Drive-In Massacre (1977)

Drive-In Massacre (1977)

You’ll Pay To Get In … And Pray To Get Out!

Two dim-witted detectives try to catch a serial killer who is stalking a rural Texas drive-in theatre and randomly killing people with a samurai sword.

 

Ah the days of the 70s where you could go and watch a bunch of low rent horror films at your local drive-in………well I’m guessing they were the days since I wasn’t born then nor do I live in America where the drive-in was most popular. The thought of it is appealing to a low budget horror fan like me and I could imagine being sat inside a car in the middle of nowhere watching some terrible slasher film like Drive-In Massacre on a big screen. Quite why anyone would want to show Drive-In Massacre at a drive-in is almost as bad as getting a firm specializing in bathrooms to use Psycho as some form of promotional tool or a beach resort publicizes itself using Jaws.

A great opening scene promises much but unfortunately this much-maligned horror doesn’t deliver when it counts and is very slow and plodding. Its main problem is that the film shifts away from the murders and the drive-in and places the focus of the film onto the two dim-witted detectives. Granted these two characters provide their own fair share of amusing moments (one of them has to dress as a woman so they can pose as a couple and lure the killer out into the open) but there’s way too many scenes of them talking, driving and sitting down eating donuts. This is one of the film’s weaknesses overall as it fails to really build any characters whatsoever. We’re introduced to the simple cleaner/janitor of the drive-in and the way-too-angry drive-in manager, as well as some pervert who likes watching couples make out so he “beat his meat.” But that’s it.

There’s no connection with any of the characters at all. Dare I say it, but surely the film could have made a group of horny teenagers the focus of the film and had them all work at the drive-in or frequent it so that at least there would be some sort of link with the audience. The lack of characters means that there are very few options to pinpointing who the killer is. It’s either character a, b or c. The messy ending doesn’t really expand on the killer either. I had no idea who was the killer or why he did it – the film just ends with the death of one of the minor characters introduced. It’s all very random but having said that, at least the ending is a little different to normal as the killer doesn’t meet the usual demise.

There’s also an extended scene where the cops pursue a man through a warehouse which has little relevance to the overall proceedings. With a slender running time of seventy eight minutes, it’s blatant filler on behalf of the script. The death scenes are pretty graphic though and some decapitations early in the film are really brutal for 1976. Unfortunately the film deals its best make-up effects early on so there’s nothing to build up to later and the rest of the kills are just basic sword stabbings. It’s hardly a massacre too with eight people meeting their makers – I’ve seen worse in things like Beverly Hills Cop! The lighting and sound leaves a lot to be desired too. I know the film is supposed to be dark as its set in a drive-in but this place is pitch black. It’s frustrating for the viewer because although we expect it to be realistic, we’ve still paid to see a film and we want to see stuff happening! The sound is bog standard mono and sounds almost as bad as some of the noise coming from whatever is showing in-film on the drive-in screen.

 

Drive-In Massacre was clearly an early prototype for the slasher but overall it’s a mess. A couple of interesting and amusing moments doesn’t make the time go very quickly. This is one cheap drive-in that you’re best driving past.

 

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