no issues.

The Special Features aren’t exactly what I call very informative when it comes to the film itself. There are a couple neat special features that involve Director Brian Trenchard-Smith’s early work. You have an interesting documentary from the 70s on the work of stuntmen in the industry. You also have a short PSA directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith on the dangers of smoking in a hospital. The only true Dead End Drive-In centric feature is the Director commentary, which goes into great detail with the making of the movie. Rounding out the features is a trailer for Dead End Drive-In.



  • Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
  • High Definition (1080p) Presentation
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith
  • The Stuntmen, Trenchard Smith’s classic television documentary on Grant Page (Mad Max, Road Games) and other Australian stunt performers
  • Hospitals Don’t Burn Down, Trenchard-Smith’s 1978 public information film told in pure Ozploitation fashion
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon


Dead End Drive-In ended up being a flick that I enjoyed, but still came away disappointed with. There was a lot of meat on the flick’s story that went unused and that’s a damn shame. Nonetheless, the soundtrack was pumping and the film’s look was sublimely quirky. The Blu-ray from Arrow Video lacks proper features in relation to the movie, but nevertheless, the features included on the Blu-ray disc are enjoyable. I would pick the flick up on sale for sure.


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