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directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith
Australia 1986

 

Brian Trenchard-Smith's DEAD END DRIVE-IN is simultaneously an Ozploitation classic (the Australian film industry did not take off until the seventies and their "grindhouse" era encompassed the late seventies through the mid-eighties) and an eighties cult classic stateside where it was appropriately released by New World Pictures (finding company amidst films like VAMP, BLACK MOON RISING, and HOUSE from the same company that year). In the aftermath of a string of environmental and economic catastrophes (including the "white massacre" of Capetown, South Africa that effectively ended gold and diamond exports as well as a yet another Wall Street stock market crash), the divide between the haves and have-nots of Australian society have become so vast that the rich remain safely insulated in gated communities while the outside world is an industrial wasteland. The goals of ever-optimistic delivery driver Jeff (playwright Ned Manning, PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H) - nicknamed "Crabs" because he once thought he had them (but he didn't) - are sidetracked, however, when he takes is big brother Frank's (Ollie Hall, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME) Chevy on a trip to the local Star Drive-in with his girlfriend Carmen (1989 Miss Australia Natalie McCurry, STONES OF DEATH). When the front wheels to the car are stolen (by the police, Jeff discovers), they are forced to stay the night only to discover in the morning that they cannot leave. They learn that the drive-ins have been transformed into a concentration camp for the country's undesirables who are pacified with exploitation films (among them Trenchard-Smith's own TURKEY SHOOT (aka BLOOD CAMP THATCHER) and THE MAN FROM HONG KONG, Simon Wincer's SNAPSHOT, and David Hemming's THE RACE FOR THE YANKEE ZEPHYR), MTV, drugs, junk food, birth control, and a general lack of governance. Carmen settles into the existence which offers some certainty and a kind of normality, but Jeff wants his freedom with all it entails (including food shortages and likely possibility of being beaten to death by "carboys" who scavenge parts from the grisly accident scenes that serve as entertainment on the nightly news).

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: August 1986 (USA)

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DVD Comparison:

Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

ArrowDrome/Arrow Video
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:26:54 1:23:18 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

2.34:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.83 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.38:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.14 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Anchor Bay Entertainment

 

Bitrate:

 

ArrowDrome /Arrow Video

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround

English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

Subtitles none none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.34:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Brian Trenchard-Smith
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:36)
• Poster and Still Gallery

DVD Release Date: 21 October 2003
Amaray

Chapters 20

Release Information:
Studio: ArrowDrome/Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.38:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:34)
• Liner Notes Booklet
• Reversible Cover

 

DVD Release Date: April 15th, 2013
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

ArrowDrome's new PAL release features a slightly brighter transfer than Anchor Bay's ten-year-old NTSC release (out-of-print and since replaced on the domestic market by a barebones disc from Image Entertainment). I find the older transfer preferable for the more saturated colors, but most may find the difference marginal. The 2.0 renderings of the Dolby Stereo soundtrack (flagged for automatic Pro Logic playback on the US release for those with the appropriate equipment) are of similar quality and very active for a low budget eighties production.

The Anchor Bay release featured a commentary track with director Brian Trenchard-Smith that has not been carried over for the UK release. On the track, he describes the film as "part MAD MAX, part EXTERMINATING ANGEL" and makes certain plot aspects more clear than in the film itself at times (for instance, what qualifies visitors to the drive-in for detainment). While the UK release lacks the track (presumably the track was produced by Anchor Bay and not rights holder Lakeshore), it does include a well-researched essay booklet by Cullen Gallagher featuring interesting background on the film's initial concept and how star Ned Manning helped shape the final product. The ArrowDrome disc also features the usual reversible Arrow cover (the original artwork is actually an alternate New World Video piece rather than the more familiar New World "slasher film"-looking poster).

 - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
(
Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Anchor Bay Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. ArrowDrome/Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Region 1 - NTSC

ArrowDrome/Arrow Video
Region 2 - PAL

 




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