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Murder Slim Review: DEAD END DRIVE-IN

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The opening of DEAD-END DRIVE IN quickly sets out its world. There's been a series of disasters that have led to society struggling to survive. A food crisis, a financial crisis, and then an unemployment crisis. And Australia is suffering with the rest of them. Gangs of punks are fighting authority and crashing cars. As an Aussie movie, there's shades of MAD MAX to this, but it's given a more populated feel. Instead of empty streets, there's a bunch of people in DEAD-END DRIVE IN. Despite the probable lack of budget for the movie, Brian Trenchard-Smith gives a real sense of lots of people suffering from the consequences of economic failure.

The movie follows Crabs and his girlfriend Carmen, who end up stranded in an almost post-apocalyptic drive-in cinema after their tires are stolen by the police. The drive-in cinema has nearly 200 people in a similar situation, lighting fires and glaring at each other. The stranded are given food vouchers to eat takeaway from the on-site greasy restaurant.

Crabs is a very engaging character. He wants to become a tough guy, but no matter how much he works out, runs and eats, Crabs is still regarded as a "scrawny bastard". Yet, as soon as he's stranded in the drive-in, he wants to get away. He wants this so badly, he irritates his girlfriend and also incurs the wrath of people spray painting "CRABS CAN'T GET IT UP" on his car. Carmen, incidentally, is so attractive I spent the movie slightly slack jawed. I found some pictures of her on the internet, licked the back of them, and made them my new wallpaper.

Crabs is very much the outsider. He becomes progressively disgusted by Carmen getting involved with the people trapped in the drive-in. Carmen sees things differently. Unlike the outside world, she realises they have food, company and a sense of community. And - apart from one outbreak of a cricket bat based fight - it seems like crime isn't a massive problem in the drive-in. People look after their own.

For a supposedly trashy movie, it's actually very cleverly done. The car crashes are spectacularly choreographed. Don't expect a special-effects laden movie - it's not that - but when effects are used they're used well. Sparks fly up as cars speed through large fires. Bullets ping off the walls and cars with some canny squib effects.

Above all, there's some great undercurrents to the movie. The way the drive-in deals with the unemployed seems to ring very true with the concept of ghettos. The controller of the drive-in cinema even provides them with drugs. Another surprising - and interesting - aspect is when some Asian people are dropped in the drive-in, the inmates rebel and view the "slopes" as the cause of their problems. Crabs becomes even more likeable because - like us - he sees the drive-in as a huge prison infested by the usual splits of stupid, racial divisions. He stands up for an Indian guy in one toilet scene, and later on his inability to get a hard-on for Carmen (miraculously) becomes justified.

DEAD-END DRIVE IN is, naturally, a little rough around the edges. But by limiting the movie to the confines of a drive-in cinema, it creates a well realised world. It's also great to see everyone throwing their all into a movie. Maybe by focusing more on characters and a basic story of "me versus them" it simply doesn't overstretch. It's an enjoyable - and sometimes thought provoking - way to spend 92 minutes of your measly life. Fuck, at least give it an 8 on imdb.com to get it above fucking BOTCHED.

Review by Steve Hussy