Ah, the drive-in, a place I remember fondly from my youth and rediscovered recently with my children. It was always an event with my family in the late 80's as it was for most families, they were everywhere! Slowly they went the way of the dinosaurs, left to decay as forgotten relics of a time when you had to get out of your house to see a movie. That's not the case these days with everything being delivered straight to us on our phones, tablets, gaming consoles, and whatever stick you have plugged into your TV. I am happy to say that the drive-in is not dead, you just have to find them. What if the drive-in became a prison and you had no choice but to embrace it?
Dead End Drive-In poses just that question in an Ozploitation tale of a dystopian society where the world economy has collapsed, cars are a precious commodity, and the powers that be are imprisoning the nuisance youth in drive-ins across Australia. I got a very Mad Max vibe from the beginning as the world were introduced to is lined with burned out cars, vandals, and cops who turn a blind eye to the violence as long as they're given monetary motivation. We're introduced to Jimmy (Manning), his girlfriend, Carmen (McCurry), and his brother, Frank (Hall), they're all trying to make it in this rough world and it's not easy. Car boys (the vandals mentioned earlier) roam the streets looking for cars to strip for parts or people to harass. Jimmy is their target quite often and manages to hold his own but he's tired of it.
He "borrows" Frank's sweet '56 Chevy and takes her to the Star Drive-in. They do what all teens do at the drive-in (Joe Bob calls it aardvarkin' if you know what I mean and I think you do) and then two of the tires are stolen by the cops! Jimmy soon finds out after speaking to the proprietor, Thompson (Whitford), that they aren't going anywhere. This is their new home "until the government decides what to do with ya". The other residents are punk kids (leather jackets, mohawks, etc) fed a steady diet of booze, drugs, trashy movies, and shitty concession stand food. These kids are content to live here but Jimmy wants out.
There is a part of this film that used the real issue at the time of the influx of Vietnamese boat people to speak about racism and xenophobia within the film. As a punk rock guy it struck me as odd that the kids who wanted to rebel against the government are the racists but it's a topic that's relevant even today with refugees coming in to the US, England, and Germany so I was struck by that. I always love it when I find gems like this and dig in a little to what influenced the creators. Arrow Video released a Blu-ray restoration in 2016 and I will definitely add this to my collection. You gotta love what comes out from down under.