The movie I watched yesterday was the Drive-In Massacre (1974 or 1976, depending on if you believe the movie’s description on the envelope it came in or Wikipedia.) But that was a little obsolete so I updated the title as the title of this entry.
Have you ever been to a drive-in? They were mostly before my time but I managed to go to one, about two summers ago. I was visiting my parents and they said that there was a drive-in theater near their house. I decided to go with them to a double-feature–after I made them swear that there wouldn’t be any funny business from them–out of curiosity. My mom lives in rural Pennsylvania and her house is Last House on the Left kind of isolated. Yet, the drive-in place managed to be even more isolated, surrounded by woods on three sides and an empty rural road. It was pretty much the perfect place for some goon in a mask to hack you to bits with a machete, so I appreciated the choice of location for the setting of a horror film. I was impressed that the cost of our admission plus refreshments came out to something around eleven dollars, even if the double feature sucked (Nic Cage’s Wicker Man remake plus some movie about high school kids who are rejected from college so they make their own college.)
So Drive-In Massacre had a creepy locale going for it but, sadly, that’s about it.
I love the first ten minutes of the movie but the rest of it is a downhill ride. The movie starts with my favorite bad scary movie trope ever, a note about how this totally happened FOR REALS. If you’ve stuck around since I reviewed Cathy’s Curse, you know how much I’m a sucker for these warnings.
Apparently, the movie poster had a warning that an independent movie panel had reviewed the film and deemed it too terrifying for the average movie patron, and begs you not to watch it if you have emotional disturbances or chronic coronary dysfunction. How very William Castle. I love that sort of thing, like how The Screaming Skull offered you a free coffin if you died of fright during the movie. Although, what I liked even more was the episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where they watch The Screaming Skull and Crow quips that he wonders if the offer holds if you die of boredom, and Servo schemes to get a free coffin so he can fill it with beer at his next kegger.
The movie started promising, there’s even a pretty graphic decapitation and neck-stabbing within the first ten minutes so I thought that there was hope for this film. Thus far, I’ve watched seventeen of the fifty movies in my Fifty Chilling Classics set and thought, at last, that this is going to be the actually scary and bloody movie, the one really good one in the whole set. WRONG.
After the first killings, the movie mostly wanders around for a good bit until peetering to a halt as if to say, “What? Did I do that?” Two cops are called in to investigate the murders. They look like twin Joe Don Bakers but without the charm. I guess they’re supposed to be hard-boiled investigators but they mostly come off as bored.
They interrogate the embittered manager of the drive-in, Austin, who’s played by a Sid Haig look-alike.
They also interrogate Austin’s assistant, Germy. Germy’s been left brain-damaged after some accident, and he used to be a sword-swallower and sideshow geek at the carnival that was on the property before the drive-in. At one point, he does a jig for no reason whatsoever.
There’s also an interrogation of the local peeping-tom, whose walls are covered with more pr0n than I’ve ever seen before. Having exhausted all leads, the cops decide to cross-dress and wait for someone to try to kill them.
Because someone would be totally convinced that the guy on the left is a lady. The killer manages to strike again, right under their noses. But don’t worry about actually solving the case, after all the red herrings about Austin, Germy, and the peeping-tom, the film-maker adds an escaped mental patient, as if to show his contempt for the audience. By this point, my apathy was palpable and I was a little confused when the movie suddenly ended. Austin and Germy and the peeping tom are killed but it’s never revealed who the killer is and the movie ends with a note about how someone’s been massacring people all over the country at drive-ins. I took the liberty of copy-editing it for your consumption, you’re welcome.
Don’t try to win me back, movie, you’ve lost my love. I’m taking the kids and leaving. I’m even more disappointed that it was written by Buck Flowers. You remember him as Hank, the hilarious drunk from The Alpha Incident and The Fog. For shame, Hank, for shame. The best thing that I can say about this movie is that, of all the movies in my Mills Creek set, I could see everything on screen and hear everything pretty well. But it really doesn’t recommend your movie when the best thing about it is that you can see it and hear it.
In conclusion, I’m filing a class-action lawsuit with Jacoby and Meyers against the Drive-in Massacre for using the word “massacre” in their title. A machete is not a chainsaw and, although they both had similar body counts, I’d say (duh) that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the better film.