Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 30th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Australia, 1986
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writers: Peter Carey, Peter Smalley
Cast: Ned Manning, Natalie McCurry, Peter Whitford, Wilbur Wilde, Dave Gibson, Sandie Lillingston, Ollie Hall
BluRay released: September 20th, 2016
Approximate running time: 88 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Everywhere you looked in the first half of the 1980’s post-apocalyptic films were in high demand with just about every country leaving their mark on the genre. Notable films from this genre include, Mad Max and Escape from New York. And then there was Italy who during this time churned out countless clones of the two aforementioned films.
Content wise, there are many parallels that can be drawn between Dead End Drive-In and Turkey Shoot. With the major difference between these two films being the characters in Dead End Drive-In are unknowingly lured and confined once inside the drive in. In contrast to Turkey Shoot where the characters have a good idea of where they are being taken too.
Dead End Drive-In was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, a prolific filmmaker whose best films are rooted in exploitation. Other notable films that Trenchard-Smith has directed include, The Man from Hong Kong, Stunt Rock, Turkey Shoot and BMX Bandits. And when it comes to exploitation very few filmmakers heap it on like Trenchard-Smith.
From a production stand point this film stretches its anemic resources well beyond their limits and nowhere is more evident than in regards to set design, most notable this films main location the drive in. And not to be overlooked are this film’s visuals which set the tone and help reinforce the mood. With this film’s standout moment visually being the scene where the protagonist realizes what is going on.
Performance wise the entire cast are very enthusiastic in their respective roles. With the performance that leaves the strongest lasting impression being Natalie McCurry in the role of Carmen, the protagonist girlfriend. Other performances of note include, Ned Manning the role of Crabs, this film’s protagonist and Peter Whitford (My Brilliant Career) in the role of Thompson, the man in charge of the Drive-In.
Dead End Drive-In comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a brand new 2k transfer was created from original film elements and the end result is marked improvement over Arrow Video previous home video release. Colors look vibrant, flesh tone look accurate, black levels remain strong throughout and details look crisp. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles have been included with this release. There are no issues with distortion or back ground noise, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also this audio mix sound robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 36 seconds), Vladimir Cherepanoff gallery, two films also directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith – a 1978 public information film titled Hospitals Don’t Burn Down (24 minutes 10 seconds – 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio 1080 Progressive) and a television documentary titled The Stuntmen (48 minutes 46 seconds – 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio 1080 Progressive) and an audio commentary track with director Brian Trenchard-Smith.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the premise of the film, what he was trying to achieve with this film social commentary laced with satire, films that influenced this film, stunts, car culture, the cast & information about them, visuals, the film’s main location a drive in located in Sydney and what he would change about the film.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art option and twenty-eight-page booklet with cast and crew information, an essay about the film titled Post-Punk Apocalypse written by Cullen Gallagher, cast & crew info and essays for Hospitals Don’t Burn Down and The Stuntmen, both written by Neil Mitchell and information about the restoration. Overall Dead End Drive-In gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video.