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Dead End Drive-In (1986)

 -  Action | Drama | Horror  -  August 1986 (USA)
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In the near future, drive-in theatres are turned into concentration camps for the undesirable and unemployed. The prisoners don't really care to escape because they are fed and they have a ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ned Manning ...
Natalie McCurry ...
Peter Whitford ...
Wilbur Wilde ...
Dave Gibson ...
Sandie Lillingston ...
Ollie Hall ...
Lyn Collingwood ...
Nikki McWaters ...
Melissa Davis ...
Margi Di Ferranti ...
Desirée Smith ...
Tracey (as Desiree Smith)
Murray Fahey ...
Brett Climo ...


In the near future, drive-in theatres are turned into concentration camps for the undesirable and unemployed. The prisoners don't really care to escape because they are fed and they have a place to live which is, in most cases, probably better than the outside. Crabs and his girlfriend Carmen are put into the camp and all Crabs wants to do is escape. Written by Josh Pasnak <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The price of admission is the rest of your life. See more »


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

August 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead End  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film is considered an "Ozploitation" film, an Australian genre and/or exploitation movie. See more »


[first title card]
Title Card: SYDNEY, January 26th. 1988 Bicentennial celebrations spark 'The Rocks Riot', 51 die
See more »


Playing with Fire
Music by Frank Strangio
Lyrics by Eve Dembowski
Performed by Lisa Edwards
See more »

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User Reviews

Get your front-row tickets for the end of civilization!
18 June 2008 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

What we have here is a genuinely oddball, atmospheric and undeservedly obscure apocalyptic-themed adventure from the land of the Aussies and directed by no less than the dude who brought us the ultimate guilty-pleasures "Blood Camp Thatcher" and "Night of the Demons 2". Brian Trenchard-Smith's "Dead-End Drive In" combines practically all the greatest elements of the 80's decade in one giant derivative yet surprisingly refreshing and entertaining film. The grim plot and disturbing undertones are more than obviously inspired by "Escape from New York" as well as that other Aussie cult landmark "Mad Max", but at the same time there's also a lot of light-headed comedy and cheesy 80's tunes in the film. You simply have got to love any movie that opens with depressing newspaper headlines about mass murder and economic crisis and then subsequently plays an exaggeratedly cheerful pop song during its opening credits! The story, albeit severely flawed in some departments, is very well elaborated and I even daresay quite ambitious since it even offers some effective social mockery that assaults issues that are timeless, like racism and the typically human herd mentality. In the year 1990, when the entire world is rotten and there ain't much left resembling law and order in the streets, Jimmy – or "Crabs" like the friends tend to call him - invites his funky voluptuous girlfriend for a night at the Star drive-in theater. The romantic date quickly turns sour when someone steals the wheels from underneath his "borrowed" 1956 Chevy and they're forced to spend the night at the drive-in. Only in the morning it becomes obvious that the drive-in serves as a prison camp for punks and juvenile delinquents. Crabs refuses to accept his situation and plans and escape, but all the other prisoners – including his girlfriend – seem to like the place because they have easy access to fast food and plenty of free movie. Quite the contrary, whilst Crabs is risking his life trying to get out, the rest of the drive-in crowd complains about the increasing number of Asians in the prison camp. "Dead-End Drive In" is a vastly amusing and often wittily scripted cult gem that is ripe for rediscovery by fans of Sci-Fi and action cinema all around the globe. It's available on DVD already, so what are you waiting for? The locations and set-pieces are convincingly grim, the soundtrack is – as said – quite exhilarating the Nathalie McCurry's female curves are a joy to look at. As briefly indicated before, the screenplay does have its shortcomings, though. The first, say, fifteen to twenty minutes of the film are in fact entirely pointless since they revolve on Crabs' "family" situation which is completely irrelevant. Also, the actual reason for his and Carmen's admission remains somewhat unclear. My biggest (but still forgivable) complaint about the movie is that it isn't as violent and bloody as it should have been. There are some notably sadistic moments, but – seriously – an exploitative and unscrupulous "Mad Max" clone like this ought to feature more sickening carnage, despicable rape sequences and relentless footage of mass destruction. Although I disagree, I can easily understand why some people think "Dead-End Drive In" is disappointing and even a bit boring. It's a fun and unexpectedly intelligent movie, but a little more panache would have been welcome.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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