Saturday, March 04, 2017

Drive-In Massacre (1976)








DIRECTOR: Stu Segall

WRITERS:

John F. Goff
George 'Buck' Flower
Stu Segall

CAST:

John F. Goff
Douglas Gudbye
Robert E. Pearson
Norman Sheridan
John Alderman
Bruce Kimball
Jacqueline Giroux
Sandy Carey
Myron Griffith
Martin Gatsby

PLOT:

Set in a small Californian town, two police detectives are currently on the hunt for a serial killer who is murdering patrons of a small drive-in theatre. The killer's weapon of choice is a samurai sword. No one is safe as the two detectives are having a hard time trying to pin down the killers motive and are no closer to finding a reason as to why he is killing these innocent people.







I remember that roughly eight years ago, I purchased one of those fifty movie DVD packs off of Amazon. One of the movies that came part of the movie-pack was Drive-In Massacre. I can remember not being a fan of the movie at all when I first saw it all those years ago. The version of the film I saw was really grainy, and it appeared that no effort went into any of the films that made it into the box set. I guess that's what you get when you pay thirty dollars for fifty horror films.

When I decided to do my seventies slasher retrospective, I knew that I would have to eventually rewatch and review Drive-In Massacre. I mentally prepared myself for the task of having to now sit through this movie again. This time around, I got my hands on a much better copy of the movie which had eased a lot of the fear that I had about watching this for the second time. At least this time around, I would be able to make out what is happening in the film.

The film begins with a young couple sitting in their car while at the drive-in. When the guy is unable to hear the movie through the speaker, he leans out of the vehicle and in bloody fashion, has his head lopped off with a samurai sword. His girlfriend is then stabbed in the throat with the same sword. While the scene looks incredibly silly and fake, it's a fun way to begin this slasher. Eight years ago, I was really unimpressed when I saw the cheap gore. With age, I have come to sort of appreciate this sort of low-budget, cheesy gore.

The gore and violence in this film are probably the most rewarding aspect of Drive-In Massacre. While the bloodshed is incredibly fake looking. Nothing about this screams that 'this is impressive' makeup effects work. But if you go into this knowing that you will see a lot of dummies being decapitated or stabbed, you will probably enjoy all the outright silliness of everything that takes place in the film. If any points are rewarded to Drive-In Massacre, it's based on the fact that this movie does get pretty bloody at times. It does try to deliver on the carnage.

Regarding the whole whodunit aspect of the story, this is just a mess. It doesn't ever really reveal who the killer is. I'm all for leaving things open-ended or even on a dark or bleak sort of note, but here, we don't really get any sort of reason why this killer is murdering people or the identity of the killer. So we sit through seventy-five minutes of murders and police interrogations, and it's all for nothing. It feels like a big letdown because most of the film is already pretty poor. So no resolution feels like they didn't know how to wrap up the story and this is another negative for this slasher.

The film offers up two or three red herrings throughout the story yet nothing ever comes of them. We have a weird voyeur who likes to watch couples fool around in their cars. Another is the owner of the drive-in who is a huge pig. There is even a very odd scene inside a warehouse that basically has nothing to do with the rest of the story. A father stalks his young daughter with a machete, but he's not the killer. Nothing makes sense in this film, and it's frustrating when you want to see why this killer is doing what he is doing.

When it comes to the acting in this movie, it was all very hit and miss for me. I'm not singling any of the actors out, but all of them either felt like they have never been in a movie before or they were paid with catering to get roles in this film. This movie is extremely low-budget so that would explain why I've never personally heard of any of these actors and their less than convincing performances that they deliver in the film. No award winning scene stealers in this massacre.

Lastly, I need to talk about the sound design and soundtrack for Drive-In Massacre. It's terrible. The sound design even on this latest copy of the movie that I got to see still had a lot of buzzing and feedback. I didn't expect much but compared to the last time I watched this movie, I expected them to clean all that feedback up but nope, it still sounds pretty rough to me. The soundtrack is even worse than I remember from the first time I saw this film but what makes it even worse is that the sound design drowns out a lot of the soundtrack. It clashes a lot in this film.







DEATH TOLL: 9

BLOOD AND GORE:

- Someone is decapitated with a samurai sword.
- Someone gets stabbed in the neck with a sword.
- A pregnant woman and her boyfriend are stabbed with a sword.
- Someone has their throat slashed.
- Someone has their head cut off.
- Someone is killed in the projection room.
- A corpse is shown stabbed up on a wall.







When I first watched Drive-In Massacre almost a decade ago, I hated the film. I saw a pretty terrible version of it and going into this movie again, I had watched a better transfer of the film and still, a lot of the problems I originally had with the film, are still apparent. This is badly acted, the make-up effects are cheap, the movie makes no sense in the end, and the technical side of the film is still pretty terrible. I think knowing the problems that I had the first time around, I could be less critical of the gore and violence, and for a killer murdering people at the drive-in with a samurai sword, it has this silliness about it and would say watch it for that reason alone.


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