Drive In Massacre (1976) [REVIEW] | Get Out Of The Car

September, perfect time for looking at some slasher movies, even lesser known (but not quite obscure) ones, like today’s Drive In Massacre.

It’s basically Targets, as in both movies have a drive-in as the central scenario of the action, and as a motif. IF Targets was directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis instead of Peter Bogdanovich.

Yeah, this one has a cult status and was quite popular at the time, i’m willing to guess in the drive-in circuits, which i always wondered about, but since that type of cinema experience never took foot here in Italy, i will just have to witness its depiction in american movies. Oh well.

The plot is fairly typical slasher fare, with a serial killer targeting couples and people fucking in general in a rural town in California, but doing so at a drive-in and using a fuckin sword to kill people. The choice of weapons really tickles me, like, no axe, thank you, no, if i’m gonna murder people i’m gonna use a sword, like an afro samurai or a conquistador. I’m surprised the sword they find on the crime scene isn’t of the japanese variety, i guess it was too much for a movie like this to realize they could juxtapose a samurai sword as the weapon used to kill people watching a western (at least they do, in some istances, you can tell by the fake dialogues and sounds of the films projected in the drive-in screen, not that you ever get glimpse of them, movie’s too cheap).

Don’t let the double murder with “suord” at the beginning fool you, this is ultra cheap drive-in trash (and fittingly so), which means you will have to wait a lot more for some bargain bin 99 cents gore effects of decapitation and sliced throaths, most of the movie is these two slighly doughey cops (played by B-movie veterans Bruce Kimball and John F. Goff) going around and investigating the staff of the drive-in, including the ultra dickish manager Austin Johnson (played by Robert E. Pearson), and the timid, creepy and wimpering mop-boy/assistant, “Germy” (played by Norman Sheridan), who was a sword and knife juggler almost 2 decades ago, before the head honcho, Van Houten (ppft). closed the circus/fair and built a drive-in theather there.

There’s also a perv who goes there to see people make out and wank to that (guess the “porn” posters in his house don’t do the job anymore), but like the backstory of Germy and Austin with the circus, or the Manson-esque killer in the warehouse, they don’t really go anywhere thanks to the unsatisfying ending, as Stu Segall’s opus is one of those that cheap out by not revealing who the killer was, for no reason aside from being able to use a text crawl to explain that the killer was never identified or caught, the drive-in bloodbath spread to other cities in the country, to do the usual cheap “it’s coming to get you” final message (complete with fake police message that say that a killer is among them, and not to panic) to scare drive-in attendees at the time of release.

Given it’s not good by any stretch of the imagination, it’s undeniably done on the ultra-cheap, slapped together very quickly, and it’s fairly slow moving (aside from very brief moments of action in the middle and at the end)… it’s way more watchable than one would guess, thanks mostly to the cast of navigated genre actors, who put up decent performances, definitely a bit better than a movie like this deserves. Some comedic moments work quite well, like the perv explaining his innocence amongst porn calendars plastered in the room, the cops bickering in the car when one is “dressed as a woman”, and “Germy” is just one of those funny, awkward but very likeable side characters you find in movies like this and hope they survive in the end, he’s great.

The crappy ass music also helps making this a cheesy, cheap but likeable piece of drive-in drivel, that’s somehow not as boring as one would reasonably assume, despite it’s many flaws and slow pace. I watched in on Amazon Prime Video, but i also own it on DVD, and it’s the same restored version. I mean, restored as far as you can, the picture (or sound) quality is never gonna be amazing with drive-in flicks like these. It’s one of those movies who works better as a poster, and i do love the cheesy poster art (with the “content warning”), really charming in its crappy B-movie way.

Still, it has its small place as a cult bad movie sensation, and it’s worth a look by slasher fans (especially in America, where it’s in the public domain), but it isn’t that memorable or downright essential viewing.

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