Horror, Slasher

Drive-In Massacre (1977)

Comments Off on Drive-In Massacre (1977) 29 August 2017

Drive-In-Massacre-Blu-ray

Studio: Severin

Theatrical Release: January 7, 1977

Blu Ray Release: March 14, 2017

Director: Stu Segall

R

Review by James Klein

Drive-In Massacre is by far a bad movie. It’s cheap, it’s poorly acted, it looks like crap, the plot is basic and boring…yet I still enjoyed this movie. Maybe it’s the 70’s nostalgia of the drive-in or the fact this is a pre-Halloween slasher film that had some fake blood…I don’t know…there is a certain charm this movie has which causes me to appreciate these budding film makers trying their hand at making a film. Drive-In Massacre though is not for everyone. If the title of the movie turns you off, then yeah this movie may not be for you.  

The film plays it off like this is a true story, much like The Legend of Boggy Creek or The Town That Dreaded Sundown as we see cars piling in to a drive-in on a hot summer August night. As children play on the playground and people hop in and out of their cars, a young couple makes out in a car until the young man reaches out for the car speaker and is decapitated by a sword. Screaming but yet not moving out of the car, the woman is stabbed through the throat and falls out of the car dead. Now normally the drive-in would be shut down, most likely for the season but no, the sleazy owner Austin Johnson (Robert E. Pearson from Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Vixens) must remain open for business. As two police detectives (John F. Goff and Bruce Kimball) interrogate Austin, they start to gather clues as to who the killer may be. Is it Germy, the simpleton who helps clean up around the drive-in? Is it pervert Orville who likes to watch couples make it at the drive-in as he plays with his mushroom noggin? Or is it Austin himself? 

Although a very short 74 minutes, Drive-In Massacre screeches to a halt whenever the action is outside of the drive-in. In fact, most of the scenes take place at the police department (an obvious cheap set) or in an empty warehouse, anywhere but the drive-in. Maybe the film makers couldn’t shoot at the drive-in for very long but I wish this film had more drive-in sequences. Thankfully the movie dos offer up some 70’s boobers and graphic violence. While the kills may seem a bit cheesy with the fake paint looking blood, I happened to enjoy some of the graphic kills that were done in camera. I wish there was more of these scenes and less of the two overweight cops bumbling about looking for clues or talking to suspects. 

Now the film’s climax is rather odd as the police think they have the suspect (George Buck Flowers from Touch Me ) cornered in a warehouse with a young girl being held hostage. This is where the film takes such a weird twist that it doesn’t make sense as it’s an abrupt addition to the story, leaving the viewer wondering what he / she missed. But it doesn’t end there as the police go back to the drive-in and witness a murder silhouetted on the drive-in screen. This strange cop-out ending is irritating and rather cheap which had me wondering what was director Segall’s intentions with this film and what were the writers thinking?

The explanation is within the amazing audio commentary by Stu Segall, director of the sub-par Drive-In Massacre. Segall had just finished wrapping up his sex comedy C.B. Hustlers and had a few extra days to shoot and some extra cans of film stock and decided to make Drive-In Massacre. Segall is rather honest and even admits to the film’s short-comings; “Wish I could re-shoot that.” “I dodged a bullet there.” My favorite, when asked on his thoughts about the film he stuttered and said, “It is what it is.” Segall talks about his career making adult films which I found fascinating and even more entertaining than the movie itself. Another tidbit is how actor Pearson woke up one morning, years after making Drive-In Massacre and was struck with blindness. It’s a great listen and well worth the price of the blu ray alone.

But I am jumping ahead of myself. How does Severin’s transfer look? Well, pretty amazing. The first time I saw Drive-In Massacre was on the old 2007 Cheezy Flicks release and the picture was so dark and murky, it was impossible to see anything. Severin’s blu ray is quite decent, given the fact the film source is in rough condition at times with film splices and debris still noticeable. The colors are bright during the daylight sequences and even the night sequences are tolerable. At least one can see what he / she is watching. The music and sound effects are much louder than the audio but that is because of the poor sound recording at the time the film was shot. Severin does their best at maintaining a quality soundtrack and for the most part the 2.0 mono track is ok. 

There are some great interviews on the disc such as one with co-star and co-writer John F. Goff who discusses the making of the film and his career and friendship with George Buck Flowers. There is a lengthy interview with Norm Sheridan who now looks like a grandpa talking about his role as Orville. Segall gets an interview but it’s too short and his commentary is where the fun, interesting stories are at. Rounding out the special features is the trailer and I found an Easter Egg (in “special features” click on one the features to the left and a poster pops up) of a trailer for Segall’s C.B. Hustlers which looks like a far more entertaining feature, capturing the C.B. craze and filling the film with ample amounts of nudity. Severin may have dropped the ball in not releasing C.B. Hunters as a double feature with Drive-In Massacre.

While it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the more famous slasher films of that period, Drive-In Massacre is fun when the action takes place at its central location. It’s nice to see how drive-in’s used to (and should) look. With just being 74 minutes, Drive-In Massacre is worth a rental at the very least. 

Movie Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★½☆ 

 

 

 

 

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