A Brief Note On Brian Trenchard Smith’s Dead End Drive-In.
Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Ozploitation classic is, for my money, one of the finest of all Australian films.
Dead End Drive-In’s surreal set-up has it that the world as we know it never came to be, with a series of events in Australia, South Africa and Tahiti rocking the earth. The final straw would be the New York stock exchange collapsing for a second time (seen familiar?), an act that renders the world a post-apocalyptic wasteland of sorts, albeit one littered with off-licenses and take-aways. The titular hang-out, which the film’s protagonist unwitingly finds himself trapped in, is little more than a concentration camp for unruly youth, with punks and other undesirables banished to an internment centre from which there is no escape.
The film plays out like the bastard son of Alex Cox’s Repo Man, and Walter Hill’s Streets Of Fire (while it would be remiss of me not to mention George Miller’s Mad Max too). It’s a memorable piece of work thanks to some beautiful production design and a second act political slant which at once both tackles Australia’s own problematic history with race relations and plays pretty presciently in the wake of Brexit and on the eve of Trump.