Blu-ray Movie Review – Drive-In Massacre (1976)

Drive-In Massacre
Directed by Stu Segall
Courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1976
Blu-ray Release Date: March 14, 2017

DRIVE-IN MASSACRE is one of those cult classic titles I always heard about but never got the chance to see. Thankfully, Severin and CAV got together to release it recently on Blu-ray. I sure wish I’d seen it back in the day, though; this would have been right up my alley…even with as schlocky as it actually is.

Sure, by today’s standards the film is very tame. But back then, I’m sure it was just as horrifying as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and JAWS. Not to mention it was one of the earliest slashers in 70’s horror, coming out well before Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees. As such, this iconic, albeit trashy, horror flick deserves a spot in every horror fan’s library.

If you are not familiar with DRIVE-IN MASSACRE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution:

It was one of the few true slasher movies to pre-date HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13th, and remains the closest you’ll ever come to an actual seedy 70s drive-in experience: It’s a hot summer night in Southern California and the local passion pit is packed with patrons. But when a sword-wielding psycho begins carving up customers, it’ll unspool a grubby cavalcade of creepy carnies, peeping perverts, graphic decapitations and an ending you have to see/hear to believe.

John F. Goff (THE FOG), Bruce Kimball (LOVE CAMP 7) and co-writer George Buck Flower (BACK TO THE FUTURE) star in this nasty slab of ’70s sleaze directed by film & episodic television veteran Stu Segall (INSATIABLE), now packed with all-new Special Features and restored from the original camera negative recently discovered in the ruins of the Sky View Drive-In near Oxnard!

Just so you know what you’re getting into, DRIVE-IN MASSACRE is one of those so-bad-it’s-good movies. The special effects are cheesy, the acting is mediocre, and the storyline throws plenty of red herrings at you. But all of these attributes help make for an entertaining viewing experience.

The film is shot decently, however the cinematography is only used to tell the story. The HD restoration is ok, however there are still many grainy shots throughout the film. I know this has to do with the original film negative, but I feel it worthy of mentioning nonetheless. The sound quality is not very good. I had a hard time trying to make out what some of the characters were saying, even with my surround sound cranked. Once again, the restoration is only as good as its original source material, so I don’t think this has much to do with the Blu-ray itself.

As mentioned above, the acting in DRIVE-IN MASSACRE is very vanilla. Nobody gives a downright sucky performance, however I don’t think any of the cast will be winning any awards for their performances, either.

The special effects, although blatantly obvious, actually do a pretty good job of conveying a sense of horror to each situation. We see a couple of decapitations, although each only has a smattering of blood to accompany it. Anybody who has taken high school biology knows that a severed head would bring about serious geysers of crimson, therefore it’s hard to take these shots seriously. But at least they don’t look like cheap, Halloween effects.

Despite its shortcomings, DRIVE-IN MASSACRE is still a lot of fun to watch. It’s a short horror film, clocking in at about 74 minutes, but it still offers an entertaining ride. I didn’t see the ending coming (although it infuriated me), so the “unknown” aspect still has weight here as well. I recommend giving this film a look, particularly for those interested in pre-mainstream slasher flicks. DRIVE-IN MASSACRE is available now.

MSB

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