Drive-in Massacre (1976) starts out with quite a startling gore sequence in which a young man leaning out of his car window to get the speaker for the drive-in movie gets his head lopped off with a samurai sword, then his girlfriend stabbed through the neck hangs out the passenger-door head-down & bloody.
So fresh out of the gate, cheap & bad as the film seems to be, this first bit is cool enough for what it is. It can cause the viewer to be very patient waiting, & waiting, & waiting for something else seedily entertaining to happen.
Patience is not much rewarded, as there are no additional sequences to equal the gore-factor of that opening double-murder. Most of the film demands we keep watching bumbling "Detective Larry" & "Detective Mike" have conversations with one another & with people from the drive-in.
The chattiness of the film makes it seem like one long piece of padding, though there is an attempt to make the parade of talking heads interesting. There's a background story about the land the drive-in is on having formerly been a carnival, & the current workers at the drive-in are ex-carnies. This almost gives a few of the interviewees enough to chew on to project interesting characters, but they go nowhere because there's just nothing to be done with the combination bad writing & bad acting.
The drive-in setting for the killings was a good for a teen-exploitation film of 1976, which really would be distributed primarily to drive-ins, & viewers would be watching murders occurring in much the same setting where they were personally parked.
When the film runs its course & just ends suddenly with no real climax, a text card appears in which it is noted that the murders were never solved but had spread to other theaters throughout the country. I suppose someone somewhere must've felt a shiver of paranoia followed an eagerness to get out of the drive-in before they were next.
Though the film is a failure on every level & hardly even passable as kitsch, it does document the workings & environment of drive-ins of a vanished era very well, so that Drive-in Massacre becomes in retrospect more interesting as a historical record of drive-ins than for whatever slight story it attempts to tell.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl