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Dead End Drive-In (1986)

In the near future, a teenage couple are trapped in a drive-in theater which has become a concentration camp for social outcasts. The inmates are treated to drugs, exploitation films, junk food, and new wave music.


Peter Carey (story), Peter Smalley (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ned Manning ... Jimmy 'Crabs' Rossini
Natalie McCurry ... Carmen
Peter Whitford ... Thompson
Wilbur Wilde Wilbur Wilde ... Hazza
Dave Gibson Dave Gibson ... Dave
Sandie Lillingston Sandie Lillingston ... Beth
Ollie Hall Ollie Hall ... Frank
Lyn Collingwood Lyn Collingwood ... Fay
Nikki McWaters Nikki McWaters ... Shirl
Melissa Davis Melissa Davis ... Narelle
Margi Di Ferranti Margi Di Ferranti ... Jill
Desirée Smith Desirée Smith ... Tracey (as Desiree Smith)
Murray Fahey Murray Fahey ... Mickey
Jeremy Shadlow ... Jeff
Brett Climo ... Don


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 <chainsaw@intouch.bc.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's a party every day, a movie every night, and all the junk food you can eat. What more can a kid want... except to get out. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

22 August 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dead End See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


On the audio commentary for the Region 1 DVD, director Brian Trenchard-Smith states that U.S. distributor New World Pictures originally planned to follow the example set by American International and their release of Mad Max (1979) by issuing the movie with a new voice track featuring American performers re-voicing the Australian actors. However, the dubbing turned out so poorly, the company decided to release the film with the original performances intact. See more »


[last lines]
Crabs: Beauty!
See more »


Features The Dragon Flies (1975) See more »


He's Got It
Composed by Ashley Henderson
Performed by Short Circuit
Produced by Trevor Courtney and John French
Engineered by John French and Dave Herzog
Recorded at Fast Forward and Quicklick Recorders
Published by Phantom Power Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Get your front-row tickets for the end of civilization!
18 June 2008 | by CoventrySee 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.

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