Drive-In Massacre – Review (Severin Films Blu-ray)
We all know it’s cool and hip to say your movie was the film that introduced audiences to the slasher genre. Black Christmas does it, Halloween does it and even Friday the 13th, which honestly has no right to say they did it, still does it. Drive-In Massacre may be one of the few films out there that actually can legitimately say they are the first slasher film before the big boys came around.
Drive-In Massacre, released in 1976, features a shadowed killer stalking drive-in attendees as they attempt to get sexual in their cars. Unfortunately, unlike the movies above, most of the flicks time is spent with two cops who bumble their way through the investigation, instead of having the movie devote more time at the drive-in, where massacring should be happening.
Nevertheless, Drive-In Massacre serves up some fun times and Severin Films, who are known for lovingly restoring cult films, is at it again with Drive-In Massacre. Released on Blu-ray is a fantastic package, featuring a healthy helping of special features and a video transfer that screams grindhouse drive-in classic! If this all sounds good to you, but you want to know just a bit more, read on for the rest of the review.
DISCS: 1 RUN-TIME: 74 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: Dolby Digital Mono LANGUAGE: English SUBTITLES: English REGION: A RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 1976 RELEASE DATE: Mar 14, 2017
It was one of the few true slasher movies to pre-date HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13th, and remains the closest you’ll ever come to an actual seedy ’70s drive-in experience: It’s a hot summer night in Southern California and the local passion pit is packed with patrons. But when a sword-wielding psycho begins carving up customers, it’ll unspool a grubby cavalcade of creepy carnies, peeping perverts, graphic decapitations and an ending you have to see/hear to believe. John F. Goff (THE FOG), Bruce Kimball (LOVE CAMP 7) and co-writer George ‘Buck’ Flower (BACK TO THE FUTURE) star in this nasty slab of ’70s sleaze directed by adult film & episodic television veteran Stu Segall (INSATIABLE), now packed with all-new Special Features and restored from the original camera negative recently discovered in the ruins of the Sky View Drive-In near Oxnard!
Back in the 70s, the drive-in was the place to be (unless of course you are stuck in the dystopian future featured in Dead-In Drive-In). If you wanted to watch a sleazy film, while at the same time getting your mistress pregnant, the drive-in is the place to be. The drive-in also sounds like the perfect hunting ground for a killer, especially when an angry bald guy runs the drive-in and doesn’t even close the joint down after a double homicide.
As the bodies pile up at the Calfornia drive-in, two investigators deal with the wacky happenings that take place at the seedy joint. They cops are having a hell of a time trying to figure out who is doing the murdering, as the site offers up too many suspects. Could the killer possibly be the ex-carnival employee who specialised in swallowing swords, the same type of sword used in the killings? Or perhaps it’s the pervert who just wants to jerk it while creeping on making out teens.
Drive-In Massacre certainly features enough of the red stuff to classify this as an honest to goodness slasher flick. We get plenty of sword stabbings and beheadings to keep the screen running bloody red. However, the story has the annoying tendency to jump away from the drive-in and focus on the two cops who are desperately trying to solve the case. I figured because the film has the word massacre in the title, most of the scant 74-minute runtime would, you know, actually take place at the massacre filled drive-in. Unfortunately, there are plenty of scenes happening everywhere else except where we want them to be.
Although, the most offensive thing Drive-In Massacre does is skimp on the nudity. We get a quick glimpse of some nice boobies and a few naughty posters, but that be all. Colour me sad and depressed.
Nonetheless, the film makes up for most of my misgivings with an ending that is sure to both confuse and delight you. I don’t want to ruin anything, but picture yourself back when this movie was out and try to imagine how the audience would have reacted to that ending. A pretty ingenious idea.
As I’ve already mentioned, Severin Films knows how to release a damn fine Blu-ray and Drive-In Massacre is no exception. I can tell you that the film has probably never looked better, albeit still rough around the edges, lending to a viewing that does justice to the drive-in experience.
As for special features, we have some enjoyable interviews with the director, a few cast member interviews and an audio commentary with the director, who reminisces on the filming of Drive-In Massacre and isn’t afraid to say what shots are good and what shots are bad. Could the film have had more features? Of course, but what we do get it is much welcome.
Audio Commentary With Director Stu Segall
Drive-In Days: Interview With Star / Co-Writer John F. Goff
Norm Sheridan Recalls Drive-In Massacre
Making the Massacre: Interview With Director Stu Segall
Drive-In Massacre is through and through a slasher film, but one that takes a bit too much of a break away from the massacring. However, when we do get back to the slashing, things are great. Also, you can’t forget the classic ending that will be sure to please most horror fiends.
Severin Film knocks out a Blu-ray that is honestly probably way too good for the film in question, but Severin Films is never one to slack on a quality Blu-ray release. If you would like to experience some low budget slashing, be sure to pick up the Blu-ray.