So a couple of weeks ago I watched this new documentary on Netflix called Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation on their Instant Watch service (in HD mind you). It’s a great little documentary about B-Movies and the film industry in Australia. Before George Miller ever did Happy Feet he directed Mad Max in Australia, it just goes to show you that every body starts somewhere. In the documentary many notable Australian filmmakers were interviewed and one notable American Quentin Tarantino (when doesn’t he get interviewed about exploitation movies any more?). So I watched the Doc with pen and paper in hand and wrote down the titles of stuff that I found interesting. Then rushed to my Netflix queues and started adding everything that was available. The first one in the pipes was Dead End Drive-In, I can sum it up like this, Mad Max in a Drive-In. Yep that about does it.
It wasn’t terrible and it wasn’t great, it’s just kind of there. First there isn’t a lot of exposition to what’s going on. Basically it’s 1990 and the world has gone to hell in a hand basket. Wall Street crashed again sending the world into chaos. So in Australia they decided to lock up the undesirables in a concentration camp at a Drive-In and feed them movies, music videos and junk food 24/7. Sounds like the perfect life doesn’t it? Well Jimmy wants out. And quite honestly I’m not sure why Jimmy got in there in the first place actually. All he did was go to the Drive-In to catch a movie with his gal Carmen and then his tires get stolen and he’s there forever.
So that’s the basic premise. Jimmy then spends the next hour trying to survive the local thugs who all look like extras from an 80′s Billy Idol video. It has its charm, and a fair dose of nostalgia for anyone that remembers what MTV looked like in the late 80′s. Did they really need to play that Pat Benatar video over and over and over and over again?
The movie would probably get a PG-13 rating today, it had a little bit of foul language and a couple of topless scenes but the violence and blood and gore was few and far between. Also in the documentary Tarantino talked about how Austrialians love their cars almost as much as American’s do and from this movie you can totally see that. Every body lives in their cars and the entire culture of the movie revolved around Jimmy and his brothers ’56 Chevy.
There was also a sub-plot that was put in there towards the end that dealt with racism and mass hysteria surrounding people blindly following the lead of a bunch of people that have no idea what they are talking about and are simply misinformed bigots. The sub-plot really doesn’t go anywhere and it’s not like Jimmy saves the day and frees everyone from the binds of ignorance and racism. At the end of the day Dead End Drive-In is a nostalgic piece of film history that has been forgotten! If you’re looking for a cheesy way to kill 1 hour and 27 minutes you could do a lot worse.
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This post was written by Gabe Wilkinson on January 21, 2010